IMPORTANT: Are you considering the Continental Airlines credit card? Then make sure you read this review! Because the OnePass Plus MasterCard has been discontinued, so you can no longer apply for it. Here is what you need to know about its replacement...

Due to the merger of United and Continental Airlines, Chase has now transitioned the 2 credit cards from each respective airline into 1 card. So if you are looking for the Continental OnePass Plus application, it was no longer available as of 2012.The best alternative for 2013 is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Why? Because with it you can convert points to United frequent flyer miles at a conversion of 1,000 points = 1,000 United MileagePlus miles. Alternately, you can also convert to other airline and hotel programs like Southwest, British Airways, Hyatt, Korean Air, Marriott, and more.

Everything below this line about the Continential/United cards and programs is now outdated.

The old Continental credit card offer was probably the most popular in the airline category for quite some time. Why? Because it had benefits that you couldn't find elsewhere. So the bar was set high for its replacement. The United MileagePlus Explorer not only lives up to the old Continental OnePass Plus, but it's arguably even better. What follows is my review of it.

This new card vs. the other airlines? Compare these 5 perks for yourself...
1. It's now the world's largest airline
The Continental/United merger has created the world's largest carrier. That means you will have the overall best selection of flights and destinations for both earning and spending miles.

2. Priority boarding
Now you get to enjoy priority boarding – Skip waiting in line and get on your flight ahead of general boarding. This helps you secure the overhead bin spaces before they fill-up.

3. Get your first checked bag for free
Save up to $100 every roundtrip flight. The old Continental Airlines credit card gave the first checked bag for free… for yourself plus a companion. The new United MileagePlus Explorer does the same!

Even if you only fly a couple times per year, this benefit is extremely valuable because it’s essentially saving you $50 on every roundtrip flight with checked bags ($100 savings if someone is traveling with you).

4. AmEx rewards will no longer work
United and Continental Airlines didn't renew their partnership with AmEx’s Membership Rewards Points program – so as of Sept 2011 – it was no longer possible to convert AmEx Membership Rewards to United MileagePlus or Continental OnePass frequent flyer miles.

That means now only a Chase credit card can earn you United miles. So stay away from other card issuers if you want rewards for the MileagePlus program.

5. Get free United Club day passes 2x per year
You know how miserable it is to be stuck at an airport waiting for your flight! First-class passengers can kick back in the United Club (formerly called Presidents Club) with plush seating, free drinks/snacks, private restrooms, internet, TV and more. But with this card, you don’t have to fly first class to enjoy this benefit – you get two free day passes to use every year!
How do the rewards work?
MileagePlus logo
It's actually almost the same as the Continental Airlines OnePass Plus. Here’s how the miles are earned on the new card:
  • 1 MileagePlus mile for every dollar spent
  • 2 MileagePlus miles for every dollar spent on airfare purchases from United (now that the Continental name has been phased out completely, there are no longer flights operating under that name)
  • 10,000 bonus miles every year you spend at least $25k on the card
  • Special promotional bonus miles with signup (details below)
A new (and unheard of) benefit that started back in 2012 is that now there are no blackout dates or seat restrictions. If you see an open seat for sale, you can get it at the Standard Award level using your miles.

Cardholder benefits?
This new card is a Visa Signature (not a MasterCard like the old version) and comes with the following...

For travel:
  • Car rental collision damage waiver – One of the best Continental credit card benefits was that it gave you primary coverage (not secondary) on most rental vehicles. Up to 15 days domestically and 31 days outside the country. Guess what? The new MileagePlus Explorer gives you the same!
  • No foreign transaction fees – This benefit was just added in May 2013.
  • Trip cancellation coverage – Reimbursement of up to $2,000 for travel reservations that are canceled/interrupted due to covered events.
  • Coverage for lost luggage – Up to $3,000 per trip for your carry-ons and checked baggage
For shopping:
  • Price protection – You bought a new sweater or TV only to find it advertised on sale a week later. With this benefit, you can be reimbursed for the difference – up to $250 per item, $1,000 annually – on eligible purchases made with the card.
  • Extended warranty coverage – Ever buy a new computer only to have it break down on you as soon as the warranty is up? If the manufacturer’s warranty on an eligible purchase is 3 years or less, this benefit will double the warranty’s length by adding up to one full additional year for free.
  • Purchase protection – For 90 days from date of eligible purchase, enjoy protection in the event of theft and some types of damage. Up to $500 per occurrence, with a max of $50,000 annually.
Verdict for 2013?
The Chase Continental Airlines credit card offer was pretty enticing, and as you can see its replacement is too. For the frequent UA flyer it remains the best choice. Even if you only fly their airline a couple times per year, the benefit of getting a free checked bag for yourself and a companion is reason enough to get this credit card.

Think about it... if you and your spouse go on just 2 trips per year, with each of you taking a checked bag, this card will be saving you $200 in baggage fees ($50 per passenger, per roundtrip). Or if the two of you took 5 trips per year, that's $500 in savings just for having the United MileagePlus Explorer card!