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

United MileagePlus® Club Card
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
United MileagePlus® Club Card
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.

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

A credit card that can provide premium benefits - such as lounge access - to United Airlines customers.
Editor's Rating: 4.0/5.0

Editor's Rating

4.0/5.0

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.

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℠ 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, 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”.

United MileagePlus® Club Card
United MileagePlus® Club Card
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
United MileagePlus® Club Card
This card is not available through ValuePenguin.
Annual Fee
$450
Purchase APR
16.99% - 23.99% Variable
Credit Needed Excellent Credit
Details
  • 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • United Club℠ membership - up to a $550 value per year
  • Check your first and second bag for free (a savings of up to $240 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your ticket.
  • Enjoy Premier Access® travel services to ease your way through the airport with priority check-in, security screening (where available), boarding and baggage handling privileges.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on tickets purchased from United.
  • Earn 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $450 annual fee

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.

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 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, credit to pay off Global Entry/TSA Pre✓ and has an annual fee of $550 (See Rates & Fees). 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.

For rates and fees of the The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

United MileagePlus® Club Card vs United℠ Explorer Card

The United℠ Explorer Card is meant for frequent United Airlines customers with no interest in lounge access. This card comes with a far lower annual fee - $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95. This card is far more focused on earning users United MileagePlus miles than the United MileagePlus Club Card counterpart. Right off the bat, United℠ Explorer Card cardmembers have the ability to earn 40,000 bonus miles when they spend $2,000 or more on purchases, within the first 3 months their account is open. 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® Club Card to the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card 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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Assumptions based on $1,430 monthly spend
Monthly spending:
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{"cardCategory":"rewards","cardIds":"198,199,12,196,63","initialResultsLimit":0,"endpoint":"https:\/\/creditcards.valuepenguin.com\/api\/creditcards\/models\/rewards","onCurrent":"true"}

Comments and Questions

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Info about the following cards: Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express, Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express, Hilton Honors Surpass® Credit Card, American Express® Blue Sky, American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, The Plenti® Credit Card from Amex, Blue from American Express®, Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, Bluebird, Centurion® Card from American Express, Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card, Amazon Business American Express Card, and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card has been collected independently by ValuePenguin. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

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.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).

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