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American Express will lose by dropping Continental miles – Former Continental CEO

by on Mon September 12, 2011 • No Comment

As many of you know, as of 9/30/11 you will no longer be able to transfer points from American Express Membership Rewards to Continental Airlines miles. This is a big hit for the many New York based American Express cardholders, many of which have also enjoyed Presidents Club access which will also disappear.

Continental’s well regarded former CEO Gordon Bethune weighed in on CNBC recently…saying they will lose customers to Chase for not paying up for Continental miles. And Joe Kernen of CNBC plans to leave American Express for Chase so he can keep earning Continental/United miles.

So what card does Bethune use? The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express. That’s because he gets the value of great hotel rewards from Starwood, and of course he already gets free flights from his former employer.

So how about you…

What should you do?

If you want to keep earning United/Continental miles you need a Chase credit card. These include…

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (lets you transfer 1:1 into United/Continental, British Airways, Amtrak, Korean Air, Hyatt, Marriott, and more) — this is the closest thing you’ll find to an American Express Gold card
  • United Mileage Plus Explorer or Continental OnePass Plus (identical cards — they’ll all change to MileagePlus Explorer next year). Use this calculator to see whether the Sapphire Preferred® Card or MileagePlus Explorer/OnePass Plus are better for your spending habits.
  • Continental Presidential Plus (for access to United / Continental lounges)

If you want to keep United / Continental lounge access, only one card will offer it. 

It’s the current Continental Presidential Plus — they’ll rename it shortly for the new United with similar benefits.

Now, if access to lounges besides United/Continental is important to you (Delta, American, and US Airways lounges), then you’ll need to keep your Platinum Card from American Express. A money saving option for you versus getting both the Continental Presidential Plus and American Express Platinum Card is the following:

  • Use the $200 annual airline fee credit from the Platinum Card toward United/Continental club membership ($450 membership fee less $200 = $250, and it’s less if you’re an elite on Continental/United)
  • Get a non-club credit card to earn United/Continental miles (annual fee $95) — the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or United MileagePlus Explorer
  • Keep your Platinum American Express for the lounge access
Not perfect, but better than paying $850 in annual fees for both the Platinum Card and Presidential Plus.



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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Miles dont expireas long as card is open
Learn more

Partner Offer

50,000 bonus points

Intro Offer

$0 introductory annual fee, then $95

Annual Fee


Foreign Transaction Fee Waived


Points Can Transfer to Airline Miles ?

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