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Advice requested: worth it to add united club card to CSR and Amex?

Advice requested: worth it to add united club card to CSR and Amex?

Old Jan 2, 2023, 11:08 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 75
Advice requested: worth it to add united club card to CSR and Amex?

I'm trying to decide whether or not to get the united club infinite card, assuming (as is likely) that I'd be approved for it. Would appreciate advice:

- I have a lot (for me) of domestic flights in the coming year. As I live in a United hub, most of those flights will be via United. It's mostly business travel. Unfortunately, I'm unlikely to be spending enough to get status because of those huge PQP requirements. (Most of my domestic travel is cheap employer-reimbursed work flights.) The only exception to this is that I might have a couple of international personal trips---if it ends up being financially reasonable to use united for those trips I might get over the line, but it's pretty likely that I'll transfer amex points to some international carrier for them, see below.)

- I value lounge access, but only if the lounge is actually nice---and IME united lounges are hit or miss, in terms of things like overcrowding, actually having decent food, etc.

- I already have the amex platinum and the CSR. For me, the chase card is mostly valuable for points earning (combined with freedom unlimited), plus a couple of the perks (lyft/doordash). I find the chase points pretty easy to use when I get around to it; tbh because most of my flying is domestic I find the amex points hard to use for maximum value, so I've been hoarding them until I have an international trip to get a good transfer rate, and I mostly keep the amex for the credits and lounge access. United is my designated airline for incidental charges on the platinum. Currently, I charge airfare to the platinum and hotels to the chase to maximize points.

- My home airport (ORD) has no amex or priority pass lounges anywhere in the domestic terminal. It does have a united lounge, though frankly it's a little depressing, only marginally better than being out in gen pop because at least outlets and wi-fi are good. A couple times last year I ended up paying for a united lounge day pass, though that went straight to the amex incidental charge (I guess if this is no longer what I use it for, there's always travelbank)

Reasons to add the United card

- the miles bonus is nice. Even at low valuations, that covers two years of the annual fee, and ideally I'd end up using this to pay for basically all my personal domestic flights for a while

- cheapest way to have access to a lounge at ORD. I probably won't use it ten times, so it isn't paying for itself, but I might use it 4 or 5 times over the year if it's already paid for. But because the ORD lounge is so pitiful I'm not really sure how much I value this.

- maybe, maybe, if I miraculously find myself close to status at the end of the year, I can dump a bunch of my ordinary spending onto it to squeeze out some PQPs. (I don't value status enough to just dump all my spend on the card otherwise.)

- the random incidental benefits like priority boarding are nice, I guess. I'd rather get them through status, but it's so damn hard to get status on united even flying a lot when it's just relatively cheap domestic fares. (Rant/digression: I've been looking at how much my upcoming flights are earning, and it's just horrible---I've got like 4 united trips coming up in the next couple of months, but they're not even accruing 200 points each. So I currently get all the pain of frequently flying that airline without any of the benefits of having a reasonable shot at status because it's so spend based. This sucks. I really wish I lived in a delta hub, but, alas. And I'm not shifting to american, which also has a hub in ORD, for many many reasons, mostly hating them.)

Reasons not to add the United card

- Is it really responsible to add a *third* high-fee premium credit card to my wallet? Even if the other two pretty much pay for themselves via credits and points, and even though I can afford it, it still seems a little bit egregious to spend almost 2k/year in credit card annual fees.

- a lot of redundancy and spend competition between the cards. Like, to hit the bonus (or to hit PQPs at the end of the year) I'd have to shift general spend from my other chase cards, even though I value UR points much more than united miles; on an ongoing basis I'd presumably have to think about shifting my united spend from amex to the united card, but then I'd lose out on all the nice amex travel protections and the points tradeoff isn't obvious. And a bunch of the overlapping benefits are just silly (there's only so many times I can renew global entry, lol). Also, I'd end up having an even harder time using the amex incidental credits, and would probably end up just dumping everything into travelbank... but sooner or later amex and/or united are probably going to pull the plug on that trick...

- I could get some proportion of the same benefits (minus the lounge access) for cheaper by getting the explorer or quest card instead.

I've been going back and forth about this for a while now! What would you do?
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Old Jan 2, 2023, 11:28 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: HNL
Programs: UA GS4MM, MR LT Plat, Hilton Gold
Posts: 6,447
Originally Posted by paultopia

- My home airport (ORD) has no amex or priority pass lounges anywhere in the domestic terminal. It does have a united lounge, though frankly it's a little depressing, only marginally better than being out in gen pop because at least outlets and wi-fi are good. A couple times last year I ended up paying for a united lounge day pass, though that went straight to the amex incidental charge (I guess if this is no longer what I use it for, there's always travelbank)
The C club is way to small - although a much larger replacement is coming. I find the other ORD clubs perfectly fine and far better than being in the general population.
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Old Jan 2, 2023, 11:35 am
  #3  
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Join Date: Jul 2019
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Thank you---the ORD c club is the only United club I'm in on a regular basis, so I might have an unduly negative baseline for them.
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Old Jan 2, 2023, 11:39 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Washington, D.C.
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Since you've calculated that the Amex and CSR basically pay for themselves already, and the primary thing you would be gaining from the Infinite card is lounge access, I would not worry about the overlapping benefits or potentially shifting spending between them, I would simply ask the question, is the benefit of lounge access when you want it for the next year worth the cost of the new annual fee you would be absorbing? If the answer is yes, then get the card and think of it as purchasing a discounted membership to the United Club, nothing more or nothing less. If you want to shift spending around later in the year you can do so (or not), but you don't have to use the card at all to obtain the primary benefit you are seeking. To my mind, there is a value (albeit hard to calculate) to having reliable lounge access, that is greater than the sum of x number of day passes; it sounds like you may think so too, but only you can decide what that's worth to you. Assuming your credit profile can handle it, I don't think there is anything necessarily "irresponsible" about $2000 in annual fees or three cards with overlapping benefits. The real question is whether you are getting your money's worth out of the $2000 you are paying.

Last edited by ZenFlyer; Jan 2, 2023 at 11:43 am Reason: punctuation
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Old Jan 2, 2023, 11:42 am
  #5  
Moderator: United Airlines
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: SFO
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Posts: 67,284
The cheapest way to get UC access is the Chase Club/Infinite card ( for a new card)
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Old Jan 2, 2023, 11:47 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Programs: UA 1K, AA EXP. Hilton Diamond
Posts: 1,143
The only real utility of the Club Card for someone with status is the lounge access since the earn rate for normal purchases was reduced to 1x. So really you can only compare the cards AF to the cost of a UC membership, divided by how many visits youd make. (i.e. two visits a year makes for very expense access) There are better cards to buy UA tickets on, and you have those bases covered with the platinum and CSR. Its basically a sock drawer card.

For a person who has UA Gold or higher and flies international theres overlap with *A lounge access benefits and its not worth it, but for someone who flies domestic the lounge access you otherwise wouldnt have is very useful IMHO.
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Old Jan 2, 2023, 12:19 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Charleston WV Area
Programs: 12 year UAL GS, LT Hilton Diamond, Hyatt Globalist, Marriot Titanium, AA Plat Pro
Posts: 123
I am at ORD two or three times most every week and I like the United clubs at ORD. As HNL already stated, the temporary C club is not very good but the B6 and B18 clubs are both nice. Even the T2 club at F9 is nice except they do not have draft beer. B6 is an easy walk through the tunnel to get to C concourse. I believe the new C club is due to open soon. I find the staff friendly and helpful and they have improved the free drink offerings. The food overall is so so.
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Old Jan 2, 2023, 12:23 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: TPE, SF, DC
Programs: UA Lifetime GS 4mm
Posts: 892
Originally Posted by paultopia

As I live in a United hub, most of those flights will be via United. It's mostly business travel. Unfortunately, I'm unlikely to be spending enough to get status because of those huge PQP requirements. (Most of my domestic travel is cheap employer-reimbursed work flights.) The only exception to this is that I might have a couple of international personal trips---if it ends up being financially reasonable to use united for those trips I might get over the line, but it's pretty likely that I'll transfer amex points to some international carrier for them, see below.)

- I value lounge access, but only if the lounge is actually nice---and IME united lounges are hit or miss, in terms of things like overcrowding, actually having decent food, etc.
Two considerations:
(A) You can use better ORD B lounge, it’s a brisk 10+min walk to C gates. If you need fly connection via EWR-IAD-IAH-SFO, can use UC at those hubs

(B) UA Award tickets in 2023 will accrue PQP/PQD toward your milestone goals. This may help your calculations.
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Last edited by npei; Jan 2, 2023 at 12:29 pm
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Old Jan 2, 2023, 12:51 pm
  #9  
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Join Date: Jul 2019
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Hmm... y'all are convincing me that it's probably worth it. Thanks. Hah, wonder what the odds are if I apply today that I'll get the card in time for my first trip on 1/5. Guessing no. (If one gets insta-approved, does one get to use the lounges before the physical card arrives?)
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Old Jan 2, 2023, 12:51 pm
  #10  
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Join Date: May 2007
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I have CSR primarily for points and priority pass when travelling alone, and the United Club card primarily for UA spend and when traveling with a group. Sometimes will double dip if there's a particularly good restaurant (like Yankee Pier) and a long enough layover to spend some time in the UC.
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Old Jan 2, 2023, 12:56 pm
  #11  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: CLE
Programs: UA GS+LT UC, AA EXP+LT PLT, Fairmont LT PLT, Marriott PLT, Hilton DIA, Hyatt Glob, Avis CHM
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Don't forget that United Club Business is $75/year less than Infinite and earns 50% more miles on everyday purchases.
You do lose some benefits though, including higher PQP limits.
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Old Jan 2, 2023, 1:04 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: NYC (LGA, JFK), CT
Programs: Delta Platinum, American Gold, JetBlue Mosaic 4, Marriott Platinum, Hyatt Explorist, Hilton Diamond,
Posts: 4,953
1) Apply for Club card, get 100,000 points
2) Take advantage of clubs, free bags, other perks.
3) In 2024, re-evaluate - you can always downgrade to the $95 card, which will still get you free bags, two club passes a year, etc.
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Old Jan 2, 2023, 1:08 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2023
Location: Bay Area
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Originally Posted by Adelphos
1) Apply for Club card, get 100,000 points
2) Take advantage of clubs, free bags, other perks.
3) In 2024, re-evaluate - you can always downgrade to the $95 card, which will still get you free bags, two club passes a year, etc.
I absolutely agree. I think it's a good idea to get the Club card for the 100,000 points bonus, but it might not be a good idea to keep it afterwards. Quest or Explorer seems better to me.
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Old Jan 2, 2023, 1:26 pm
  #14  
Moderator: United Airlines
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
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Originally Posted by zrzhang
I absolutely agree. I think it's a good idea to get the Club card for the 100,000 points bonus, but it might not be a good idea to keep it afterwards. Quest or Explorer seems better to me.
With the 100,000 miles, you could effectively get 3 years of free UC membeship if the present 35,000 mile per year purchase continue -- you will get at least multiple years for free. Note this can be done the first year, so you out of pocket is $zero .. Some may believe the miles have more award redemption value than 1.5 cpm, but that sets a floor value.
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Old Jan 2, 2023, 1:33 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
With the 100,000 miles, you could effectively get 3 years of free UC membeship if the present 35,000 mile per year purchase continue -- you will get at least multiple years for free. Note this can be done the first year, so you out of pocket is $zero .. Some may believe the miles have more award redemption value than 1.5 cpm, but that sets a floor value.
Has anyone tried this in 2023? Chase just dropped CSR annual fee PYB from 1.5cpp to 1.25cpp yesterday.
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