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United MileagePlus® Club Card: Worth The $450 Annual Fee?

Image of United MileagePlus® Club Card
80
"A credit card that can provide premium benefits - such as lounge access - to United Airlines customers."

Contents

The United MileagePlus® Club Card is an expensive credit card, whose chief benefit is providing users with access to United Club lounges. Access usually costs $550, if bought separately. Therefore, if lounge access is something you were previously interested in, getting the United MileagePlus® Club Card becomes extremely worth the annual fee, and ends up saving you $100. The other benefits on the card are nothing to write home about, and can actually be outperformed by cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. If you have no loyalty to United Airlines, or no interest in the lounge benefits, you should look to other credit card offers.

Pros

  • Decent luxury travel benefits, including Premier Access®
  • $100 statement credit after the first purchase
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • High annual fee
  • Lounge access mostly limited to domestic airports

Review: Is The United MileagePlus® Club Card Worth It?

The United MileagePlus® Club Card is a luxury travel credit card made for dedicated United Airlines customers who travel domestically. The card unlocks access to United Club lounges (mostly located in the U.S.), which provide amenities to people who often call an airport their second home. Other cards of this type, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express, provide access to wider networks of lounges, and benefits which aren’t tied to a specific airline. If you travel internationally, and use other airlines, then you should probably consider one of those cards instead.

If you don’t care much for obtaining luxury benefits, then paying this card’s $450 annual fee is not going to be worth it. If you are still looking for United rewards, consider cards such as the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. They provide great travel rewards for a significantly lower cost (annual fee less than $100). By giving up things like lounge access and priority boarding privileges, these cards will allow you to earn more miles which, in turn, can translate to more free airline tickets in the future.

The United MileagePlus® Club Card comes with all the bells and whistles you’d expect on a premium travel card like this, including no foreign transaction fees and an EMV chip. With these features, if you do find yourself having to travel outside of the United States, you will be well equipped to be able to use your credit card in case of emergencies. Having no foreign transaction fee means you’ll be able to use your United MileagePlus® Club Card anywhere in the world, free of charge (while most credit cards will charge you a 3% fee). The EMV chip is a global security standard which is practically required if you want to use your credit card in Europe and Asia.

United MileagePlus® Club Card Benefits & Features

While most credit cards’ rewards are focused around rewarding each and every purchase, the United MileagePlus® Club Card is chiefly focused on the perks you get for just being a cardmemeber. These benefits include things such as complimentary United Club Membership, free first and second checked bags, and a number of other amenities – put simply “luxury air travel”.

Image of United MileagePlus® Club Card
Annual Fee $450
Purchase APR 15.99%
Card Details
  • Receive a $100 statement credit after your first purchase
  • United Club membership
  • 1st and 2nd checked bags are free
  • Priority check-in, screening, and boarding
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 2 points for every $1 spent on United Airlines tickets
  • 1.5 points for every $1 spent otherwise
  • United Club membership
  • First and second bags are checkable for free
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Miles don't expire

Making purchases using the United MileagePlus® Club Card earns users frequent flyer miles with United Airlines. Individuals using the card receive 2 points for every $1 they spend buying tickets from United, and 1.5 miles per $1 everywhere else. With the value of a single United MileagePlus mile being approximately $0.014, this results in a rewards rate anywhere between 2.1% and 2.8%.

This bar graph compares the range of rewards rates that consumers can earn with the United MileagePlus® Club Card to two other competitor cards.

As soon as new cardmembers use their United MileagePlus® Club Card to make their first purchase, they will receive $100 in statement credit as a welcome bonus. This money can be used to pay down charges on your credit card bill, including a portion of the annual fee. Note that the bonus will activate after a purchase is made – this does not include balance transfers or cash advances. Also, individuals who received this bonus on another United MileagePlus® Club Card account, within the last 24 months, are not eligible to receive it again.

Luxury Travel Benefits

As noted previously, the major benefits of the United MileagePlus® Club Card come from all the extra perks it provides to individuals who are frequently up in the air. Whether it’s airport lounge access, preferential treatment, or free checked bags, these are the reasons why you should consider this credit card.

United Club Membership

One of the most valuable benefits that comes with the United MileagePlus® Club Card is the United Club Membership. Most of the United Club lounges are located in the United States, making this a benefit predominantly designed for frequent domestic travelers. Being a member of United Club also unlocks access to participating Star Alliance Lounges – though these are far more limited in number.

United Club Lounges offer perks and privileges that make life much easier for frequent travelers. These airport lounges include a number of amenities, including bars, showers, family rooms, and conference rooms. Depending on the location, the number of available amenities will differ – for instance the airport in Boston only offers access to the premium wine and spirits program.

United Lounge Locations
Boston, MA (BOS) Las Vegas, NV (LAS) Philadelphia, PA (PHL)
Chicago, IL (ORD) London (LHR) Phoenix, AZ (PHX)
Cleveland, OH (CLE) Los Angeles, CA (LAX) Portland, OR (PDX)
Dallas/Fort Worth, TX (DFW) Mexico City (MEX) San Antonio, TX (SAT)
Denver, CO (DEN) Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN (MSP) San Diego, CA (SAN)
Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL) New York, NY (JFK) San Francisco, CA (SFO)
Guam, GU (GUM) New York, NY (LGA) Seattle, WA (SEA)
Hong Kong, HK (HKG) New York/Newark, NJ (EWR) Tokyo (NRT)
Honolulu, HI (HNL) Orange County, CA (SNA) Washington, DC (DCA)
Houston, TX (IAH) Orlando, FL (MCO) Washington, DC (IAD)

Premier Access®

Consumers who travel with United Airlines, or United Express-operated flights, will receive Premier Access®. This gives them dedicated check-in lines at airports, priority boarding, priority security lanes, and priority baggage handling. It’s important to note that these benefits will not be available with every single airport. If this benefit is your make-or-break feature for this card, it may be worthwhile contacting United to see if it is available through the airports you travel with most frequently.

Free Checked Bags

As long as you are a United MileagePlus® Club cardholder in good standing, every time you fly with United Airlines you and one travelling companion will receive 2 free checked bags each. Chase estimates the value of this reward to be up to $240. This is assuming the first checked bag fee with United is $25, followed by $35 for the second, which totals $60 per person, on one leg of the flight. The return trip would cost another $60, bringing the total to $120 – if you’re travelling with a companion who has the same amount of bags as you, that fee doubles to $240.

A couple of restrictions: In order to qualify for this benefit, you must have paid for the tickets using the United MileagePlus® Club Card. Additionally, the primary cardholder must be part of the reservation. If you are an authorized user, you cannot receive a free checked bag if travelling alone. You cannot stack ‘free checked bag’ benefits on top of each other. This means if you are already receiving a free checked bag or bags through some other promotion, you may not use this benefit in conjunction with the other deal.

Close-In Fee Waiver

Whenever you use UnitedMileage miles to book a flight, 21 days or less from the date of departure, you will be charged a $75, called the ‘close-in fee’. If you are a United MileagePlus® Club cardmember, however, this fee is waived. This can mean major savings for consumers who often end up making last minute reservations.

How Does the United MileagePlus® Club Card Compare to Other Credit Cards?

Before you commit to paying the $450 annual fee, it’s worthwhile to consider alternatives to the United MileagePlus® Club Card. Below we compare the card to some of its leading competitors.

United MileagePlus® Club Card vs The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the most well-known luxury travel credit cards – and for good reason. It grants cardholders access to over 850 different airport lounges, a $200 annual airline fee credit, and credit to pay off Global Entry/TSA Pre✓. By comparison, the scope of rewards on the United MileagePlus® Club Card is far more limited. Unless you travel predominantly with United Airlines, The Platinum Card® from American Express is probably a better choice. Where you travel will also make a difference. Because a majority of the lounges accessed with the United MileagePlus® Club Card are domestic, international travelers will find Amex's partnerships with the Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs®, and Airspace Lounges more convenient to them.

United MileagePlus® Club Card vs United MileagePlus Explorer Card

The United MileagePlus® Explorer Card is meant for frequent United Airlines customers with no interest in lounge access. This card comes with a far lower annual fee - $95. This card is far more focused on earning users United MileagePlus miles than the United MileagePlus Club Card counterpart. Right off the bat, MileagePlus Explorer cardmembers have the ability to earn 50,000 bonus miles when they spend $3,000 or more on purchases, within the first 3 months their account is open. Additionally, each year MileagePlus Explorer cardholders spend at least $25,000 on purchases, they will receive a bonus 10,000 miles. If you’re more concerned with racking up these miles, we recommend this credit card over the United MileagePlus® Club Card.

United MileagePlus® Club Card vs Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

A slightly less obvious option for frequent United customers is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. This is one of the best credit cards available to consumers, and has a fairly straightforward rewards structure. It earns users 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for every dollar spent on dining or travel, and 1 point per $1 elsewhere. Those points can be transferred to a number of different partner programs, including United MileagePlus®! Through this card, you will not only have the option to earn United miles, but also to earn rewards towards a number of different programs, which adds freedom and flexibility. The only reason to prefer the United MileagePlus® Explorer Card to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® is for its luxury lounge benefits.

Comparison Tool

Using the tool below, you can automatically see what the rewards rates you can expect from each of the cards listed below – including the United MileagePlus® Club Card. These rewards will differ based on how your spending divides into the various shopping categories.

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Card Annual Fee 2-yr Net Rewards Rate

The Net Rewards Rate is equal to the Rewards Value over two years divided by the total spending. The total spending is equal to the values entered into the tool and multiplied by 24 months. See the Rewards Value note to see details on how it is calculated.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Bonus Value

The bonus field shows our estimate for the value of the card’s sign-up bonus. If the bonus is point or mile based, we multiply the total bonus points/miles by our estimate for their value to arrive at a dollar equivalent. We display $0 if there is no bonus or if the user doesn’t qualify for the bonus based on the current spending entered into the tool.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

2-yr Rewards Value

The Rewards Value is calculated by adding together the rewards earned from charging purchases to the card over two years and any sign-up bonuses (if applicable). They are then multiplied by our estimated point/mile value, with any annual fees (if applicable) subtracted. All values are based on our own estimates for the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using a card.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95 2.86%
$625
50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
$1,028
Graph Card Read Review More Details
Annual Fee Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
APR 16.99% - 23.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 39,840 x $0.013 = $498
Bonuses
50,000 x $0.013 = $625
Less Annual Fees -$95
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 1,028
United MileagePlus® Explorer Card
$95 2.75%
$700
Special Offer: 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
$990
Graph Card Read Review More Details
Annual Fee $95
APR 16.74% - 23.74% Variable

Card Details

  • Special offer: 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $100 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your ticket
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on tickets purchased from United, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Your miles don t expire as long as your credit card account is open, with no limit to the number of miles you can earn
  • Use your miles for any seat, any time, on any United-operated flight at the MileagePlus Standard Award level
  • $95 annual fee

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 34,320 x $0.014 = $480
Bonuses
50,000 x $0.014 = $700
Less Annual Fees -$190
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 990
Citi Prestige® Card
$450 0.45%
$532
Earn 40,000 bonus ThankYou points after you spend $3000
$162
Graph Card Read Review More Details
Annual Fee $450
APR 16.74% - 24.74%* (Variable)

Card Details

  • Earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • 40,000 ThankYou® Points are redeemable for $500 in airfare on any airline, anytime with no blackout dates or $400 in gift cards
  • $250 Air Travel Credit each year, and receive a statement credit, up to $100 every 5 years, as reimbursement for your application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • 4th night hotel benefit for any hotel stay at hotels booked through the Citi Prestige® Concierge
  • Transfer points to a variety of travel loyalty programs from airlines to hotels
  • Earn 3X Points on Air Travel & Hotels
  • Earn 2X Points on Dining Out & Entertainment
  • Earn 1X Points on All Other Purchases

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 39,840 x $0.013 = $530
Bonuses
40,000 x $0.013 = $532
Less Annual Fees -$900
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 162
United MileagePlus® Club Card
$450 -0.22%
$100
Receive a $100 statement credit after your first purchase
$-79
Graph Card Read Review More Details
Annual Fee $450
APR 15.99%

Card Details

  • Receive a $100 statement credit after your first purchase
  • United Club membership
  • 1st and 2nd checked bags are free
  • Priority check-in, screening, and boarding
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 2 points for every $1 spent on United Airlines tickets
  • 1.5 points for every $1 spent otherwise
  • United Club membership
  • First and second bags are checkable for free
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Miles don't expire

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 51,480 x $0.014 = $721
Bonuses
0 x $0.014 = $100
Less Annual Fees -$900
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months -79
MasterCard® Black Card™
$495 -1.32%
$0
Earn 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,500 in first 90 days
$-475
Graph Card More Details
Annual Fee $495
APR 15.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Stainless Steel/Carbon Card -Patented Design
  • Industry-Leading Rewards
  • Double Points Value When Redeemed for Airfare
  • 1.5% Value for Cash Back Statement Credit Redemptions
  • Luxury Card Concierge™
  • $100 Annual Airline Credit Toward Qualifying Airline Purchases
  • Members-Only Luxury Magazine and Luxury Gifts
  • Annual Fee: $495 ($195 for each additional account)

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 34,320 x $0.015 = $515
Less Annual Fees -$990
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months -475
The Platinum Card® from American Express
$550 -2.10%
$0
Earn 60,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new card in your first 3 months
$-757
Graph Card Read Review More Details

Terms and Limitations Apply

Annual Fee $550
APR N/A
*Rates and Fees

Card Details

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • New! Up to $200 Uber Savings Annually.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More. Terms Apply.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline. Terms Apply.
  • Terms Apply.

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 34,320 x $0.01 = $343
Less Annual Fees -$1,100
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months -757

Comments and Questions

* See the online credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer's website.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program. 

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Advertiser Disclosure: Some of the offers that appear on this website are from companies which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products. For more information please see our Advertiser Disclosure.