How to Transfer Continental Miles to United and Vice Versa

by on May 17, 2011 · 13 comments

in Chase, Continental, United

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In March, Continental and United announced that members of each program would be able to link their frequent flyer programs together and transfer miles in between. They are doing this to get members comfortable with both programs because they will officially combine accounts at the end of 2011. I lauded this as a huge enhancement and just the other day I used this feature for the first time. I thought I’d share my experience so you all know what to expect.

Before you try to link your accounts, make sure your Continental and United profiles match exactly. Every single field in both profiles needs to be the same, or else the system will reject the request. I recommend pulling up both profiles in two side-by-side windows and cross referencing to make sure the information is the exact same.

Once you think the information is the same, try linking them using at this site. Note: you have to use your Continental 4 digit pin and not your online password.

I did that, but I still got an error. It turns out my middle initial was listed in my Continental profile, but not my United profile. I didn’t feel like calling Continental to get it changed, so I tried making a new United account, since my original one has 0 miles in it. No dice – United’s systems are pretty smart at recognizing attempts to create duplicate accounts. Instead I had to call United at 1-800-421-4655 to make manual changes, which they were happy to do after I verified a bunch of security information.

Once the changes were made, I let them take effect for 15 minutes and tried again and I was able to log-in and transfer the necessary points between the accounts. The transfer was instantaneous and I even got an email confirming it went through. However, I ended up needing more miles than I thought, but I had to wait 24 hours to do another transfer, which was really annoying. You can also only transfer 200,000 miles per day, so keep that in mind as well.

Overall, it was a bit of a hassle, but in the end it was worth it to be able to book a one-way Star Alliance award using my American Express points, since they transfer to Continental at an instant 1:1 ratio until September 30, 2011. On June 15, 2011 Continental will institute one-way awards, so I don’t anticipate having to do any more transfers to United after that date.

This also means that you can sign-up for the Sapphire Preferred 50,000 point bonus, transfer them to your Continental account and then onto your United account. The current United card bonus is only 30,000 points, so the Sapphire 50,000 with annual fee waived is a no-brainer if you like Star Alliance miles.

If you have United miles, you may want to consider transferring to Continental for a few reasons:
a) Their online award booking engine is far superior to and pulls in a good number of partners (including United, US Airways, Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, ANA and Thai)
b) They are partners with Virgin Atlantic, which has pretty good award availability, even on peak summer dates
c) They allow a stopover (for example flying Chicago-Frankfurt- Prague, they allow you to stop in Frankfurt before continuing on to your final destination) and an open jaw (fly into one city, home from another)

Overall, I’m a big fan of flexibility, so I really like this feature, even though it did take me 30 minutes to figure out!

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Global Explat

    Here’s another reason: to reset the expiration date on United points if they are going to expire this year.
    I used this to transfer my family members’ small balances of United points to Continental. They only had 5000 points apiece, but I didn’t want them expiring before the automatic merge date.

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  • Travel

    How can I use miles to upgrade a connecting flight operated by United? The first leg is continental (for which I have miles) the second leg is operated by United. Continentals site only gives me the option to upgrade the first leg of the trip.

  • Susan

    Even though all Continental miles become United Miles as of Dec 31/11 I was trying to save United miles that were going to expire by transferring my Continental miles now…anything for “account activity”. Good grief…you’re so right on the profiles having to match “exactly”…in my case it was one airline profile “spelling out” British Columbia and the other one just having BC. I had no control over the matter…it’s a default interface issue. Spent an hour on the phone with United trying to work around it….constant error messages. United told me to try in 24 hours…did that…still no go. So I called Continental’s OnePass line (1.800.554.5522) and voila…they made the miles accounts link AND did the transfer for me inside 2 minutes. I’d recommend avoiding the hassle and just calling the friendly people at Continental…they make it happen.

    PS: Helpful blog…thanks. Note that the link in the 3rd paragraph above doesn’t work anymore…but then none of the direct links to transfer miles on United’s website worked either. Bizarre.

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  • hc

    Does this mean onepass is completely gone after Dec 2011? Will the continental search engine be gone?

  • Anonymous

    Continental Onepass goes away Jan 1, but I believe they will be using their search engine going forward for United

  • Anonymous

    I guess this prompts a question for me. I have about 63K OnePass miles and about 60K Sapphire points. I want to take the family to Hawaii next year. Any recommendations on how to handle the points transfer? I figure I’m stuck w/ Untied (sic), but just want to make sure of that.

    While I’m thinking about it…any ideas what a guy can do w/ 18K AAdvantage miles? It’s not enough to really get anywhere, I don’t think…

  • Anonymous

    I want to book 2 Biz Class open jaw international flights.
    My husband has 207,000 Continental miles and only 9,000 UAL miles. I have 73,000 UAL miles and 33,000 Continental. I’m confused as to whether we should be transferring to UAL or Continental ? I wish there was ONE family account like British Air has. I appreciate your advice! Thanks.

  • Tony Fernandez

    I’m trying to transfer Patricia’s miles to the milage plus eaplorer card but I’m not having any luck …

  • Don Chambers

    Havean account with CO, but unsure of acct # or pin. Habe an acct with UAL. How do I get the two merged together with UAL? Thanks

  • Shellie

    I called the number but now it says Welcome to United! THey gave me my mileage but, I do not have a United Airlines account number…

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