United Club Infinite Card
REVIEW

Advertiser Disclosure
Picture of United Club Infinite Card
By : Mr Credit Card

The United Club Infinite Card is an upgrade from United's existing Club card. It comes with better features but also poses some interesting questions for the following card holders:

  • Should Existing United Club Card holders upgrade to this card?
  • Should United frequent flyers who have the Chase Sapphire Reserve consider this card?
  • Will Premier Elite members find this card useful?

In this review, we'll try to answer these and other questions about this card.
 

Introduction

United Airlines and Chase have just introduced the Club Infinite Card. It is an upgrade over the Club Card. The annual fee is a tad higher at $525 vs $450. However (as we will see in a second), there is actually a huge upgrade in terms of features. On Chase website, they only list the United Explorer Card, the United TravelBank Card and this card. You can no longer apply for the United Club Card going forward.

To kick start their launch, this card offered a sign up bonus of 100,000 if you spend $5,000 within 3 months of your card membership. However, due the Covid19 and the fact that most United Lounges were closed during lockdown, they are now waiving the annual fee for the first year instead of having the 100,000 bonus offer.
 

How You Earn Miles

Here is how you can earn United Miles with this card:

  • Earn 4X on United Purchases - 4X includes airline tickets purchased from United, and on the following purchases made from United: seat upgrades; Economy Plus®; inflight food, beverages and Wi-Fi; baggage service charges or other United fees.

    4X DOES NOT INCLUDE: United Cruises®, United MileagePlus X, DIRECTV® and Merchandise Awards, are excluded. United tickets booked through some discount travel websites or as part of a third-party travel package will also not qualify.

    Opinion: This is a huge jump over the existing Explorer and Club Card (where you can only earn 2X miles on United purchases). In fact, it is better than most airline credit cards. Only the Amex Platinum Card lets you earn more on airline ticket purchases (5X - but United is not a transfer partner).

    4X is also better than 3X on travel found in the Chase Sapphire Reserve and United's legacy card, the United MileagePlus Select Card. United frequent flyers who also have the CSR might want to consider switching to this card.

  • Earn 2X on OTHER TRAVEL Purchases - Chase definition of "travel" is pretty broad and so it includes things like cruises, hotel stays, uber rides etc.

    Opinion - I do not know of any other airline credit card that lets you earn 2X or more than 1X on other travel related expenses on their card. In my opinion, this is a big feature for this card. It essentially means that you can earn 2X United Miles if you use the card to book flights on other airlines. That means that if you book a Star Alliance flight with this card, you can choose to earn United Miles from the flight purchase and also from credit card spending if you use this card. Having said that, the Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) allows you to earn 3X on travel and you can transfer those points to United miles.

  • Earn 2X on RESTAURANTS Worldwide - You can earn 2X when you use the card at restaurants worldwide and not just in the US.

    Opinion - While 2X on restaurant and dining is better than both the United Explorer Card and the United Club Card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) allows you to earn 2X on dining and the Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) allows you to earn 3X. United's legacy card, the United MileagePlus Select Card and the United MileagePlus Platinum Class Visa allows you to earn 2X on restaurants, groceries, gas stations and home improvement stores.
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  • Earn 4X on Inside Access from Chase - If you book an event from Inside Access, you will earn 4X miles.

    Opinion: This is higher than the 2X you earn on the Explorer Card. However, most of you will not be looking at this in your decision making as to whether you will get this card or not.


Helping to Earn Elite Status

Not all airline credit cards help you to earn elite status. The United Infinite Card does in the following way.
  • Earn up to 1,000 PQP - You can earn 500 PQP if you spend $12,000 on the card and another 500 PQP for the next $12,000 in spending. So if you spend $24,000 a year on the card, you can earn 1,000 PQP (which is the most you are allowed to earn in a calendar year). These PQPs can be used to help you qualify up to Platinum Premier level.

    Opinion - In my opinion, 1000 PQP is very meager amount for a $24,000 spend. The legacy United MileagePlus Select Visa allows you to earn up to 3,000 PQPs, which can be used to help you qualify up to 1K Premier Level. The legacy United MileagePlus Presidential Plus allows you to earn up to 10,000 PQPs that can be used to help you achieve up to 1K Premier level.

    1,000 PQPs is really compared even to other cards like Delta. For example, for Premier Silver status, if you want to qualify based on MQP alone, you need 5,000 PQP. Earning 1,000 PQP on credit card spending only gets you 20% there. If you look at Delta, the Silver Medallion level requires 25,000 MQM. With their Platinum Delta Skymiles Credit Card, you can earn up to 20,000 MQM from credit card spending (80% of the way for the MQM criteria).


Global Entry TSA Pre-check Application Fee Credit

  • $100 Application Fee Statement Credit for Global Entry/TSA Precheck - This feature is common is most premium credit cards and the United Explorer Card also has this feature. However, the United Club Card does not have this feature so this card closes the gap.


Benefits Premier Members Do Not Have

I will now list the benefits of the card that Premier members do not have. I prefer to split them up this way so Premier Elite members can see whether the perks on the card add to what they already have.
  • United Club Lounge Membership - United Premier Status members do not have automatic club lounge access. Like the United Club Card, this card also offers card holders a United Club Membership. A United Club Membership costs $650 or 85,000 miles for general members, Silver and Gold Elite members. It cost $600 a year or 80,000 miles for Platinum Premier members. For 1K or United Global Services member, it will cost $550 or 75,000 miles. You can bring either 2 adult guest or one adult and a dependent child less than 21 years old (this rule is the same if you actually bought a Club Membership yourself). In terms of value, the Club Lounge Membership covers the cost of the annual fee.

  • Upgrading Award Tickets - If you are a Premier Elite member, you are eligible for complimentary seat upgrades. But these only applied to certain classes of paid tickets. However, if you are a Premier elite member and have this card, you are eligible for upgrades even on award tickets. So this benefit applies only to Premier Elite members. Those who are not Premier members (ie no elite status) cannot enjoy this benefit.

  • 25% back on United Inflight Purchases - This is a feature many airline credit cards have. I doubt many find this to be a key or make or break feature for the card.



Benefits Premier Members Already Have

  • 2 Free Checked Bags - Card members will get 2 free checked bags for the primary cardholder and one traveling companion. This benefit is irrelevant if you are a Premier Gold status member (and above) because you get 2 free checked baggages along with along your companions taking the same flight as you. Premier Silver members also get 1 free checked bag. The allowance for elite members is 32kg/70lbs (which is the allowance for business class and above). For the two free checked bags cardholders get, the allowance weight depends on whether you are traveling economy or business class. If you have no Premier status, the weight of your check-in baggage will be lower than if you flew business class.

  • Priority Zone 2 Boarding - Card holders have priority boarding. You will board together with those at Zone 2. Zone 2 boarders include Premier Silver members and those with other United credit cards. Premier Gold and Platinum get zone 1 boarding while 1K members get pre-boarding.

  • Premier Access - Premier Access include benefits like priority access lines for check-in, security screening (where available), boarding and baggage handling. This is actually be purchased for $15 for a flight. I seriously doubt anyone really cares about this benefit. You can always do online check-in and just get to the airport earlier enough to check-in your baggage. And if you have Global Entry, you should get in the shorter security lines anyway. One of the perks of Premier Access is that you can board with Zone 2 line. (as mentioned above)

  • Award Availability - If you have Premier Elite Status, more award tickets are available to you. Even if there is just one seat left on a flight, you would be able to use book it via award tickets (ie use miles). This benefit is given to holders of this card. So once again, if you have Elite Status in United Mileage Plus, this perk is not relevant to you. This perks is also available on the United Explorer Card.

  • Complimentary Herts Gold Plus Rewards President's Circle Membership - This is Hertz top tier elite status. You would normally need to do 20 car rentals from them or spend $4000 annually with them to get this status. President's Circle get guaranteed upgrades, 1.5 points per dollars that you spend with Hertz, get 4 months of ClEAR membership and will waive additional drivers fees for spouse.

    Premier Platinum and Premier 1K status members already get Complimentary Herts Gold Rewards Plus Presidential Circle Membership. So this perks is irrelevant to these members. Premier Silver and Gold status members get Herts Gold Rewards Plus Five Star membership (which is one tier below the Presidential Circle). So while this perk may excite Non-Premier (ie no elite status) members who rent from Hertz a lot, Premier Status members will not find this benefit useful.


Fees

  • Annual Fee: $525 (Bonus Offer: No Annual Fee For 1st Year if you apply now) - The annual fee is on par with other premium cards.

  • No Foreign Transaction Fee - A very common feature with travel cards and expected of a premium credit card.



Travel and Shopping Benefits

  • Trip cancellation/trip interruption insurance
  • Baggage delay insurance - up to $3000.
  • Lost luggage reimbursement - The required length of delay is 6 hour. You will be reimbursed for up to $100/day for three days.
  • Trip delay reimbursement - The required hours to be considered a trip delay is 12 hours and coverage is maximum of $500 per ticket.
  • Primary auto rental collision damage waiver - Chase CDW waiver insurance can be used in all countries
  • Purchase protection - $10,000 per claim with a $50,000 claim per year.
  • Extended warranty protection - extension period of 1 year with maximum initial warranty of up to 3 years.


Comparison

We are now going to compare the Club Infinite Card with a few other cards.

Comparison with Legacy United Club Card

As we mentioned earlier, it appears that this card is a replacement for the United Club Card as the Chase United website is now only listing the Explorer card and this one. Still we are going to compare the United Club Card and this card because we are not sure if Club card holders will be upgraded automatically to the Infinite. I doubt so because there is a difference in the annual fee.

The first significant difference is that the Club Infinite card allows you to earn 4X vs 2X points for the United Club card on United airline purchases. You also earn 2X miles on travel and dining for the Infinite card. However, the original Club Card allows you to earn 1.5X miles for regular purchases. In terms of earning miles, existing Club holders will be giving up earning 1.5X miles for regular purchases for 4X on United purchases and 2X on travel and dining. For many folks 1.5X miles for regular purchases will often allow you to earn more because spending on United tickets and dining will most likely be a small percentage of one's total credit card spend.

The second major difference is that the Club Infinite card will reimburse you once every four years when you apply and extend your Global Entry or TSA Pre-check. The Legacy United Club Card does not have this feature.

One thing that both the Legacy Club and Club Infinite have in common is that they both allow you to earn up to 1,000 PQPs a year.

See Detailed Between United Club and Club Infinite

Comparison with Legacy Presidential Plus Card

There a couple of key differences with the Presidential Plus Card.

Firstly, you can earn more miles with the Club Infinite Card. You earn 4X for United purchases vs 2X for the Presidential Plus Card. This is double the amount that you can earn on United tickets.

The second difference is that the Club Infinite gives you back a statement credit of the $100 application fee when you apply for either Global Entry or TSA Pre-check. The Presidential Plus has no such feature.

The third most important difference is how many PQPs each card can earn. The Club Infinite allows you to earn up to 1,000 PQPs which can help you earn up to Platinum Premier status. In contrast, the Presidential Plus allows you to earn up to 10,000 PQPs which can help you earn up to 1K Premier status. From this perspective, the Presidential Plus is a much superior card for helping you earn Elite status with United.

See Detailed Between United Club Infinite vs Presidential Plus
 


Our Take

For a $75 bump up in annual fee from the United Club Card ($450 to $525), the United Club Infinity Card has enhanced their card by allow you to earn 4X miles rather than 2X and also added the reimbursement for card holders $100 spending on Global Entry and TSA Pre-check. 4X miles for United tickets is a big deal and United Club Card holders or Chase Sapphire Reserve holders who are frequent flyers of United might want to consider switching to this card.

Many of the benefits of this card are already available to Premier Platinum members so folks who have Premier Platinum or above status will have to weigh the benefits of 4X earning power and Club Lounge membership and see if it is enough to get them to pull the trigger on this card.

If you analyze the features of this card, it becomes clear that this card will only appeal to folks who truly value earning United miles through credit card spending and those who benefit from lounge access. I will try to spell who should and who should not get the card below.
 


Who Should Not Get the United Club Infinite Card?

United or Star Alliance Platinum Premier Status Members Who Fly International in Premier Class and above

- If you have Platinum Premier Status, you will get two checked bags for free as part of it's benefit. So the two free checked bag perk of this card is not relevant to Platinum Status. Furthermore, if you fly international flights on premier class (ie business or first class), you will have access to to United and Star Alliance club lounges. International flights also allow you to check in two baggages for free. So those who travel international on premium seats have no need for United Club Lounge Membership.

Domestic TransCon Polaris Class Flyers

If you fly transcontinental (JFK-LAX, EWR-SFO for eg) on Polaris Class, then you will get your two free checked bags and access to either United Club or Polaris Lounge automatically without any Club Lounge membership.

Elite Status folks who do not need extra miles from credit card spending

- One of the best highlights of this card is that you can earn 4X miles for every dollar that you spend on the card. While that might seem very attractive in the past, some of you United folks with status might not be too attracted to this. If you fly enough to get status and have enough miles in the bank, you might not want to pay $525 fee to earn the extra 4X. This is particularly true as United has moved to a dynamic award chart so you never really know the value of your miles (unlike the past).

Furthermore, if you have Elite Status, you have free checked bags. Silver Elites have one free checked bag while Gold has two free checked bags. All Elite Status members also get expanded award availability as well so having United credit cards just for this feature does not make sense.

United Flyers Who Cannot Be Bothered By Lounge Access

You know who you are. Some folks do not like to hang around the airport and arrive "just in time to board". Or you airport does not have a great United Lounge. Or your United Terminal has better pubs and restaurants that you preferred. Regardless, those who are not hung up over United Club Lounge should not even consider this card.

Legacy Presidential Plus Holders Who Value Earning PQPs from Credit Card Spend

If you are an existing Presidential Plus holder, you can earn up to 10,000 PQPs that can be applied towards 1K Premier. The Club Infinite only allows you to earn up to 1,000 PQPs that can be applied towards Platinum Premier (though in 2020, you can earn up to 4,000 PQPs due to the Covid19 Pandemic). Those of you who need to earn PQPs through credit card spending should be the Presidential Plus rather than upgrade.


Who Should Get The United Club Infinite Visa Card?

Those who fly economy but still value United Club Lounge

As with the United Club Card, the main value of this card is the Club Lounge Membership, which cost more than the annual fee itself. If you do not fly international flights in premium seats but yet want like to hang out in United's lounge before take off, then you are better off getting this card rather than buying a Club Lounge membership. You do have to weigh the cost of the club membership and see if it is worth. United will charge $59 to access their lounge. So to make a club membership worthwhile, you need to use it at least 10-12 times to justify the annual Club Lounge membership. If you do not use that much, then a Lounge membership is not worth it. If you only use it a couple of time, then the United Explorer Card which offers two lounge access a year.

Elite Status Members Who Want to Earn Miles With Credit Card Spend

After United devalued their program by using dynamic award pricing, it does not pay to collect United Miles if you are a casual traveler because you do not know the price of an award ticket in terms of miles needed. But if you are an elite status flyer who find that earning miles from credit card spending will help you get the award flights you want, then this card is better than the United Explorer Card and certainly better than the Chase Sapphire Reserve because it earn 4X rather than 2X (Explorer) and 3X (CSR).

Let's just do some math here. If you spend $15,000 a year on United tickets, then earning extra 60,000 miles from credit card spending (4 X 15,000 = 60,000) might be worth it. 60,000 miles could possible get you a one-way business class ticket to Europe via a Star Alliance partner. But if you only spend say $3000 a year on United tickets, then (4 X 3,000 = 12,000 miles) may not be worth the hassle and annual fee. You know how much you spend and you know whether it is worth it. So just do the math yourself.

United Frequent Flyers Who Have Chase Sapphire Reserve And Mainly Transfer UR Points to United

Many United frequent flyers have the Chase Sapphire Reserve rather than United credit cards because prior to this card, they only earned 2X miles on United tickets. The CSR earns 3X on travel and dining, have $300 travel credit and gives Priority Lounge Select membership. Ultimate Reward points can be transferred to United and other airline and hotel partners. If you are such a person and mainly transfer UR points to United, you might want to consider switching from CSR to the United Club Infinity Visa if earning 4X is more attractive than 3X. This card also now offers Global Entry application fee back as statement credit as well.

Should United Card Club holders upgrade?

If you already have the United Card Club, then I can assume that you value the Club Lounge membership. The Club Infinite Card is an upgrade because you can earn 4X miles and also because you can get your $100 credit when you apply for a Global Entry or TSA Pre-check.

Having said that, Chase has said that you got the United Club Card within the last 24 months, then you will not be eligible for the 100,000 sign up bonus they are offering now. That is something you have to consider. You might want to wait until your 24 months is up and then sign up to get the sign up bonus (though it will be less than 100,000 miles).