United MileagePlus Club Credit Card Review

The United Club card currently has an increased offer of 50,000 miles after $3,000 in spend within the first three months of account opening. Despite the historic offer, the card might not be a good fit for everyone.

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$450 annual fee

The United MileagePlus Club card has a $450 annual fee that is NOT waived the first year. You might be wondering why this matters when I have a few high annual fee premium cards, but the United MileagePlus Club card is different because there are not any benefits like travel credits to offset the annual fee.

The basics

  • Annual fee: $450, not waived the first year
  • Sign up bonus: 50,000 miles worth $750 in travel if you value points at 1.5 cents per point
  • Annual travel credits: $0
  • United Club membership for you and two eligible travel companions whenever you fly 
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on United tickets
  • Earn 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Earn unlimited miles that don't expire
  • Free first and second checked bags
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Hyatt Discoverist status
  • Hertz President's Circle Elite status
  • No close-in award booking fees on United tickets
  • Premier upgrades on award tickets

Why should you consider the United MileagePlus Club card?

The main benefit of the United Club card is that you get access to United Club lounges and Star Alliance lounges. United Club membership retails at $550 value per year. You can bring yourself and two guests OR you and a spouse plus any children under 21. 

If you're based in a United hub, and there are no other lounge options, then this might be a good card to have for lounge access. 

In the United States, you can typically use the lounges when you depart and arrive. The rules might be different when you travel to international airports if you have to go through security checks.

The other scenario is if you travel often and check up to two bags. Some of my friends go skiing every other weekend and could benefit from waived bag fees. 

Another benefit is there are no close-in award booking fees on United tickets. This means if you have last-minute travel plans, you're covered. The primary cardholder can book award tickets for close-in dates without having to pay a close-in award booking fee.

Alternatives

One alternative to getting the United MileagePlus Club card is the United MileagePlus Explorer card. The current offer is 40,000 miles after $2,000 in spend within the first three months.

The basics

  • Annual fee: $95, not waived the first year
  • Sign up bonus: 40,000 miles after $2,000 in minimum spend within the first three months
  • Two one-time use United Club passes every card anniversary
  • One free checked bag
  • No foreign transaction fees

With the MileagePlus card, offers tend to vary from 30,000 points to 70,000 points. Even though the offer is 40,000 points, I don't recommend applying unless you get targeted for an offer higher than 50,000 points.

Conclusion

Given that the United Club card has a $450 annual fee and the MileagePlus card has a $95 fee, you're paying an effective $355 premium for more United Club lounge access, an extra checked bag, and status at Hyatt and Hertz.

There are better alternatives to the United cards. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you're earning more than 2x on travel and dining. The Chase Sapphire Reserve also grants access to Priority Pass lounges. 

For very specific use cases and frequent travelers, the United MileagePlus Club card might fit your lifestyle. Be sure to crunch the number to see if it makes sense for you.