Will Chase and Starwood Points Still Transfer to Amtrak?

A couple of weeks ago when it became clear that Bank of America would get the Amtrak co-brand I reached out to Chase to ask whether Ultimate Rewards points would continue to be transferrable to Amtrak Guest Rewards. This was their reply:

If you have an eligible Chase Card with Ultimate Rewards, you can continue to transfer points to Amtrak Guest Rewards until further notice.

The problem with this response is that it’s what you would expect either way. If Guest Rewards is staying, Chase is going to say (about all of their partners) that you can transfer points until further notice. And if notice is anticipated at some point in the future, they’re going to say you can transfer until… further notice.

I reached out to Amtrak with the same question (and also threw in Starwood Preferred Guest because I wanted to know how transfer partners generally would be affected by the announcement of the new program). They got back to me Thursday afternoon:

If you have an eligible Chase Card with Ultimate Rewards, you can continue to transfer points to Amtrak Guest Rewards until further notice.

Additionally, you can continue to transfer Amtrak Guest Rewards points with our other transfer partners until further notice.

The Starwood Preferred Guest program will not be impacted at all at this time.

So there’s no changes at this time. Again that doesn’t tell us much. I did find it interesting that they drew a distinction and described their relationship with Starwood differently, that “will not be impacted at all” … which suggests to me that partners like Chase might well be impacted, but at the very least that they seem to be suggesting definitely that we won’t see a change with SPG.

That’s actually interesting because while I don’t like the new program’s redemptions as much as the older ones – points are worth a fixed amount, there’s not really the possibility of outsized value – the value of an Amtrak point is fixed at a fairly high level: about 2.5 cents for Acela Express travel and 2.9 cents for all other travel.

For those who make use of Amtrak, then, it would seem that value would be a floor when considering the value of Starwood points.

I also tend to think that if you’re interested in using Chase points with Amtrak, it might be worth proactively transferring some. I won’t be doing that, but I could imagine some will want to.

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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  1. […] Will Chase and Starwood Points Still Transfer to Amtrak? by View From The Wing. I think their response about SPG not changing at all is fairly telling, but we still don’t know for sure. With the new revenue based program I’m not sure how many people would want to transfer anyway, but it’s a good way of scoring some easy choice points. […]

Comments

  1. I’ve never really understood the concern that UR would automatically discontinue xfers to agr, because there are certainly examples where transferable currencies may be exchanged where there’s no other commercial relationship between the two parties beyond that which enables the transfer.

    I agree that the agr devaluation could have been much worse. Obviously, with a fare-based model, the biggest hit is when fares are in the highest fare buckets. Amtrak uses 4 fare buckets (plus a special “saver” fare bucket available 14 days in advance, when the train is in the lowest fare bucket over a city pair). Under the new system, a DC-NY redemption is worse under the three higher fare buckets (costing nearly 50% more points in the highest bucket) — those “last seat” redemptions will cost a pretty penny.

    Curiously, the agr 2.0 calculator comes with the warning that “not all fares will qualify for point earning and redeeming.” I’m guessing this is meant to exclude the cheapest “saver” fares from being used as a basis for redemption. Time will tell.

  2. Korean Air is a UR partner. Korean Air has a cobranded credit card with US Bank. It is very possible that transfers will continue even if another company (BoA?) takes the credit card business.

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