I Want to Buy a 1 Time United Pass. What Should I do?
I recently had a co-worker ask me about how they should buy a United 1 time pass for a long layover in Newark while flying United. Here is my response:
"I’d be happy to help.
It’s important to note that while I love getting lounge access at airports, I never actually pay for it directly. Instead, I get it via credit card perks. Whether or not it makes sense to pay directly or get it from a perk of a credit card depends on the person. In some cases, flyers might get a card one year, get the sign-up bonus, use the sign-up bonus & lounge access, then downgrade to a no-annual-fee card in year 2 if they’re not getting positive expected value after the first year. If you did end up wanting to apply for a card, sometimes, but not always (i.e. not on the Ritz option, AA option, or United options), I have a referral link available, where if you used that instead of the public offer, I, my wife, or my dad could get some points ourselves. In some cases with referral links, the one who applies could get significantly more points in the sign-up bonus available than that which is available with the public offer. I’m not including any referral links below, but feel free to let me know if there’s a card you want to apply for below if you want to use a referral link. Even if there isn’t any elevated bonus from a referral link, it’s a free way for you to say thank you for my time.
For lounge access in Newark there are a number of things I’d recommend that you consider, in addition to a United club 1 time pass direct purchase, including the direct answer to your question (in bold):
Lounge Options in Newark
United lounge options
i. Standard United lounges. If wanting to do a United lounge in Newark, I would recommend the new lounge located near C123. I’ve been there, it’s relatively new, it’s well rated (4/4 on Lounge Buddy, better than any other lounge at Newark airport), and it has fantastic offerings. Here are some pictures I took there recently. Here’s an article (& here’s another, with more pics) from a few travel hackers I follow with reviews of it.
ii. United Polaris lounges are significantly pricier and I wouldn’t recommend exploring those options. While the offerings are going to likely be superior to the example I just mentioned, they’re not rated 4/4 by Lounge Buddy.
2. Other lounge options that are available cross carriers (i.e. via Priority Pass that come with credit cards like the Venture X & Ritz Carlton credit card) are present via certain credit cards, but the hours are limited & may not work or be optimal for you, depending on the scenario.
i. Virgin Atlantic ClubHouse is open to Priority Pass members + 2 guests from 7 AM-10:30 AM & 3:30 PM-11:30 PM. It’s rated ¾. ii. British Airways Galleries Club is rated ¾, & available to Priority Pass members from 8 AM-2 PM to those with cards like the Venture X for the cardholder (& authorized users) plus 2 guests, but supposedly there’s no food in your scenario likely (though if considering further I would recommend contacting the lounge directly to see due to the age of the review that states that of 2018).
To directly purchase a United Club 1 time pass, it’s best done in the United app, not the United website.
1. Click on the 3 bars on the top left of the app 2. Click on “Passes & Subscriptions” 3. Click on “Purchase a pass” near the top within a card image
Credit cards that provide access to lounge networks no matter what carrier you fly with. Typically access is available for you plus 2 other people at these lounges unless airline-specific cards. Also typically once acquiring the card you need to sign up for Priority Pass through the card for free.
1. The Venture X credit card ($395 annual fee) can be a viable option for those traveling at least once a year who could use their $300 annual travel credit consistently using the Capital One portal for items like flight fares and hotel costs. The 10,000 points per year is worth more than $100, so as long as you can use that travel credit, it’s a fantastic card to have. My wife has it, and it’s on my list of cards to get. I suspect that they will up the annual fee because it appears too good to last in its current form because I have a hard time believing it’s profitable for Capital One (the issuer). Here’s a review of it. You can add up to 4 authorized users for free, each of which have perks including but not limited to the same lounge access perks as you.
2. While this card isn’t available for applications directly, if you already have (or acquire in the future, plus a 1 year delay if this card is still available for conversions then) the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card, converting to the Ritz Carlton credit card ($450 annual fee) is a solid option to consider that provides much of the same access as the Capital One Venture X, minus the few Capital One specific lounges out there or planned to come out in the near future. The $300 credit on it isn’t as easy to use as the Venture X, but can be used for things like seat upgrades and bag fees. While the Venture X has options like 10k Capital One points annually (worth $185 according to TPG valuations, though actual values can vary considerably) and status with Hertz, the Ritz card comes with options including an 85k point/yr Marriott certificate (worth $714 according to TPG valuations). You can add more than 4 authorized users for free, each of which have perks including but not limited to the same lounge access perks as you. I don’t have this card at the moment, but my wife and I both have the Bonvoy Boundless and I’m highly considering that we convert to this card soon.
3. There are a number of other credit cards available with lounge access options that can be better-expected value in year 1 in some cases (i.e. Amex Platinum ($695/yr), Amex Business Platinum ($695/yr), Chase Sapphire Reserve ($550/yr), Delta Reserve ($550/yr), Delta Business Reserve, AA Executive ($450/yr), etc.), but the 2 above are some of my favorites in terms of annual positive expected value for infrequent travelers when compared to the annual fees as long as you can utilize the $300 credits annually (and in the case of the Ritz card, the free night annually).
United Credit cards are another option for lounge access, & how I have gotten access to United lounges, including for my recent pics at the United Club I mentioned in Newark.
1. Personal options
i. United Explorer Card is a solid option if you’re an infrequent traveler
($0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95)
Free first checked bag - terms apply including “The primary Cardmember and one companion traveling on the same reservation” & “when the primary Cardmember includes their United MileagePlus® number in their reservation and purchases their tickets from United with their card.”
2 United Club one-time passes per year
50,000 United miles bonus after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
ii. There are other options, but none are good for both lounge access and infrequent travels, except for the no annual fee version of the United card combined with the business version of it, since having both would grant you 5k points/year.
2. Business options: https://www.theexplorercard.com/business-rewards-cards
For an infrequent traveler, the United Business Card is another solid option & what I have for United lounge access. Here are some of the main details: 1. 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open 2. $99 annual fee 3. Free first checked bag - terms apply* 4. 5,000-mile better-together anniversary bonus when you have the United Business Card and a personal United credit card* 5. 2 United Club one-time passes per year*