Full Review of United Club Business Card Review
Includes membership in United Club lounges
Rich benefits on United travel
High annual fee
Rewards and bonus not commensurate with cost
The card issuer’s service to businesses is below par
- Includes Membership in United Club Lounges: This card's premier feature is its included United Club membership, which grants you and up to two guests access to 45 United Club locations worldwide that offer complimentary snacks, beverages, and Wi-Fi. Depending on your status with the airline—higher status reduces the cost—United Club membership costs between $550 and $650, which is more than this card’s $450 annual fee.
- Rich Travel Benefits: You and companions traveling on the same reservation get Premier Access travel services on United-operated flights. This benefit offers designated check-in lines, priority security lanes, priority boarding, and priority baggage handling where available. You get your first and second standard checked bags for free on United-operated flights as long as you purchase tickets with your United Business card. This benefit applies to you as the primary cardmember as well as one companion traveling on the same reservation.
- High Annual Fee: The annual purchases needed to potentially justify this card’s $450 annual fee are fairly substantial. Assuming you used your rewards to purchase more flights, rationalizing the fee would require spending approximately $20,548 per year ($450 divided by our estimated United miles value of $0.0219). Put another way, justifying the fee on this card over a year requires charging roughly $1,142 a month in purchases and using the miles for their maximum redemption value of $0.219 per mile by redeeming for United travel.
- Rewards and Bonus Not Commensurate With Fee: This card’s rewards and bonus barely, if at all, match those for cards with a much lower annual fee. United purchases earn the same 2 miles per dollar spent as the other United credit card geared toward businesses, the United Business Mileage Plus, which has a lower annual fee. Also, unlike that card, no other categories, such as office supply store purchases, also earn that 2-per-dollar rate. The card offers a bonus of 50,000 miles—worth just over $1,000 when used for flights, according to our valuation—for spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months your account is open.
- Card Service May Be Below Par: Businesses don’t necessarily interact with their credit card issuer very often. But when that’s necessary, it's often a matter of some urgency and even stress, and you want a satisfying experience. Unfortunately, that’s less likely to be the case for businesses who deal with the issuer of this card, Chase, than with other card issuers scored in the J.D. Power Small-Business Credit Card Customer Satisfaction Study. In its 2020 survey, Chase ranks fifth among the eight issuers of business credit cards that are scored. Chase’s score of 832 out of 1,000 was 8 points below the national average.
This Card is Best For
Seeks the recognition and perks of branded travel partner status
Flies often for business or leisure
Travels outside of U.S. on occasion or frequently
Earning a primary or side income from a small business
This card is for frequent United fliers who are prepared to pay to enjoy its key benefit, the free use of United Club lounges in 45 airports around the world. It’s also suitable for those who want to skip having to earn status with United to enjoy such perks as free standard first and second checked bags and Premier Access travel services.
This card is also worth considering by businesses who frequently rent cars. When renting for business purposes with this card, you receive primary insurance coverage, a relatively unusual perk. In contrast to the coverage on most credit cards, United covers the cost of any damage you might incur while renting a car for business purposes. That spares the business owner or employee from having to deal with their personal auto insurance company in order to take care of any rental car damage, which is what is required with secondary rental car insurance coverage.
United Club Business Card's Bonus
This card offers a bonus of 50,000 miles for spending $3,000 or more with the card within the first 3 months of opening an account. Based on our valuation of United miles at an average of 2.19 cents each, we estimate this bonus is worth $1,095 if used to redeem for United flights. You can expect to see the bonus miles post to your account within 6 to 8 weeks after qualifying.
Rewards Earning Details
The United Club Business card gives you the opportunity to earn 2 miles per dollar spent on the following purchases from United:
- Airline tickets
- Seat upgrades
- Economy Plus
- In-flight food, beverages and Wi-Fi
- Baggage service charges
- Other United fees
You also earn the 2-miles-per-dollar rate for purchases of event tickets and experiences from Inside Access from Chase. These purchases range, as examples, from $150 for tickets to Hadestown on Broadway to $7,000 for a three-day insider visit to Paris Fashion Week. All other purchases with the card earn 1.5 miles per dollar spent.
United’s MileagePlus miles never expire but, as with many such programs, availability of award seats may be limited.
Rewards Redemption Details
You can redeem your miles in a number of ways. The most obvious choice (and generally the most lucrative, too) is to do so is to obtain flights with United or its Star Alliance partners. You can also use your miles to book upgrades.
If you prefer not to redeem miles for airfare, you can instead use them (usually at lower value) to book hotels, cruises, and rental cars or to buy merchandise from Apple and other retailers, and to obtain gift cards or experiences. You can also choose to donate them to a charity.
MileagePlus members who are also members of the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program can sign up for RewardsPlus. This program allows you to transfer your United miles to Marriott Bonvoy points at a one mile to one point ratio. Despite this, such transfers remain a poor value, since we value Marriott points at just 1.11 cents when redeemed for hotel stays, which is considerably less than of the estimated 2.19 cents value of United miles when used for flights.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
The United Club Business card’s straightforward miles earning structure makes it easy to maximize your rewards. You only earn 2 miles per dollar spent on select United purchases, so make sure to put those purchases on your card. If you don’t have cards that provide a higher value for all other purchases, you can put those on your United Club Business card to earn additional miles.
To maximize the value of your rewards when redeeming miles, you’re often best off booking travel. Our research suggests miles earn you more when used for premium-cabin tickets—close to five times as much per mile in some cases. For example, we found a one-way ticket from New York to Frankfurt on SWISS International (a United partner) in the Business Saver award category for 77,000 miles plus $21.10 in taxes and fees. Since a business class ticket on a similar flight cost $1,930 including taxes and fees, the award redemption would provide a value per mile of roughly 2.4 cents.
But as the example shows, premium tickets also require redeeming a lot more miles. If you don’t value premium travel, you can still normally get a decent value by using your miles to book economy award flights.
United Club Business Card's Outstanding Benefits
- United Club membership: Grants free access for card holder and up to two companions to 45 lounge locations around the world.
- Primary auto-rental coverage: When renting for business purposes with this card, you receive primary insurance coverage. That means, in contrast to most credit-card coverage, United covers the cost of any damage you may incur while at the wheel of a rental car, rather than you having to do so. As is customary, you must decline the rental company’s collision insurance and charge the entire rental to your card.
- Free standard first and second checked bags: For the cardholder and one other companion on the same reservation.
- Premier Access travel benefits: Designated check-in lines, exclusive security lanes, and priority security boarding and baggage handling.
- Baggage delay and lost luggage reimbursement: Baggage delay covers reimbursement for essential purchases for delays over six hours, up to $100 a day for three days. Lost luggage reimbursement covers up to $3,000 per passenger when you or an immediate family member have luggage damaged or lost by the carrier.
- Trip-delay reimbursement and trip cancellation/interruption insurance: Trip delay reimbursement covers costs such as meals and lodging for delays of more than 12 hours or that require an overnight stay for you and your family up to $500 per ticket. Trip cancellation or interruption insurance covers up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for pre-paid and non-refundable travel expenses for covered situations such as sickness or severe weather.
- Concierge services
- Extended warranty protection
- Purchase protection
- Return protection
- Travel and emergency assistance services
The United Club Business card is issued by Chase, which scored an 832 in J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Small Business Credit Card Study. This score is below the industry average of 840.
Anytime you need help with your card, you can call 800-935-9935 to speak to a customer service specialist. You can also access your card via the Chase mobile app.
If your card is lost or stolen, you can get a replacement within 3–5 business days. Otherwise, this card’s security features are standard for the industry.
Fees to Watch out For
With a notable exception of its $450 annual fee, the major fees for the United Club Business are generally in line with industry standards. The cash advance fee ($15 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater) is higher than some competing cards.
Unusually, the value proposition for the United Club Business is based less on its rewards, which are unremarkable, than its opportunity for access to the carrier’s 45 United Club lounges for a $450 annual card fee. Pricey as that fee is, it’s $100 to $200 less than the cost of purchasing membership in the club.
If paying to enjoy free food, drinks, and Wi-Fi in exclusive lounges isn’t worth hundreds a year to you and your business, there’s not a lot to recommend the United Club Business card. The card does offer a number of other welcome United benefits, such as fast-track Premier Access for security and boarding. But some of these features are available in other ways at less cost, including with other United credit cards with lower annual fees—some of which even offer bigger bonuses.
If you don't care about United Club membership, strongly consider other United credit card options instead of this card.