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United Raises Cost of Club Membership — Here's How to Get Around It

June 19 2019
3 min read
United Raises Cost of Club Membership — Here's How to Get Around It
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United has been investing heavily in redesigning its United Clubs over the past few years — and it shows. However, to make up for the enhancements, the airline wants customers to fork over more cash — or miles — in order to purchase a membership.

Effective Aug. 13, 2019, the price of an annual United Club membership will increase to $650 or 85,000 miles (worth $1,105 based on TPG's valuations) and no longer require a $50 United Club initiation fee. The new rates match the price of a standard Admirals Club membership, which was recently increased as well.

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Here's how that compares to the current membership rates:

A United spokesperson has confirmed to TPG that United Premier members with Platinum status or higher will continue to receive discounts toward their memberships. That means $50 off for Platinum members and $100 off for 1K members. Previously, the spousal benefit was the waiving of the spouse’s $50 initiation fee, but that fee has been removed altogether now. Day passes will continue to cost $59 apiece.

As disappointing as the increase in membership rates are, fortunately, there are several ways to gain access to United Clubs without purchasing a membership from the airline. The United Club Infinite Card entitles cardholders to a United Club membership, along with access for two adult companions or one adult and dependent children under the age of 21. The membership also includes access to affiliated Star Alliance member lounges around the world. The card has a $525 annual fee.

Related: The Best Credit Cards for Flying United

If you're not that frequent of a United flyer, it could make more sense to pick up the United Explorer Card. The card has a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year and comes with two United Club one-time passes each year, among many other perks, such as a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit.

As a reminder, following similar moves by Delta and American, beginning Nov, 1, 2019, United Club members and one-time pass holders will only be able to access the airline’s lounges when traveling on a same-day United, Star Alliance or partner flight.

Featured photo by United Club at London Heathrow (Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)
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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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
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  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

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  • 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.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

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  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
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  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
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  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees