Chase no longer issues the co-brand Amtrak credit card. Alongside Amtrak’s new revenue-based loyalty program comes a new co-brand credit card partner, Bank of America. Here are details of the new Amtrak credit cards.
Under the new Amtrak program points are worth 2.5 to 2.9 cents apiece… kind of. That’s less than a 6% rebate for paid Amtrak travel, but represents good value for points transfers or credit card earning.
In August both Chase and Amtrak said that Ultimate Rewards points would continue to transfer to Amtrak “until further notice” which I took to mean that such transfers would indeed be ending. (Amtrak used different language regarding transfers from Starwood, saying those ‘would not be impacted’ at this time. You can still transfer Starwood points to Amtrak, we’ll see if that survives Marriott buying Starwood next year.) Then in September the severing of the Chase transfer relationship was announced.
Today — December 7 — is the last day to transfer points from Chase to Amtrak.
I don’t view this as a great loss for the Ultimate Rewards program. I’ve never used the option, and far prefer transfers to Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, United, and Hyatt.
But for those that used the transfer options it’s a loss (December 7 will be a day that lives in infamy?).
Here’s how I think about whether or not you should transfer points to Amtrak today before it’s too late:
- In general I value a Chase point at 1.9 cents.
- Using points through Amtrak will get you more value than that if you’d otherwise spend cash for an Amtrak ticket.
- If your Chase balance is limited, you want to displace the greatest amount of spending possible with those points.
- Whether you should transfer to Amtrak depends on your best alternative use for those points.
So how can you predict that? If you’re someone who buys Amtrak tickets with some regularity, and thus are likely to use the points in the near-term, it could be worth making a transfer. Remember that Amtrak points can devalue, I don’t think you want to do this as a store of value for future use especially since you’re giving up a ton of flexibility when you make a transfer.
If you live in the Northeast Corridor your likelihood of using the points is greatest. If you live in New York, DC or Boston you probably take the train — especially if you live or work closest to downtown.
I don’t view this as life or death for most people, especially since there remain great value transfers for flying. For instance, even though the British Airways 4500 Avios short haul award goes up to 7500 in the US in February, that’s still a pretty good deal for the American Airlines shuttle between New York, Boston, and DC (and other short haul non-stop routes up to 650 miles). As a separate matter, and not a Chase transfer options, American’s March 22 award chart devaluation comes with a new 7500 mile short haul award for flights up to 500 miles.
Still, regular Amtrak riders may want a stash of Amtrak points. The rest of us, probably not.
Are you transferring Chase points to Amtrak before December 8? How come?