Should you apply for the United Club Infinite card without a sign-up bonus?

May 20, 2020

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – United Club Infinite Card, United Explorer Card

For those in the market for a new credit card, you are likely not considering a premium travel card with a high annual fee given the current environment. Non-essential travel is still on the back burner, and there currently aren’t any many use cases for lounge access, airfare credits, and other similar perks. 

However, what if that premium credit card didn’t have a first-year annual fee? Would you still be interested in the hopes that you’ll be able to use the benefits in the months to come? 

That’s exactly what Chase has done with the United Club Infinite Card. With no first-year annual fee, the card may seem enticing at first glance. However, it comes at a cost: No welcome bonus. 

Let’s take a closer look at the value proposition of the United Club Infinite Card to see if it’s worth applying for. 

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The United Club Infinite Card offer 

The annual fee on the United Club Infinite Card is $525, but with this new offer, that fee is waived for year one. The perennial perk of the Infinite Card is a United Club membership which typically costs $650 per year for a general United MileagePlus member. 

Other travel-related benefits include free first and second checked bag for the cardholder and one traveling companion, Premier Access, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck reimbursement, 25% back on in-flight food, beverage and Wi-Fi purchases, improved access to United award availability, and more. 

Looking at this offer strictly from a lounge access cost perspective, you’d clearly be coming out ahead versus paying for a membership outright. However, the obvious fact is that most United Clubs are temporarily closed, and travel, in general, continues to be curtailed. To take advantage of free lounge access, you’ll likely need to wait until later this year or 2021. 

The previous welcome offer 

While a waived annual fee is appealing, the previous offer on this card was 100,000 United miles after spending $5,000 within the first three months of account opening. TPG values United miles at 1.3 cents each, which makes the prior bonus worth $1,300. The annual fee was not waived, but from a TPG valuation perspective, the former offer was undoubtedly better. 

Related reading: What to do if you have a premium airline credit card but you aren’t flying

Factors to consider before applying

United Club LGA Terminal B
United Club LGA (Photo by Brendan Dorsey / The Points Guy)

There may be instances where it still makes sense to apply for the United Infinite Club Card, despite the lack of a welcome bonus. And with no end date in sight for this offer, there’s no immediate rush to apply. 

You don’t care much about United miles

If you don’t personally consider United miles as a worthwhile currency, then this waived annual-fee offer may be more powerful than the previous offer. With various devaluations and the elimination of award charts, some frequent flyers may just not want to deal with the MileagePlus program but still want access to lounges when they reopen.

You don’t think you can meet the spending requirement for a sign-up bonus

If you are cutting back on your spending in the short-term but still plan to utilize premium card benefits in the future, then applying for the United Club Infinite card may make sense. You’ll save $525 on the annual fee and get access to premium perks that will come in handy when you’re able to travel again. On a similar note, if the previous spending requirement wasn’t attainable for you, then saving on the annual fee might be appealing. Of course, the most important rule of travel rewards is to never spend money you don’t have while chasing rewards.

You plan to use the United Club benefit when lounges reopen

The majority of United Club lounges are closed, except for select hub locations where there is limited service. Once more lounges come back to life in the months to come, you should be confident that you’ll be using them. Of course, no one knows yet when United plans to do so. 

Related reading: Use miles to pay United card annual fee

Bottom line

Besides lounge access, many of the Infinite Club Card’s offerings are also included as part of the United Explorer Card. That card carries a much lower annual fee of $95 (waived for the first year) and is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. 

You’ll only receive two, one-time United Club passes each year, but with travel seriously curtailed, limited access may not make a difference. 

For most people, this United Infinite Club Card offer isn’t worth it without a sign-up bonus, given the uncertainty of when you’ll be able to fully use lounges again. Don’t forget this card is also subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule

Featured photo by Brendan Dorsey / The Points Guy.

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

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