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Airlines aren’t known for being especially generous when it comes to honoring expired perks, but I recently discovered one major exception to this rule: One-time passes for the United Club. These paper certificates are issued each year as a benefit of the United MileagePlus Explorer Card — as of 2015, Hyatt Diamond members (of which there are now many) are also entitled to two passes each year. Typically, passes expire at least a year after they’re issued, but if you aren’t able to use them before that date, they’re not entirely worthless.

A renovated United Club.

Currently, you can use an expired pass to enter a United Club with a $25 co-pay. Regular single-use passes run $50, so that’s a pretty decent savings. Of course, a visit to the United Club may not be worth $25 to you, but with renovated lounges and improved food offerings, you can certainly get your money’s worth with a longer layover or flight delay. Note that expired passes (plus the co-pay) must be redeemed within one year of the expiration date.

It’s sometimes also possible to get a year (or more) of free access by taking advantage of a status match, and you can get access with the MileagePlus Club card (which recently raised its annual fee to $450). You can also get access by purchasing a full United Club membership, but unless you have elite status, that’ll run you a whopping $550 each year (plus a $50 initiation fee).

United MileagePlus® Explorer Card

The standard sign-up offer for these co-branded cards is 30,000 miles after you spend $1,000 in the first three months, so the current bonus is a significant step up. TPG values United miles at 1.5 cents apiece, so this 50,000-mile sign-up bonus gets you $750 in value.

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More Things to Know
  • Special offer: 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $100 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your ticket
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on tickets purchased from United, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Your miles don't expire as long as your credit card account is open, with no limit to the number of miles you can earn
  • Use your miles for any seat, any time, on any United-operated flight at the MileagePlus Standard Award level
  • $95 annual fee
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

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