Careful with the Continental OnePass Card – 25,000 miles now could cost you much more later

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Be very careful in deciding whether to apply for the Continental credit card now for only 25,000 miles (30,000 miles if you add an authorized user) because it could prevent you from a higher sign-up bonus later on.

This card pays me one of the highest commissions, but I can’t recommend it without serious qualifications.  In fact, I’m not linking to the card in this post, but as many of you know, you can find the card (& best offers for other cards) listed in the Airlines Credit Card tab on the blog.

Like The Man of a Thousand Places, I recommend that you don’t do anything (unless you are comfortable with the risks which I explain below).  You should have applied for this card in the months leading up to the completion of the merger.  Not a few days before it disappears.

My credit card affiliate agency let me know last night that the Continental OnePass card will be deactivated on Wednesday, February 29, 2012.  I don’t know if this means that the card will no longer be offered in general or just to affiliates like me.  Based on Million Mile Secrets reader Nick’s comments, you may be able to apply for the Continental OnePass card up to March 3, 2012.

As I’ve written before, I don’t like passing along passing along information on cards disappearing, but in this case, Nick (thanks!) had also commented that Continental card will be disappearing.  Here is his comment on my earlier post on Continental and United strategy:

Here is the schedule of events on when things will happen with the merger that the rep gave me:

2/20/2012 – Notify customers of new changes about benefits.
3/3/2012 – Merger is complete. This may be the cutoff date for getting the bonus on both cards.
Sometime between April and August of this year, the new cards will be sent out.

Not as easy as it looks

At first, applying for the Continental card before it disappears (Continental is essentially acquiring United Airlines, but retaining the United name, so the Continental card will no longer be issued) sounds like a no-brainer because it is an easy way to get an extra 25,000 Continental/United miles.

I wrote about the Continental and United card strategy extensively in December which was when you should have applied for the Continental card if you wanted to get the extra 25,000 to 30,000 miles.

Think carefully before applying for the Continental card.

Here are 3 reasons to think carefully before applying for the Continental card.

1.   It could prevent you from the United Explorer bonus.   Chase almost always doesn’t let you get the sign-up bonus for a 2nd time.  However, you can usually get the bonus for a different card type.  For example, the United Mileage Plus is considered a different product from the United Explorer card.

The Continental OnePass card will automatically convert to the United Explorer card.  This means that there is a very high chance that you won’t be able to get the sign-up bonus AGAIN for the United Explorer card once your Continental OnePass card becomes a United Explorer card.

The sign-up bonus on the United Explorer card is currently 50,000 miles after 1st purchase if you have a few United miles in your account (for most folks).  This is one of the best current deals because you get the 50,000 miles after the 1st purchase instead of having to spend thousands of dollars to get the bonus miles.

So applying for the 25,000 mile Continental card now could prevent you from applying for the 50,000 mile United Explorer card later on.

FlyerTalk poster deraynman1 (thanks!) writes in this post (I suspect he/she is referring to the United Explorer instead of United Mileage Plus card):

OnePass plus will be essentially recoded in the system as a United Mileage Plus card and that I may not be eligible for the acquisition bonus if I apply after March 2nd.

So we have another data point (yes, I know that you can’t believe everything you read on the internet) that the best course of action is to ensure that your existing Continental card doesn’t convert to a United Explorer card.

2.   The terms on the United Explorer prevent a 2nd bonus.  The terms on the United Explorer card very explicitly state (bolding mine):

“United MileagePlus Explorer cardmembers will only receive one 25,000 bonus miles award if they apply for both the United Explorer Card and the Continental OnePass Plus Card after 7/19/2011

 This suggests that if you apply for Continental OnePass card now, you won’t be able to get the bonus on the United Explorer card later.

So if you can get only 1 bonus,  why apply for the Continental OnePass card with a 25,000 mile bonus when there is a 50,000 miles United Explorer card available?

I don’t know if these terms are enforced and I couldn’t find evidence on this FlyerTalk thread of folks getting the bonus for BOTH cards after July 19, 2011.  I’m also skeptical of how Chase will track the bonus on both cards, but I wouldn’t put it past Chase to have sophisticated systems which track bonuses received.

A lot of success in the miles and points game is when the terms and conditions aren’t enforced.  But you should know that expecting to get the sign-up bonus on both cards is not permitted according to the terms on the United Explorer card.

Please comment if you’ve got the bonus on BOTH the United Explorer card and the OnePass card after July 19, 2011.

3.   Cancel card quickly.  As I mentioned in my earlier post on Continental card strategy, even if you get the bonus on both the Continental & United Explorer card, you’ll have to cancel your Continental card very quickly, in say 1 or 2 months (assuming you want a shot at the bonus on the United Explorer card).

Otherwise it converts to the United Explorer and you likely won’t get a shot at the sign-up bonus on the United Explorer again.

But cancelling a card in 1 to 2 months is not the best way to show a bank that you intend to be a profitable long term customer.  And you do risk sending a red flag to Chase which has all the best offers.

When is it okay to apply for the Continental card?

1.  You have the United Explorer card before July 19, 2011.  If you have the United Explorer card before July 19, 2011 you could apply for the Continental card, because the terms don’t indicate that you will be denied the bonus on the Continental card.

2.  You have the United Explorer card after July 19, 2011.  If you already have the United Explorer card after July 19 (and are willing to take the risk), you could apply for the Continental card.

That’s because you already have the United Explorer card and don’t have to worry about cancelling the Continental card before it converts to the United Explorer card.

But know that you could end up with 0 miles instead of 25,000 miles if Chase enforces the terms on the United Explorer card.

3.   Terms in the Continental Card don’t restrict a United Explorer bonus.  Interestingly, the terms in the Continental One Pass card don’t prevent you from getting the sign-up bonus on both the United Explorer and Continental card.  Here’s what the terms say:

This one-time bonus offer is valid only for first-time Continental Airlines personal cardmembers with new accounts. Previous and existing Continental Airlines personal cardmembers/accounts are not eligible for this bonus offer.

What am I doing?

Emily and I both applied for the Continental personal and business cards over the last 2 years in anticipation of this day.  We’ve closed these accounts.  Actually we gave them up when negotiating approval for other Chase cards with the Chase reconsideration department (“Continental is merging with United, so I suppose we don’t need 2 United cards”) 🙂

So we’re going to sit this out.  In general, the time to apply for a credit card,  which is soon to be converted to another airline’s card, because of a merger is not in the last week before the card is no longer available, but during the year leading up to the merger

But if we hadn’t got the bonus on both the Continental cards last year, and had waited to the last minute (i.e now), I would NOT apply for the cards.

I like having a large margin of safety which is why I did not apply for the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold card last year when it was claimed that you could bump the bonus to 75,000 points.

Bottom Line:  It appears easy to get an extra 25,000 miles by applying for the Continental OnePass card before it disappears.  And knowing that something is no longer being offered drives folks to make decisions they may otherwise not make.  But just be aware of the potential of not being able to get the bonus on the 50,000 mile United Explorer card later on.  This is not as easy as it appears.

The best course of action is to ensure that your existing Continental card doesn’t convert to a United Explorer card.

If you already have the United Explorer card and are willing to risk a credit inquiry, you could apply for the 25,000 mile Continental One Pass card and see if you get the bonus again.  Good Luck!  You may need it.

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35 responses to “Careful with the Continental OnePass Card – 25,000 miles now could cost you much more later

  1. If I understand things correctly, one of the big differences between the United Card and the Continental Card is that you can earn Elite Qualifying Miles on the Continental card. You get 1000 EQM for everu $5000 in spend. I am considering applying for the Continental card for this reason alone.

    Matt.

  2. @Daraius, I got approved for this card on 7/19/11. Do you think i can apply for explorer and get the bonus?

  3. @Daraius,

    How about the other way around?
    I have a continental card since 2007 but do not have a mileage plus explorer card? Should I apply for the explorer card now before the onepass card gets converted? What will happen when I have both during conversion time?

    Thanks!

    • @Matt Ward – But the Continental card will no longer exist after the merger and become the United card. Only the Continental Presidential Plus card earns the EQM – not the regular OnePass card.

      @Rajnish – The terms say you won’t get the bonus “if they apply for both the United Explorer Card and the Continental OnePass Plus Card after 7/19/2011” Since you were approved on 7/19/2011, it looks like you fall outside the window. But if the Continental card converts to the United Explorer card, and you apply for the United Explorer card again, I suspect it may be hard to get the bonus again based on Chase’s reluctance to award sign-on bonuses again for the same card type.

      @Jono – I suspect that it may be harder to get the sign-on bonus on the United Explorer if your existing OnePass card converts to a United Explorer. The best time to apply for the United Explorer (in my opinion) is before your existing OnePass card converts to the Explorer.

  4. Darius,
    I earned bonuses last year on both cards and my renewal will be coming up in July and as continental card wouldn’t make sense anymore ,should I close it now .I Just wanted to check if I will be getting any lounge pass certificates etc between now and my annual fee date in June/July.

    Thanks

  5. Sorry missed an a…Daraius…apologies..

  6. Thanks for this very detailed posts about the risks with this card. I remember reading those some time back (but after July 2011) on some of the blogs and deciding it wasn’t worth applying for the card in my situation. However, so many of the blogs that have been written in the past few days are all about the “countdown” with little or no reference to the risks you might be taking if you apply. This post is one of the reasons MMS is on the TOP of my blog-reading list.

  7. Thank you for this detailed analysis and straight talk. You deservedly earn reader trust with every post.

  8. We appreciate the Straight Talk Express.

  9. Thanks MM for the caution! I read some of the other blogs and was thinking about applying. But your make more sense in terms of ROI (risk and reward). Rules can always change but more and more CC companies are clamping down on awarding reward for the same type (personal, business) of cards (i.e. Citi on AA recently).
    I will pass CO CC and not jeopardize the UAL explorer reward for the future.

  10. Quick question, I have the following card:
    Chase British Airways card
    Chase Continental Card
    Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

    How about if I am apply for the Chase Slate card (i know I am going to get an immediate decline). Once declined, call Chase re-consideration line and ask them to transfer the credit from the
    Chase Continental Card and transfer it to the Chase Slate card.
    Does this strategy sound reasonable?

    Thank you

    • @uday – I believe you get the lounge certificates after your anniversary of applying for the card and each year after that.

      @Up&Away @Rapid Travel Chai & @Gary Cleft – Thanks!

      @ff_lover
      – All I’m saying is that there is a risk involved in applying and it isn’t very clear what the outcome will be. You could very well get those extra 25K points, but you could also not get them. Though I have got the sign-up bonus on both Citi AA personal and business cards.

      @Syed – That could work. The Chase Freedom is also a no fee card (like the slate) and offers 30K Ultimate Rewards points for signing up. It could potentially be better than the Slate for earning miles and points and keeping long term.

  11. Okay, I have an issue I need advice on:
    Thanks to you, I got the United Explorer card 50,000 point bonus just last month. I have been tempted to go for this card for all the obvious reasons as you stated. However, I really, really want the Chase Marriott card but am trying to wait six months form my last Chase approval. (I also got Chase Sapphire and Ink in the last couple months.)

    So, take the chance for 25 K miles and potentially mess up getting the Marriott card? I am leaning against applying, but would like your opinion.

  12. Thanks for your insightful and honest post. Please keep up the fantastic job!

  13. Your timing was perfect and thanks for updating on this issue. Can you advise me on my situation. I fist applied for Continental card 9 months ago and then this month I got United explorer card. What will happen to my continental card now? Will it merge to my existing United card or I will have two. Should I cancel my continental card now or do nothing. What is your take.

  14. I was just wondering if the 50000 mile sign-up bonus on United Explorer card would be taxed or not ??

  15. What if u have both UA and CO cards aquired in last year or so. Should I close the CO before I have 2 UA Explorer cards, which is what I was told I would end up with?
    thanks

  16. I am glad to see that you took the same road as TheMan1000 regarding this card. It seemed like many jumped at the opportunity to almost warn/ scare their readers to apply for it or miss out.
    I understand that the card is going away but I still wonder- when did 25K sign up bonuses become something to go crazy over? 50K or more- please let me know!
    Thank You for your honesty & looking out for the best of your readers and not just trying to push the CC offers!
    (I had this card a while back so maybe that’s why I do not look at it as a lost opportunity but I’d like to think I don’t due to the sub-par offer)

  17. DW has successfully received both 50k bonuses post July 19 for One Pass, and MP Explorer. Applied in August for One Pass, and December for Explorer. All miles have posted and she didn’t close the OP account before applying. Guess she will have 2 MP Explorers, very soon. What should her next move be? Wait until May or so to cancel?

    • @THEsocalledfan – The 70K offer for the Marriott is an unpublicized link which could die anytime. On the other hand, the Continental card will no longer be available from next week. The regular Marriott offer is for 50K points, so you have to decide if you’d prefer an extra 20K Marriott points or an extra 25K/30K United miles (if it is possible to get both bonuses despite what the terms say). If only Chase didn’t have all the best cards.

      @Jenny – Thanks!

      @Shami – I suspect your Continental card will merge into another United Explorer card. You could either cancel now or when you next need to negotiate approval with the reconsideration department for another Chase card.

      @Naif – It is very unlikely to be taxed, and no one to the best of my knowledge has received a 1099 Misc for miles earned from a credit card.

      @hola
      – You could either cancel now or when you next call the reconsideration line to get approved for another Chase card. There’s no real need to have 2 United Explorer cards!

      @Michael W.
      – Folks could very well end up getting both bonuses, but I just wanted to point out that the terms seem to indicate otherwise.

      @Jethro – Thanks for sharing. That’s the 1st report I’ve read of getting both the bonuses after July 19. I’m guessing she got targeted offers for both cards? You could wait and offer (read = insist) to close one of these cards when you’re getting approved for your next card.

  18. Good advice, ya I will wait till next app to cancel my CO personal CC since Chase is such a pain.
    I had the CO biz card which I got a few months ago for only 25K bonus but chase would not transfer the credit line to my old Ink Biz card so I just canceled the CO biz card but guess I should have applied for the new Ink card. Think that they will reopen the CO biz card,, its only been a day or so and I can just ask to reallocated CL to a new Ink application? U have a 50K ink link right?

  19. Or can I get a 50K bonus on a saphire biz card? U got that link for referal fee?
    thanks for ure honesty!

  20. FYI, the post you linked to on FT was by deraynman1 (brand new poster) not sdsearch. And a few posts later, deraynman1 posted a conversation from yet another Chase rep that contradicted the first Chase rep’s alleged statement.

    • @hola – There’s no Sapphire business card, but the Ink Bold is the equivalent. I don’t know if they will reopen the card, but you could always apply for a new business card to replace the old one which you cancelled.

      @PanAm – Thanks. I’ll fix the attribution. The later post from deraynman1 was after I wrote the post, but interesting to note the contradiction.

  21. @Daraius

    I am an ardent follower of your blog. I think that its one of the most helpful blog around. After reading the above article, I have a quick question.

    In my case, Both me and my wife applied for the Continental OnePass Card in January 2012 and also got our bonuses. I was planning to apply for United MileagePlus somewhere in April-June( if they have any good offer at that time). Do you think I should cancel my Continental OnePass Card before March 3rd? I am usually very skeptical of closing an account so soon but at the same time don’t want to loose the opportunity to earn 50000 miles with United MileagePlus in near future. Please advise.

  22. Yes they were both targeted offers. I believe she applied after reading your blog discussing how it would be difficult for Chase to track the sign-up dates and who already has which cards. Turns out you were correct. Did nothing out of the ordinary, waited for normal statement closing, not wanting to draw attention to the accounts. Thanks for all the great info………..Jeff

  23. @Mike – Chase usually doesn’t let you get the sign-on bonus again for the same type of card. So it is reasonable to assume that once your Continental card becomes a United Explorer card it may be tough to get the bonus again on the United Explorer card. I agree that it isn’t usually good to close an account so quickly.

    @jethro – Very interesting. So it appears that you can get the bonus twice despite what the terms say. But I guess the more concerning factor is what happens once the Chase Continental card becomes a United Explorer card – does that prevent folks from getting the bonus again?

    @CanadianMillionMiler – Thanks! I doubt that there is much risk that 50K United miles will not post just because you applied for the Continental card. The terms on the United Explorer say that you can’t get both bonuses, but you can always try for the Continental card (if you can spare the credit inquiry). jethro above was able to get both the bonuses. My bigger concern for most folks was that once the Continental card converts to the United Explorer card, they may be shut out of future United Explorer bonuses because of Chase’s policy to only let you get the bonus once per card type. But you’ve already got the United Explorer card so I wouldn’t worry about not getting the bonus on that card.

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  25. CanadianMillionMiler

    Thanks Daraius, I think I will give Continental credit card application a try then. Any loophole you know of in getting the 50K signup bonus if I haven’t been targeted?

    Thanks in advance.

    Cheers!

    • @CanadianMillionMiler – Unfortunately, I don’t know of any way to get the targeted 50K sign-up bonus for the Continental card, but you *could* call Chase and ask. I don’t expect this to work, but at least you’ll know that you tried your best to get the 50K offer!

  26. I signed up for the Continental card in early January with the 40K offer. I’d like to take advantage of the United offer as well. What’s the best way to do that? Should I cancel the Continental card and then apply for the United card? Or should I apply for the United card without canceling the Continental card?

  27. Pingback: Clarification on the Continental 25,000 Mile Credit Card | Million Mile Secrets

  28. I got the miles from Continental even though I also got the bonus from the United Explorer after the changed language. 80,000 United miles for two cards. Good luck everyone.

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