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Continental Offer Is More Complicated Than Generous

As the name might suggest, Continental's new Mileathon promotion is one of those big, convoluted marketing initiatives designed to generate revenue by offering bonuses for a wide range of transactions that ultimately bolster the airline's bottom line.

That's fine in theory, as long as the promoted purchases are fairly priced, and the bonuses are worthwhile.

Between April 1 and June 30, OnePass members can earn credits for selected partner activities, including credit card sign-ups, online bookings, Continental ticket purchases, hotel stays, car rentals, vacation packages, cruises, and so on. (Hotel stays, car rentals, vacation packages, and cruises must be booked on continental.com to qualify.) After the promotion period, the credits are converted into bonus miles.

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So, for example, OnePass members earn 30 credits for signing up for a new Presidential Plus MasterCard. That's the most lucrative activity, credits-wise. Buying a full-fare Continental BusinessFirst ticket earns 20 credits, as does the purchase of a Presidents Club lounge membership. At the low end of the earning spectrum, enrolling in OnePass earns two credits, and booking online at continental.com earns just a single credit.

Five credits convert to 500 bonus miles; 10 credits are worth 1,000 miles; 20 credits convert to 2,500 miles; and so on up to 175 credits, which net 100,000 miles or a $1,000 Miles for Merchandise gift card.

Registration is required, and only activities completed after registering count toward the bonuses.

Deal or No Deal

Most of the per-transaction bonuses are tiny, so you'd have to be extraordinarily active, and spend a boatload of money, to earn a significant bonus.

For perspective, to earn 85 points—which convert to 25,000 miles, enough for a free round-trip domestic ticket—you would have to book 22 hotel stays, or 15 cruises or vacation packages.

In short, the promotion is complicated and not particularly rewarding.

On the other hand, if you're already a Continental loyalist, and some of the qualifying transactions are already on your to-do list, it's worth registering and taking advantage of the extra miles.

But even here, there's a caveat: If you're planning to book travel-related services on continental.com, be sure to comparison-shop. Best-rate guarantees notwithstanding, you might find better deals elsewhere.

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