The bottom line: If you consider lounge access a must-have while traveling for business and you frequently fly (and check bags on) United, then this card's hefty annual fee can be a relative bargain. Occasional travelers should look elsewhere, maybe even to a different United card.
United Club℠ Business Card
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Recommended Credit Score
Pros & Cons
High rewards rate
No foreign transaction fee
Has annual fee
Alternate Pick: Lower annual fee
United℠ Business Card
2 United Club one-time-use passes per year
This card doesn't offer unlimited United Club access, but you do still get two free visits a year. You'll earn 2X miles on United purchases, but also on restaurants, gas stations, office supply stores, and eligible local transit and commuting (1X back on all other purchases). The annual fee is $0 intro for the first year, then $99.
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The United Club℠ Business Card is among the most economical ways for business owners to regularly take refuge in a United Club airport lounge.
Cardholders get a full United lounge membership for an annual fee of $450. That’s less than the cost of paying cash for a lounge membership and less than the ongoing annual fee of the personal club-membership credit card (aka, the United Club℠ Infinite Card).
The United Club℠ Business Card is unusual for a business travel card because it also features a good rewards rate on all card spending, even if it’s not travel-related. That’s a potential boon to entrepreneurs with varied spending.
True, the card lacks a few features common in high-priced travel cards, such as travel credits and reimbursement for applying for TSA Precheck or Global Entry. But United Airlines devotees looking for a business credit card will find it’s a solid competitor to some of the popular general travel cards that small-business owners typically consider. And those cards won’t get you into United Clubs.
United Club℠ Business Card: Basics and benefits
Annual fee: $450
Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
Rewards: 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases and 1.5 miles per $1 on all other purchases.
NerdWallet values United miles at 1 cent each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data on hundreds of economy routes, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 1 cent or more in value from your United miles.
Interest rate: The ongoing APR is 16.49% - 23.49% Variable.
Foreign transaction fee: None.
Access to United Clubs and participating Star Alliance-affiliated lounges worldwide.
Free first and second checked bags on United flights.
Premier Access travel services (priority check-in, security screening where available, boarding and baggage handling).
25% back on United in-flight purchases.
Primary rental car insurance.
Travel protections, such as trip cancellation or interruption insurance, baggage delay insurance and lost luggage reimbursement.
No foreign transaction fees.
Where the United Club℠ Business Card shines
United Club membership
Paying the card’s annual fee of $450 fits nobody’s definition of cheap. But it kind of is when you consider the cost of United Club membership. Paying cash for a yearly membership for United Club costs $650, so this card’s annual fee represents a big discount off that price.
The membership also counts for participating lounges affiliated with United’s worldwide partners in the Star Alliance.
If you’re already a United Club member, you can get the United Club℠ Business Card and be reimbursed for the unused portion of your membership.
This card has other nice perks, but the main reason to choose it over others is unlimited United Club access.
Free first and second checked bags
On United flights, you’ll get not only one bag-fee waiver but two each for you and a traveling partner on the same reservation. One checked bag typically costs $35 and another checked bag for the same passenger is usually an additional $45. If both travelers check two bags, that’s a potential savings of up to $320 per roundtrip.
Earning 2 miles per $1 spent on United purchases is typical of an airline card. But what’s nice is the 1.5 miles per $1 spent on all other purchases. Small-business owners have widely different spending patterns, not just the typical consumer bonus categories, such as restaurants, groceries and gas. So a healthy 1.5X return on all non-United spending may be welcome, whether it’s on high-speed internet for your business, client lunches or office supplies.
Premier Access travel services
Receive such preferential treatment as priority check-in, security screening (where available), boarding and baggage handling.
Primary auto rental collision damage waiver
You can decline the car rental company's collision insurance and instead charge the rental cost to your card. Coverage is primary when renting for business purposes and provides reimbursement up to the actual cash value of the vehicle for theft and collision damage for most cars in the U.S. and abroad. Most rental-car insurance from credit cards is secondary, meaning your auto insurance pays first, and you probably pay a deductible. With this card’s primary insurance, the card issuer pays first.
United Club℠ Business Card: Drawbacks and alternatives
Expensive ANNUAL FEE
It's hard to find a co-branded airline credit card that doesn't charge an annual fee, although some do exist. With the United Club℠ Business Card, the annual fee is $450.
An option with no annual fee is the Bank of America® Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard® credit card. It gets you 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases and 3 points per $1 on travel purchases booked through the Bank of America® Travel Center. Points are worth 1 cent apiece when redeemed to cover travel purchases made on the card. And if you're enrolled in the issuer's Preferred Rewards for Business program — which you can qualify for if you keep enough money with the bank — you can earn up to 2.62 points per dollar spent.
While you'll get two free checked bags with the United Club℠ Business Card, it's stingier than business credit cards from other large airlines; you'll get bag-fee waivers for yourself and only one companion. The Delta SkyMiles® Gold Business American Express Card, for comparison, offers the first bag free for you and up to eight other passengers on your reservation. Terms apply.
Limited REWARD REDEMPTIONS
General travel business credit cards — the kind that don’t have an airline name on them — let you redeem rewards for a variety of different travel expenses. With the United Club℠ Business Card, your best redemption options are award flights and seat upgrades on United and its Star Alliance partners.
If you don't fly exclusively with United, a general travel card could work better. And if you want a luxury card option, a great general travel card for business is The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, with an annual fee of $595. Terms apply. If you don’t need a high-end card or airport lounge access, consider the Capital One Spark Miles for Business.
Lack of travel credits
Some travel cards, especially ones with high annual fees, come with credits to reimburse you for travel spending. They are as good as cash if you travel often. The aforementioned The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, for example, offers a $200 airline fee credit. Terms apply.
And many travel cards offer a credit to reimburse the cost of applying for airport security programs, Global Entry or TSA Precheck. That can be worth up to $100 every four or five years.
The United Club℠ Business Card has no travel credits, just 25% back on United in-flight purchases.
Other United cards
The downside of paying the annual fee of $450 is that you might not use a United Club membership often enough to make it worthwhile. With day passes to the lounge costing $59 each, you might decide it’s worth paying a la carte for your United Club visits.
In that case, you could consider the lower-cost United℠ Business Card. It even includes two United Club passes per year. It comes with just one free checked bag, not two. A key difference: It charges an annual fee of just $0 intro for the first year, then $99.
$0 intro for the first year, then $99.
United Club access
Two one-time passes per year.
75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
Free first checked bag.
Free first and second checked bags.
If you don't necessarily need a business credit card, another way to go is to consider using a personal United card, especially to get the free checked bags. Those cards have different reward structures than the United business credit cards. The personal card that gives you a full United Club membership is the United Club℠ Infinite Card.
Is the United Club℠ Business Card right for you?
You have many good travel credit cards to choose from, even some others from Chase and United Airlines. But if you’re an avid United flyer who wants full access to United Club airport lounges, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal than the United Club℠ Business Card. Every time you check out, its generous 1.5 points per $1 spent on non-United purchases will have you humming the famous composition-turned-earworm airline jingle "Rhapsody in Blue."
Information related to the United Club℠ Business Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.
To view rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please visit this page.
To view rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, please visit this page.