An end to the Amtrak-United Partnership

The Amtrak/United partnership has ended, apparently effective immediately.

It used to be possible to transfer Amtrak points to United miles at a 1:1 ratio, up to 25,000 points per year (50,000 points for Amtrak elite members).

That option is apparently gone, removed sometime in the past 48 hours, with no notice whatsoever.

This is a real blow to the value of the Amtrak program for several reasons.

I used to recommend the Amtrak Mastercard as the best free points-earning credit card. It had several benefits:

  1. Obviously, it was free
  2. Points could be transferred to United, Midwest, Continental and Hilton
  3. It’s issued by MBNA, so the foreign currency conversion charge is only 1% (rather than 3% for most issuers)

In fact, it was a better way for most people to earn United miles than the United Visa, since it was free and the BankOne United Visa generally carries a $60 annual fee.

I can no longer recommend that all frequent flyers carry this card, although it is still likely appropriate for folks wanting to earn Amtrak points.

United was Amtrak’s best partner. Midwest doesn’t offer alot of coverage, and Continental miles are notoriously difficult to redeem for Continental flights (they’re much more useful with partners) and the number of points required is often much higher than what United charges for awards.

Additionally, the ability to earn United miles no matter who you fly is gone as a result of this change.

Shame on ending partnerships without notice to members. And shame on the Amtrak program for simply deleting all references to United transfers from their website instead of announcing the change.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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