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United, Continental Miles Can Now Be Combined

United, Continental Miles Can Now Be Combined

The frequent flyer programs of United and Continental won’t be consolidated into a single program until some time next year.

But in the long run-up to merging the programs, they have been brought gradually into alignment, accentuating their similarities and toning down their differences.

And now, members of the two programs may freely transfer their miles from one program to the other. And back again.

Delta and Northwest did somewhat the same thing, allowing members of either program to move their miles into the other, well in advance of fully merging their operations in late 2009. There was even a bonus offered for doing so.

While United and Continental aren’t breaking new ground with mileage transfers, what they’ve done with elite miles is new, and newsworthy.

Transfer How-To

Travelers with accounts in both programs may make one mileage transfer every day, in 1,000-mile increments, up to a maximum of 200,000 miles per transfer, in either direction. Both accounts remain active after transfers, even if one account is zeroed out, so there’s always the option to make future transfers.

In addition to transferring redeemable miles, members may combine their elite-qualifying miles (EQMs) or segments in Mileage Plus with their elite-qualifying miles or points in OnePass. And whatever status is earned with the combined EQMs will pertain to both programs.

When registering to combine EQMs, you’ll be required to designate either Mileage Plus or OnePass as your primary program. That’s the account in which Regional and Systemwide Upgrades earned in 2011 will be deposited.

The Transfer Payoff

This is more than a matter of convenience—the transfer function adds real extra value to miles earned in either program.

Program members with too few miles in either program may be able to reach an award threshold by combining them. Or they may be able to redeem more miles for a more expensive award.

And combining EQMs will give some members just the mileage boost they need to qualify for elite status, and allow others to upgrade from a lower elite tier to a higher one.

Of course, these benefits don’t take effect automatically. You must act to take advantage of the miles’ transferability. Hence the following checklist for travelers who have miles in both programs:

  • Check to ensure that account information (name, address, etc.) is the same in both programs.
  • Review account balances—both award miles and EQMs—in both programs, with an eye to award and status opportunities.
  • Transfer miles and/or combine EQMs accordingly.

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  • Sam

    Big a deal!

  • Walter W. Stumpf Jr.

    I wish I had known this 2 days ago. Had to use my UA miles for 3 CO tickets at the UA mileage rate when CO had a sale for 5000 less on each ticket!

    Anyone know how long it takes to do the transfer?

  • David Epstein

    My Continental miles will never expire from what I’ve been able to surmise. If I move my UAL miles into Continental, will they be protected from expiration? At the end of the merger period will my unused miles be protected from expiration?

  • Zeke

    Can;t see any where or any way to do that from the “Registration” page the above link points to even after completing the “registration.”

  • Zeke

    Okay, now I just went back and “registered” again and it let me proceed. Buggy website.

  • Anne

    What is the website to register?

  • J Maxwell

    @David: Continental miles don’t technically “expire”; but according to the rules, if one doesn’t earn miles in 18 months, “your membership may be cancelled, and your miles may be forfeited.” Effectively, that’s exactly the same as expiration. But the transfer (which is instantaneous, by the way, Walter) would count as activity, so you’d have 18 months from the date of the transfer until they expired (or were “forfeited”).


    Which website to transfer the miles?

  • Tim Winship

    Anne, BARRY – To make a transfer, go to

  • Valerie Krupa

    I just called us air and they told me I couldn’t transfer miles from them to united Needless to say I am very dissappointed and even if I could , it would cost me.

  • jason

    had no idea until i googled this question. thanks! it was a little buggy for me too. the big hangup was my united account had everything in CAPS, while my Continental account was in Title Caps. They had to make everything the same and that did the trick.

  • Tech_guy

    I have two credit cards both from chase bank.One is United Mileage plus and the other is Continental onEpass plus. I am planning to transfer united miles to continental and then cancel my UNited credit card so that I can avoid the annual fee of $60 on my united card. Will the united miles(transferred to continental) still be valid for redemption? please advise.

  • Tim Winship

    Tech_guy – Yes, when you transfer your UA miles to CO, they can be redeemed for awards in the OnePass program. While there is a OnePass program, that is. At some point, the 2 programs will be merged.

  • Lena

    I earned enough elite miles in my continental and united accts to qualify for premier exec but the united rep is saying they aren’t counting the combo until march 2012? Completely different from their website.