The United Club card is the premium version of the United Explorer card. However until now I’ve never seen it offer any bonus miles for signing up. In the past Chase has felt that the card benefits were rich enough that they didn’t need to offer a signup bonus for the card. But for a limited time only you can get 50,000 bonus miles for spending $3,000 within 3 months on the card!
You can get this card even if you currently have a United Explorer card and even if you received a bonus on the Explorer card in the past 24 months as this is a different product.
You can view credit card offers by hovering over the “Credit Cards” tab. You can click on “Top Credit Card Offers“ and then hover over “Card Type” to find card offers from the bank you’re looking for.
A short-haul United domestic award under 700 miles in distance is just 10,000 miles. That’s more than the BA 7.5K short-haul, but availability is much better, it allows for a longer flight distance, and you are allowed to have connections for the same rate, something that BA doesn’t allow.
Best of all United never charges any fuel surcharges. Other airlines like American collect massive fuel surcharges to fly on British Airways. Delta charges fuel surcharges to fly on some partners and if you originate in Europe and other regions. United will never collect a fuel surcharge and they have access to awards on 40 partner airlines which means better availability on more awards.
United also allows free open-jaws and “Excursionist-perk” stopovers.
The United Club card costs a whopping $450 per year. In the past that was a trade-off against the benefits, but now the 50K signup bonus is worth much more than the fee. The card comes loaded with excellent benefits:
- Full United Club membership:
This membership normally costs $550 per year plus a $50 initiation fee for non-elites. A full United Club membership allows your entire family, or you and 2 guests, to enter hundreds of United and partner lounges worldwide, regardless of which airline you are flying.
Here is a dreadfully incomplete list of lounges. For example I’ve used my United membership card in Tel Aviv but they’re not listed as accepting a United Club membership.
- 2 Free Checked Bags:
You and one companion automatically get 2 free checked bags on United worldwide. If you bring 2 bags each that’s a savings of $240 domestically or a savings of $400 to most international destinations (China, Europe, Israel, etc) on a round-trip. Additional cards are free, and although they don’t automatically get 2 free bags like the primary cardholder, they may be able to at the checkin counter by showing the agent their United Club card if you purchase their ticket using the United Club card. This has worked for my additional users, but it’s a YMMV (your mileage may vary) situation as its up to the checkin agent. For a family of 4 with 8 checked bags you can split your itinerary into 2 after purchasing it, and then with 1 primary card and 1 additional card all 8 checked bags may be free, a savings of $480 domestically or $800 to most international destinations on a round-trip.
- Waived Award Close-In Fees:
If you are a primary United Club cardholder you can book awards with the pesky $75 per passenger fee for booking an award ticket within 21 days. Not coincidentally, that’s exactly when the best award availability starts to open up. This benefit is more valuable than before thanks to United closing the loophole of avoiding the close-in fee online, though some phone agents still waive the expedite fee that way for everyone. Either way, it’s a lot easier when you have a Club card and can book online with the fees automatically waived.
- Premier Access and Boarding:
You’ll get priority check-in, priority baggage handling (your bags will arrive ahead of the non-priority baggage), priority security line access, and priority boarding.
- 1.5 United Miles per dollar spent everywhere
This benefit was more valuable before the Freedom Unlimited started offering 1.5 points per dollar everywhere. There are some advantages though. The United card has no foreign transaction fees vs the 3% fee on the Freedom Unlimited card. The Freedom Unlimited card also requires having a premium card with an annual fee to transfer points into miles. It’s not hard at all to get at least 1.7 cents value per mile, but at that rate it’s a 2.55% rebate on everything you buy. Considering you can pay your federal income taxes for a 1.87% fee, you will be able to load up on miles the next time you pay taxes and be excited about getting a discounted vacation out of it! It would come out to a cost of just 1.22 cents per United mile, which is an incredible bargain, plus you may even be able to deduct the 1.87% fee!
- World of Hyatt Discoverist status
Hyatt Discoverists get 10% bonus points, preferred room upgrades, free WiFi, free bottled water, and 2pm late checkout.
- Hertz President’s Circle status
Hertz President’s Circle elites get 25% bonus points,.confirmed upgrades, confirmed vehicles when sold out, and more.
- No foreign Transaction fees:
Get the best rates and pay no exchange rate fees.
As with the Explorer card, you also get these benefits:
- Expanded award ticket availability:
Cardholders have access to expanded saver coach award availability (XN class), last seat standard coach award availability (YN class), and last seat standard business/first class award availability (JN class). It’s not just slightly expanded. There is a world of difference between the availability that cardholders can access and the availability for non-cardholders. You can read more about expanded availability and its minutiae in this post or in this post. As you have better access to saver coach awards you’ll also have better ability to do Plan B awards. Plan B allows you to redeem for saver business and first class awards when there’s only saver coach available. Read more about Plan B in this post.
- Basic Economy restrictions avoidance:
Premier members and their companions can take advantage of priority boarding, free checked baggage, and free carry-on baggage, even when flying on a basic economy fare.
- Primary CDW Rental Car Insurance:
Many credit cards only offer secondary CDW rental car insurance, meaning that you must first file a claim with your personal insurance which will affect your rates. The United cards will cover accidents without the need to make any claim with your personal insurance in every country in the world.
- Premier upgrades on award tickets:
Premier members will be eligible for upgrades by being a United cardholder.
- Non-expiring miles:
As long as you’re a United cardholder your miles will never expire.
- PQD Waiver:
Spend $25K in a calendar year and United will waive the flight spend requirement to earn Silver, Gold, or Platinum status. More info in this post.
- Exclusive mileage auctions:
United cardholders get exclusive access to auctions that allow you to use your miles for once-in-a-lifetime experiences. A few years ago I used 25K miles for 4 field box seats to an Indians game along with the right to run onto the field before the top of the 7th inning and swipe 2nd base right off the field. Nobody could believe it as I walked around the ballpark with 2nd base. I even got it signed after the game by the Indians wining pitcher that night, Justin Masterson, who was equally shocked that I actually had 2nd base.
- Other protections:
- Travel Accident Insurance
- Emergency Assistance
- Trip Cancellation Insurance
- Lost Luggage Reimbursement
- Delayed Luggage Reimbursement
- Delayed Trip Reimbursement
- Extended Warranty Protection
- Price Drop Protection
- Purchase Protection
- Return Protection
- Worldwide Emergency Card Replacement
You can view credit card offers by hovering over the “Credit Cards” tab. You can then click on “Credit Cards From All Banks“ to find card offers via the logo of the bank you’re looking for.
Will you signup for a United Club card?