My Points.com Amtrak Points Posted — And I’ve Already Redeemed

This morning I blogged about points.com offering crazy good transfers of Priority Club points into Amtrak, so good you’d even potentially make money by buying Priority Club points and then transferring those points.

It seems that Points.com was offering about 10 times as many Amtrak points per Priority Club point as they had intended to, and they quickly pulled the option. They even cancelled several of the transfers that had already been made.

It’s hard to complain too much when they react within a matter of hours. Their cancellation emails could have been a little bit better, though:

Thank you for performing an exchange transaction on Points.com. Unfortunately, your exchange has been cancelled as we were unable to process it. If you would like to try again, please visit Points.com.

They ‘were unable to process’ the transfer? Really? They chose not to process the transfer. Which would be cool if they’d just own it.

And inviting people to try the exchange again?

In fact they started sending out these notes before they had even managed to pull the offer off of the website, so some folks would have had their transfers cancelled, gone back and entered new transfers, and probably had those transfers cancelled as well.

Meanwhile I never got a cancellation notice for my transfer, perhaps it had gone in too early and already been sent over to Amtrak?

This evening I got an email from Points.com:

I guess it wasn’t cancelled after all! I went over to my Amtrak account and found that the points were there (earlier concerns, even, about transferring in over 50,000 points at a time not being permitted notwithstanding):

So I decided to redeem these points right away. Hyatt gift cards supposedly ship within two business days, and indeed I got an estimated ship date of December 26th. We’ll see!

Points.com caught this one very quickly. They acted fast enough that I don’t begrudge their pulling the deal. And it had already been posted publicly on another blog.

One commenter chimed in that it had been on Flyertalk for a few days already. I’m not sure that’s right, I understand there was another glitch that showed up mentioned on Flyertalk after it was pulled about transfers of points into Cathay Pacific’s AsiaMiles. At least I didn’t see this on any online forums.

I don’t know what prompted Points.com to pull the deal. Maybe it was my post, maybe it was the post on the blog where I saw it earlier, maybe it was Lucky’s post at One Mile at a Time. Maybe it was the original Flyertalk post, if there was one, and the blog postings today were a coincidence. Or maybe it was the volume of transfers that they were seeing that flagged someone’s attention.

But I could have done the deal, gotten it for myself, and not posted it. And then there would have been others who are now in the same boat as me, with their transfers having been processed, but who wouldn’t have known to do it.

Ultimately some deals work out, others don’t. When they don’t we don’t always know why. All we know is that there will be another deal coming down the pike soon enough, and we’ll be ready when it does.

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 Milepoint.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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  1. that figures, your redemption goes through, mine cancels. Win some, you lose some i guess. Merry Christmas Gary!!

  2. Gary,

    If I sign up with Amtrak – I wouldnt have Amtrak status in order to be able to this deal —

    Would Amtrak status match a Hyatt Diamond or AA Exec Plat so I could do this deal?

  3. @Michael the offer is no longer available. And you didn’t need status with Amtrak to do it, only if you wanted to move your amtrak points over to hiilton or choice…

  4. Gary,

    I find this post where you say you have no idea what caused points.com to so quickly to change their redemption rate particularly disingenuous. It would just have taken a matter of seconds to check that this extremely favorable points.com Amtrak transfer option WAS posted on flyertalk on Dec 20 – almost 4 full days before your post this morning.

    http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/amtrak-guest-rewards/1419463-transfer-each-3-pc-points-into-4-agr.html

    The title of that post is even crystal clear, no need to go searching and clicking on various threads on the Amtrak forum trying to guess if it was posted. However, you then can’t make all the disclaimers about how you have no proof that the subsequent publication on the widely read blogs was the direct cause of points.com pulling this option.

    I find this to be as clear cut a case of blog publicity killing a “deal” as can exist. But I assume you’d only be willing to concede this point if an executive from points.com directly tells you that, since anything less can only be “circumstantial evidence.” Actually, granted, there is no way to know if people from points.com saw your post and acted, or if the spike in transfer activity clued them up. Information from a points.com executive would be required to clarify that particular distinction. :-)

    The post on the Amtrak forum of FT was not widely read (just ~300 views this morning, much more now for obvious reasons), because that forum itself is pretty much a backwater on FT. I was bored, so I happened to see it the day after it got posted (I think I check the Amtrak forum maybe once a month, so it was just happenstance). For the record, I did a transfer on Saturday, and I’ve also redeemed my Amtrak points (though the gift certs haven’t yet shipped).

    I’m not trying to wade into the dispute of whether blogs are overall good or bad – I do understand that blogs are here to stay, and we point chasers will just have to adjust to the new reality. There are positives to blogs too – I’d definitely admit that blogs have highlighted stuff I wouldn’t have taken the time to check out on my own.

    But for this particular case, if you are considering “the greatest good” as measured by how many people could have used this redemption, I believe (though obviously, no concrete way to prove one way or another) that if this had only been publicized via the thread on FT, more people overall would have benefited from it. With no spike in redemption, there is a reasonable chance the transfer ratios would have stayed the same until maybe a few days after Jan 1 (given the reduced working hours this week). While your transfer was processed, since I assume you did the transaction early, before you made your post (very reasonable), it also seems that many (most?) people had their transactions canceled. In fact, no one else has commented on your blog that they were successful in getting the points.com exchange to go through. I’m curious as to what the time cut-off was – maybe it was based on the timestamp of your blog post publication? 😉 (That is a joke if the smiley doesn’t already make it clear, I assume points.com simply has a few hours lag phase before any transaction is processed.) And in the future, before posting such stuff, maybe consider waiting say a few hours until the company involved will be going on vacation for a few days for the Xmas. :-)

    Finally, I just wish bloggers are more upfront about admitting that the “street cred” for posting such stuff – even if it is obvious it won’t pan out for 99.9% of their readers – is a reason why such things are even posted to begin with.

  5. I’m sorry. Missed out on this as I don’t read FT as often as I should. Gary how did you find this, just wondering? Is there a better source than FT or MP for this sort of thing?

  6. Gary the Ahole – Because I’m too lazy these days to keep up with FT, I would have killed the deal four days earlier.

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