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It is pretty common knowledge that Continental Airlines and and United Airlines are merging. The process is set to be finalized early in 2012. What that means is that existing Chase Continental OnePass Plus credit cards will likely be transitioned to the United MileagePlus Explorer card sometime in early 2012. For some people that will just mean a different name on their credit card, but for those who are interested in squeezing all the miles they can out of sign-up bonuses (like most of us!), that can be problematic. Essentially, if your Continental Onepass Plus card converts to a United MileagePlus card, you will no longer be a new MileagePlus Explorer card customer. That means you may very well miss out on ever getting a sign-up bonus for the card, even if you never actually received one to begin with.
Million Mile Secrets wrote yesterday about the best courses of action with these cards given a few different situations. Today I’m going to share what we decided to do in our situation, and why it may be the best course of action for your family.
First, I will share what I am doing with my Continental OnePass Plus card. I have had this card for a few years, and it actually gets a fair amount of action in my credit card rotation. Since I value Continental/United miles so highly, before the Chase Sapphire Preferred card came out this was my primary card. As a result, many of my automatic payments are still scheduled on this card. I am okay with that since it gives a 10,000 mile bonus after spending $25,000 on the card within a year. However, the main reason that I am not cancelling my card is that I fly Continental/United pretty regularly, and very much appreciate the free checked bag and priority boarding (which is currently coming through as Elite Access – though that seems to be a “temporary” Continental glitch) benefits that come with the card. The checked bag benefit alone saves us hundreds of dollars per year. I don’t want to be without that benefit for a few months while I wait for a good United card offer to come around. I’m also not thrilled at the idea of losing my account history with this card. So, my card will just probably have to convert to the United card.
My mom’s situation is a bit different. She got the Continental card about 10 months ago, so she is coming up on her anniversary where we may have cancelled anyway. She doesn’t need the baggage benefit or elite access as much as I do, so not having those benefits for a period of time won’t be a big deal to her. She recently was approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, so she isn’t quite ready to apply for another Chase card. If it were time for her to apply for a new Chase card, we could just use the Continental card, and its credit line, as a bargaining chip to get the new card open, if needed. However, since she isn’t in the market for a new card right now, we are just going to cancel her Continental card outright before the end of 2011.
Even though we are closing that card, we still don’t want to lose the credit limit that it comes with. Not only does it help her credit utilization ratio to keep the credit line, but we also want to have it as a bargaining chip for future Chase card applications, if needed. So, about two weeks ago she called to have the majority of her Continental card credit line moved to her new Sapphire Preferred card. She left just a $1,000 credit line on her Continental card. The next step will be to call and see if she will be offered a retention bonus to keep the card open. In the end, she will close her Continental card and will have only lost a small fraction of the credit line she had on the card. She could probably even get them to move that last $1,000 over, but it probably isn’t worth the effort in her case.
We are hoping that there will be an improved public offer for the United MileagePlus Explorer card early in 2012. If so, she will definitely be applying for that card. If several months go by and there isn’t a better offer than the 30,000 mile offer that has been around for a while, then she will probably eventually just go for that offer. It is certainly better than just having your card covert and not get any miles at all….at least in her case.
Just in case you are looking to get in on the Continental OnePass Plus card before it heads into an extinction, here is the link for the 30,000 mile bonus after first use. The sign-up bonus isn’t completely amazing, but the benefits can be worth it if you fly Continental/United with some regularity, but don’t have elite status. I would recommend reading the above mentioned Million Mile Secrets post to see if applying for Continental card now might make sense in your situation. I will receive a commission if you sign-up for the card using my link.
What will you be doing with your Continental OnePass Plus card? Cancelling before it converts or allowing it to convert to the MileagePlus Explorer card as scheduled?