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

Jun 19, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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  $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $525.

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.

United℠ Explorer Card

The United Explorer card offers 2 miles per dollar spent at restaurants and on hotel stays and a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check Fee credit (up to $100). The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • 40,000 bonus miles after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent at restaurants and on hotel stays
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck™ Fee Credit
  • 25% back on United inflight purchases
  • Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $120 per roundtrip) when you use your Card to purchase your ticket
  • Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
  • Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on purchases from United, and 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases
Intro APR on Purchases
Regular APR
16.49% to 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$0 Intro for First Year, then $95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

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.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.