In case you haven’t read about this yet, or noticed it on United.com, membership rates for the United Club are scheduled to increase $25 across the board effective January 1, 2013 (spouse rates increase by $100).
Here’s the current pricing valid through December 31:
Also, when the conversion to SHARES took place in March, United “temporarily” suspended the ability to redeem miles for club memberships or renewals. And the latest contact a Flyertalk member made with United on this subject was met with a response of, “We are still in a transitional period and hope to have it available for 1K members in the near future.”
If this means it’ll only be available to certain elites when (if) it returns remains to be seen. Previously in 2011, United sent out a survey to Red Carpet Club members hinting that the mileage redemption option might go away entirely.
I ended up renewing my membership in 2010 for 40,000 miles, but I definitely don’t recommend using miles this way – you can get far more value for your miles redeemed elsewhere. I was cash poor and mileage rich at the time, so it ended up being the best option for me.
The three-year membership rate is being discontinued December 31, too. It represents a savings of $250 over the course of three years.
Also, it appears that memberships are now valid through the end of the month in which they expire. My actual expiration date is December 19, 2012 as printed on my card, but logging in to renew it shows December 31:
As many people do, another way to gain access to United’s domestic lounges is to hold Star Alliance Gold status in a foreign carrier’s frequent flier program. I believe Turkish Airlines is still matching elites from other programs (even United), according to Gary’s post.