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Sunday Reader Email Question: Should I Combine My Family’s Continental/United Accounts?

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TPG reader Karen writes:

“I have the Continental OnePass Mastercard but my husband does not. Will he lose his Continental points in 2012 or should I transfer them to my account to protect them?”

First, airlines  generally charge hefty fees to transfer points between members, so I would not recommend doing that. Also, when Continental and United miles officially merge on January 1, 2012, the expiration clock will reset on all miles and your husband will have 18 months to generate activity on his account before they expire. This is important to note, because previously Continental’s miles did not expire, so this is a change Onepass members should be aware of. However, the great thing is that you don’t need to actually fly to keep the miles active – he can simply buy a single item from a retailer like iTunes from Mileageplusshopping.com and the clock will reset. Of course your account will stay active as long as you spend at least $1 on your credit card every 18 months.

For those worried about mileage expiration, I recommend signing up for an online mileage manager like Awardwallet.com or Usingmiles.com. They’ll track all of your balances in one spot and alert you when you are in danger of expiration.

So in general, people shouldn’t be nervous about their miles with the Continental/United, but as with all accounts, you should be aware of the expiration policy. Also, I always like to remind people that you can book awards using your miles for whoever you want so instead of transferring your miles to a friend/family member – it may make more sense for you to just book the award for them using your account (and maybe have them transfer you points from either Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards to make up for it).

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