This week, United launched its new top-of-the-line credit card, the MileagePlus Club card.
With an annual fee of $395, the card has to offer perks aplenty to justify its cost. It does:
- Full United Club airport-lounge membership
- Premier Access airport services (priority check-in, security, boarding, and baggage handling)
- Fees waived for the first and second checked bags
- No foreign transaction fees
- One-and-a-half miles per $1 spent (two miles for United tickets)
- Platinum status in Hyatt’s Gold Passport program
- Close-in booking fees waived
- $95 statement credit after the first purchase
If there’s a vaguely deja vu aspect to the above, it’s because the MileagePlus Club card is identical in almost every respect to the Continental Presidential Plus card. The most notable difference: The Continental card awarded elite-qualifying miles, whereas the new United card awards one-and-a-half miles per $1 spent. (Side note: If you have the Continental card and want to retain the elite-mile benefit, you can do so indefinitely. Or, you can contact Chase, the card issuer, and request that a new United card be issued in its place.)
Deal or No Deal
The normal price of an annual United Club lounge membership is $475 for non-elites, so the cost of the card more than offsets what you would have paid for lounge access anyway. The other perks are gravy. If you’ve already paid the annual fee for lounge membership, there’s this: “As a current United Club member, you can apply for the United MileagePlus Club card and be reimbursed for the unused portion of your membership once approved for the card.”
On the other hand, if lounge access is not a priority and you’re already elite, the card’s cost makes it an extravagance, since a number of the benefits (Premier Access, bag-fee waiver, no close-in booking fees) already come with elite status.
Most United customers fall somewhere in the middle, so the card is neither a no-brainer nor an overindulgent splurge. Your mileage, in other words, will vary.
Bottom line: If you’re a frequent United flyer, the perks associated with the new card could be well worth the card’s annual fee, especially during the first year when the statement credit reduces the effective cost of the card to $300.
Reader Reality Check
Is this the next “It” card for mileage collectors?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.
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