Continental Encourages American Express Point Transfers

by on August 25, 2011 · 21 comments

in American Express, Continental

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Continental leaves the American Express Membership Rewards program September 30, 2011 and they have been aggressively emailing their frequent flyers asking them to transfer their points to Continental before it’s too late. I recently got an email:

Continental’s partnership with American Express® Membership Rewards® will end on Sept. 30, 2011. Convert Membership Rewards® points into miles for OnePass®rewards.*”

I may actually transfer some American Express points to Continental, but I’d like to see some sort of incentive. I have a feeling American Express may run some unique promotions in September which will encourage people not to transfer to Continental. If you see on their website, they already list Continental as the last airline transfer partner on page three!

American Express pays each airline for the miles, so clearly Continental wants a huge amount of miles to be transferred. I don’t think its a coincidence that the huge Delta (50% and 67%) bonuses both end on September 30.

While American Express won’t run a transfer bonus to Continental, I wouldn’t be surprised if Continental added some incentive – like a 5,000 mile bonus that they give out on their end.

So, bottom line – I wouldn’t recommend transferring to Continental until the last minute – unless they offer some sort of bonus that makes it worth it. And remember, you can still transfer your American Express points to Aeroplan, ANA and Singapore to book your Star Alliance travel, however, I will miss having Continental as an option.

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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  • Jefftu


    If there’s no bonus what’s the incentive of transferring to
    Correct me if I’m wrong but can’t I book through Membership Rewards using Amex points to pay for a flight on continental while still earning OnePass miles for elite status? vs using OnePass miles and not earning elite status?


  • Brad

    @Jefftu–that’s correct, but your ticket (especially if it’s a business- or first-class seat) likely will cost you much more when you pay with points rather than transfer into miles.

    TPG–I agree that losing Continental is a big hit for Membership Rewards (other Star Alliance members notwithstanding). Is there any indication that Amex is courting any replacement or additional transfer partners?

  • Jim

    I may transfer my miles to CO/UA but will they make awards on *A available or is AC going to be a better choice? Does UA still block awards (starnet blocking)?

  • Flyer Fun

    I am a Continental Platinum and will make 100K by year end 2012. I am not likely to make a transfer for the following reasons. (1) As TPG mentioned, there is no bonus. (2) There all of these rumors about the United/Continental program becoming materially worse. I am not willing to invest more in the program until I know what the program is going to look like going forward.

  • Dave

    Same here. I have been very happy with Continental, but I am quite concern about UA’s starnet blocking. I would like to know the answers to your questions as well.

  • Anonymous

    United has relaxed their Starnet blocking, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see it back in full effect once the merger is complete. Aeroplan has much better routing and unlimited Star Alliance access- the only big downside is that they don’t allow Star Alliance one way awards. However, Singapore Airlines does, though their award chart and high fees rarely make them a good deal.

  • Anonymous

    I would love to see Amex add US Airways back in (they used to be a partner years ago). US partnered with Barclays in 2005, but I’m not sure how successful that relationship has been. I’d love to see US ditch Barclays and join Amex, though I have no knowledge of that potentially happening.

  • Anonymous

    You can book through Pay With Points, but you’ll only get 1 cent per point (1.25 if you have a platinum card). With straight up redemptions through Continental its easy to get 2.5+ cents per mile used. If you redeem for first class travel, Pay With Points is almost never a good option.

  • Anonymous

    I think thats a smart move. If you don’t NEED the miles in your Continental account, keep them in Amex. Having the flexibility to redeem on all three alliances though Membership Rewards airline transfer partners is a nice option to have.

  • infamousdx

    Here’s to hoping that CO will give us an incentive to transfer! I could sure use a nice bonus.

    And here’s to hoping that Amex will continue to dissuade us from transferring to CO by continuing these heavy bonuses to BA and DL!

  • infamousdx

    Here’s to hoping that CO will give us an incentive to transfer! I could sure use a nice bonus.

    And here’s to hoping that Amex will continue to dissuade us from transferring to CO by continuing these heavy bonuses to BA and DL!

  • PJ

    I noticed AA flights available for AA rewards were NOT available for BA rewards. Have you noticed CONTIENTAL acts on same policy?

    anybody with Singapore airlines miles ever experienced hard hard time when a reward CO flight was clearly available to CO rewards BUT not to miles from other partners?

  • Cruiser

    In the combined programs of CO/UA I have tons of miles and no time to use them. I always find better deals mileage wise going the US route so to speak.
    I think I am keeping my MR points where they are unless there are bonuses. I have always been a fan of ANA for reward redemption and will probably use them when needed.

  • Anonymous

    Aeroplan does allow one-way awards on *A to the best of my knowledge. I just did a test search SFO-FRA and could book a UA direct one-way for 40,000 in Y (more than half of the 60,000 an RT in Y costs but it’s definitely less).

    I seemed to have no trouble pulling up various US-Canada and US-US one-way awards also.

  • Gabriel205

    dumb question…can you use Amex points to book for ANA after 9/30/11?

  • Anonymous

    Yep. As well as Aeroplan and Singapore airlines as well. And Virgin Atlantic, which allows Continental redemptions.

  • Gabriel205

    thx for your quick reply….so i don’t need to transfer my amex points to continental now right? I will be able to transfer amex points directly to ANA and book ticket? (p.s. I actually don’t have any amex pts yet….got the bump and working on the spend now…THX SO MUCH for your signup links and knowledge)

  • Dan

    I picked up 50,000 from the CO and UA credit cards, so I need 20k miles to top off my account. I originally got the AmEx PRG card under the standard crappy sign-up of 10k. However, one phone call and 6 AU’s later (5721 bonus) I was sitting on 110k. I just got the 60k, and 50k went to BA (… in addition to the 100k BA miles from Chase) under the 50% promo. Now, I’m bulking up the BA account for two NA-Asia F awards, so I still need to get 20k UA/CO miles as cheaply as possible.

    Here’s for a CO xfer bonus of some sort!


    I always loved redeeming AMEX MR points for Star Alliance on Continental’s website. It was excellent and had great partner rewards. I found their availability of partners better than other sites. My question Brian is do you think that it will be tougher to redeem points w/ other Star Alliance AMEX members or be inconvenient or more expensive mileage/wise or w/ higher fuel surcharges now that CO is gone?

  • Nic

    I don’t think it is happening. If they wanted those miles they would have come with a bonus a month ago. AT this point if they offer a a bonus they are going to pist a lot of people

  • Maggie J.

    This is sort of a stupid question, but is there a way to go the other way around? To convert OnePass miles to Amex Rewards? I am a broke student trying to sidestep my way around the OnePass blackout dates and really, really aggravating layover times and amount of transfers…

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