Review: United MileagePlus Club Card (With Big New Sign-Up Bonus)

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The United MileagePlus® Club Card is United’s premium travel credit card, which comes with access to United Clubs. At the moment it has a very generous increased sign-up bonus, which is worth considering if you’re a United flyer. Here’s what you need to know about this offer:

United Club Card sign-up bonus

The United MileagePlus® Club Card is offering a sign-up bonus of 50,000 MileagePlus miles after spending $3,000 within three months, which is a much bigger sign-up bonus than usual — previously the card didn’t offer any sort of mileage bonus when signing up, but rather just a $100 statement credit after the first purchase. I guess they felt they didn’t need to offer much of an incentive to sign-up, given the ongoing perks this card offers.

That bonus isn’t available to those who currently have the card, or who have received a new cardmember bonus on the card in the past 24 months.

Furthermore, it’s worth noting that this card is generally subjected to Chase’s 5/24 rule, meaning you won’t be eligible for the bonus if you’ve opened five or more new card accounts in the past 24 months.

United Club Card annual fee

The United MileagePlus® Club Card has a $450 annual fee. That’s definitely on the higher end as far as credit card annual fees go, but the card also comes with lots of perks.

United Club Card return on spend

Most co-branded airline credit cards don’t offer an especially lucrative return on spend, but the United MileagePlus® Club Card does. I’d argue it’s the most compelling return on non-bonused spend offered by any airline credit card. Specifically it offers 2 MileagePlus miles per dollar spent on United purchases, and 1.5 miles per dollar spent on all other purchases, which is an excellent return.

Earning 1.5 United miles per dollar spent is a really solid return on non-bonused spend.

How the United Club membership works

The single biggest perk of the United MileagePlus® Club Card is that it offers a United Club membership for as long as you have the card. Ordinarily if you were to purchase a United Club membership, you’d pay the following amounts:

As you can see, the lowest possible cost for a United Club membership is $450, which is also the annual fee on this card. So almost everyone would come out ahead by having this card rather than buying a membership outright.

The primary cardmember gets a full United Club membership, which works just like any United Club membership. However, authorized users on the card don’t get the same benefit.

United Club at Los Angeles International Airport

United Club Card perks

While the United Club membership is the most significant perk of the United MileagePlus® Club Card, the card has plenty of other perks as well. Specifically, the primary cardmember:

  • Can book award tickets without paying close-in ticketing fees, which can be up to $75 per person per ticket
  • Can receive complimentary Premier upgrades on United operated award flights when available, assuming they have status with United
  • Receives Premier Access check-in, security, boarding, and baggage handling
  • The first and second checked bag free, including for up to one companion, on United operated flights when the cardmember includes their MileagePlus number in the reservation
  • Receives Hyatt Discoverist status for as long as they have the card
  • Received Hertz President’s Circle status
  • Pays no foreign transaction fees
  • Receive primary collision damage waiver coverage on rental cars
  • Receive a Premier Qualifying Dollar waiver for Premier Silver, Premier Gold, or Premier Platinum, when spending at least $25,000 on the card in a calendar year

Elite members can receive complimentary upgrades on award tickets if they have the United Club Card

How does this compare to other credit cards offering lounge access?

There are a few credit cards out there offering lounge access, and the best one for you is entirely dependent on which airline you fly with most:

So while the perks by card differ, really your decision should be driven by which lounges you’d use most, rather than anything else.

Bottom line

Historically the United MileagePlus® Club Card hasn’t offered a big sign-up bonus, so the new 50,000 mile bonus is a very nice new perk. However, the real reason to get this card is if you value a United Club membership. This card is also great in terms of the other priority services it offers, including free checked bags, priority check-in, security, boarding, baggage, etc.

If you’ve been considering getting this card, this is as good as it gets, and is definitely better than buying a United Club membership directly.

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  1. “Can receive complimentary Premier upgrades on United operated flights when available, assuming they have status with United”

    … how is this different from not having the card at all?

  2. Hi Lucky,
    Does United have business cards similar to American advantage cards? I never see any mention of them…

  3. “Earning 1.5 United miles per dollar spent is a really solid return on non-bonused spend.”

    Not mentioning the $0 annual-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited in this article is really doing your readers a disservice. It earns 1.5 URs per dollar spent, which is equal to (or better than!) 1.5 United miles per dollar spent. And it doesn’t cost $450/year. It’s free.

  4. The United club membership also grants access to Acela Clubs in Boston, NYC, Philly, and DC.

    The standard targeted sign-up bonus for this card (usually available for Premier elites) is a first year annual fee waiver with no bonus miles.

  5. Yea this is a non story. I signed up with first year fee waived. $450 cash in pocket beats 50k united Miles and that deal is always available.

  6. “Not mentioning the $0 annual-fee Chase Freedom Unlimited in this article is really doing your readers a disservice. It earns 1.5 URs per dollar spent, which is equal to (or better than!) 1.5 United miles per dollar spent. And it doesn’t cost $450/year. It’s free.”

    Good point, but the Club Card does not charge a foreign transaction fee, which Freedom Unlimited does, so you get 1.5 points on purchases, even when traveling overseas, without the extra fee.

  7. The 1.5 miles is almost besides the point considering the previously mentioned Freedom Unlimited. However if you are based out of a UA hub the $450 is a decent value. Cheaper then stock UA Club fee and a solid group of extras. This is especially handy for a United flier without status but who still flies enough to warrant a lounge membership.

  8. This is especially handy for a United flier without status but who still flies enough to warrant a lounge membership.

    That’s exactly where I am … I’m going to make Gold and used to be a UA Club Member at DEN when I was 1K. I miss the lounge, the honestly most of my delays lately haven’t been in the airport but on the plane. So I’m on the fence. Just signed up for the Explorer Card about 6 months ago as welll.

  9. I had the business version of this UA UC card and got rid of it because it was unnecessarily tying up $13K of my total credit line (CL) with Chase. As UA 1K, the AF for this card is for me the same as the UC membership fee, and I get most of the other perks that the UC card offers thru other cards. So, after I got the CSR and it become my primary card for purchasing plane tickets at a 3X return on the $ (vs. 2X on the UC card), I decided to (a) just pay cash for the UC membership ($450 as a 1K), (b) dump the UC Biz card to free up my CL with chase, and (c) applied for the Chase Freedom Unlimited (CFU) to “mop up”, at 1.5X like the UC card, all the points on my everyday spend for which I did not use the CSR. To apply for the CFU, I’d just walked into the Chase branch that’s next door to my office and got instantly approved, with a credit line of $28K, which was a surprise because this CL was more than twice the size of CL I had on the UC Biz card! I think I ended up ahead…

  10. @Lucky I recently took advantage of the United Explorer card sign up bonus of 70K miles back in February. I would still be eligible, right? I assume that when you refer to “the card” in “or who have received a new card member bonus on the card in the past 24 months.” you are speaking to those who may have applied for this specific card, received a bonus, then canceled it and now would want to re-apply to obtain this bonus, and not those who receive any United card bonus, correct? Hope this makes sense. Thanks for the blog! I love reading all the great content.

  11. @ Tom Schneider — That’s correct, they’re considered separate products. Let me now if you have any other questions.

  12. @Lucky Thank you for the quick response. I am a bit new to all this so I was considering this offer since I fly United and star alliance partners (Lufthansa and EVA) almost exclusively. it does come with some good perks such as star alliance lounge access, etc. and since my wife does not have status I could always get her into the lounges as well without spending $59 each time we fly together. However, for $450 at worst, getting those 50,000 miles would be worthwhile if I decide to cancel my card later down the road, no?

  13. @ Tom Schneider — I’d say so. This is a fantastic card that’s worth keeping long term, and the bonus itself more than justifies the annual fee, as I think the miles are worth close to 1.5 cents each (and many will get more value out of them).

  14. Is the first year no AF offer available the entire time you have elite status? I’m Silver for 2018 and just received a targeted offer that expires on Dec 20th. But I’d prefer to wait until mid 2018 to apply for this card for various reasons (including 5/24).

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