8 Reasons United Flyers Should Have The United MileagePlus Club Card

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The United MileagePlus® Club Card is United’s premium co-branded credit card, and it recently started offering a generous sign-up bonus. Historically the card doesn’t have any sign-up bonus given how rich the benefits are, though they recently added some. In this post I wanted to look at eight reasons United flyers should consider picking up this $450 annual fee card:

A big 50K mile sign-up bonus

The United MileagePlus® Club Card offers a sign-up bonus of 50,000 MileagePlus miles after spending $3,000 within three months. Personally I value United miles at ~1.3 cents each, so to me that sign-up bonus is worth ~$650, which more than covers the annual fee for the first year, not even taking into account all the great benefits.

United Club & Star Alliance lounge access

The United MileagePlus® Club Card comes with a full United Club membership, meaning that the primary cardmember will automatically have a membership linked to their MileagePlus account.

If you’d otherwise pay for a United Club membership, then this card is an absolute no brainer. That’s because the lowest possible fee for a United Club membership is $450 annually (and that’s for Premier 1Ks), which is the same as the annual fee on the card.

Keep in mind that a United Club membership doesn’t just get you access to the roughly 45 United Clubs, but also gets you access to select business class Star Alliance lounges. You just have to present your United Club membership and be flying a Star Alliance airline same day. In many ways this benefit is similar to having Star Alliance Gold status.

1.5 United miles per dollar spent

The United MileagePlus® Club Card offers 1.5x United MileagePlus miles per dollar spent. As far as I’m concerned, that makes it the most lucrative airline credit card for non-bonused spend. There are other good cards to consider for everyday spend, though there are some benefits to spending on this card, as I’ll cover below.

No close-in award ticketing fees

United charges a $75 close-in ticketing fee for awards booked within 21 days of departure. That’s an annoying fee, given that often the best time to redeem miles is close to departure. United even recently introduced new 8,000 mile one-way awards that I could see myself using, though booking those within three weeks would take away some of the value due to the fee.

Those with the United MileagePlus® Club Card don’t have to pay close-in award ticketing fees. This is a benefit that doesn’t apply for United’s other co-branded credit cards.

Elite upgrades on award tickets

While United offers elite members complimentary upgrades on revenue tickets in select regions, this benefit is extended to award tickets for those with a United co-brand credit card, like the United MileagePlus® Club Card. When you’re on an award ticket you’ll be prioritized within your elite tier, behind those on revenue tickets.

So having a co-brand United card could score you an upgrade on an award ticket, assuming you have status.

An elite status revenue requirement waiver

United has a revenue requirement for earning status nowadays, though for Premier Silver, Premier Gold, and Premier Platinum members, you can get that waived by spending $25,000 per year on a United co-brand credit card, like the United MileagePlus® Club Card. So having this card could help you earn status with less of a spend requirement.

First and second checked bag free

While a lot of airline credit cards offer a first checked bag for free, the United MileagePlus® Club Card offers both the first and second checked bag free for you and up to one companion, on United operated flights. This benefit could save you up to $240 on a roundtrip ticket for two people.

Elite treatment without the status

On top of everything else, those with the United MileagePlus® Club Card receive similar airport benefits to what elite members would receive, including Premier Access check-in, security, boarding, and baggage handling. This could save you a significant amount of time.

Bottom line

If you’re a United flyer, the United MileagePlus® Club Card will pay for itself pretty quickly. Anyone who would otherwise buy a United Club membership is already coming out ahead, but when you add in the big sign-up bonus, elite benefits, potential revenue requirement waiver, generous return on spend, lack of close-in ticketing fees, upgrades on award tickets, etc., there’s a lot of value to be had regardless of whether you’re a MileagePlus elite member or not.

The sign-up bonus on the card is available to those who don’t currently have the card, and who haven’t received a new cardmember bonus on the card in the past 24 months. Furthermore, the card is subjected to Chase’s “5/24 rule.”

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Comments

  1. “Elite treatment without the status”

    If you’re flying on United enough to justify spending $450 on them, wouldn’t you have status already?

    And why would you aspire for status on United of all airlines?

  2. Also you “Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on tickets purchased from United.” so not too shabby there although wish Chase would up it to 3X like the legacy MP Select card (suppose the CSR covers that front).

  3. Ben I am a UA gold status and UA is my main loyalty airline. I was just about to pick up the CSR because I really like all what it had but would you prefer that I pick up the mileageplus club card. I feel like because I’m star allaince gold already, some of the perks on the club card aren’t valuable to me. But you are the expert, what do you think? Thanks!

  4. And, of course, the unstated Reason 9: Referral $. Yay!

    This is a pretty lame card. If you fly United a lot, a lot of the benefits are redundant to having status. And if you DON’T fly United a lot, then it’s not worth $450. Kind of a catch-22.

    Unless you really value United Club access for some reason. Which would be weird, since they’re often more hectic than the terminal.

    And 1.5 miles per dollar is silly. You can get the same amount from the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which has the hefty annual fee of FREE, by transferring to United assuming you have the CSP, CSR, etc. (which actually are good cards, unlike this one).

  5. @RD – For the love of god, please do NOT get this card over the CSR. CSR’s benefits heavily outweigh this.

    If you really value United club access, just buy some Chase passes on Ebay. You can usually get them for $15/pass. Much better than $450.

    Only pick up this card if the first year’s fee is waived + you get the mileage bonus.

  6. @QR- that’s what I was thinking. Because I already have UA gold, I have star allaince gold so whenever I fly star allaince (UA included) I pretty much get club lounge and J class lounge access anyways and most of those perks up there already apply to me through UA gold so I don’t see any benefit of having this card over the CSR. I just needed someone to confirm with me. Thanks though.

  7. Im 1K member for UA and I don’t really find this card benefit me that much – American Express (AMEX) is the best card for me since I can transfer my points to many different airlines based on award space availability. Even I can still have the access to Alaska lounge or using priority pass card. I admit only one thing that I will not have perk is if I use my UA miles and I cannot get on waitlist for upgrade without the United club card.

  8. I only have this card because it was offered to me with no sign-up bonus and first year free. I fly enough to not need United miles, but, free club access for a year? Thats worth it. Otherwise the regular explorer card makes more sense for the average flyer.

  9. Wish it came with an economy plus subscription at a $550 annual fee. That’d make a compelling offer to me. After the first year, it’s just hard for me to justify when I end up in United Clubs maybe 8-10 times a year, and you can routinely pick day passes up on eBay for $15 each from MileagePlus cardholders who don’t use them.

  10. Aside from the miles, this card is useless for me and just about anybody else who is Star Alliance Gold and flies internationally. Golds get free lounge access on any international itinerary. Plus, the UA lounges flat-out suck vs their counterparts both overseas and domestically. I routinely hub out of SFO to Asia and am a MM Platinum. There is no Star Alliance lounge in the G terminal for economy passengers and I use the FREE Priority Pass I got with my Sapphire Reserve to access the KLM Lounge in A now. I refuse to pay UA for Polaris when half the planes to Asia aren’t even upgraded yet. The former International First Lounge at SFO is now being used for Polaris and it’s awful now. It’s packed out and nowhere near the special experience it used to be.

  11. Not seeing the value as a 1K. If you’re a 1K, the only real benefits are the sign-up bonus, and access to mediocre United Clubs on domestic flights.

    The award ticket upgrade benefit is less appealing than it first sounds. It only applies to flights eligible for complimentary upgrades (essentially only within the US and North America), does not include a travel companion, and gives you very low priority for the UG, behind everyone else with a paid ticket at your status level. (Also, I personally pretty much only redeem awards on long-haul international flights anyway, where these upgrades don’t apply.)

    Every other benefit you already get as a 1K. Not worth it to me.

  12. I am a United 1K/1MM. I had the business version of UA Club card card, and the Explorer card, and the “legacy” UA MileagePlus card. The CSR made them all obsolete, so I got rid of the UA Business Club card, which had a credit line of $13K, and then something wonderful happened.

    Whereas to be approved for the CSR with a credit line of just $10K, I had to decrease (actually, Chase did it without consulting me) the credit line(s) for my other Chase cards to free up the $10K that was (is) the minimum required to be approved for the CSR, meaning that I was already at the limit of the total credit that Chase was willing to extend to me. Then one day I walked into the Chase branch that is next door to my office to apply for the Chase Freedom unlimited (CFU), in order to have a card that would get me 1.5x on everyday, non-travel or non-dining purchases, as the UA Biz Club card did, and I was approved instantly with a credit line of $28K! That meant that, on the spot, Chase increased the total credit line that they were apparently willing to extend to me by $15K, since dropping the UA Biz Club card freed only $13K. Kool 😉

    Bottom line: there is no justification for getting the UA Club card, whether or not one is a UA elite…

  13. Nah, I’ll pass. I have Star Alliance Gold status earned through another airline (Even though I’m in the US and United is my main airline, I always credit elsewhere.) so that immediately negates the value of the lounge access, free checked bag, and Premier Access perks (3/8).

    For the no close-in ticketing fees, again I always credit my flights to another program that doesn’t have such a fee so I’m (almost) never redeeming miles through MileagePlus. That perk offers me no savings (4/8)

    For 1.5 miles/$, yes that is the best return on non-bonused spend for an airline card but I could get the same return on the AmEx Everyday Preferred which I could transfer to ANA for the purpose of Star Alliance Redemptions. That card has several other bonus categories as well (5/8).

    For the Elite Status requirement waiver, well I’m not going for status through MileagePlus so this is another perk that does me no good (6/8)

    That just leaves the sign-up bonus and the upgrades on award tickets. I said before that I almost never redeem miles through MileagePlus, although it still does happen occasionally. The complimentary upgrades could be useful in that case, although given how far down the queue you’d be I have to wonder what the chances of an upgrade actually clearing are. I’d also probably be redeeming miles straight for a premium cabin anyways so that further narrows down the circumstances when it would be useful. It could come in handy once in a blue moon, but it’s definitely not enough to have an impact on how I value this card.

    So there you go, the sign-up bonus is really the only feature that sticks out to me. Presumably this would be a card I’d cancel immediately after completing the minimum spend and as far as I can tell the annual fee isn’t waived the first year so I have to ask my self whether spending $3450 (annual fee+minimum spend) for 54500-56000 miles is worth it. That’s between ~15.8 and ~16.2 miles per dollar spent which is quite good but I’d be forgoing spend on other cards to do it. This is a card you could churn but because I’m so close to 5/24 and have other cards I’d like to pick I will not be getting it. And there’s no way I’d ever hold on to it long term.

  14. I used to be a United flyer and holder of their Mileage Plus card. But years of having flights cancelled or delayed has led me to cancel my card and fly Delta or American. I’m not saying those airlines don’t have their screw ups but they are much less frequent and they make it right with the passengers. Additionally, with the exception of O’Hare, United lounges are crowded and unpleasant—if you can even get in!

  15. If i’m not wrong, this card also gets you Hertz PC and Hyatt Discoverist membership. not sure if its a targeted offer but i got that offer in a mailer

  16. I am a 1K member for many years and dumped this card last year as it is useless compared to the benefits derived from the Platinum American Express card. The only advantage for going into a United Club is to pick up a copy of the Financial Times and to access a cleaner bathroom than what is in the airport. If you fly Polaris, you receive club access anyway and United Clubs are generally too crowded and offer mediocre food. There are far better restaurant choices in most airports now. If you really need a United card, just get the Explorer card for a $95 annual fee; otherwise, no thanks.

  17. I do have this card and have for several years. My annual fee has never raised in those years, stayed aT $350/yr. and I have received many a $100 statement credit for retention. I love this card and here’s why…

    I mainly fly United from my regional airport, United connects most easily to where I fly. I fly for pleasure not business though I do accompany my husband on a couple of business trips per year. The two free bags for me and my companion has helped me haul stuff free for my daughter when visiting her at college.

    I earned silver status this year because of hitting PQS and having PQD waived. I have enjoyed a year of E+ but chose not to pursue as this card gives most of those perks already. I love checking in via Premier Access lames and this card has been beneficial in making my trip just a little more hassle-free.

    Because I’m flying in from a regional airport to a hub I generally have longer than I like layovers. The Club has been such a peaceful spot for me to relax before flying on. This to me has been my best benefit. While some Clubs are shabby and overcrowded my overall experience has been positive. The benefit to use the agents in the Club for IRROPS has been a blessing many times.

    1.5x miles for spend has been nice. We use my husbands CSR for eating out, an AmEx for groceries and a Business Ink for gasoline and we are able to nicely accumulate points. Pulling out the right card for the right purchase has been a learning curve but has worked out well.

    I gave up my CSR after the first year and continue on with my Club Card. Between it and my husbands CSR our flying experience has been enhanced greatly.

  18. I think for most flyers, the CSR at $450 is a better option than the UA Club Card for the same price. Many more benefits, and Priority Pass lounges are almost always better than United’s own lounges. Where that becomes more complicated is if it’s compared *A lounges not run by United to PP lounges — it probably depends on your flying patterns, particularly when traveling abroad.

    I have CSR, and then I earn *A Gold status on Asiana instead of UA. The reason is that when flying UA domestic, you can access United’s lounges if you are *A Gold _except_ for UA Gold status. It’s also easier to get *G status on Asiana — fly 40k in 2 years, though the earning rates aren’t great — international C earnings on many *A airlines are at only 100% earnings on Asiana, not 150%.

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