Annual fee waived for a year: United Club Infinite Card review
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United Club Infinite Card Overview
The United Club Infinite Card was added to Chase’s cobranded card lineup in spring 2020. For any loyal United flyer who spent a significant amount with the airline each year — before the COVID-19 pandemic — this card could be a great addition to your wallet. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
One of the primary disadvantages of many airline credit cards is a low return on spending, even on branded purchases — most airline cards only offer 2x or 3x on airline purchases. The United Club Infinite Credit Card is setting a new standard with an impressive 4x on United purchases.
United has made many changes in the past year or so, from switching to dynamic pricing to overhauling its elite status requirements. And thanks to the ongoing pandemic, the airline has also made some strides in customer care by extending current elite status through Jan. 31, 2022, and making it a little easier to earn elite status in 2020 and 2022.
Let’s dive into the top-tier United Club Infinite Card to see if it makes sense for you, especially now that travel is slowly returning.
Who is this card for?
Like any premium cobranded airline card, the United Club Infinite Card is best suited for loyal United flyers. If you’re a frequent United flyer and want premium perks such as a United Club membership, adding the United Club Infinite Card to your wallet is definitely worth it. Even though the card’s $525 annual fee is waived the first year, it may not be the best option for beginners or travelers who aren’t loyal to United.
This card was launched with a bang — 100,000 miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months of account opening. However, with air travel slowed to a crawl because of the pandemic, the points bonus was replaced with a one-year waiver of the card’s $525 annual fee.
While this card is an entirely separate product from the United Club Card (which is no longer open for new applications), you won’t be able to have both cards at once and sign-up bonuses across both cards are limited to one every 24 months. Here are the exact eligibility terms:
This product is not available to either (i) current Cardmembers of any United Club℠ credit card, or (ii) previous Cardmembers of any United Club credit card who received a new Cardmember bonus for this credit card within the last 24 months. If you are an existing United Club Visa Signature Cardmember and would like this product, please call the number on the back of your card to see if you are eligible for a product change.
And of course, this is a card issued by Chase, which means it will more than likely be subject to the issuer’s infamous 5/24 rule. If you have opened five or more card accounts in the past 24 months, you will probably be denied for this one.
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.
Related: What to do after you reach 5/24
Main perks and benefits
The United Club Infinite Card mirrors many of the United Club Card’s travel perks and protections — with one addition. You might wonder if this card is worth applying for now since many of its travel perks won’t be utilized in the near future. While it’s true that the pause on travel means that perks such as lounge access and travel protections aren’t as valuable in the short term, having the one-year fee waiver helps position you once travel resumes. And when you are finally back in the air, the perks this card offers will enhance your experience.
Global Entry/TSA Precheck application fee credit
If you don’t already have Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, the United Club Infinite Card will fund your application fee credit once every four years. Travelers who already have the benefit (or those who aren’t eligible due to their state of residence), can always gift this perk to a family member or friend.
United Club membership
The high point of the United Club Infinite Card is United Club access for primary cardholders. With a United Club membership, you’ll have access to United Clubs and select Star Alliance lounges when flying United and its partners.
You’ll also be able to bring up to two adult companions (or one adult and any dependent children under the age of 21). Considering this benefit costs $650 each year for non-cardholders, this perk alone makes up for the card’s $525 annual fee after the first year.
The card comes with two free checked bags (for the primary cardholder and one traveling companion on the same reservation paid for with the card), Premier Access (which includes priority access for check-in, security screening where available, boarding and baggage handling), 25% back on United inflight purchases, expanded award availability and more. If you have United elite status, these perks may not be as compelling. But for those who have yet to hit it, these are valuable benefits.
Travel and purchase protections
With this card, you’re getting various protections, including:
- Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance
- Baggage delay insurance
- Lost luggage reimbursement
- Trip delay reimbursement
- Purchase protection
- Extended warranty protection
- Return protection
Rental car privileges
Primary cardholders will get complimentary Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President’s Circle membership, which is the rental car company’s top-tier elite status. Generally, member get this benefit after 20 car rentals or $4,000 in annual spending.
President’s Circle members get guaranteed upgrades, 1.5 points per dollar spent, no additional driver fees for spouse/domestic partners in the U.S., a wider selection of cars to choose from and the ability to transfer points to select travel partners.
The earning rate on the United Club Infinite Card is what ultimately sets it apart from other cobranded airline credit cards. Cardholders earn 4x miles on United purchases, 2x on all other travel and dining purchases and 1x on everything else. That’s a 5.2% return on United spending (based on TPG valuations), higher than any other airline credit card.
Since Chase is the issuing bank, the travel and dining categories are broadly defined, just as they are with Chase Ultimate Rewards credit cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. If you have either of those cards, you’ll want to use those for general travel and dining spending, since Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth more than United miles. But if you don’t already have either of those cards, you’ll still be able to earn rewards on those purchases with the United Club Infinite Card.
Understandably, many are probably wondering why signing up for an airline credit card is a good idea amid global travel restrictions and concerns around coronavirus — there admittedly aren’t many opportunities to redeem miles for vacations right now. A stash of 100,000+ United miles could help you in an emergency if you or a family member needs to travel.
While it’s hard to look far ahead in uncertain times, remember that things will eventually settle down. A lot can change over the course of the next three months and building up a stash of miles now could fund a much-needed getaway once global concerns have waned and travel restrictions have been lifted.
When you are ready to redeem miles, United does have some sweet spots in its Mileage Plus program. Unfortunately, United no longer publishes an award chart, which means award redemption rates can be unpredictable. But there are other ways to find value in the program, such as the United Excursionist perk or booking partner awards with United miles. United doesn’t pass on fuel surcharges on partner awards, which can save you hundreds of dollars per ticket when booking awards like first-class tickets on Lufthansa.
If you spend thousands of dollars on United flights each year, the United Club Infinite Card is definitely worth considering. You’re getting a great earn rate for a cobranded card, a solid lineup of perks, United Club access and solid travel protections. Even though it has a higher annual fee than the current United Club Card, the extra $75 in cost is well worth it if you’re flying with United enough to warrant a premium cobranded credit card.
It’s not the best time for United to be launching an airline credit card. But 100,000 miles can be a lifesaver in an emergency where you or a family member needs to travel last minute. Or it can be a great stockpile to use on an amazing redemption once the travel industry is back to business as usual after global concerns about the coronavirus have waned.
Official application link: Sign up for the United Club Infinite Card here.
Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson
Featured image by John Gribben for The Points Guy
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