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This article was last updated Feb 20, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.
The information related to the United Club℠ Card, United℠ Explorer Card, and 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 prior to publication.
Elite United Airlines flyers who want a luxury credit card that befits their status should consider the United Club℠ Card. But with its $450 annual fee, the question is — do the perks that come with this card justify its cost?
It’s a mixed bag. While the United Club℠ Card comes with some nice airline perks and a free lounge membership, the miles per dollar spent are lower than those offered by credit cards in both the luxury and airline spaces. It’s surprising that this card offers no way to earn elite status in the MileagePlus loyalty program, nor does it offer some of the solid perks offered by its lower annual fee sister card, the United℠ Explorer Card at $0 Intro for First Year, then $95.
Read our review of the United℠ Explorer Card.
We’ll unpack the good and the bad with the United Club℠ Card, and compare it to The Platinum Card® from American Express as an alternative.
Where the United Club℠ Card stands out
Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You could use those miles for a roundtrip, first-class saver award flight from Newark to Seattle.
Cardmembers Earn 1.5 miles per $1 spent on purchases. United and United Express fly 4,800 flights a day to 353 airports across five continents. That network is enhanced by the Star Alliance, whose 28 members (including United) fly to 193 countries. So there are plenty of places you can use your MileagePlus miles for reward travel.
You can also redeem your miles for seat upgrades, hotels, rental cars, cruises, merchandise, Apple products, gift cards, MileagePlus Exclusives, MileagePlus Event Awards and Broadway shows.
The United Club℠ Card comes with a United ClubSM airport lounge membership. With lounge membership at $550 a year, this more than covers the card’s annual fee ($450). Your membership allows you to bring either two adults or an adult and dependent children under age 21 as your guests.
You and your travel companions get Premier Access®, which includes designated check-in lines, along with priority security lanes, boarding and baggage handling on United flights where available. This card also comes with a great luggage allowance, giving you and a travel companion two free checked bags on United and United Express-operated flights. Every time you and your companion check two bags, you’re saving $280 on every roundtrip flight you take.
The card comes with a Hertz Gold Plus Rewards® President’s Circle® membership, which includes a 25% bonus on Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Points, upgrades, exclusive offers and more.
Additional United Club℠ Card benefits
- Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance
- Lost luggage reimbursement
- Baggage delay insurance
- Trip delay reimbursement
- Auto rental collision damage waiver
- Visa Signature® Concierge
- Purchase protection
- Price protection
- Return protection
- Extended warranty
- Exclusive MileagePlus events
- Access to the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, with perks such as free daily breakfast for two, free Wi-Fi, room upgrades when available and early check-in and late check-out at more than 900 hotels, resorts, lodges and spas.
- Access to the Inside Access program, which allows cardmembers to buy private experiences.
- Terms apply to Chase credit card offers. See chase.com for more information.
Where the United Club℠ Card falls short
For a luxury card, the perks and benefit that come with the United Club℠ Card don’t feel like they’re enough when compared to airline competitors such as the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express or the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®. You have to question if it’s enough to justify the card’s $450 annual fee.
Cardmembers only Earn 1.5 miles per $1 spent on purchases. Again, there are plenty of both airline- and travel-branded credit cards that offer better points and miles for popular spending categories such as airline and non-airline travel, restaurants, gas and groceries, including United’s own United℠ Explorer Card.
In addition, the United Club℠ Card doesn’t give cardmembers a mechanism to earn bonus miles that help reach and maintain MileagePlus elite status. Both the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express and the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® have that option.
Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases & 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases*
No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
- Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
- Admirals Club® membership for you and access for guests traveling with you
- Complimentary Admirals Club® lounge access for authorized users
- Earn 10,000 AAdvantage® Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs) after you spend $40,000 in purchases within the year
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases*
- Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
- First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation
See additional details for Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
While it does come with priority airline perks you’d expect, the card doesn’t offer credits for Global Entry or TSA Precheck enrollment fees or the 25% discount for in-flight amenities that comes with the United℠ Explorer Card.
Compare it with The Platinum Card® from American Express
60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.*
Up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees & more at one qualifying airline*
No foreign transaction fees & exclusive airport lounge access*
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- 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.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for The Platinum Card® from American Express
Let’s say United Airlines isn’t your carrier of choice, but you still want a travel-related luxury credit card. For a bit more than the United Club℠ Card’s annual fee, you can get The Platinum Card® from American Express, which comes with all the perks and benefits you expect from American Express — even with an annual fee that’s one of the highest among luxury cards category at $550. And bear in mind that the benefits with this card more than cover the annual fee.New cardmembers receive a welcome offer of 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Those points can be redeemed at the Membership Rewards website for airline flights, hotels, gift cards, merchandise, pay with points and statement credits.
Cardmembers earn 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. Note that you only earn the highest points per dollar spent if you book flights or hotels on the card at amextravel.com. The Platinum Card® from American Express only offers the lowest points for other top spending categories.
Transfer your Membership Rewards points to 18 airline or three hotel loyalty programs, but know that you’ll pay up to $99 each transfer. When you book airline travel on the card via Membership Rewards, there are no blackout dates or seating restrictions and your points don’t expire. The card also comes with $200 in Uber credits, $200 to cover airline fees on the carrier of your choice and up to $100 to cover enrollment fees for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.
The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with Hilton Honors Gold and Marriott Bonvoy gold elite status. There’s also free access to airport lounges, including Centurion Lounge, international American Express lounges, Delta Sky Club, Priority Pass Select, Airspace and Escape.
Under the Fine Hotels & Resorts program, receive free benefits with an average total value of $550, such as daily breakfast for two, room upgrade when available, a property amenity valued at $100, guaranteed 4 p.m. late check-out and noon check-in when available; and free Wi-Fi.
Members can call the Platinum Card Concierge, with trained staff who help with services such as custom travel itineraries, restaurant reservations and tickets to sports and entertainment events.
Get access to customized By Invitation Only® experiences, from sporting and fashion to fine dining, art and performances. Make reservations and have extraordinary experiences at restaurants with the Global Dining Collection. Plus, get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue or saks.com.
The card comes with cell phone protection, return protection, extended warranties and free Boingo internet access at more than 1 million hotspot locations worldwide.
One big difference between the United Club℠ Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express is that the latter is a charge card, so the balance must be paid off every month. It’s also surprising that this card doesn’t come with travel protections such as baggage and travel accident insurance like the United Club℠ Card.
|United Club℠ Card||The Platinum Card® from American Express|
|Regular purchase APR||18.49% to 25.49% Variable||N/A|
|Rewards||Earn 1.5 miles per $1 spent on purchases||5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.|
|Sign-up bonus/welcome offer||Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.||60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.|
|Foreign transaction fee||None||None|
The bottom line
Deciding between these two cards comes down to two things — miles/points per dollar spent and perks. The miles per dollar earned on the United Club℠ Card are pretty low across the board. The numbers are better with The Platinum Card® from American Express — but only for air travel and hotels booked at amextravel.com.
The United Club℠ Card comes with a United Club lounge membership, while The Platinum Card® from American Express includes access to Centurion and international American Express lounges, along with four others.
Both cards come with pretty good travel and purchase protection, but only the United Club℠ Card has airline-related perks designed to make travel easier. The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with automatic elite status for Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy. The United Club℠ Card only comes with a Hertz Gold Plus Rewards® President’s Circle® membership.
When it comes time to redeem your points and miles, both cards have great options. But the United Club℠ Card doesn’t have a way to help you earn and keep MileagePlus elite status.
So if you’re a United MileagePlus loyalty program fan, the United Club℠ Card is the one for you. But if you want more perks and benefits, and value the service that comes with American Express, The Platinum Card® from American Express may be a better fit.