United / Continental Airlines’ online representative on FlyerTalk shared new terms for the Continental Presidential Plus MasterCard to align it with features it will carry when the merger with United is complete. On the margin, we view it as a net reduction in benefits for elite members of Continental’s frequent flyer program. You no longer receive a 25% added elite bonus on miles flown, and the elite qualifying miles are now capped. You can only apply them to the first 75,000 of elite miles each year, which means you can’t use them to achieve the 100,000 mile status level.
The card now feels geared toward frequent flyers who aren’t quite elite status level flyers with Continental. If you’re an elite flyer you already get the priority boarding and security privileges the card offers and a substantial discount on Presidents Club membership. In that case you may be better off with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card to earn miles, which offers the flexibility to transfer miles into Continental, British Airways, Amtrak, Hyatt, and Marriott points. Then try buying United Club membership separately.
Below is what they’ve shared.
Book any seat, any time, on any flight. If seats are available for
sale, they can be redeemed at the EasyPass (or equivalent) reward level. There
are no restrictions or blackout dates – a benefit that will be reserved for
Cardmembers and Elite travelers beginning in early 2012.
Book reward seats close to your departure date without a fee.
Spur-of-the-moment travel plans? No problem. Effective sometime in Q1 2012,
we’ll waive the fee for booking reward tickets 21 days or less prior to
departure. This benefit is reserved only for Cardmembers and certain Elite
Double miles on United tickets. You currently earn two miles per $1
spent on tickets purchased from Continental. Now you’ll enjoy the same benefit
on tickets purchased from United. In addition, you’ll continue to earn double
miles on hotel stays and car rental purchases.
Inside Access From Chase. Access to exclusive events and unique
activities with Inside Access from Chase.
Upgrades on Reward tickets for Elites. OnePass Elite members who are
also Cardmembers are eligible to receive upgrades on domestic reward tickets
already when traveling on Continental. This benefit will be available on United
flights too in Q2 2012.
Free checked bags on Continental and United. Your first and second
checked bags are already free on flights operated by Continental when you pay
for your tickets with the Card. Now, you’ll enjoy the same benefit on tickets
purchased from United.
No foreign transaction fees. Enjoy no foreign transaction fees on
purchases made with the Card.
Lounge membership. Receive full club membership, including
President’s Clubs, Red Carpet Clubs and future United Clubs.
EliteAccess travel benefits. EliteAccess® travel services are now
known as Premier Access travel services. You’ll continue to receive all the
benefits of EliteAccess on Continental flights, including priority check-in,
express security screening where available, priority boarding and baggage
handling. Beginning Fall 2011, you’ll enjoy Premier Line travel services on
United flights which include priority check-in, express security screening where
available and priority boarding. The priority baggage benefit you currently
enjoy on Continental will be available on all United flights.
The Luxury Hotel and Resorts Collection. Access to The Luxury
Hotel and Resorts Collection, which offers exclusive cardmember amenities
such as complimentary breakfast and space-available upgrades at a selection of
over 700 of the finest hotels, resorts, lodges and spas around the
Premier travel and purchase protection. Access Premier travel and
purchase protection, including primary auto rental collision damage
Miles don’t expire. Beginning January 1, 2012, this benefit will be
exclusive to Cardmembers.
Concierge Services. 24/7 Concierge Services.
Flex Elite Qualification Miles (Flex EQMs) will have an expiration
date. Flex EQMs earned after January 1, 2012 will expire 39 months after
they are deposited. Specifically, Flex EQMs earned beginning after this date can
be used at any time during the calendar year in which they were earned, plus
three additional calendar years, and will then expire if not redeemed. Flex EQMs
earned prior to January 1, 2012, will continue to have no expiration date.
Flex Elite Qualification Miles may not be applied beyond the 75K EQM
threshold. Starting with the 2012 Elite program, Flexible EQMs can be
redeemed to achieve up to Platinum Elite status (or equivalent). Flex EQMs
earned prior to January 1, 2012, will continue to have no expiration date. The
earning ratio remains the same (1,000 Flex EQMs for every $5,000 you spend with
Number of companions eligible for free checked bags. Free checked
bags will apply to you and one additional person traveling on the same
reservation effective January 1, 2012. This change does not apply to OnePass
Elite mileage bonus to be removed. The 25% Continental flight mileage
bonus for OnePass Elite members will be discontinued sometime in Q1 2012 (you
will not get the bonus for flights after this date). In the interim, you will
continue to receive this benefit only on Continental flights.
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