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Most devoted customers of Continental Airlines are often offered the opportunity to take the most advantage of their frequent traveler programs. And it is not only true to the Continental. Almost every airline aiming at extending its customer base and earning more of valuable customers, practices issuing credit cards which are a mutual deal with a bank or a credit card company.

Airline's credit cards are issued to keep loyal customers traveling with the airline as long as possible. The companies concluded long ago that it is an easier and less costly venture to maintain what has already been gained than to fund a campaign of finding and drawing new clients.

Continental airlines have already proven to be highly competitive in contest for devoted customers through launching its OnePass program, but they are not going to stop on that. A new credit card, the joint product of the Continental and Chase bank, hit customers last November with its unrestricted rewards.

Frequent flyer credit cards, such as those from Chase, American Express, Citibank all have one common feature. These cards award you miles, or points, for your travel-related purchases and services, which can be redeemed for any flights, any seats and dates. As to Continental Airlines, its travel program based on OnePass, though it is extensively used by customers, has turned out to be not its best campaign.

The award aspect of the program caused sort of irritation among cardholders because of its shortcomings, that involved some confusion in OnePass miles accumulation and redemption. The new card, TravelBank World MasterCard, issued by Chase, was first met as a step to upgrading the imperfect system of OnePass miles.

However, after its launch in November, 2007 customers got evidence that it is a completely new product, with no signs of being anyhow linked to the OnePass program. Rather, Continental Airlines introduced an alternative to its OnePass-based credit cards, which offers a new currency and new scheme of rewards redemption.

With the new TravelBank World MasterCard frequent travelers earn and accumulate TravelBank credits that function like cash back, and collect miles redeemable through a quick and no hassle program for any flight, any seat, any destination and any day.

Lots of customers staying with the OnePass program might choose to cancel their accounts there and opt for the new card that allows making a smarter use of the frequent traveler reward program. Some financial experts wonder, however, about the sense of introducing the utterly independent from OnePass card with a much more efficient rewards program.

Why didn't the Continental Airlines venture to upgrade OnePass instead? Is it a smart marketing trick? No idea. For what is known now is that the Continental's new card is the first product to offer the opportunity of earning both miles and TravelBank credits - the dollar-based rewards -all at the same time.

TravelBank credits can be accumulated and then used alone or with your cash to buy a Continental ticket, while miles can be redeemed for any Continental flights with no restrictions and blackout dates.

It seems, if this program were an addition to OnePass, rather than a separate credit card, it would made things much easier for the current customers of the Continental.

On the other hand, card issuers will never venture anything that would risk their revenues. Let's see if the new card will bring much benefit to the issuers as well as to the new customers.