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Continental Credit Card Now Has 40,000-Mile Bonus AND Lounge Access

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Update February 29, 2012: It finally happened: the Continental OnePass has been phased out in favor of the MileagePlus Explorer.

Though the Continental credit card is being slowly phased out in favor of the new United MileagePlus Explorer, for the moment, you can still take advantage of the 40k-mile bonus offer. Continental and United are merging their mile programs at the end of 2011, as part of their merger (details on their website), and will also be combining their elite status and credit card programs.

The Continental OnePass card is actually a much better value post-merger. Previously, Continental miles didn’t expire, but United’s did after 18 months of inactivity. But if you have a Continental/United card with an annual fee (like this one), your miles will never expire so long as your account’s active. You earn 25,000 miles after your first purchase, 5,000 for adding an authorized user, and 10,000 for spending $25k the first year. This threshold spending bonus is recurring: every year you spend $25k+, you get an extra 10,000 miles. Plus, the $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

The card also has quite a few perks to recommend it:

  • It has an unusually good rental car insurance policy, giving you free primary coverage (rather than the more commonplace “secondary” coverage to whatever your normal auto insurance provides). The main benefit of primary coverage is that an accident in your rental car won’t be reported to your insurance company for claims, which could save you increased premiums.
  • Priority boarding
  • Two Presidents’ Club day passes a year (this is also a better perk than it was before: Priority Pass lounge members, including AmEx Platinum cardholders, will not have access to Continental/United lounges)
  • First checked bag free
  • Baggage delay and lost luggage reimbursement

Great intro deals like these raise the age-old question, “Does opening new credit cards damage my credit score?”

Credit inquiries will damage your credit score over the next 6 months, but it’s perfectly OK to have quite a few credit lines open. Therefore, hold off on offers like this if you plan on applying for a loan in the next 6 months, otherwise, don’t worry about it too much. Don’t take our word for it, soak up this page as evidence; there is a penalty for having fewer than 6 credit lines or greater than 21 credit lines open.

  • Pegilmore

    What are the actual yearly fees as in the paragraph it says $85, then in the rest of the document it says it is $95. Which is it $85 or $ 95?

    • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ Tim

      The fee was raised to $95 when the deal expired. We’ve updated the post – sorry!

  • Orbops

    With priority boarding, do you have to purchase the tickets with this card, or simply have the card with you? I had purchased a flight on United/Continental prior to getting this card, and was wondering how they handle the priority boarding.

    • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ NerdWallet

      Unfortunately, you have to book it on the airline-branded credit card. Though it might be worthwhile just calling them up and asking if you can get the benefit anyway – you’d be surprised at how often that works! Good luck.

      • Greyhound

        That is incorrect. You automatically get priority access just for having the card. There is no need to book the flight with the card to get that. Also I have had my first checked bag free both times I have flown, and I have not bought the flight with my card.

        • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ NerdWallet

          Hey there, good to hear! I don’t think it’s policy, but sometimes they’re lenient about that sort of thing.

  • Kherlache

    Because I have a Continental, United and now Sapphire Card, I called to cancel my Continental card and they offered me 5,000 miles to keep it open, no strings attached. Since my year isn’t up until June I accepted their offer and will close it in May instead. Did the same thing with my United Card.

    • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ NerdWallet

      Nice! Always worth asking.