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

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.

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  • Don

    So, my question is: Can I have both the Continental AND United cards at one time and receive 50,000 bonus miles from both? Since they are merging and have cross-listed many of their flights already, that is essentially 100,000 miles on United or Continental.

    I applied and was pre-approved for the United Card, for which I received a mailed invitation, but I was given a “wait and see” message for the Continental card, for which I did not have any sort of invitation (nor did it ask for an invitation code).

    • NerdWallet

      Hey Don, the two rewards programs will still continue to operate separately for the rest of 2011, according to the airlines. So it seems to me like you should still be able to get a card with both rewards programs. It shouldn’t be any different than having two cards in the same alliance, where miles can be transferred between them, etc.

      What do you mean about being given a “wait and see”? Were you denied the Continental card because of the United card? I’d like to know how it works out for you, so I can spread the word!

      • Don

        I was not automatically approved for the Continental card. The text response I got after completing the application process online said something to the effect of: “You will be notified within X days/weeks of our decision…”

        I have since called 1-800-323-6252 (OnePass number I found on another forum) and pressed 1, then 2 (I think), entered my SSN, and I was notified of my application status: Approved!

        So, I should be getting both the United and Continental 50,000 mile bonus cards in the mail soon. That’s four free round trips for 10 minutes of work

        I applied individually, so my wife may apply soon too.

      • erica

        I got a United card last fall and a Continental card this spring. The programs recently got close enough to touch: lets you transfer between the two once every 24 hours. (Consolidated my miles and got ’em matched by Capital One!)

        • Don

          Wait a second! I thought Capital One would only match miles which were on a CREDIT CARD miles statement, not the statement from the airline itself. When you transfer miles with the link you provided, aren’t you transferring them between airline mileage account, without involving the credit card company at all?

          Details please!

          • NerdWallet

            Good point Don. Capital One has stated that they are only matching miles earned on credit cards (though they haven’t really specified how one is supposed to prove which miles are from credit cards and which are not).

            Erica – Have you gotten a confirmation from CapOne yet that your match has been approved? I’d love to hear if that worked out for you!

          • erica

            Don’t want to get myself in trouble but… yes. The Chase card statement will only show miles earned year to date so you have to add a screenshot of your United MP account – there’s just no other way to get the mileage balance. I sent pdf with my card statement (card info, name/address), main page of MP website (total miles, month’s activity, my first name, and MP number), and profile info page of MP site (showing my full name/address/MP number). I believe you have to send all these if you’re utilizing the United Visa card anyway to solidly establish the link between your card, total mileage, and name. United does not have a way to summarize which miles are bonus, earned, or transferred. On another travel website, someone called Capital One to ask if miles needed to be earned or if bonus/flight/etc miles work too, and was told that since they often cannot be differentiated, Capital One will just match whatever you send them.

            I got a confirmation that miles are reserved for me.

            My parents already had this card and love it, and unless something pretty incredible comes along, it’ll likely be my default card for the future.


      I’d like to apply 50,000 bonus mile Continental OnePass Plus card plus,please send e-mail.

      • NerdWallet

        Hi Zujing, we don’t actually mange the offers. If you want to apply, please click the link in the post above, and it will take you to Continental’s website.

        Alternatively, you can contact Chase card services at the following number: 1-800-323-6252

  • Li

    Hi, I found this CO card great and want to apply. However, I only have one credit card for half a year now. My friend said I have no chance to get approved because of short credit history, even though I control the balance and pay off every month. Is that correct? So I can save a hard pull. Thanks~

    • NerdWallet

      Hi Li, you won’t necessarily be denied based on your limited credit history because there are a number of other factors that credit card companies take into account, like income and assets. Plus the “hard pull” won’t stay on your credit report more than 6 months, so even if you get rejected, the impact on your credit score will not be severe.

  • jan

    my question is this…is the Continental card going to be discontinued after 2011? i already have the United card, and would like to apply for the Continental card since part of the sign up offer is that the $85 annual fee is also waived for the first year. But after the first year and after the miles merge in 2011, i don’t want to be paying an annual fee on the Continental card, and if you cancel a credit card, it dings your credit. Do you know if the Continental card will be discontinued by United after the merge?

    • NerdWallet

      Jan, even if the credit card is discontinued for new users, existing users will most likely be able to continue using their cards. Even if they stop supporting the rewards program for this card, they will move you to a United-branded card rather than cutting you off entirely.

      So if you want to avoid the annual fee, your best bet is to call them after the first year and threaten to leave if they don’t waive your annual fee.

  • Joseph

    FYI, today Chase extended this 50k offer until May 15th, so plenty of time to sign up.

    Thanks for alerting me to this. I got my own mother, a Continental lover, to sign up for the offer.

    • NerdWallet

      Nice! I got one myself. And unlike most cards I use solely for the sign-up bonuses, I plan to keep this one. It has great built-in protection on travel, rental cars, etc and I’m sure I can save enough on baggage fees each year to make up for the annual fee.

      Also, you may want to tell your mother she can double her sign-up bonus right now if she has any interest in signing up for a Venture Rewards card too. Capital One just announced the “Match My Miles” challenge where they will match you up to 100,000 airline credit card miles.

      • Joseph

        You and I think alike: My mother is retired and has great credit. I suggested she transfer her American Express Membership Rewards points to her Continental account, then apply for the Capital One Miles Match. She refused to do business with Capital One. I explained their bad reputation is exactly why Capital One will pay big spenders 110,000 points ($1100) to try it out, but she would not bite. (I’m curious to see how long before Capital One runs out of the whole billion points.)

        Re: applying for both the United and Continental cards. There’s chatter on some forums that Chase approved some people for one card, then turned them down for the second, Chase explaining they rarely approve a second account immediately after opening the first one. YMMV

  • Sheehan Alam

    Can these reward miles be used for transatlantic flights? I’ve flown Continental in the past to make trips to Europe.

  • Tim

    Yep, they can be used to book any Continental flights.

    • Sheehan Alam

      The offer says:

      “50,000 bonus miles after your first purchase — enough for two round-trip reward tickets within the U.S. (excluding Hawaii) and Canada.*”

      Are they just trying to provide a frame of reference here, or is it limited to US excluding Hawaii and Canada?

      • Tim

        It’s just a frame of reference. Two domestic tickets sounds more appealing than only one international ticket.

  • victor

    I have been declined by short credit card use history. I called, and the CSR said I only have one Citi card for less than one year, and she can’t help to reconsider it because it requires at least two year history.

  • Sheehan Alam

    I have a Continental OnePass account from flying with them, but have never signed up for a Chase Continental credit card. I just received my Chase British Airways credit card. Am I still eligible for the 50K miles on first purchase? I noticed this verbage in the terms:

    “This one-time bonus offer is valid only for first-time Continental Airlines personal Cardmembers with new accounts. Previous and existing Continental Airlines personal Cardmembers/accounts are not eligible for this bonus offer. “

    • Tim

      You should be. If you’ve never had a Continental credit card before, you’re fine.

      I was already a OnePass member as well, they just ask for your ID number when you apply for the card.

      And British Airways is a completely separate airline, so that shouldn’t affect you.

      • Sheehan Alam

        Great. Just applied. No instant verification. Is there a number that I can dial later to check if it was approved or not?

        • Tim

          Hey, try this number: 1-800-323-6252

          If that isn’t right, I’m sure they’ll redirect you.

          • Sheehan Alam

            Thanks. Once Continental merges with United will these miles expire after 18 months? Currently Continental miles don’t expire…

          • Tim

            As of now, it looks like the merged program will end up following United’s
            policies, so that miles will expire after 18 months.

            However, note that the miles expire after 18 months of INACTIVITY. Meaning
            the expiration date on ALL of your miles will get pushed back 18 months
            every time you earn more miles or redeem a reward flight.

            Also, this is subject to change since new details of the merger are still
            being announced all the time.

      • Sheehan Alam

        So looks like Chase denied my request because I opened up too many Chase cards this month (I was approved for the BA card). Will being denied hurt my credit score? If so, by how much? 

        • Tim

          Any credit card application results in a “hard pull” that will impact your
          score. It should only be a couple of points though, and will only stay on
          your record for 6-12 months.

          As for being denied, it will still just show up on your record as an
          inquiry, and won’t impact you any more than being approved.

          • Sheehan Alam

             If I call Chase and try to get them to approve me for the card, will they still honor the 50K mile promo (since I applied/was denied before the May 15 cut off) ?

          • Andy Mesa

            Credit inquiries stay on your credit report for 2 years, not 6-12 months.  

  • Kim

    Three to four weeks ago I applied for the Continental card and was approved immediately. I got to “eager” and applied for the United card about a week ago and it said I will receive something in writing in about 7-10 days.  I received a letter yesterday telling me it was declined because of too many chase inquires in the recent past.
    How long do you think I should wait before applying for the united card again?  Any thoughts?

    • Tim

      I think most “churners” tend to wait 6-12 months.

      How long has it been since your last application?

      • Kherlache

        My first applicaiton was 4-5 weeks ago.  I applied for the second card about two weeks ago.  The second was denied becuase I had just gotten the continential card. 
        After this post and more reading.  I called Chase and asked them to “reconsider” their decision. 

        She asked me a few questions, such as do I carry balances? I said no.  Also asked why I wanted a second chase card.  I told her I fly continental and united and liked the benefits of both cards.  If she looked at my credit report she could see I have no revolving debt and excellent credit.  Anyhow, she asked me to hold and came back and said okay we will approve it. 

  • Fliu38

    I am your frequent flight OnePass member, but is not your Continetal/Chase credit member,
    do I qualify for this promotion 50,000.0 bonus if I am applying for this promotion?

    Frank NJ 

  • 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?

    • 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.

    • 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.

        • 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.

    • NerdWallet

      Nice! Always worth asking.