The Best Premium Airline Credit Card Finally Has a Big Signup Bonus: 50,000 Miles for United Club Card

I receive compensation for many links on this blog. You don’t have to use these links, but I am grateful to you if you do. American Express, Citibank, Chase, Capital One and other banks are advertising partners of this site. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by my advertising partners. I do not write about all credit cards that are available -- instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same).


United MileagePlus® Club Card

I’ve considered the United Club Card to be one of the best cards from Chase even when it didn’t have a signup bonus. It’s the best premium airline co-brand credit card. Neither American’s card nor Delta’s earn like this one, or come with the same additional status.

This card $450 annual fee card launched in 2012 and I’ve never seen a publicly available offer with a mileage signup bonus. That’s just changed. Chase is offering 50,000 bonus miles after $3,000 spend within 3 months. And it earns miles fast since all spending generates 1.5 miles per dollar (2 miles for United spend).


United Club Houston

The United Club Card is the best way to buy United lounge membership. Everyone below United’s 1K status saves money compared to buying a membership from United. United 1Ks face the same price for membership. But even if a 1K was going to pay for membership, why not get this card instead, you get United Club plus all the other benefits of the card at the same price point.

For a regular travelers having club access easily pays for itself when flights go wrong. Getting help in the club during irregular operations instead of the gate, customer service, the phone or self service via app or kiosk can make all the difference in getting the best flight options available and give you back hours or even a day.

And United Club members comes with access to Star Alliance business class lounges as well when flying a Star Alliance carrier same day.


Star Alliance Business Class Lounge Outdoor Deck, LAX


Lufthansa Business Class Lounge Entry, Washington Dulles

Three elite statuses come with the card:

Elites with the card are entitled to upgrades on domestic award tickets. The card also waives close-in booking fees for award tickets, those pesky extra costs when traveling within 21 days of booking. And the four United flight requirement to earn elite status is waived for cardmembers.

Cardmembers without elite status get access to additional award space and to last seat availability when spending extra miles for United flights as well as:

  • First and second checked bag free when using your card to purchase your United ticket
  • Premier access — priority check-in, security, boarding and baggage handling
  • Benefits are available to a travel companion on the same reservation as well

In other words it’s like having United elite status without economy plus or upgrades (which lower level elites don’t get often anyway).

There are no foreign transaction fees, and like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card car rental collision damage waiver is primary so in the event of damage to a rental car your own insurance may not even need to know. You get all the other rich protections too like purchase, price, and return protection; trip delay and cancellation and lost and delayed baggage coverage; and extended warranty coverage.

The card is generally subject to Chase’s 5/24 limits, so get this card if you haven’t signed up for 5 or more new credit card accounts (excluding business cards from some issuers like American Express and Citibank) in the last 24 months.

It’s great to see the new best-ever offer for this card.

United MileagePlus® Club Card

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

Comments

  1. SFO is my home base, so, with United’s hub there, it’s a no brainer for flights 99% of the time. I get to the airport early, because my pre-flight is always so comfortable and smooth with my Chase United card: 3 United Club lounges, TSA Pre (which I get with GOES anyway), and priority boarding. Returns are the same, providing the return airport has a United Club. Granted, AMEX has a Centurion Lounge at SFO, but it’s in United’s terminal (wonder why?) and Priority Pass isn’t anywhere closeby. At $550 also, AMEX Platinum might be better for non-SFO and International travelers. (I did use partner Lufthansa and COPA privileges with my Chase card, too.)

  2. I’m sorry, but I’m really struggling to find the value in this card. Not denying that the 50,000 sign-up bonus is a better deal than usual, but in terms of keeping the card long-term for its value, I don’t understand how you can justify the fee unless you use the United Clubs enough to compensate for the $450 fee. The 1.5x earning rate can easily be replicated by the $0 AF CFU card, the “United elite status without economy plus or upgrades” can be replicated with the $95 AF United MPE card, and the Hyatt Discoverist benefits can easily be attained with the $85 Hyatt card (and nobody will argue that this card is NOT worth the fee, considering the annual free night). So yeah, it can be a little more challenging to replicate all the benefits since it requires 3 other cards, rather than just one card… but I’d rather just pay the $95 total in fees for the other 3 cards (assuming you count the Hyatt card as a net $0 AF card due to the free night) than pay $450 for this card.

    Again, if you really value United Club membership, then go for it… but for anyone else that only uses the United Clubs less than about 22 times per year (since the single use passes can be bought for $20 or less on Ebay) I don’t see the value proposition for this card. It’s a Club card, pure and simple, all of the other benefits are essentially worthless since they can be obtained MUCH cheaper via other methods. Additionally, if you are REALLY serious about the United Club access, you should look into the UBS Visa Infinite card which will help you get $500 forwards United Club membership costs (with $50k spend), and the card also comes with a $250 annual travel credit, 12 GoGo passes, etc…. If I was serious about United Club access, I’d pursue that card instead.

    Someone please change my mind, because I would love to get this card for the points, but I’m just having a hard time finding the value in it…

  3. If you do not value the United Club then the United Club Card isn’t a great value proposition. If you do it has some fantastic additional benefits.

    I disagree with your math on how much you need to value and use the club though — that the club needs to cover the full value of the card — because the long list of benefits are useful especially for United flyers or active MileagePlus members.

  4. Also, I’m curious why you refer to this as the “Best Premium Airline Credit Card”, when this card doesn’t even offer elite qualification spending waivers like some of the other premium airline cards do… in fact, it’s well known that with the Delta cards it is even possible to achieve elite status without ever stepping foot on Delta metal. You certainly can’t do anything like that with this card. Also, the Delta Reserve card comes with a companion cert that can be used on domestic first class or coach tickets… I know it’s fairly limited, but that can easily be worth $500+ in value right there on a transcon redemption, right? The United card doesn’t offer any of these nice “bonus” perks like that. I’m not even a big fan of Delta, I prefer United myself and fly them a lot more often since I’m near EWR, but I’m still struggling to justify the fee on this card, let alone justify calling it the “BEST” of the premium airline cards… that part seems a bit like marketing hype to me. Again, I’d love to be proven wrong because I really am looking for an excuse to convince myself to get this card, and I was hoping this article would give me one, but I’m still unconvinced…. seems there are many better alternatives. On a side note, have you done a review yourself of the UBS Visa Infinite card? Can’t recall if I saw anything about it on this blog… it seems like it made a small splash a few months ago and then everyone forgot about it, but it seems like it offers a decent value proposition. If you haven’t reviewed it yet, you should try obtaining one and sharing your thoughts on it. Thanks!

  5. The United club membership also grants access to Acela Clubs in Boston, NYC, Philly, and DC.

    The standard targeted sign-up bonus for this card (usually available for Premier elites) is a first year annual fee waiver with no bonus miles.

    @Maria
    There’s a business version of the card available now. It only has $100 statement credit as a public offer. As with the personal version, you may be targeted for an annual fee waiver if you have United Premier status.

  6. @Tom comparison is to Delta Reserve, Citi Executive. Remember that the Delta spend waiver for top tier status is going to be at $250k starting next year. So the fact that United doesn’t have a spend waiver for top tier doesn’t matter, the Citi card also doesn’t give credit towards spend. Earning for spend is also far stronger with this card than either of those.

  7. Gary phrased the title the way he did for one reason: clicks.

    Anything else discredits him so badly that he’s not even worth following.

    Actually, between the recent click bait, and his BS integration with readers like Feedly (you’re the only finance guy I follow that makes you click through to read the full article). I’m done with VFTW.

    Convince me otherwise.

  8. What I don’t understand is the math….actually the arithmetic. Why is a spouse add-on more expensive for Platinum and 1K? Why not just get a separate card….it would be cheaper.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *