Best ways to use the United Club Infinite Card
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Editor’s note: At TPG, our top priority is providing our readers with the information you need to make educated decisions about travel and your rewards-earning strategy. This is not the best time to travel, domestically or internationally, as airlines have cut major parts of their route network. But we are sharing this card launch because it is a great offer that could provide value to cardholders for future travel once coronavirus concerns have subsided.
Chase unveiled a new cobranded United Airlines credit card, the United Club℠ Infinite Card — which takes the previously-available United Club credit card and makes it better by adding new bonus categories and other benefits, making it a must have for frequent United flyers. For a limited time until May 18, 2020, it’s currently offering a hefty welcome bonus of 100,000 United miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
The card offers a slew of benefits, with the most notable being a full United Club membership. But the card still has a few tricks up its sleeve that you should be aware of before you apply for the card.
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We’ll take you through the card’s perks and show you all the ways you can use the United Club Infinite Card to enhance your travel life. Use this as a guide to see if the card is worth the high annual fee and deserves a place in your wallet. Spoiler alert: if you fly United on a regular basis, it probably is.
First things first: This card is for frequent United flyers
The United Club Infinite Card has a $525 annual fee. This card is best used by United loyalists who fly United often and live near or connect through a United hub with a United Club lounge. Further, those who fly United but do not yet have elite status will also massively benefit from the United Club Infinite Card with its free first and second checked bag and Premier Access benefits.
The best way to use this card is to unlock all of its United perks when you travel.
Access to the United Club lounge at a discount
The main selling point of the United Club Infinite Card is its full-fledged United Club membership for the card’s primary cardholder. Using this benefit, you and two guests traveling with you can access United Clubs and select partner lounges worldwide when flying on United Airlines or one of its airline partners.
United Clubs offer lots of perks for travelers, including complimentary snacks, free alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, high-speed internet, and more. Perhaps the most important benefit, though, is the on-site help desk. Agents at these desks can rebook you during flight cancellations, change your seats and do just about anything a gate agent can.
But instead of having to lurk at the gate and wait in a long line, these gate agents are generally much easier to get ahold of because they only serve customers in the lounge. We’ve also found that lounge agents can sometimes be more experienced than gate agents at hub airports, hence making them more able to handle complicated itinerary changes and rebookings.
Plus, free food and drink at the United Club equal real cash savings. After all, just think about how many times you’ve spent $5 for a cappuccino at the airport. Now, you can go to the lounge and get one for free — depending on how often you fly, this food and drink savings can really add up over time.
United is also in the midst of upgrading and refurbishing United Clubs worldwide. All United Clubs at Chicago O’Hare (ORD) — the airline’s largest hub — have already completed upgrades, and they’re packed with better food and modern decor. Lounges at San Francisco (SFO) and Atlanta (ATL) were also recently upgraded, and more cities will be refurbished in the near future.
Actually accessing the lounge is simple too. Your United Club membership will be added to the United MileagePlus account you add to your United Club Infinite Card application online. You can access United Clubs with your boarding pass so long as your MileagePlus number is added to your reservation — no physical membership card required.
You’ll save money on a United Club membership with the United Club Infinite Card too. A comparable United Club membership costs $650 outright — this is $125 more expensive than getting a membership through the credit card. Plus, a standard membership doesn’t include the United Club Infinite Card’s other benefits.
Note that because of the coronavirus outbreak, United and other airlines are closing some lounges temporarily.
Earn bonus United MileagePlus miles on travel purchases
Chase has also revamped the card’s points earning structure. The old United Club card earned 2x MileagePlus miles per dollar spent on United Airlines purchases and 1.5x MileagePlus miles per dollar everywhere else.
The new United Club Infinite Card, however, ups points earning on United purchases and expands bonus earning to other popular categories for travelers. United Club Infinite Card members can now earn 4x United miles per dollar spent on United purchases, 2x United miles per dollar spent on travel and 2x United miles per dollar spent at restaurants and on all other travel purchases, including hotels, transit, ride-hailing services and even airfare booked with other airlines.
TPG values United MileagePlus miles at 1.3 cents each, meaning that the card’s 100,000-mile welcome bonus is worth $1,300 if you agree with our valuations. Plus, the 4x rewards multiplier for United purchases means you’ll earn the equivalent of 5.2% back on United purchases — not too shabby if you fly United frequently for work or pleasure.
Related: The best credit cards for United Airlines flyers
These miles can go along way too. 100,000 MileagePlus miles is enough for a round-trip ticket to Europe with one leg in business class and one leg in economy class. Despite United moving to a dynamic award chart, most U.S. to Europe (and vice-versa) flights with saver availability cost 30,000 MileagePlus miles in economy class or 60,000 MileagePlus miles in business class when flying on United. Partner business class — think flights on Air Canada, Lufthansa, SWISS and others — cost 70,000 MileagePlus miles when you cross the pond.
Round-trip bookings in a single cabin class are also eligible for the Excursionist perk. In short, this means you can add a free one-way flight outside of your departure region to a round-trip ticket. For example, you can book Chicago O’Hare to London Heathrow (LHR), London Heathrow to Frankfurt (FRA) and Frankfurt to Chicago in economy class for 60,000 MileagePlus miles, meaning that the Heathrow to Frankfurt leg costs no additional miles.
So when you get the card, make sure to meet the minimum spend requirement and use the card for your everyday expenses to rack up more United MileagePlus miles. Just remember that you may earn more miles on dining and travel purchases using other rewards credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
25% back on inflight purchases and no foreign transaction fees
You’ll receive a 25% discount on all United Airlines inflight purchases like food, beverage, and Wi-Fi. Just charge the purchase to your United Club Infinite Card and the discount will be credited to your account in the form of a statement credit. This discount can add up if you purchase Wi-Fi on every flight.
As you’d expect, the United Club Infinite Card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees either. This can save you up to 3% on all transactions charged in a foreign currency. This includes purchases made in other countries and online purchases made from the U.S. but charged in a foreign currency, like boutique hotel rooms, deposits for tours and more.
Enjoy Premier Access on all United tickets
The United Club Infinite Card gives primary cardholders complimentary Premier Access on all their United bookings. This benefit is usually reserved for those with United elite status, Star Alliance Gold members and people traveling in premium cabins. Benefits include priority boarding, priority security, and priority check-in lanes.
Related: What is United elite status worth?
This can make a world of difference if you frequently fly out of a major United hub like Chicago, Newark (EWR), or Washington, D.C. (IAD). You’ll be able to skip long lines and board the plane first— these can be extremely valuable benefits if you’re running late to the airport or are flying on a commuter jet and want to ensure that there’s space for your bag in the overhead bin.
Take advantage of these benefits next time you fly United. When purchased outright, Premier Access starts at $15 per flight, but it can be more expensive depending on the specifics of your flight. Premier Access security lanes are available at all United hub airports and select United destinations around the world.
Check two bags for free on all United flights
United travelers with the United Club Infinite Card are entitled to two free checked bags on all United flights, both international and domestic. Depending on how often you check bags, this benefit alone could pay the card’s annual fee if you don’t already have United elite status and are flying in economy class.
To put this into perspective, on a United flight from Chicago to New York, your first checked bag will cost $35 and the second will cost $45. So if you check two bags on a round-trip ticket between the cities, you’ll save $160. Do this three times and you’ll have almost paid off your United Club Infinite Card’s annual fee.
Note that in order to be eligible for free checked bags, you must use your United Club Infinite Card to pay for your ticket (or taxes and fees on a United award ticket).
Enroll in free Hertz President’s Circle status
One lesser-known feature of the United Club Infinite Card is that it includes complimentary Hertz President’s Circle status. This is Hertz’ top-tier rental car status tier, and it includes awesome benefits like a confirmed one-class upgrade on all rentals, a 50% bonus on Gold Plus Rewards points-earning and a dedicated Hertz Rewards phone line.
Normally you have to spend $4,000 or complete 20 Hertz rentals to qualify for Hertz President’s Club status, so having the status included with your credit card is a huge benefit. Make sure to activate your free Hertz President’s Club status on this website once you’ve been approved for a United Club Infinite Card — all you’ll need is your United and Hertz account info.
This benefit is really valuable for anyone that rents cars often, especially if you usually book a standard car. Switching your car rentals to Hertz after your President’s Club upgrade can save you money on car upgrades, and make your rental experiences more enjoyable. Who knows, maybe you’ll get upgraded to a swanky new SUV or sports car on your next trip!
Related: Comparing car rental elite status
Enjoy Global Entry or TSA PreCheck for free
Primary United Club Infinite Card members are eligible for up to $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application and renewal fees. Just charge the application fee to your United Club Infinite Card, and it will be automatically credited to your statement. You can take advantage of this benefit every four years so as long as you keep your United Club Infinite Card open, meaning that you’ll never have to pay for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck out of pocket again.
We highly recommend that you use this benefit for Global Entry instead of TSA PreCheck. This program gives you expedited reentry to the U.S. and also includes TSA PreCheck benefits, so you’ll get the best of both worlds. Make sure to add your Known Traveler Number to all new reservations in order to receive your PreCheck benefits at the airport.
This benefit will make your experience at airport security and at the U.S. border faster — especially during peak travel times like winter holidays and summer break. Plus, it’ll save you $100 if you were already considering enrolling in Global Entry for your travels.
The United Club Infinite Card is a great pick for anyone who flies United Airlines frequently. Its wide-range of premium benefits will enhance your travel experience and make the airport a less stressful place. To us, United Club access is by far the card’s most valuable benefit — not only is it cheaper to a obtain United Club membership through the card, but it can also save you a ton of money if you fly United and its partners often and find yourself buying coffee, snacks and other beverages at the airport.
Club access combined with the card’s other benefits far outweighs the card’s $525 annual fee for frequent United travelers. Plus, the card’s welcome bonus will give your MileagePlus balance a nice boost for the next time you decide to plan a vacation. Just make sure to take a look at how often you plan to fly on United over the next year or so to see if the card’s benefits will make a difference in your travels.
Featured image by John Gribben/The Points Guy.
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