The more I look at the Continental Presidential Plus MasterCard from Chase, the more interesting it looks — for a certain segment of frequent flyer.
The $375 (gulp!) annual fee, though $300 in the first year, comes with Continental Presidents Club membership – which also gets you access to Northwest and Delta clubs. The similarly priced American Express Platinum card comes with this same lounge access plus access to American Airlines AAdmiral’s Clubs and other benefits (like the Fine Hotels and Resorts program and domestic companion airfare benefit) not matched by this card.
However, for flyers seeking elite status on Continental, it offers the best credit card elite status perk I’ve seen with any airline: up to 28,000 elite qualifying miles per year through spending on the card, and best of all you can drop those elite qualifying miles into your Continental account in 2,000 mile increments whenever you choose. (It looks to me like you could even save these up for a couple or even three years if you wanted, as they appear not to expire.)
What’s more, the card comes with Avis President’s Club status — which offers a guaranteed two car class upgrade and guaranteed availability. It’s one step below Chairman’s Club and used to be a perk afforded only to Amex Centurion cardmembers and to a handful of lucky beneficiaries through corporate contracts. (Although the benefit can apparently be accessed by anyone online, which I’ll explain in a followup post.)
Finally, a friend emails that the card comes with complimentary Platinum status with Hyatt and fast track to Diamond status (top level Hyatt status in just 6 stays). This benefit isn’t mentioned anywhere on the card website, and I haven’t verified it, but if true would be a real world-class offering that on the whole would seem to justify the price for a Continental flyer.