United to send out digital / downloadable club passes


One of the benefits of the Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Card is 2 annual United Club passes. Those paper passes have always been mailed around your anniversary date. However, as has been reported elsewhere, Chase has started sending out mailers indicating that beginning in November, passes will be sent digitally. Here’s the letter I received today:

a close up of a letter

As you can see, the letter indicates that the club passes will be automatically added to my MileagePlus account within 4 weeks of my anniversary date on my next anniversary beginning in November 2017. My anniversary passed over the summer, so I actually already received paper passes for this year. However, much has been said over the past few days about the move to digital passes as this would seem to indicate that only the card holder could use these digital passes in the future. In the past, many card holders have shared these passes with family or friends and some have sold them. As you can see in the letter, you will still be able to download and print out your passes, meaning that it may still be possible to share them — though I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a bar code that will tie them to the card holder’s name. Time will tell.

Here is the other insert that came in the mail with the letter, explaining that I will also be able to access my passes from the MileagePlus app (none show in my account, which is consistent with the fact that I already received the paper passes):

a card with text and images on it

Bottom line

I’m actually pretty happy about this change as I don’t typically sell my passes and this means I won’t need to keep track of these two small pieces of paper. However, I know that many readers will be very unhappy with this change if it means that passes can no longer be sold. Furthermore, it states in the letter that your passes may be revoked if you cancel your card, which is a further blow to those who cancel before the passes would have expired. We’ll see how this shakes out in practice.

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While I don’t sell my passes, I typically give them to my parents or in-laws when they fly so they have a better place to reset between flights. I’m fine just being in the terminal. Stinks that I can’t give them to them anymore 🙁