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socks and cat

Worst airline ever??

The bank that holds my business account is offering mileage reward debit cards. For $65 per year I can get 1 mile per dollar spent with all debit card purchases that do no require a PIN number (in other words, it is a debit card but process all your transactions as if it was a credit card). I can put my $409 per month health insurance premiums on my debit card, so that's 409 miles per month!!

Here's the catch: it's with Continental Airlines. I tried checking their website for some of my most common flights. First I tried Seattle to Fresno. Unlike Alaska Airlines that charges $300 for that flight, Continental charges $800 for that flight. Odd considering they have a low price guarantee promising they will be cheaper than all other airlines. I tried my other favorite flight: Seattle to Oakland. Their website says they offer it but can't list those flights on their website. Ummmm...what!?

I tried calling them to see what's up with all this. I got a recording telling me I can expect to hold for 10 to 15 minutes. Again...what!?

I'm ready to walk away from from this debit card mileage offer except Continental is about to merge with United Airlines. If I can get these miles on United then I'll get the $65 per year card. But so far Continental is sucking worse than any other airline even without me having to try them first by taking one of their flights.

Comments

Hard to say. The bonus is that you would have United's power eventually, but you will need 40K miles for a standard ticket, which may or may not have connecting flights. I dealt with this while planning my trip to Michigan this year..it can work for you or it can suck, depending on the circumstances.

You can get savers as low as 25K, but still, that's a lot of miles to accumulate, so it will take time unless you really focus ALL of your spending power into that card. You'll also likely need to combine the reward prog with flying consistently with United or one of its Star Alliance partners, or if you book your hotel at a hotel that they list as well (good idea for conventions!).

Once the merger is full-on, I am guessing your Continental stuff will work for United or somehow be converted, so that's a plus. Also, United does not allow miles to expire so long as you are actively earning them in some manner. I'd have lost a lot of miles otherwise. I'm not sure what Continental's policy is on miles expiring.

Hope that makes sense..I'm trying to work with other mileage programs as well to expand my horizons...JetBlue and Virgin especially...but those have fairly limited reach right now, which is disappointing.
I've never had a problem ever actually USING Continental as an airline, I've always had very pleasant experiences. but never used a rewards program.
I've always been intrigued at the radical range of experiences folks have with the same airlines. Continental for my usages has always been the cheaper flights (but I rarely book on any Airlines website. And tend to take "operated by" type flights) and I've been able to get plenty of tickets and upgrades at 25K etc.

I can't STAND United - and have been greatly distressed by the merger as I've always had trouble dealing with the customer service agents, long lines, missed flights etc. etc.

BUT, my understanding is that United programs etc. are becoming "the programs" after things are completed - so anything you have will migrate over. So... even if you don't fly in a year, you're getting almost 5K miles just using the card.

Ok I HAVE to say this:

PIN, not PIN Number. Personal Identification Number number is a redundancy and drives me batty...
How about PI number. :)