Sunday Reader Question: What Should I Do With My Continental Credit Card?

by on November 20, 2011 · 36 comments

in Chase, Continental, Credit Cards, Sunday Reader Questions

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Update: The current offer for the  United Explorer card is 30,000 points with $1,000 spend in the first 3 months.

TPG reader Eric writes:

“What should I do with my Chase Continental Airlines OnePass Card? Cancel or hold on to it?

The annual fee doesn’t come due for another 4 or 5 months, but I’m unsure as to Chase’s plans for the card.  Will Chase convert my Continental card into a United card, thus making me ineligible for future United Chase credit card sign-up bonuses?

With the devaluation of BA Adios miles, United miles are a strong player for building in a lot of stopovers on our mileage tickets.”

I agree that United miles are very valuable and I ranked them the highest in my recent post on frequent flyer program rankings. Since the Continental OnePass program will technically cease to exist as its own entity when it gets merged into United MileagePlus on January 1, 2012 Chase is going to eventually phase out the Continental credit cards. My guess is that they will switch you over to the new United Explorer card at some point in 2012.

To maximize this situation, I would do the following:
1) I’m assuming you have the old Continental Onepass credit card, so I’d get the new Continental OnePass Plus card which was launched this summer. It currently gives 25,000 miles with first purchase, 5,000 for adding an additional cardholder and then 10,000 every year you spend $25,000. Additional benefits are primary auto insurance when renting cars, a free checked bag, priority boarding, 2 lounge passes, upgrades for elites on award tickets and access to Anytime awards. They were supposed to run a special 60,000 mile bonus for this card, but those plans have been indefinitely pushed back. They may decide to do it in January, so if you can wait, it may make sense to hold off. Though you also take the risk of them pulling the card off the market – I mean it wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense to be issuing Continental OnePass credit cards when that frequent flyer program doesn’t even exist.

2) Then, at least a month later, I’d get a Sapphire Preferred card if you don’t already have one. United/Continental are instant 1:1 transfer partners and the current limited time offer is 53,500 points (50,000 plus 3,500 for the yearly 7% bonus you get as a cardholder on all points earned every year). This should be your go-to card since it offers 2 points per dollar on all travel and dining. The OnePass Plus and Explorer cards are decent if you don’t have elite status and value the perks of checked bags and priority boarding and award upgrades (elite only). However, if you already get a lot of those benefits  through your elite status, then I’d recommend just focusing on keeping the Sapphire Preferred card as your main workhorse card – especially since it has no foreign transaction fees and the United cards do.

3) Here is where it gets a little trickier. The T&C of the offer for the United card state

“United MileagePlus Explorer cardmembers will only receive one 25,000 bonus miles award if they apply for both the United Explorer Card and the Continental OnePass Plus Card after 7/19/2011″

However there have been reports of people getting both cards and both bonuses- if anyone has any experience, please comment and share your thoughts so we can all get a better understanding. For the less risk averse, I’d hold off applying for the United Explorer card until a new offer comes out in 2012 that may not have this exclusion. What is said in the rules and what happens in reality is a huge aspect of the points and miles world, so if you are feeling lucky you can sign-up for the United Explorer card bonus which currently has the same 25,000+ 5,000 + 10,000 offer. The only reason why I could see doing this is because you want to get this card as a new member to get the sign-up bonus before they automatically turn your OnePass card into the Explorer product. I don’t have timelines for this, but I suspect nothing will happen in the first half of 2012. A safer bet might also be getting the United Explorer Business Card, which has less restrictive terms and conditions

“This one-time bonus offer is valid only for first-time United MileagePlus Business Card cardmembers with new accounts. Previous and existing United MileagePlus Business Card cardmembers/accounts are not eligible for this bonus offer.”

Chase will allow you get 1 credit card a month (sometimes more if you have a compelling reason and very good credit) and there’s no limit to the number of cards you can have with them. However, they do set a total credit line per customer, so you may max out after a couple cards if they give you large credit lines. What you can then ask them to do is take credit lines from your older accounts or close them all together, in order to get new cards. You will likely get automatically rejected after your first application, but the great thing is that Chase has smart humans staffing their reconsideration line. So don’t cancel that old Continental card- use it as a negotiation tool with the reconsideration line. If you preemptively cancel it, you lose that as a bargaining tool- plus your credit may take a hit for having a lower available pool of credit vs the amount of outstanding balances you have.

So for three credit inquiries, which is a temporary 6-15 point hit on your credit score, you can rack up 113,500 United miles. If you can hit the spend thresholds to trigger the 10,000 mile bonuses on the OnePass Plus/Explorer cards, you can add another 20,000 miles to that total. That’s more than enough for a business class ticket to Asia or 5 coach roundtrip domestic awards- and the great thing is that the annual fees are waived on all three of the cards for the first year!

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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  • Kay

    I got the Chase OnePass card in August, and I’ve been thinking about cancelling it so I can get the United Card next year…. I’m worried that the miles will disappear from my account if cancel, and that it will automatically get converted to the United Card if I don’t. What do you think?

  • Anonymous

    I am currently a Chase OnePassPlus cardholder; have been for the last couple of years. As part of the move from OnePass to MileagePlus, I received information in the mail about my OnePassPlus Chase card being converted to a United Explorer card sometime in 2012 as the frequent flyer programs were merged in MileagePlus. I suspect that when that happens, I would be considered then an “existing United Explorer cardmember” and would not be able to apply for a NEW United Explorer card and collect any bonuses. Since my OnePassPlus Chase card in coming up for Annual renewal in DEC, I went ahead and applied for the United Explorer Card (I am not elite and value the free checked bags benefit and such). I expect to be declined for too many Chase cards and will be calling the reconsideration line to have them move my credit line from the OnePassPlus card to the new United Explorer Card and then close the OnePassPlus card account. Since I will be a first-time United Explorer cardholder, I expect to be able to get the sign on bonus.

  • Anonymous

    One other benefit I discovered with the new United Explorer Card – the Auto rental Insurance coverage is PRIMARY. Might be time for me to be able to get rid of my Diners Club card (since Citibank just sold that program and I expect some Diners Club card changes to be made sometime in 2012).

  • Mark

    Good post. A few questions:
    1. Has the extra bonus on the Mileage Explorer been targeted at lesser elites? I’m about to become OnePass Silver and am hoping to see the extra offer pop-up on the screen at my linked MP account. Am I hoping for too much?

    2. Could you let us know if the planned extra-bonus-for-everyone MileagePlus Explorer promo that was delayed after too many leaks is still forthcoming? (wink emoticon) My wife will need a new card to switch to when we close the PresidentialPlus soon.

  •!/cwary1 Chris W.

    I got the Continental OnePass Plus card back in March when there was the 50,000 point bonus and just recently got the bonus for the Sapphire card (which is a pretty awesome).

    Anyways, it would be possible to cancel my OnePass and move the credit line over to the Sapphire card, which would preserve the age of my credit lines and I could still use it for horse trading correct?

    I think they’re planning on keeping the Explorer card since it launched this summer so I’m holding off for their consolidation/new FF program bonus that I imagine is coming.

  • sil

    Received my one pass plus cc with the 50k bonus points in early May. Applied for the Marriott Rewards (70k bonus points) a week ago. I called reconsideration number when I did not receive instant approval. CS and I suggested closing the one pass account and transfer the 10k CL to my Marriott.

    Will continue holding onto my BA CC even though I am not using it anymore. Will use it for negotiation next year when applying for another Chase card. Most likely, move CL from BA to new account and close BA

  • tassojunir

    Miles being taken back if the card is held less than 6 months seems to not be enforced much. OTOH your OnePassPlus card will certainly become a United Explorer card very very soon. I closed my CO card (9 months old) last week and will be closing my CO biz card (2 months old) in a matter of weeks.

  • the real Mike Burk

    I have the Presidential Plus card. I rarely use the lounge access and I get all the other benefits already because I’m a UA 1K so I’m thinking of canceling my PP card and just going with the Sapphire Preferred card. Any reason not to do this?

  • Anonymous

    If you dont need the EQM feature, then I’d say switching to Sapphire Preferred is a no-brainer. Its a much better card all around

  • Anonymous

    I had heard rumblings about January, but nothing substantiated. Honestly, I won’t leak it even if I know because I don’t want them to cancel it again!

  • Anonymous

    Awesome point that I will highlight in the post

  • Tracey Gibson

    I also have the Presidential Plus card. Do you know what changes they are making to this card program once the programs are merged next year?

  • worldtraveller2

    When you “switch” to the Sapphire Preferred card, do you call and just tell them you are interested in that card since CO is no longer going to be in existence and do they give the latest bonus sign up when you “switch”?

  • Anonymous

    You generally have to apply as a new cardholder. Unless anyone has any other experience, they generally dont give the best offer when you upgrade/downgrade

  • worldtraveller2

    Or is it better to do what scooter999 suggested and apply for a card with the thought of getting declined (for too many chase cards) and then calling the recon line and asking for a “switch” that way?

  • Anonymous

    My guess is that they’ll come out with a premium United card to compete with AAs new Executive Citi card and Deltas Amex Reserve card

  • BR

    I got an e-mail from Chase saying that after MileagePlus and OnePass merge, all my miles from aspending on my CO card will go to my linked MileagePlus account.

  • Simon Cunningham

    Applied for all four cards (CO Personal & Biz ; UA Personal & Biz) on the same day in late August 2011. Instant approval for the CO Personal and called Chase to be reconsidered for the other three. Got both the CO Biz and the UA Personal. The rep gave me a measely 1K limit for the UA card because of so many applications at once. She also wanted to know *why* I would do this. I gave specific benefits of both cards. She threatened that the miles might not post. But all three card miles posted soon after: 85K (CO Personal 30K; CO Biz 25K; UA Personal 30K)

  • Megan

    I’m in the same boat. It sounds like the general consensus is to either:

    1) Cancel the CO card before it gets automatically switched to a United card and THEN apply for a United card, or
    2) Hold onto the CO card and also apply for a United card (under the current bonus) in the hopes that that bonus will post as well.

    I wonder how long I can hold onto the CO card in the hopes that a better United bonus will come out?

  • Caroline

    Funny, I asked something similar about ten days ago to another reputable expert blogger. I got the Continental OnePass Plus in May and want to get the United card, which I have never had, so I wanted to know if I should close my Continental card before applying. Interestingly he said that I would NOT get any bonus because I have the new PLUS card and it was clearly stated in the terms and conditions. Comments anybody?

  • Anonymous

    Hey TpG, a bit off-topic, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on the Aeropost changes and structuring mini-RTWs on the airlines that do not impose fuel surcharges

  • MYRflyer

    I’ve closed my CO onepass in anticipation of the 2012 United Explorer big bonus. If you guys wait too long and your CO is converted to United Explorer then you’ll not be eligible for the new bonus. Glad I closed my United MileagePlus before the United Explorer was released. Stay nimble ff gurus

    How are you guys managing the minimum spend on some of these cards now that the golden goose the mint is over? Personal experience please … not a link to getting your spend up on flyertalk :)

  • Boaz

    If I already have the continental onepass will I get the bonus miles if I apply for the onepass plus? Isn’t it the same card with a different name?

  • Anonymous

    It’s a new card with new benefits. You will get the bonus- they want people to have the new cards

  • Mommafrica

    In statement #2 u stated that the United cards have foreign transaction fees. I may not be correct but I thought the United Select had this feature. This is what I have as well as the CO OnePassPlus of which I believe carries the same.

  • PJ

    I cancelled my CO ONE pass a while back; a mistake on my part for not holding that to swap into a new card.
    I was denied for Sapphire Preferred for “not enough time has passed since your last account with us was opened” translationon the chase reconsideration line was ” you already got 3 cards in the time span of 6 month… so 30 days rule of 60 days rule for each new card? this time I had to turn in a card ( BA card I volunterred which came in early may to finally get my Sapphire Preferred. In mid Aug I got two cards ( Hyatt and Southwest) for taking credit away from 2 other chase cards.

    all my family members got the flyer ( not coded invitation) to apply for New United Explorer card. Question to you all is : Can people who concelled ONE PASS and /or United mileage plus card before AGAIN get the sign on bonus on the NEW United Explorer?

  • PJ

    i was not that lucky on Reconsideration line: got BA in early May, Hyatt and SOuthwest same day in mid Aug.. Had to turn in BA last week to get Sapphire Preferred but NOT also with Mariott ” not enough time has passed since your last account with us was opened” was cited.

    feel like calling in again to look for the Marriott card hmmm

  • LJoy

    I acquired the One Pass Plus card about 5 months ago and have yet to fly CO. since then – so am wondering…. How does the free bag thing work – do you show your credit card (to an actual person?) when checking in? I have the same question about the elite boarding.

  • mike

    What do you guys think the new 2012 card’s bonus will be to sign up?

  • PJ

    my credit score was 784 on late june when I got the 40K from alaska air since them i have had AMEX blue, AMex Platinum, Chase Hyatt, Chase Southwest, Citi AA, SPG Preferred Citi Hilton, Barclays US Airways My Experian socre was 802 as of 11-05 when I applied for my Sapphire preferred.. I start to question what really account for the improvement .. could that because I do have modest amount of purchases and OFTEN pay off outstanding balances ( a few times a month on a card) before the auto pay kicks in on the payment due date.. did notice my credit score took a dive when in september I purposely keep a ~4K on Citi AA card while all other cards ( about 17 of them on creditsesame) all went down to ~0. anybody trying to improve credit score might want to test our my ” pay them ASAP” strategy after all my $ is not earing too much interest these days lol

    Concurring with Brian, Chase has a very dedicated smart group of credit professionals ; all my friends have happy returns with Chase Reconsideration

  • JA

    If one doesnt have the CO card – is there any point applying for it now and then canceling in new year? The bonus is only 25k so it’s not worth it if it will preculde receiving Explorer bonus in 2o12.

  • Kurt

    I have some recent experience on the United side of things, wanting to convert a card. I have an old United Visa with an annual fee coming due, and I called to downgrade it to a free card (and got the 1 mile for $2 spend, no annual fee offer). I asked if instead I could convert it perhaps to a Chase Freedom, but was told no — it must stay within the United/Chase partnership. My *only* options were to downgrade as above, or upgrade it to a United Explorer (unclear whether I’d get the 25,000 mile signup bonus, since I didn’t ask), if I want to maintain the longstanding credit line (which I do). Curious, I called back two more times to see if I got a different answer — I didn’t.

  • CB

    Since I’d prefer not to flat-out cancel my 4 month old CO card (I’m in the process of a home refinance), can you suggest another Chase card I could request my CO card be downgraded/converted into w/o being a pull on my credit report.

  • Rob philip


  • Rob

    I got the UA explorer business in August, regular explorer a month later. I had a Continental FF account already and then got an offer for a Onepass plus w/60000 miles. Got it after negotiating down the credit line on the Explorer personal card with Chase “reconsideration” to that the total credit was unchanged. Noticed that UA explorer bonus had gone up and complained to Chase who then gifted me another 25K UA miles.

    So, certainly Chase would still hand out both Explorer and Onepass *after* 7/19/11 as I got all mine after that date. Still have them all – will be interested to see what happens when United & Continental finish their merger.

    Chase is also actively encouraging the personal Explorer use – got a flyer in the mail letting me know that the personal card would get 1.5 miles/$ spent until end of March and they’ve followed through with that.

    BTW, fine print on the Business explorer – they are only primary insurance on rental cars if you pay with the Business Explorer *and* it’s a business trip, not a personal trip.

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