About United MileagePlus Club Card

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff
Published on: Aug 23, 2017

In the airline credit card world, there are two types of cards: luxury and non-luxury.

Fans of United Airlines who want a premium travel experience may just love the United MileagePlus Club, an airline rewards credit card with a $450 annual fee and several perks that most travelers don’t get when they sign up for non-luxury airline cards.

The premium airline and travel credit card market is really competitive though, so it helps to do a little research to find out which card will be the best fit for you.

If you’re a United loyalist, for example, you may get a better deal from the Chase Sapphire Reserve because that card’s bonus points can be transferred to your United MileagePlus account.

Because the luxury airline/travel card space is so competitive, we’re going to do a thorough review of the United MileagePlus Club so you can be well prepared to make your decision.

Our review will cover the most important features of this card: travel benefits, non-travel benefits, rates and fees, and the opinions of other experts and consumers.

As we move through each of these sections, we’ll do some comparisons between the Club, Explorer and non-United premium travel cards.

The final few paragraphs will summarize the pros and cons of the card, with a quick last word on who we think this card is good for.

The United MileagePlus Club Card’s Travel Benefits

The MileagePlus Club’s travel benefits can be broken down into a few different categories, all of which we’ll talk about in the next few minutes.

Free United Club Access

One of the coolest features of premium travel and airline cards is free or discounted passes to airline lounges around the world.

While non-airline cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the American Express Platinum offer entrance into Priority Pass lounges (international network, not as many locations in the U.S.), United gives you free year-round entrance to United Club lounges.

Here’s a quick list of features of these United airport lounges:

  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages
  • Breakfast
  • Afternoon snacks
  • Nearly 50 clubs in the U.S. and abroad
  • Access to Star Alliance lounges (more than 1,000 worldwide)

You and your traveling partners (on the same flight reservation) can access the club as long as you’re flying the same day.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Takes up to two weeks for United Club membership to activate
  • United Club entrance card should arrive within six weeks
  • Existing Club members can get a prorated refund

A yearly United Club membership is $550 with a $50 startup fee.

United Premier Access

If the United Club is your way to relax before your flight, then Premier Access is United’s way of making life comfortable from security to check-in to boarding:

  • Designated check-in
  • Priority security lanes
  • Priority boarding
  • Priority baggage handling (your baggage comes off the plane first)

What we find interesting about this list is that you get all the perks you’d want when you go through an airport and you don’t have to pay for any of them. You see, other luxury travel cards will get you priority security check-in, but you’ll have to pay for it yourself and then get reimbursed by the credit card issuer.

United skips all that and offers everything as one package without any reimbursements, which we see as an advantage over other cards. Another perk? Everyone traveling with you on the same reservation gets Priority Access privileges, too.

Two Free Checked Bags

Whenever you travel with United and you book your ticket with your United MileagePlus Club card, your first and second checked bags will be free of charge. The same benefit will be extended to one other person on your reservation.

United’s baggage fees are $25 for the first bag and $35 for the second bag, which means this perk is worth up to $120 per reservation on a round-trip flight.

Remember that you need to make the booking with your MileagePlus Club credit card to get the benefit.

Also, in order to get free bags, you can’t book your United tickets through a third-party site like Hotwire or Priceline.

Also, oversized bags aren’t eligible for the free-baggage perk.

Late/Lost Baggage Coverage

Whenever you book travel with your MileagePlus Club card, you’ll be entitled to a pair of baggage protection programs.

If your baggage is delayed for more than six hours, you can be reimbursed for up to $100 a day for three days.

If the airline loses your baggage, then you’ll be covered for up to $3,000 for every passenger booked on your reservation.

These two programs have their limits and exclusions, so be sure to read through the details written in the benefits guide you get when Chase sends you your card.

Points Bonuses on Purchases

The main non-travel benefits of this card are the MileagePlus points you earn whenever you make purchases with your MileagePlus Club card.

All United ticket purchases get a 2x bonus and all other purchases (minus a few random things like poker chips, traveler’s checks, and credit card fees) get 1.5x MileagePlus points.

Based on our research of Americans’ spending habits, we think the average family could spend at least $24,000 per year on their Club card. However, since this card caters to those with higher incomes, we think the spending habits of MileagePlus Club cardholders are a little more aggressive than the average family.

So, we’ll assume that the average cardholder will spend at least $36,000 a year on their card. At this clip, you could earn 54,000 points a year, which is good for one round-trip flight in the U.S.

If you get lucky enough to book United’s 12,500-point fares, you could get two round-trip flights with your bonus points.

Free World of Hyatt Globalist Status

United MileagePlus Club cardholders will earn complimentary Globalist status in the World of Hyatt loyalty program.

This status normally takes 60 nights to earn, so, right off the bat, you can see that free Globalist status is a valuable perk.

Here are a few of the privileges you get at Hyatt hotels when you have Globalist status:

  • Free suite upgrades based on availability
  • Waived resort fees
  • 30% bonus on redeemed points
  • Free breakfast for up to two adults and two children
  • Free access to Club lounge
  • 4 p.m. checkout
  • Free parking

Globalist is by far the most lucrative free loyalty membership any airline card offers, and, for that reason, we think it makes the MileagePlus Club a unique card.

Pro tip: You’ll also get a $100 statement credit after your first purchase.

The United MileagePlus Club Card’s Rates and Fees

Before we get into the details here, we want to point out that credit cards are of the greatest value to you when you don’t carry a balance.

The moment you don’t pay off your balance in full every month, Chase will charge you an interest rate.

That interest rate racks up interest every day and, if allowed to exist for an entire year, can cancel out any benefit the card gives you.

And considering that recent numbers from Value Penguin indicate that the average American who carries a balance on their credit cards has a total balance of around $16,000, it’s imperative to stay away from interest payments.

On a $16,000 balance, one month of interest at 16% results in an interest payment of around $210 a month:

  • APR: 16.99-23.99%
  • Annual fee: $450
  • Balance transfer fee: 5%
  • Late/returned payment fees: Up to $37
  • Foreign transaction fee: None

When compared to other cards in the premium category, the United MileagePlus Club’s APR range is higher than all but one of the cards we examined in our Best Luxury Credit Card of 2017 article.

The annual fee is on par with other cards.

Expert and Consumer Reviews of the United MileagePlus Club Card

We didn’t find many consumer reviews about this card, but the experts were in agreeance that it’s a great card for those who can take advantage of the luxury perks like free lounge club access and World of Hyatt Globalist status.

The Pros of the United MileagePlus Club Card

We’d say this card’s strengths are the 1.5x rewards rate on every-day purchases, which is better than all luxury cards including the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the American Express Platinum.

We also think the complimentary Globalist status with World of Hyatt is huge because no other major premium credit card gives you complimentary membership in a hotel’s highest tier.

The Cons of the United MileagePlus Club Card

In our opinion, this card’s biggest drawbacks are its APR and the lack of a big up-front bonus. Most cards will gift you bonus points if you can spend a certain amount of money in the first three months of owning the card.

For example, the Sapphire Reserve gives 50,000 free Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, the American Express Platinum gives up to 75,000 Membership Rewards Points and the Citi Prestige offers 40,000 points.

The MileagePlus Club does have the $100 bonus after your first purchase. The points equivalent of that cash amount is 10,000, which is still far less than competing cards.

Who the MileagePlus Club Card Is Good For

We believe, based on our research, that this card is best-suited for someone who flies often with United and can take advantage of the free lounge membership, Premier Access, and free baggage perks.

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