United MileagePlus® Club Card Review
The United MileagePlus® Club Card is the most elite credit card that is branded by United Airlines (issued through Chase). It offers a long list of benefits that would be very valuable to the frequent United flyer. The biggest concern for most people is the card's annual fee.
While many savvy card users claim that you should never pay to carry a credit card, there are an equal number of card users who believe just as strongly that sometimes it’s worth paying a little extra. It’s important when considering cards like the United MileagePlus® Club Card, that you weigh the benefits and how you will use the card, against what it will cost you each year.
For travelers who frequently fly with United Airlines, the perks and rewards program that come with the United MileagePlus® Club Card can easily be worth the annual fee if used correctly. To determine whether the Club card is best for you, these are the details you should consider:
Main Card Benefits of the United MileagePlus® Club Card
Bonus miles on United purchases
This card awards two miles for each dollar you spend on tickets with United Airlines, and 1.5 miles for each dollar you spend on all other purchases. You can earn an unlimited number of miles, which do not expire. Note that the rate you earn in the “other” purchases category is half a point more than you get with nearly every other credit card.
Redeem miles for award flights
You can use the miles you earn with the card for flights with United Airlines, which start at 12,500 miles for a one-way flight and 25,000 miles for a roundtrip flight. There are also opportunities to redeem miles for hotel stays and merchandise.
United MileagePlus® Club Card
The primary reason anyone would consider the United MileagePlus® Club Card is its exclusive travel benefits, which, for many people who are frequently away from home, can make the trip more comfortable and less stressful. Some of the best features of this card can be extremely valuable to you, depending on how much you travel.
You also get United Club membership which usually costs as much as $550 per year. The United Club airport lounge provides complimentary beverages, snacks, and amenities to allow you to work and relax while traveling. This membership also applies to your eligible travel companions at all United Club locations and Star Alliance affiliated lounges.
Free checked bags
Cardmembers get free first and second checked bags for yourself and one companion. Checked bags usually cost, at least, $25 for the first checked bag and $35 for the second, per person, each way.
Premier access travel services
For frequent travelers, ease and comfort can be worth more than any other benefit. Premier access travel services provide exclusive privileges such as designated check-in lines, priority boarding, and priority baggage handling for yourself and authorized users on the same reservation.
Platinum status in Hyatt Gold
If you also stay in Hyatt hotel properties while you travel, you’ll find the automatic Platinum membership you get as a cardholder to be valuable. This status usually requires 5 stays or 15 nights at Hyatt properties each calendar year, and includes extra benefits such as complimentary in-room Internet and late checkout.
Luxury hotel privileges
Another benefit of carrying this card is the additional perks you get at more than 900 luxury hotels and resorts that are part of the worldwide Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection. Special perks include complimentary breakfasts, early check-in, late checkout, and room upgrades.
Calculating the Costs of Carrying the Club Card
The annual fee for the United MileagePlus® Club Card is $450 per year. Although this is one of the higher annual fees charged by an airline rewards credit card, it’s important that you calculate the rewards and benefits that you get in return. Some of the ways the card pays for itself include the following:
- United Club membership -- $550 per year for yourself and travel companions
- Free checked bags -- $240 per roundtrip for yourself and one companion
- Sign-up offer -- $100 statement credit just for making your first purchase with the card
- Rewards program – you get 1.5 miles for all purchases and 2 miles per dollar for United tickets
- Premier access travel services – saves you time and provides more comfortable traveling
- No foreign transaction fee – saves you as much as 3% on foreign transactions
- Platinum status – extra benefits usually requires 5 stays or 15 nights at Hyatt properties in a calendar year
Other costs and fees of the Chase United MileagePlus® Club Card to keep in mind:
- Balance transfer fee -- $5 or 5%, whichever is greater
- Cash advance fee -- $10 or 5%, whichever is greater
- Late payment fee – up to $37
- Returned payment fee – up to $37
- Foreign transaction fee -- $0
Although the United MileagePlus® Club Card comes with a long list of great travel benefits, the card's interest rates and service fees are rather standard among airline credit cards. The most noteworthy fee savings comes from no foreign transaction fees.
Final Verdict: Is the United MileagePlus® Club Card Worth $450 Per Year?
For many people, an annual fee of $450 can be difficult to accept, but if you frequently travel with United Airlines, you have a number of opportunities to get some of the cost back. For instance, the United Club membership by itself more than covers the annual fee, and even
For instance, the United Club membership by itself more than covers the annual fee, and even more so if you frequently travel with someone who can also relax in the airport lounge with you at no additional cost. Further, you have one of the best opportunities to earn miles with this card, especially on non-United Airlines purchase, which can quickly add up to award flights and pay for your next airline ticket.
However, for those who don’t use the airport lounges or the other travel benefits frequently enough to put a dent into the annual fee, you’ll have to earn and redeem a large number of miles each year. If you aren’t able to spend enough to earn the miles needed for award flights, and you also aren’t able to take advantage of the travel perks, you won’t be able to justify the cost of carrying the card each year. If you only catch a couple of flights per year, it may be better for your budget to use the Chase United MileagePlus® Explorer Card, which offers similar rewards and benefits, but carries a much lower annual fee of $95 (waived the first year).
That said, if you find yourself frequently flying with United Airlines and on the road often, the United MileagePlus® Club Card provides not just airline perks, but also hotel benefits that can all be worth hundreds and even thousands of dollars per year. At first, the annual fee might be a shock, but once you see all the benefits that the card offers and how they can help make your travel experience better, you might decide that it’s worth it.