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

Jun 19, 2019

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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.

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 image by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy.

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