United Club Card review: Try our calculator to see if it maximizes your miles
The United Mileage Plus Club card is a premium credit card that earns 1.5 United miles per dollar spent on all purchases (a 50% bonus vs normal United credit cards), and 2 miles per dollar on all United purchases. No other credit card earns United Mileage Plus miles more quickly.
It comes with a $395 annual fee, which includes full membership to the United Club (a $475 value for non-Premier level flyers), and you get the first 2 checked bags per person (up to 2 people) free. On flights to Asia and Europe that saves $100 each way for the recently increased 2nd checked bag fee, or $400 roundtrip for two. Great if you visit family there a couple times a year.
Here are the benefits (scroll down to try our calculator which will help you compare its earning power versus other United cards).
You earn a 50% mile bonus on all purchases — earn 1.5 United miles per dollar spent. There is also a 100% mile bonus on United purchases – earn 2 United miles per dollar spent.
Lounge access: You get full United Club membership (up to $500 value if purchased separately, includes access to all United Clubs, US Airways Clubs, Star Alliance business class lounges, and Amtrak Club Acela lounges).
Premium travel privileges: The first two bags are free for you and a companion in your reservation. This includes Asia and Europe flights, where the 2nd bag fee charge is $100 each. You can save $400 roundtrip when 2 people on a trip check 2 bags each on flights to Europe and Asia, enough to offset the cost of the $395 annual fee. You also get Premier Access airport privileges (priority boarding in Premier Access lane, priority check-in, priority security lanes).
MileagePlus benefits: You enjoy no close in award booking fees (up to $75 savings per ticket), Premier upgrades on award tickets (if you are a Premier member), and no expiration on miles as long as you hold the card. You also get access to 2 for 1 business class fares (valid for full fare tickets on flights with international ‘Business First’ service) Click here to learn how it works.
Other travel benefits: No foreign transaction fees, Avis First membership (space available upgrades on Avis car rentals), Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum status (preferred rooms, 2pm checkout, free internet), Luxury Hotels and Resorts (free breakfast, room upgrades, late checkout, amenity on arrival), and Primary car rental insurance coverage (check with Chase for eligibility).
If you are already a United Club member this card is an easy decision — you get the most powerful United mileage earning available for less than the price you’re already paying for membership. No other card earns United miles at a faster rate thanks to the 50% mile bonus on all spending. United will prorate and refund the United Club membership fee you’ve already paid if you get this credit card. Also, if you are a 1K or higher frequent flyer with United you will receive a $60 annual credit on your Chase card to help offset the annual fee.
If you currently hold a Presidential Plus credit card you have options. While the Continental Presidential Plus credit card is no longer available to new applicants, current cardholders can keep the benefits unchanged. That means if you do nothing, you’ll continue to earn elite qualifying miles and all the benefits you’re used to. However if you wish, you can switch your account to a United Mileage Plus Club and instead of earning elite qualifying miles earn 1.5 ‘regular’ miles per dollar spent.
If you are not a United Club member, then there are more things to consider…including the extra mile earning bonus, how much the bag savings are worth (a lot if you check 2 bags to Europe or Asia at $100 each) how much you think having club membership at hand is worth, and several other travel benefits we talk about below.
See how the 50% mile bonus stacks up
Click to try our calculator to see how many more miles the United Mileage Plus Club Card’s 50% mile bonus can earn you versus the other United credit card options — the United Mileage Plus Explorer (which earns 1 mile per dollar, but a 10,000 mile bonus after $25,000 in spending) and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (which offers 2x points on all dining and travel spend).
Both of those carry a $95 annual fee versus the $395 on the Mileage Plus Club Card. Unless more than half of your spending is on dining and travel, the United Mileage Plus Club Card will earn United miles faster than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
However you miss out on the fact the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card lets you transfer miles into Southwest Airlines, British Airways, Amtrak, Marriott, Hyatt, Priority Club, and Korean Airlines 1:1 — in addition to United. That gives you the most flexibility when you choose to book free travel. United branded cards like the Mileage Plus Club and Explorer only earn you United miles, which can be used on United and its partners like US Airways, Lufthansa, and Air Canada.
For a more comprehensive view of how the United Mileage Plus Club Card stacks up against the other United credit cards, and other airline credit cards, use our Travel Credit Card Comparison Calculator. It will factor in things like baggage fee waivers and all of your spending net of annual fees to show which credit cards offer the most dollar value to you.
Full United Club membership – not just United lounges
If you are approved for the United Mileage Plus Club credit card, you will be sent a separate full United Club membership card. This card allows you and up to 2 guests or your children access to all United Clubs and US Airways clubs, regardless of what airline you are flying.
You also have access to all 970 Star Alliance partner business class lounges worldwide for you and one guest, even when traveling in coach when you present a Star Alliance partner boarding pass. If you don’t feel like carrying your card around you can just use your United Mileage Plus number to get into the United Clubs, though you’ll need the separate card for access to US Airways and Star Alliance partner lounges.
United Club access normally costs $475 per year for non-Premier members, $450 for Silver Premier, $425 Gold Premier, $400 Platinum Premier, and $375 for Premier 1K. Without this membership, one time entry passes, which are only valid in United owned clubs, only allow one person entry, cost $50. So if you use clubs 8 times per year you’ve made up that cost with the $395 annual fee of this credit card.
If you haven’t had a United Club membership before, you’ll find clubs offer free beverages (including beer/wine/cocktails), dedicated agents to help you with your reservation on the spot, free internet, light snacks, and work stations. Nothing opulent, but they can make travel more convenient, especially when things go wrong.
United Airlines flight benefits
If you’re not a Premier level flyer with United (someone who flies 25,000 miles or more on United and its partners each year) then the travel benefits also have big value. You’re skipping most bag fees and getting the same priority airport privileges as people who fly 25,000 – 49,999 miles per year on United.
Travel benefits — beyond United
Avis First status - this offers you space available one car class upgrades when you rent with Avis.
Hyatt Platinum status — This normally requires 5 stays per year, and gets you 2pm late checkout, free wireless internet, and preferred rooms.
Luxury Hotel Collection – You get Breakfast for two daily, a room upgrade, if available at check-in, Early check-in and late check-out, if available, and a very special amenity unique to every property. These aren’t all super expensive hotels either…you can get these benefits at places like the Grand Hyatt Orlando, Westin Maui, and Century City Hyatt in Los Angeles. You just have to book using the explorelhrcollection.com site.
Consider other United credit cards
Other personal credit cards that earn United miles include
We think the Mileage Plus Club Card is the right choice if you fly 5 or more times per year and could get some use out of the club benefits, or you have heavy spending on your credit card and can rack up the extra points the 1.5 miles per dollar offers. It’s also helpful if you want your family to enjoy a more comfortable experience on the way to vacations.