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Is the United Club Infinite Card annual fee worth it?

Nov. 03, 2022
9 min read
looking down the side of an airplane while it's parked
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.

The United Club Infinite Card offers a gang of benefits when flying with United Airlines. You might be surprised to find out there are also hotel benefits packed into this card.

However, the $525 annual fee can be hard to swallow. Are there really enough perks packed into this premium piece of plastic to make the United Club Infinite Card's annual fee worth it? Let's take a look.

Sign-up bonus

New applicants can earn 80,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months from account opening. TPG values United miles at 1.21 cents apiece. That means this bonus is worth $968.

United Saks bedding in the Polaris business class. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Some of the best uses of United miles include domestic United flights that can cost as little as 5,000 miles one-way in economy (though more typically 6,000-8,000 miles each), booking Lufthansa first class without exorbitant fees, flying United's Polaris business class to Europe. An added benefit to using United's miles for an award ticket is the low taxes and fees you'll pay after redeeming your miles.

Related: The best sweet spots you can book with United MileagePlus

Then, there's the Excursionist Perk. If you follow a few simple rules, you can add an extra flight to your next award booking without paying any extra miles.

United Club membership

Access to the United Club usually comes in one of two ways: earning a minimum of Gold status with United Airlines or buying a membership. A membership costs up to $650 per year.

Depending on how you value a United Club membership and your (in)ability to attain the status required to use the lounge before your flights, this benefit alone could justify holding the Club Infinite card. That's because the annual fee on the card is $125 cheaper than buying a United Club membership each year and is likely thousands of dollars cheaper than qualifying for elite status with United every year.

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Related: The ultimate guide to United Club access

That said, if you aren't flying with United Airlines often enough to earn status then you may not use the lounge enough to justify these costs. That's because you need a same-day boarding pass for United Airlines or one of its partners to use the United Club. Just because you have the Club Infinite card — and thus a United Club membership — doesn't mean you can enter the lounge if you're flying on American Airlines, for example.

For those who currently have a United Club membership, you may wonder whether you should wait until next year to get the Club Infinite card since you've already paid for your membership this year. The good news if that if you open the Club Infinite card, you'll be reimbursed for the unused portion of your United Club membership after approval for this credit card.

The United Club at Newark's EWR airport. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Benefits on United flights

Those with the United Club Infinite Card enjoy access to priority check-in and priority security screening (where available), as well as priority boarding privileges and priority baggage handling. That means your suitcase should come out first, avoiding delays at baggage claim.

Speaking of baggage, you'll also get a higher checked baggage allowance. Those who don't have a United Airlines credit card typically don't get free checked bags when flying with United on domestic or short-haul economy flights. And while other credit cards like the United Explorer Card allow cardholders to check one suitcase for free on these flights, Club Infinite cardholders get two free checked bags. This benefit is available for the primary cardholder and one companion who is on the same reservation.

Related: United Airlines baggage fees and how to avoid paying them

It's also worth noting that you must use your Club Infinite card to pay for your tickets in order to enjoy this benefit. Simply having the card doesn't invoke the ability to check two bags for free.

Club Infinite cardholders also receive 25% back as a statement credit for inflight purchases of food, beverages and Wi-Fi on United-operated flights. You'll also receive 25% back on premium drinks at United Clubs when paying with your card.

Lastly, Club Infinite cardholders who have United MileagePlus status are eligible for complimentary upgrades when flying with United or United Express on reservations that were booked with miles. This also applies to one traveling companion on the same reservation. This perk makes upgrades available even after booking seats in economy using your airline miles.


10% cheaper United award flights

For flights within the continental U.S. or between the U.S. and Canada, cardholders can save 10% on United saver awards for redemptions on economy tickets (fare classes X and XN). This applies to flights on United and United Express only, however.

This discount is available for all passengers on the same reservation as the primary cardholder, but the trip must be booked from the primary cardholder's MileagePlus account. The discount applies only to the mileage portion of the ticket and won't reduce any taxes and fees required during ticketing, but there is no limit to the number of miles that can be saved with this benefit each year.

Spend your way toward elite status

In order to attain status with United Airlines each year, you need to complete one of the following: a combination of flights (PQFs) and money spent (PQPs) or simply an elevated amount of money spent for extra PQPs.

Related: The ultimate guide to earning elite status with United cards

Those pursuing elite status tiers with United can earn up to 4,000 extra PQPs each year through spending on the Club Infinite card. Cardholders earn 500 PQP for each $12,000 spent on purchases, and there's a maximum of 4,000 PQPs that can be earned this way during a calendar year. These bonus earnings are valid through the Premier 1K status level.

Hotel and rental car benefits

The primary cardholder can enroll for Platinum Elite status with IHG One Rewards. This is the third of four tiers in the IHG One Rewards program and offers benefits like bonus points on paid stays, complimentary room upgrades based on availability at check-in, priority check-in when arriving at the hotel, discounts on reward nights at select properties and a welcome gift at check-in. This typically includes points or a snack.

The InterContinental New York Barclay, an IHG hotel. SCOTT MAYEROWITZ/THE POINTS GUY

Another benefit with IHG is the ability to receive up to $75 in statement credits each year as reimbursement for spending at IHG properties. This is available each calendar year.

Cardholders also can enroll for Avis President's Club status. Normally available by invitation only, perks at this tier include complimentary two-class upgrades on rental cars, guaranteed car availability, skipping the line when picking up your rental car and more.

As with status in other rental car programs, the best value in this benefit may be the availability to match your rental car elite status from one program to another.

Other perks

In order to expedite their way through security at the airport or when crossing the U.S.-Canada border, cardholders can receive up to $100 in reimbursement for their application fee to Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or Nexus. This benefit is available once every four years.

When making purchases, cardholders earn 4 United miles per dollar on purchases with United airlines, 2 miles per dollar on all other travel and 1 mile per dollar on other purchases. This represents a 4.84% return on spending with United, 2.42% return on travel spending and 1.21% return on all other spending, according to TPG's latest valuations.

Related: United Club Infinite credit card review

Cardholders also can enroll in a year of complimentary DashPass from DoorDash, which typically costs $9.99 per month and provides lower services and free delivery on eligible orders. This benefit has been extended through Dec. 31, 2024.

As a premium credit card, cardholders also have access to Chase's Luxury Hotels & Resort Collection for booking premium hotels with perks added to each reservation. There are also benefits like car rental damage insurance, trip cancellation/interruption insurance and purchase protection built into the card.


Bottom line

Many people are shocked when they see credit cards with annual fees of $500 or more. One such card is the United Club Infinite Card, which carries a $525 annual fee but comes with perks like discounts on award fares, upgrades and lounge access.

Is the annual fee on the Club Infinite card worth it? That depends on how often you're using these perks. For frequent visitors to the United Club and those who redeem a lot of miles for domestic economy flights in the U.S., that's likely a fast "yes" answer.

Conversely, for those who make occasional visits to the lounge, fly on a mix of airlines and don't make many award redemptions for United flights in economy seats, it's probably tough to justify the annual fee after exhausting the miles from a sizeable welcome bonus in the first year.

Official application link: United Club Infinite Card with a 80,000-mile welcome offer after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new card within the first three months from account opening.

Additional reporting by Ryan Smith.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.