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These are the world's best United Clubs

Sept. 21, 2019
5 min read
These are the world's best United Clubs
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United offers a fantastic new hangout called the Polaris Lounge, but access is limited to business- or first-class passengers traveling on a long-haul United Polaris or partner flight — even top-tier elites aren't able to get in unless they're booked on the "right" flights. There's not even an option to join as a member or pay for a onetime pass. So if you're flying United without Polaris access but still want to hang out in a lounge (and have access), the United Club is for you.

Though the Polaris Lounge is top-notch, United Clubs vary significantly in quality, from the messy situation at Newark (EWR) to the outstanding space at London Heathrow (LHR). Rather than pay for a membership outright, mine comes courtesy of the United Club Card, which comes along with a $450 annual fee, which may or not be waived for the first year. (The information for the United Club has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.)

Now, as I mentioned, some lounges offer a far better experience than others, from the overall space to the amenities and food. So much so that there are a few United Clubs that I'll go out of my way to visit — particularly the location in London — while I'll actively avoid others, such as the overcrowded and outdated spaces in Newark.

Of course, most flyers haven't had an opportunity to visit all of the lounges available to cardmembers, so I wanted to highlight my five favorites to give you an idea of what's out there and when you might want to add a few extra minutes for a preflight visit.

1. London Heathrow Airport (LHR)

The United Club lounge in London.

The London Heathrow location is hands down my favorite United Club in the world. It almost feels like a Polaris Lounge, though the food selection is far more limited. This space really is a step above the rest, with a full bar with excellent cocktails and loads of seating, and they'll even press your clothes while you shower.

2. Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT)

This one falls under the oldie-but-goodie category: It's a bit past its prime but also one of the largest lounges out there, and still one of my favorites. There's a decent food selection, including hot items and sushi you might actually want to eat. Members also have access to ANA's lounges, which are more modern and offer different amenities, such as a made-to-order noodle bar.

3. Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)

If you have access to Hong Kong's Amex Centurion Lounge, I'd definitely head there, instead of the United Club — especially if you're a Centurion cardmember — but United's own HKG lounge is worth a visit if you can't get into the Amex space around the corner. The spread is far more generous than you'll find at some US lounges, and with a balcony that opens out over the terminal, it's a decent place to do some planespotting.

4. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

United Club, Los Angeles terrace.

The LAX location is one of United's latest and greatest US clubs. The bar design is similar to the airline's London offering, though just as with the rest of the domestic locations, only a few drinks are included here, such as house wines, well liquor and one or two draft beers.

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United Club members also have access to the Star Alliance Lounge in the Tom Bradley International Terminal, which is far superior to United's own offering at LAX. There you'll find an expansive buffet, well-stocked bar, showers, a supercool terrace and more. It's a 15-minute walk from the United gates, and I recommend making the trek if you have time to kill.

5. San Diego International Airport (SAN)

United Club San Diego.

I've spent a lot of time at the SAN lounge over the years, ahead of Newark red-eye flights home, and even though it's small, it's still one of my favorites. The design is fresh, and the staff tends to be especially friendly — plus I've always found plenty of seating available, especially late at night.

Bottom line

United's global lounge network can be hit-or-miss, but this list will likely grow as the years go on — and the airline works through its backlog of renovations. For now, the United Club card remains one of the most-used cards in my arsenal. Even though most of my travel spend goes on the Chase Sapphire Reserve, that bundled United Club membership ends up getting quite a bit of use.

The information for the United Club card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Featured image by Photo courtesy United
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.

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Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more