*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
This article was last updated Oct 10, 2017, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.
The United MileagePlus® Club Card* is a premium credit card that earns 1.5 United miles per dollar spent on all purchases (a 50% bonus vs normal United credit cards), and two miles per dollar on tickets purchased from United.
It comes with a $450 annual fee, which includes full membership to the United Club (a $550 value for non-Premier Platinum and 1K level flyers), and you get the first two checked bags per person for up to two people free. On flights to Asia and Europe that saves $100 each way for the recently increased second checked bag fee, or $400 roundtrip for two – great if you visit family there a couple times a year.
There is sometimes a no fee first year offer for the card – you can check to see if you’re eligible at MPClubCard.com by entering your MileagePlus number and password. However, the fee waiver does not come with the 50,000 mile bonus, meaning you must choose one or the other when you apply.
You earn a 50% mile bonus on all purchases: earn 1.5 MileagePlus miles per dollar spent. There is also a 100% mile bonus on United purchases – earn two miles per dollar spent on tickets purchased from United.
Lounge access: You get full United Club membership (up to a $550 value if purchased separately), which includes access to all United Clubs, Star Alliance business class lounges, and Amtrak Club Acela lounges.
Premium travel privileges: The first two bags are free for you and a companion in your reservation. This includes Asia and Europe flights, where the second bag fee charge is $100 each. You can save $400 roundtrip when two people on a trip check two bags each on flights to Europe and Asia, almost enough to offset the cost of the $450 annual fee. You also get Premier Access airport privileges, which includes priority boarding in Premier Access lane, priority check-in, and use of the priority security lanes.
MileagePlus benefits: You enjoy no “close-in” award booking fees (up to $75 savings per ticket), Premier upgrades on award tickets (if you are a Premier member), and no expiration on miles as long as you hold the card. You also get access to two-for-one business class fares on full fare tickets on flights with international ‘Business First’ service. Click here to learn how it works.
Other travel benefits: No foreign transaction fees, Hertz President’s Circle membership, World of Hyatt Discoverist status (including 2 p.m. checkout, free premium wireless internet, and preferred rooms), Luxury Hotels and Resorts access (featuring amenities including free breakfast, room upgrades, late checkout, and arrival gifts), and primary car rental insurance coverage for accidental collision or theft damages when you use the card to pay for your rental and refuse the collision damage waiver.
If you are already a United Club member, this card is an easy decision: you get the most powerful United mileage earning available for less than the price you’re already paying for membership. No other card earns United miles at a faster rate thanks to the 50% mile bonus on all spending. United will also prorate and refund the United Club membership fee you’ve already paid when you get this credit card.
If you currently hold a Presidential Plus credit card, you have options. While the Presidential Plus credit card is no longer available to new applicants, current cardholders can keep the benefits unchanged. If you do nothing, you’ll continue to earn elite qualifying miles and all the benefits you’re used to. However if you wish, you can switch your account to a United MileagePlus® Club Card, and instead of earning elite qualifying miles earn 1.5 award miles per dollar spent.
If you are not a United Club member, then there are more things to consider, including the extra mile earning bonus, how much the bag savings are worth (a lot if you check two bags to Europe or Asia at $100 each), how much you think having club membership at hand is worth, and several other travel benefits we talk about below.
See how the 50% mile bonus stacks up
Click to try our calculator to see how many more miles the United MileagePlus® Club Card’s 50% mile bonus can earn you versus the other United credit card options:
- United℠ Explorer Card*: Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants, on hotel stays and on purchases from United. 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases. The annual fee is $0 Intro for First Year, then $95.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: Earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. The annual fee is $0 Intro for the First Year, then $95.
Both of these cards have lower annual fees than the $450 annual fee of the United MileagePlus® Club Card. Unless more than half of your spending is on dining and travel, the United MileagePlus® Club Card will earn United miles faster than the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
However, you miss out on the ability to transfer Ultimate Rewards points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card into other loyalty programs, including Southwest Airlines, British Airways, Marriott, Hyatt, IHG® Rewards Club, and Korean Air, in addition to United. That gives you the most flexibility when you choose to book free travel.
United branded cards like the United MileagePlus® Club Card and the United℠ Explorer Card only earn you United miles, which can be used on United and Star Alliance partners, including Air Canada, Eva Air, Lufthansa, and Asiana Airlines.
Full United Club membership – not just United lounge access
If you are approved for the United MileagePlus® Club Card, you will be sent a separate United Club membership card. Membership is limited to the primary cardholder only – authorized users will not receive their own membership. Lounge benefits include:
- United Clubs: Entry into all United Clubs around the world for the member and two adult guests, or one adult and one dependent under 21 years old, regardless of what airline you are flying.
- Star Alliance Business Class Lounges: Entry into Star Alliance business class lounges for the member and one guest when flying aboard the Star Alliance carrier. Entry is limited to the departure airport only.
If you haven’t been in a United Club before, you’ll find clubs offer free beverages (including beer, wine and cocktails), dedicated agents to help you with your reservation on the spot, free internet, light snacks including oatmeal in the morning and soup at lunch, and dedicated work stations. While it may be nothing opulent, the United Club can make travel more convenient, especially when things go wrong.
If you don’t feel like carrying your card around, you can also use your boarding pass and United MileagePlus number to get into the United Clubs. However, you will need the separate card for access to Star Alliance partner lounges.
How much does United Club membership cost without the credit card?
If you hold the United℠ Explorer Card, you will receive two complimentary one-time United Club passes every year. Otherwise, United Club day passes cost $59 each, and allow you to enter one United Club per pass. Expired one-time passes, either offered from the United℠ Explorer Card or from former products, will not be honored for entry.
United Club membership starts at $550 for one person, or $1,100 for a member and their spouse, with a one time $50 initiation fee for new members:
Although an individual membership can be purchased for 70,000 MileagePlus miles, that may be a poor use of miles. Our calculator estimates 70,000 miles equates to just under $700 of travel value – exceeding the $550 membership fee.
Can I also enter United Polaris lounges with my United Club membership?
As the premier flight experience, United Polaris lounge access is strictly limited to United Polaris and international Star Alliance First and Business class passengers. Without a ticket in either class, you will be directed to the nearest United Club – even with United Club membership.
United Airlines flight benefits
If you’re not a Premier level flyer with United (someone who spends $3,000 in qualifying purchases with United and flies 25,000 miles or more with the airline and its partners each year) then the travel benefits also have big value. You’re skipping most bag fees and getting the same priority airport privileges as people who fly between 25,000 and 49,999 miles and spend a significant amount of money on United.
Travel benefits — beyond United
Hertz President’s Circle status: this offers you one car class upgrades when you rent with Hertz at participating locations, when an upgrade is available.
World of Hyatt Discoverist status: — This normally requires 10 stays per year, and gets you 2pm late checkout, free premium wireless internet, and preferred rooms.
Luxury Hotel Collection – You get Breakfast for two daily, a room upgrade, if available at check-in, Early check-in and late check-out, if available, and a very special amenity unique to every property. These aren’t all super expensive hotels either…you can get these benefits at places like the Waldorf Astoria Orlando, the Westin Maui Resort and Spa, and the InterContinental Century City in Los Angeles. You just have to book using the explorelhrcollection.com site.
How is the United Club membership different from other credit cards?
Unlike some premium airline credit cards, the United MileagePlus® Club Card comes with full membership. This is how the card compares to similar cards:
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®: Full membership in the American Admirals Club, with access to domestic and international lounges, Alaska Airlines Lounges when departing on a Alaska operated or marketed flight, and Qantas Clubs when flying with Qantas or American out of Sydney. Members can bring in their immediate family, including their spouse and children under 18, or up to two guests.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®: No direct access to United Clubs, but you will have entry privileges to select independent and international airport lounges with Priority Pass.
- Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express*: No membership in the Delta Sky Club, but you will have unlimited entry privileges when space is available. This benefit is only available when flying on Delta.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: Membership into The Centurion Lounge from American Express, allowing you to enter at departure or on arrival when flying any airline. Delta Sky Club entry privileges are also available when flying Delta, along with access to independent Airspace Lounges and select lounges via Priority Pass.
We think the United MileagePlus® Club Card is the right choice if you fly five or more times per year on United or their Star Alliance partners, and could get some use out of the club benefits. You could also benefit if you have heavy spending on your credit card and can rack up the extra points the 1.5 miles per dollar offers. It’s also helpful if you want your family to enjoy a more comfortable experience on the way to vacations.
*The information related to the United MileagePlus® Club Card, and the Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express has been collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card. These offers and/or promotions may have since changed, expired, or are no longer available.