I don’t think I am the only one worried about this in the frequent flyer/point hoarder world, but I am pretty concerned that we are becoming too United too quickly. Here’s what I mean…..since Continental Airlines and United Airlines are merging/have merged/whatever, their credit card products are in the process of aligning. Currently, there are Continental Airlines Chase credit cards and United Airlines Chase credit cards. However, the new United MileagePlus Explorer credit card that was released today is basically identical now to the Continental Onepass Plus credit card that has been around for a while (and that I have).
Eventually the two airlines obviously only need one set of credit card products, but I was planning on getting a United card before my Continental card magically turned into a United card sometime next year when the merger is completely finalized. I was doing that because I need to earn about 25,000 more Continental miles than I already have line-of-sight to by the end of the year in order to book all of next year’s airline travel for our family on miles alone. Even the basic United credit card offer came with 30,000 bonus miles, so I thought I was golden. I could get those and transfer them to my Continental Onepass account, then end up with just one credit card between the two airlines once the merger was done. Great plan in theory, but now I am a little concerned.
A lot of the terms and conditions for this new United card seem to hint that could potentially be problematic. Here’s an example of what I mean:
This was taken from a post on Flyertalk about a targeted 50,000 bonus mile offer for the new United Explorer card:
With this bonus offer you will qualify and receive 50,000 bonus miles after your first use of the card. First use includes using your account for purchases or balance transfers, or using any checks that access your account; cash advances are not included. After qualifying, please allow 6 to 8 weeks for bonus miles to post to your account. This one-time bonus offer is only valid for first-time United MileagePlus Explorer cardmembers with new accounts. United MileagePlus Explorer cardmembers will only receive one 50,000 bonus miles award if they apply for both the United Explorer Card and the Continental OnePass Plus Card after 7/19/2011. These miles do not count toward elite status. If your account is not open for at least six months, United and Chase reserve the right to deduct the bonus miles from your MileagePlus Program account.
Now that does not clearly indicate that you cannot get a United bonus if you have already received a Continental bonus in the past, but coupled with some other anti-credit card churning Terms and Conditions for different Chase cards I have read today I am a bit concerned that our “perfect” plan to finish up getting the miles we need to book all of our family trips for next year may be on shaky ground.
From Chase’s point of view it makes complete sense that they would not really want to give a sign-up point bonus to someone like me who already has the Continental Onepass Plus card that is basically identical to the new United card. Hopefully I am being overly concerned for no reason, but I will feel much better once we start getting some reports of people who have a Continental Onepass Plus Credit card and are also able to get the new United card and associated bonus sign-up miles.
Let me know if you have confirmation that you can get the United bonus now if you already have the Continental card! Either way, time is running out to “double dip” and get a card in both the United and Continental programs. If you like flying for free in either of their frequent flyer programs, don’t wait much longer to tap into the sign-up bonuses. I would do so in this order:
1. Continental Onepass Plus 30K sign-up (if you don’t already have it – if you do, proceed to step 2)
2. United Mileage Plus Explorer 30K sign-up (if you already have the Continental card)
3. If you don’t already have either card, then there really is no rush at all for you and I would hold off until a BIG deal comes along. Time is only running out if you plan to try to get both cards before they merge into one.
I have found Continental to generally be fantastic for flying on miles with a family. As I mentioned in this post, on domestic economy tickets, I have very good luck getting 3+ free seats on the same flight. Since I am located at a Continental hub, I am able to get to most destinations that we frequent without any connections. As I have said before, with a baby/toddler that is worth quite a bit! Needless to say, I will be quite disappointed if my fears are realized and the ability to “double dip” by getting the United card has already gone away.
I will do a more detailed write-up of the new United card offer soon, but just wanted to share my fears now as they were weighing on my point-filled mind. If you are the impatient type (like me!) and want more detail about the card offer now, check out The Points Guy or Frugal Travel Guy posts on the card details.
By the way…..think I found a way for you to get 250 free SPG point (other than Facebook and FourSquare check-ins). Stay tuned for details if you are a SPG fan!