United MileagePlus Club Card Review
The United MileagePlus Club Card is a luxury airline rewards card from Chase that provides a solid mix of a 50,000-point sign-up bonus, excellent yearly rewards, free entrance to United airport lounges and expedited security check-ins.
The card’s premium features along with its annual fee make it the only luxury option you have among Chase’s United credit cards.
In this review, we’ll give you an in-depth analysis of how the card’s rewards work, what you can expect in terms of extra travel perks and what the card’s rates and fees are.
We’ll then compare the United Club Card to other luxury cards, including the Delta Reserve Credit Card. At the conclusion of our review, we’ll give you our overall thoughts about the card’s pros and cons and who we think it’s good for.
Pros: Excellent yearly rewards totals and a myriad of travel benefits that cover flights, hotels and rental cars.
Cons: Smaller airport lounge network, best APR is slightly higher than average.
Estimated Yearly Travel Rewards: 53,250 miles
|Sign-Up Bonus||Annual Fee||Regular APR|
|50,000 miles||$450||18.24% to 25.24%|
|Rewards Rate: 2x on United purchases; 1.5x on everything else|
United’s frequent flyer program is known as “MileagePlus.” If you don’t already have a MileagePlus account when you apply for the Club Card, Chase will sign you up for one when you fill out your card application.
Once you start using the card, Chase will automatically calculate the rewards you earn and deposit them to your account on a monthly basis. You can log into your Chase account to view your rewards balance and, from there, click through to United’s website to book flights with your rewards miles.
There are two main ways to earn those rewards: a sign-up bonus and daily spending rewards.
The sign-up bonus on this card is 50,000 miles and you can earn it by spending $3,000 in the first three months of owning the card. Based on our projections, we believe you can hit that bonus in five weeks or less.
Chase’s fine print says it will take between six and eight weeks for those points to show up. So, don’t make plans to buy rewards seats as soon as you spend $3,000. Also, remember that any payments you make toward interest or fees related to the card (balance transfers, too) won’t count toward that spending requirement.
The second way to earn points is to use the card for all your purchases. When you use the card to make United purchases, you’ll earn two miles for every dollar you spend. Airline tickets get the double bonus, as do the following types of purchases, according to the fine print:
- Seat upgrades
- Inflight food, beverages, and internet
- Baggage fees
- Other United fees
All other purchases you make will earn 1.5 points for every dollar you spend. By our estimation, these two bonus rates can earn you 53,250 miles per year.
The key to these miles is how far they’ll take you. For example, the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express can earn you 36,500 but a round-trip flight between New York and Los Angeles requires 41,000 points.
Here’s a list of the three most popular domestic flights and how many rewards points they cost at the time of publishing:
- New York (EWR) to Los Angeles: 25,000 miles ($237.00)
- Los Angeles to San Francisco: 19,000 miles ($127.00)
- New York (EWR) to Chicago: 25,000 miles ($207.00)
Based on this information, we believe that your yearly points can get you at least two round-trip flights across the country.
We believe that an airline rewards card should earn you enough points each year to pay for at least one round-trip domestic flight. The United MileagePlus Club Card has the ability to do that.
What sets a luxury airline card apart from non-luxury cards is the number of non-rewards perks you get. The Club Card provides you with the following flight-related benefits:
- Free entrance to United Club airport lounges
- Premier Access
- Two free checked bags
- Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President’s Circle
- Luxury Hotel and Resort upgrades, breakfast and more
- Complimentary upgrades for Premier members
This suite of benefits focuses on your entire travel itinerary. On the day of travel, you get free entrance into United club lounges. Most of these lounges serve snacks, drinks, and alcoholic beverages. Some offer showers. Your membership allows you to bring in an adult or an under-21 dependent for free.
Premier Access is a special status that allows you to get expedited security screening at the airport as well as priority boarding on flights regardless of your ticket class.
The baggage benefit extends to one other person on your reservation. According to United baggage fees at the time of publishing, not paying for four bags on a round-trip flight could save you up to $280.
The next two perks are ones that make the United Club Card a more comprehensive option for the luxury traveler than the Delta Reserve Credit Card. The Hertz benefit is one that would normally take 20 rentals or $4,000 spent on rentals to achieve.
According to Hertz, the President’s Circle tier gives you designated parking spots, guaranteed reservations, and a guaranteed one-car-class upgrade.
The hotel benefit refers to a specific chain of luxury hotels whose rooms you can book through the Luxury Hotels and Resorts website. When you book with your MileagePlus Club Card, you’ll get a room upgrade, free daily breakfast for two, late check-out and early check-in.
The final reward on the list above pertains to the MileagePlus program’s frequent flyer tiers. If you’re a Premier member, you’ll get free seat upgrades. This is where the Delta Reserve card has the advantage. It foregoes ancillary hotel and rental benefits in favor of giving you miles you put toward Delta’s frequent flyer tiers that entitle you to free upgrades and other benefits.
The previous section of this review laid out all the rewards and travel perks you get with the card. However, these various benefits are just part of the story that makes up this card. The other side of owning any credit card is the rates and fees, which we’ll list here:
- Interest rate for purchases and balance transfers: 18.24% to 25.24%
- Interest rate for cash advances: 27.24%
- Penalty interest rate: None
- Balance transfer fee: $5 or 5%, whichever is greater
- Cash advance fee: $10 or 5%, whichever is greater
- Foreign transaction fee: None
- Late/returned payment fee: Up to $39
- Annual fee: $450
- Authorized user fee: N/A
We like to help you see how much the card’s interest rate will cost you because research indicates that those who use credit cards are more likely to carry a balance than not carry a balance. And, when you carry a balance, your credit card issuer will charge you interest.
Our chart shows you how much interest you’ll pay if you carry five different balances every day for a year:
|18.24% APR for one year||20.24% APR for one year||25.24% APR for one year|
|$1,000 daily balance||$182.40||$202.40||$252.40|
|$2,000 daily balance||$364.80||$404.80||$504.80|
|$3,000 daily balance||$547.20||$607.20||$757.20|
|$4,000 daily balance||$729.60||$809.60||$1,009.60|
|$5,000 daily balance||$912.00||$1,012.00||$1,262.50|
As our comparison chart in the next section will show, this card’s best interest rate is slightly higher than other luxury credit cards. Because of that, the interest you’ll pay over the course of the year is going to be slightly higher than other cards that have APR’s of 17.24% and 17.99%.
Either way, the key to getting the most out of a rewards card is to pay your balance in full every month. If not, you’ll end up paying hundreds (and maybe thousands) in interest depending on how big your balance is and how long you carry that balance.
Interest rates aside, there’s nothing out of the ordinary when you look at the rest of the United Club Card’s rates and fees.
Part of knowing how good a credit card may be is comparing it to similar cards. In that vein, we’ve created the following chart to help you see whether or not the Club Card’s features can stand up to the competition:
|United MileagePlus Club Card||Delta Reserve Credit Card||Platinum Card from American Express||Mastercard Black Card||Chase Sapphire Reserve||Citi Prestige Card||U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card|
|Sign-up bonus||50,000 miles||75K miles/5K MQM’s||60,000 points||None||50,000 points||50,000||50,000|
|Rewards rates||2x/1.5x||2x/1x||5x/5x/1x||1x on all purchases||3x/3x/1x||5x/5x/3x/3x/1x||3x/3x/1x|
|Yearly points on $35K annual spending||53,250 miles||36,500 miles||47,000 points||70,000 for airfare, 52,500 for cash||47,730 points||60,136 points||41,000 points|
|TSA/ Global Entry reimbursement||Free Premier Access expedited security||Free Sky Priority expedited security||$100||$100||$100||$100||$100|
|Airline/ Travel credit||Priority boarding, first and second bag free||Free companion pass, priority boarding, first bag free, 20% in-flight purchase savings||$200||$100||$300||$250||$325|
|Travel partners||1||1||21 (15 int’l, 3 domestic, 3 hotels)||None||12 (6 int’l airlines, 3 domestic, 3 hotel)||15 (14 int'l, 1 domestic)||None|
|Lounge access||United Club||Delta Sky Club and 250 other lounges||AmEx Centurion, Delta SkyClub, Priority Pass Select, three others||Priority Pass Select||Priority Pass Select||Priority Pass Select||Priority Pass Select|
|APR||18.24% to 25.24%||17.99% to 26.99%||N/A||17.24%||19.24% to 26.24%||17.99% to 25.99%||17.99%|
|Annual fee/ Authorized user fee||$450/NA||$450/NA||$550/NA||$495/$195||$450/$75||$495/$75||$400/$75|
As we mentioned earlier, the Club Card’s benefits are more comprehensive because they touch on flights, baggage, hotels and rental cars. The Delta Reserve Credit Card focuses on the flight experience, choosing to give you points toward increased frequent flyer status and a free companion pass.
It’s up to you to decide which card provides benefits that are more appropriate for your situation. However, we believe that if you’re someone who doesn’t need a companion pass and who already has upgraded status in MileagePlus, then the United MileagePlus Club Card may be a better choice than the Delta card.
In the context of other premium travel cards, the United MileagePlus Club Card holds up pretty well. It earns the third-most points per year for cards you can use to redeem for airline travel. Its annual fee is average and the travel perks are pretty strong.
Because you get Premier Access, you don’t have to worry about signing up for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck like you would with the other non-airline cards in the chart.
We believe the chart reveals that the United card’s big flaw is its airport lounge access. All the non-airline cards give you complimentary access to more than 1,200 airport lounges via Priority Pass Select.
In general, we think the United card is the best airline card for those who can take advantage of all the travel benefits and rewards the card has to offer.
However, if you want a card that has benefits not specifically focused on airlines, the Platinum Card from American Express, Citi Prestige Card, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve are good choices. These cards give you multiple options for redeeming points and the Cit Prestige and Chase Sapphire Reserve give you significant bonuses when you book travel through their respective travel portals.
Based on our research of this card, we believe its strength lies both in how many points you can earn each year and the comprehensive benefits the card gives you beyond the rewards you earn.
The card’s main drawback is that its airport lounge network isn’t as extensive as what you’d get with other premium travel cards. Also, because the card is a United card, you don’t have the freedom to transfer points to other airlines or hotels.
In general, we think this card is a great option if you like traveling with United and want a way to earn some excellent day-of travel benefits as well as some nice perks with Hertz. If you prefer a card with more flexibility in how you can use your points, the Platinum Card from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve are smart options.