I currently have the old United MileagePlus Club Card and have used it quite frequently over the last 2 years, so the $375 free (the fee has been increased to $395) was well worth it to me. However, I’ve been traveling much less frequently lately, so I decided to give the good ole Chase retentions department a call to see what they would offer if I threatened to cancel my card.
What I learned:
First, Chase appears to have no program in place to retain customers who hold this card! Although I was cut off on my first call, the second agent I spoke to was extremely helpful, but was unable to offer me a statement credit or miles to keep my card. In fact, he told me he would not refund my prorated annual fee for the unused months of membership either! He did look up my credit history and told me I had an excellent history with Chase, but alas no offer like the 15,000 miles I received from the Explorer Card.
One important piece of information I discovered was that you have a 60-day window after you either sign up for the card, or after your annual fee comes due to cancel and get your $395 annual fee refunded to you! This is a favorable policy, especially if you either already have the card and plan to cancel, or if you are considering applying and keeping the card for just one year.
How did I get to the 15 months of United Club access you ask? Well, when I first applied for the card, they took over a month to send me my membership card, however my United MileagePlus profile was updated after just a few days, so I walked into the club, give them my MileagePlus number and strolled right in. My annual fee didn’t hit my credit card statement for a month after I applied, which meant that it wouldn’t cycle again until 12-months after that date. There’s my first free month! Next, if you keep the card for a year, then wait 59 days after the annual fee hits, you’ll get your money back (I’m not sure if they will prorate it), but since they refused to prorate the fee I had already paid back in November, I assume that it would work in reverse and you would get all of your $395 back. There’s another two months free.
Is this card for you?
Let’s take a look at the features of the United MileagePlus Club Card:
– You get free membership to the United Club (Worth up to $475)
– 1.5 miles per dollar spent (A pretty lucrative earn rate)
– 2 miles per dollar on purchases from United (totally lame)
– $95 statement credit the first year (Meaning you pay only $300 for your first year)
– Premier travel access
– First and second bags free
– No foreign transaction fees (this is nice to have, but it’s becoming increasingly common)
Overall, the fact that there is no sign up bonus really stinks. I guess the $95 statement credit partially makes up for this, but even if they offered just 20K miles, that would make this card much more appealing to try out.
The mileage earning rate of 1.5 is extremely generous and is near or at the top of the industry for travel cards in my opinion. The 2 miles per dollar on United purchases is almost completely useless, and you’re better off putting the spend on your Amex Business Gold (3 points per dollar on airfare) or Chase Sapphire. How Chase and United think that a good product feature is to award just 2 miles per dollar when their main competitor is offering 3 points per dollar is beyond me.
What happened to the Elite Qualifying Miles?? The old version that I have awards you 5,000 EQMs after spending $35,000 in one year. I know this is a pretty steep spend threshold, but no EQMs at all on the new card? I guess Chase and United are trying to reduce the number of elites in the program, which coincides with their clawback of benefits for Silver Elites, so I suppose I’m not surprised here, but it would have been nice to have a target to shoot for when putting all your spend on this card. Besides aren’t they making enough money on this card with the $395 annual fee + the transaction free revenue (2% x $35K = $700) to award your loyal customer with 5,000 EQMs?
Finally, the Premier Access and free bags are almost completely useless to me. First off, I’m a Silver Elite, so I get one free bag (although I almost never check bags), and obviously get Priority Access. I’m willing to bet that most customers who would consider this card fly frequently and are elite members (why else would they want club membership?) so they don’t care about this feature. I’m guessing that this was a super cheap value add that United threw in for free because I sure hope Chase isn’t stupid enough to pay for this one.
Two final tips:
1 – If you are an elite member I’ve read on Million Mile Secrets that you can get a fee waived for the first year.
2 – A friend tipped me off that they are handing out promotion cards at United Club check in counters where you can get the first year free if applying before 5/31. For those with two free passes from the Explorer Card this would be a good way to visit the club and grab one of those promotion cards. I’m sure you could also just walk in and ask politely.
Bottom line is this card is great if you fly United a lot and value club access. Getting 15 months of membership for only $300 (or free if you are elite) is very appealing to some people. If I were on the fence about this card, I would wait a month or two and see if Chase introduces a sign up bonus. They just released this card in February, so they’re probably waiting to see how it performs. If performance isn’t what they expected, I believe they will consider adding a sweetener, but who knows what they will do if they were not willing to offer me anything to retain me as a customer?