Who is This Credit Card Best For?
Flies regularly and likes finding ways to score even more travel—for free
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
Loves to explore places and experience new things
Frequently shops with a particular merchant and wants to be rewarded for their loyalty
If you love United Airlines, you’ll probably love this card. Its topline perk is free access to United’s airport lounges—United Club—so if you’re a frequent United passenger who also enjoys the lounge (or would like to), you’ll benefit from the highest-value perk of this card, and recoup its high annual fee cost.
Those who fly United often will enjoy many airline perks, like free checked bags and priority boarding, and earn double miles on United purchases. If you’re a frequent flyer but not extremely loyal to United, consider another premium travel card to get similar benefits but more rewards earning opportunities.
Free United Club membership
Premier Access travel benefits
Free checked bags
No foreign transaction fee
High annual fee
No Global Entry/TSA Precheck application credits
- Free United Club membership: The United Club is a premier airport lounge, and you’ll get free access for you and two other adults, or for you, your spouse, and your children while traveling. You can also visit Star Alliance lounges.
- Premier Access travel benefits: This service gives you a fast pass through security and check-in lines—just watch for the “Premier Access” designations. You’ll also get priority boarding on United flights, and your bags will get special, first-off-the-plane treatment.
- Free checked bags: You’ll get two free checked bags on each United flight. If you’re traveling with a plus-one, they’ll get two free checked bags, too.
- No foreign transaction fee: Your United flights might take you overseas. If that happens, bring your card along and you won’t have to worry about foreign transaction fees.
- High annual fee: The biggest drawback of this card is its price. At $450 per year, it’s not cheap, and you’ll need to take advantage of its perks to earn that back (particularly lounge access).
- No Global Entry/TSA Precheck application credits: Application credits for Global Entry and TSA Precheck programs are familiar perks with luxury travel cards. However, this one doesn’t come with that benefit.
United Club Card’s Sign-up Bonus
United Club Card offers a good sign-up bonus of 50,000 bonus miles, which is enough for a round-trip, first-class ticket in the continental U.S. To get it, you must spend at least $3,000 on your new card within three months of opening the account. Based on our valuation of MileagePlus miles, this bonus is worth $1100.
Earning Miles & Rewards
Each purchase you make will earn 1.5 miles per $1. You’ll earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases including tickets, seat upgrades, baggage fees, and in-flight expenses. The miles you’ve earned will be transferred to your United MileagePlus account at the end of every statement period.
These miles officially become part of the MileagePlus program once transferred, and thus won’t expire unless your MileagePlus account becomes inactive for 18 months. There are no blackout dates with this card either, so you can book a flight as long as there is room on it.
Obviously, United airline tickets are the main redemption option for this card. If you’re traveling across the continental U.S., you can get a round-trip, first-class ticket for as little as 50,000 miles. If you purchase a regular economy seat on a continental U.S. flight, you can also use your miles to upgrade to first class for as little as 7,500 miles on a one-way trip, depending on the flight.
You can also transfer your miles to someone else in the United MileagePlus program, such as a friend or spouse. You’ll pay a $30 processing fee, plus a $7.50 fee for every 500 miles you transfer.
United Airlines is a part of the Star Alliance, which means you can use your miles to book travel on 26 other airlines, including Avianca and Singapore Airlines.
Finally, if none of those options tickle your fancy, you have a wide range of redemption options, many unrelated to travel such as merchandise and electronics (including Apple products), cruises, rental cars, live events, and much more.
The value of miles when redeemed for goods and services varies greatly. For example, we found merchandise redemption values as low as 0.32 cent per mile, car rental redemptions as high as 0.97 cent. That said, most fall into the 0.70-0.80 cent per mile range.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
The United MileagePlus Club Card offers a great sign-up bonus, so the first thing you should do is make sure you can spend the required $3,000 within three months of getting this card—within reason. Of course, use your United MileagePlus Club card to pay for all purchases on United, since that’s where you’ll earn the most rewards. That also gives you access to many of the other travel-related perks that come with the card.
Redemption values of 1 cent per mile or better are good value. The Balance’s analysis of the average value of United’s miles found that they are worth 2.2 cents per mile.
United Club Card’s Excellent Perks
One thing that the United Club Card isn’t short on is useful perks. Here’s a rundown of the ones worth noting.
- United Club membership: Each year you’ll get a new membership pass to United Club or other Star Alliance lounges. You and up to two traveling companions (or one adult and your children) can visit with you.
- Free first and second checked bag: You and one other traveling companion on the same reservation will get your first and second bags checked free on United flights.
- Premier Access travel services: Hurry through the terminal with Premier Access security and check-in lanes, priority boarding, and priority baggage handling so your bags are the first off of the plane.
- Hertz Elite Status: If you register for the Hertz President’s Circle, you’ll get elite status that entitles you to rental car upgrades, bonus Hertz points, and more.
United MileagePlus Club Card’s Other Features
Here are a few of the other features the card offers.
- Extended warranties
- Lowest advertised price match
- Insurance for stolen or damaged purchases
- Roadside assistance
- Concierge for booking event tickets, travel, and other services
The United Club card is managed by Chase, which is a solidly average credit card company to work with, according to a 2019 J.D. Power customer satisfaction study. Among the top 11 credit card issuers, Chase ranked fourth. It scored 807 out of 1,000 points (the industry average is 806).
If you choose this credit card, you can expect standard customer care practices. You’ll have access to a 24/7 phone line, and you can also send secure messages inside of your account. Chase offers an app for managing your credit cards and any bank accounts or other loan products with them.
Chase offers is its own credit monitoring service: Chase Credit Journey. You’ll see this when you log into your account, although you don’t necessarily need a Chase credit card in order to sign-up for it. Use it to keep tabs on your credit score.
Chase offers standard security features on this credit card. You’ll receive account alerts if anything odd shows up in your charges, and Chase may try to contact you or temporarily freeze your account if this happens. You can also receive credit alerts through Chase Credit Journey if something odd shows up on your credit report as well.
United MileagePlus Club Card’s Fees
The United MileagePlus Club Card comes with a steep annual considering it doesn’t offer some of the high-value perks its competitors offer, such as a credit for Global Entry/TSA Precheck or any travel credits. However, this card doesn't charge many other fees.