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For years I have been able to share United Club access with others by giving away the one-time passes that come with things like many United co-branded credit cards or even with Hyatt Globalist status. I know that many others also like to share and receive these easy-to-pass-along paper passes. However, as shown below, it looks like that process is going to be changing somewhat as the co-branded United cards that issue these annual passes will reportedly begin issuing the passes electronically instead of mailing out paper passes beginning in November 2017.
The good news with this change is that you won’t have to worry about bringing the paper passes with you to the airport as they will be accessible from your United app under the United Club section. If you don’t travel with a smartphone or use the United app, you will also have the option to print out a paper pass from home by logging into your United account from your home computer.
Changes may impact the United Club Pass resell market
I don’t know exactly how much identifying information they will put on the passes now that they will be loaded into your MileagePlus account, but I have to imagine that it would be pretty easy to tie your passes to your account, which would probably impact the resell market for these passes pretty significantly. That said, there is already a bar code and unique number on the passes, so they could already be doing that if they desired.
You technically are not allowed to sell, barter, trade, exchange, or purchase the passes, but there has been a steady market for them on eBay for as long as they have been around. Picking up a United Club pass on eBay for about $15 or so is a lot cheaper than paying the $59 one-time access rate directly to United, though again, it is against the rules to buy or sell the passes so keep that in mind.
Resell market aside, I do think it is handy for most who travel using the United app that you won’t have to remember to bring the paper passes with you once they start issuing them electronically. Remember that to use the one-time United Club passes you need to have a same-day United boarding pass and admission on a pass is subject to space availability. I know my husband has been turned away from a United Club in Newark when trying to use a one-time pass due to capacity issues during peak travel times. Also keep in mind that the passes are good for one person per pass, though children under the age of two may enter with you on a one-time pass.
Forget the passes and get a United Club Card + 50,000 miles
While we are on the topic of United Club passes, the United Club card that I have personally had for years has just introduced a new sign-up bonus that is worth noting. The new bonus awards 50,000 bonus United miles after you spend $3,000 or more on the card in the first 3 months. This is worth noting because I don’t recall this card ever coming with sign-up bonus miles. It does have a $450 annual fee, though that is less than buying United Club membership outright at $550 per year. It also awards 1.5x United miles on purchases, provides United Priority Access, gives you a first and second checked bag for free when you use the card for your United tickets, and having it waives the $75 close-in award booking fees.
I think of the card as an elite-status-like product in that it provides many of the same perks you would get with lower tier United elite status. The terms do state that the product is not available to current or previous cardmembers of this credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this credit card within the last 24 months.
Will the upcoming United one-time Club pass changes impact your family?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.