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Benefits of United Club card for 1K members

Benefits of United Club card for 1K members

Old Sep 22, 22, 11:35 pm
  #1  
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Benefits of United Club card for 1K members

I'm a 1K with an Amex platinum card (which gives me priority pass and centurion lounge access). Now that the United Club card can give you PQP towards 1K, I'm wondering exactly how much the United Club membership might be worth it to me. In particular, between the Centurion lounge (which I prefer at SFO), priority pass (which works at a number of airports), and the fact that J on SFO-BOS/NYC gets access to the lounge anyway, my initial thought is that it isn't great.

The one obvious benefit is that when flying most domestic routes, you get access the United Club. For example, at LAX, there's a UC right in Terminal 7, while in contrast it's quite a hike to get to the star alliance or centurion lounge in TBIT, and I haven't had great luck lately getting into the closer priority pass lounge (I think it's Alaska). It also sounds like you can bring two guests instead of one into *A lounges.

Beyond that, it used to be that during irrops you could potentially get help at the (then) Red Carpet Club, while something like the centurion lounge would be useless. That hasn't happened to me in many years, so I'm wondering I just lucked out, or if it's now just as easy to get one's situation sorted by calling the 1K line, particularly since I almost always seem to use my phone as a boarding pass.

A final thing that could be a benefit, but is ambiguous, is using United or star alliance lounges on arrival, or when stopping over someplace when your onward leg is on a non *A carrier. The rules read:
A valid United Club membership card or one-time pass, a same-day boarding pass and a government-issued photo ID (such as a driver's license, passport or military ID), or other credentials are required for admittance to United Club locations. Effective November 1, 2019, United Club customers, including members and their guests, and one-time pass holders will need to provide a same-day boarding pass for travel on United, Star AllianceTM or a contracted partner operated flight for entry into all United Club locations. Admittance to United Club locations is permitted only at the departure and arrival airports for United, Star Alliance or a contracted partner operated flights. At partner lounges, including participating Star Alliance-affiliated lounges, United Club members who are general MileagePlus members or MileagePlus Premier Silver members must present a valid physical membership card and any other required documentation. MileagePlus Premier Gold members and above only need a boarding pass.
So does "same day" include the arrival airport when you departed from a different airport? What about red-eye flights? What about red-eye flights back from Asia when you cross the international date line? The part about "departure and arrival airports" sounds like maybe you can use the *A lounge at airports on arrival. On the other hand, the part about "MileagePlus Premier Gold members and above only need a boarding pass" sounds like the club membership is not useful with a *G boarding pass.

I suppose another benefit of the club card is the theoretical ability to upgrade award flights, but as a mere 1K in the ocean of GS and 1K that is SFO, I rarely have even my paid flights upgraded, and probably wouldn't use miles for Y anyway. Most of the other benefits are duplicative or less good than 1K anyway (early boarding).

Am I missing anything that would make the club card more appealing to a 1K? Is it basically only of interest to 1K members who do a lot of domestic flying from airports without a convenient centurion or priority-pass lounge?

Relatedly, do people have theories on whether the club card earning PQP towards 1K is a temporary thing or will continue? Given that 1K requalification can now be as simple as flying a single one-way ticket to Singapore plus three puny domestic hops, I'm guessing the 1K PQP thresholds are set to rise quite a bit and it might be useful to earn a few thousand PQP from a credit card. But it seems hard to justify the cost of the club card given the meager benefits to 1K compared to similarly priced credit cards.
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Old Sep 22, 22, 11:58 pm
  #2  
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As a United Gold or higher you can access a United Club at any point of an INTL itinerary as long as you have access to the terminal. So Club Card doesnt help any further on that.

Bottom line it is simply what you value use of domestic United Club on domestic itineraries. I canceled the card during COVID and have since become lifetime gold plus spouse, so I will likely never buy membership or that card again

One other aspect is Club membership also gets in a spouse and dependent kids. That made the difference for me for many years. for singles obviously not so relevant

My guess is the PQP temp benefits will be extended in 2023 but not beyond.
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Old Sep 22, 22, 11:59 pm
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Understand 1K with credit spend you'd have to meet flight segments and spend, so at least 36 eligible flights. Also, you'd have to spend $12K on eligible credit card spend just to get 500 PQP. Certainly not my cup of tea but I am sure it is of value to someone even if there are credit cards with better returns.
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Old Sep 23, 22, 12:15 am
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If you don't need the Club card, don't get the Club card.

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Old Sep 23, 22, 5:43 am
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Originally Posted by ftweb View Post
Given that 1K requalification can now be as simple as flying a single one-way ticket to Singapore plus three puny domestic hops, I'm guessing the 1K PQP thresholds are set to rise quite a bit and it might
It may be easy to actually fly a J trip to Singapore but getting the money to do that, or justifying such use of money is not simple for most 1Ks. Of course for the business traveller based around SFO who frequents SIN that maybe an easy target to achieve, but for most 1Ks, I suspect they do not have such money - either their own or OPM - for such 'simple' requalification, otherwise they should be GS.
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Old Sep 23, 22, 6:10 am
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I have it because I fly in and out of airports that have United Clubs and want to use a lounge, and to take guests. I probably do so over 20 times or so a year. That is pretty much it. There may be other clubs with PP or Amex in some, and I may visit those, but those are sometimes not ideally located for short connections or the terminals I am using.
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Old Sep 23, 22, 6:43 am
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I have the card because I spend a lot of time primarily in ORD these days, but also LAX, DEN, and IAH. It's a more pleasant place to spend a few hours each week than just hanging around the terminal. And when I find myself with one of those 2 or 7 hour delays that happen so often in ORD, it's nice to have a place to sit quietly, charge my phone and drink coffee and/or wine. Mostly, my delays are in E/F concourse and I think that's the best club in ORD. Sadly, I probably would spend close to the amount I pay for my card annually on airport Starbucks if I didn't have the membership.
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Old Sep 23, 22, 7:15 am
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I got it during late COVID when my business travel was back to full force, but airports didnt have all the bars and restaurants opened yet. Figured having somewhere to work and grab a beer was nice to have. I also have a Sapphire Reserve, which I keep thinking about canceling because I use the United Club Card benefits far more often. PP lounges are nice but its once or twice a year I've got the opportunity to use them. I've used my UC access twice in the past 2 weeks and will do so again twice this week.
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Old Sep 23, 22, 7:27 am
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I think it depends a lot on your flying patterns.

For me, my travel used to be primarily domestic, and I had a paid membership. Now, my travel is primarily international, and with the added benefit of time that has brought me lifetime *G status, there's no reason to have a paid membership. For the odd time that I am flying on a purely domestic itinerary, I have a couple of passes from a co-branded credit card, and I almost never use both.

If your spending patterns mean an extra 500 PQP for every $12K on a credit card would make a difference to elite qualification, then it would seem to make sense to move your credit card to a UC co-branded offering.

Like many others, I'm of the opinion that the biggest benefit to UC access is using the agents inside the club durring IRROPS. It's like insurance: you groan about the costs when you don't need it, but are immensely grateful you made the payments when you do.
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Old Sep 23, 22, 8:24 am
  #10  
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I have a simplistic view of this question since the Club membership can effectively be free with this card.

I am not one to hunt and churn cards trying to squeeze a few extra bucks here and there. I have the Club card and for me, it has some good features. It really costs nothing out of pocket since I can pay the annual fee for 35,000 miles through MP Choices. So it is like a free UC membership. I do earn 2K to 2.5K PQP which gets me to Platinum without having to worry about segments. MP Choices also allows me to pay for UA tickets with miles at 1cpm in any amount which shows up as a Chase statement credit so I still earn all miles, PQP, segments on the flight which I would not do if I got an award ticket (I fly between 12 and 15 RTs a year). I always buy P fares so I do not really need PPs (I apply to family - but they never clear anyway) and don't play the upgrade game. So I look at it as a free Club membership, pick up 2K+ of PQPs to keep Platinum status, and through MP Choices, get about $750 to $1,000 in statement credits. I used to have the AMEX platinum card but dropped it since I do not fly DL and don't use their lounges and Centurion Clubs were few and far between, and packed when I found them. I had the CSR card which does have better travel benefits than the Club card, but for me, the Club card and Choices were easier to use than UR points through the Chase portal. I was an AA flyer (over 4mm-CK-EXPL) and had the Citi AA card which was perhaps the best since authorized users also got club access, and several years ago had great travel and other benefits. But Citi gutted the benefits and my flying after retirement took me back to UA (where I was a 1K twenty years ago), so no reason to keep that card.

So I have been around the block with CCs and various programs, and for me, right now and keeping things simple, the Chase UA Club Infinite card does the trick - Club membership that is effectively free, bonus PQPs, and easy statement credits through Choices. As long as you put enough on the card to pay the annual fee through MP Choices, it doesn't really cost you anything and Club access is there if and when you need it.
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Old Sep 23, 22, 11:00 am
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Originally Posted by Repooc17 View Post
Understand 1K with credit spend you'd have to meet flight segments and spend, so at least 36 eligible flights. Also, you'd have to spend $12K on eligible credit card spend just to get 500 PQP. Certainly not my cup of tea but I am sure it is of value to someone even if there are credit cards with better returns.
For me it was almost a no-brainer.

This year I could easily hit the 1K PQF requirement but 13,500 PQP was a stretch for me, even with the start of the year bonus. Given my usual household/travel spend, I'll earn 4,000 PQP by the end of the year. So basically instead of needing to spend extra thousands on UA flights, I paid $525 for the card. That might have been enough for me...but as a "bonus" I basically got 80K RDM and a UC membership "for free." Next year, if CC PQP are not applicable toward the 1K PQF/PQP threshold, then I might cancel the card.
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Old Sep 23, 22, 11:23 am
  #12  
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Originally Posted by uastarflyer View Post
As a United Gold or higher you can access a United Club at any point of an INTL itinerary as long as you have access to the terminal. So Club Card doesn’t help any further on that.
This is counter to my experience. I onec flew SFO-HGK-BKK and was denied Thai lounge access because--even though I bought the ticket on united.com--the second leg was on some non-*A carrier (can't remember which).

More recently I flew SFO-MUC-FCO and wanted to wait for someone at FCO, but was denied access to the *A lounge because my same-day MUC-FCO boarding pass did not depart from FCO (used priority pass lung nextdoor instead).

These are situations where I'm wondering if club membership would help.

Originally Posted by ani90 View Post
It may be easy to actually fly a J trip to Singapore but getting the money to do that, or justifying such use of money is not simple for most 1Ks.
I don't mean to be flip about how much $15k represents. I technically could fly this with OPM, but don't feel confirmable spending 5 figures on a plane ticket, so have been booking premium plus.

That said, in part because of my futile attempt to use plus points, I can tell you that these J9 C0 flights are actually selling out in J, often a week in advance. Granted my negotiated rate is more like $13k one way, but when it comes to round trips, I think it's safe to assume at least a dozen people a week are exceeding the 1k PQP requalification threshold on a single ticket on the SFO-SIN-SFO route.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Sep 24, 22 at 2:16 am Reason: merged consecutive posts by same member
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Old Sep 23, 22, 11:35 am
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Originally Posted by ftweb View Post
This is counter to my experience. I onec flew SFO-HGK-BKK and was denied Thai lounge access because--even though I bought the ticket on united.com--the second leg was on some non-*A carrier (can't remember which).
Club card won't help with that. Were you denied Thai lounge access at HGK or BKK?
More recently I flew SFO-MUC-FCO and wanted to wait for someone at FCO, but was denied access to the *A lounge because my same-day MUC-FCO boarding pass did not depart from FCO (used priority pass lung nextdoor instead).
Star alliance lounge access rules are entirely for using lounges with departing flights, there are no *A wide rules about arrival lounges.
These are situations where I'm wondering if club membership would help.
No
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Old Sep 23, 22, 11:52 am
  #14  
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Originally Posted by angetenar View Post
Club card won't help with that. Were you denied Thai lounge access at HGK or BKK?
​​​​​​
​At the stopover, HKG.
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Old Sep 23, 22, 12:09 pm
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I have had the Quest card for a little while now as a cheaper alternative to the Club card. I don't need the United Club access given that most if not all of my domestic flying is non-stop and I get the access for international flights already. Still get PQPs for spend and many other good benefits that more than negate the annual fee for me (e.g., $125 annual UA credit, up to 10,000 miles back on award travel, $100 for Global Entry/pre-check, 25% back on UA drink purchases, etc.). I've been very happy with that card.
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