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Announcement regarding Chase Ultimate Rewards

Announcement regarding Chase Ultimate Rewards

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Old Sep 28, 15, 12:26 pm
  #1  
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Announcement regarding Chase Ultimate Rewards

Effective December 8, 2015, the option to transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Amtrak Guest Rewards® will be discontinued. Eligible Chase Ultimate Rewards customers can transfer points into Amtrak Guest Rewards through December 7, 2015. To see if your Chase card is eligible or to transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Amtrak Guest Rewards, visit http://www.chase.com/ultimaterewards.


Anthony Rizos
Director, Member Experience Solutions
Amtrak
Washington, D.C.
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Old Sep 28, 15, 1:49 pm
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Thanks for letting us know, though this is very disappointing news.

Are transfers from Starwood Preferred Guest expected to continue? I realize that's technically a hotel program but given that SPG acts almost like a fungible points program, has a 1:1 SPG-->AGR ratio, and ubiquitous affinity card, it seems like something that could be next on the chopping block.
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Old Sep 28, 15, 1:59 pm
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Man, I was going to get this card next month. I would have really loved 40k points! No time to earn them in time to transfer, though. I guess I missed the boat.
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Old Sep 28, 15, 6:16 pm
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Anthony, is this an AGR decision or a Chase decision?
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Old Sep 28, 15, 8:14 pm
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While this news is quite disappointing, I greatly appreciate the forewarning Anthony, and will give me ample time to transfer my UR points into AGR.

I would also be interested to know if AGR will continue be a transfer partner from the SPG Amex.
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Old Sep 29, 15, 2:06 pm
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Originally Posted by Sicariis View Post
I would also be interested to know if AGR will continue be a transfer partner from the SPG Amex.
AGR is not a transfer partner from the SPG Amex. AGR is a transfer partner from the SPG hotel program (regardless of whether you earn SPG points only through the SPG Amex card or only through hotel stays or through any mix of those and/or various other methods of earnings SPG points).
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Old Sep 29, 15, 11:56 pm
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Disappointing news, granted, but not really a shock. I'm still going to look at swapping my force-issued Sleazedom into a UR-compatible card (I'm going to forgo the bonus to try and help my average credit age), but this is disappointing all the same.

That being said...lots of notice on this. When I looked in here I was half-expecting to find that Chase had dropped the hammer effective 10/01 or something like that.
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Old Sep 30, 15, 1:53 pm
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Such a shame. The Ultimate Rewards program is a great program. And the extra opportunities to earn points (Double points on dining) are no where on the BOA cards. AGR is wrong in getting rid of this option as it only gives members more flexibility and the AGR program more rewarding. I have transferred 500,000 points to AGR from UR and that should last me a very long time. I got the no fee AGR BOA card so my points won't expire. But I love my Sapphire preferred card and have no plans to stop using it after the Dec 7th cutoff. At that time Ill let the points build up towards air fare redemptions. And the biggest benefit of the Sapphire Preferred Card which neither BOA card have is that the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) is primary NOT secondary like it is on the BOA cards. This alone can save you a lot of money on rentals. With secondary any claims go to your automobile insurance which is primary unless the CDW is noted as primary. This is a huge reason not to drop your Sapphire Preferred card.
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Old Sep 30, 15, 3:59 pm
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Originally Posted by discocoaster View Post
Such a shame. The Ultimate Rewards program is a great program. And the extra opportunities to earn points (Double points on dining) are no where on the BOA cards. AGR is wrong in getting rid of this option as it only gives members more flexibility and the AGR program more rewarding. I have transferred 500,000 points to AGR from UR and that should last me a very long time. I got the no fee AGR BOA card so my points won't expire. But I love my Sapphire preferred card and have no plans to stop using it after the Dec 7th cutoff. At that time Ill let the points build up towards air fare redemptions. And the biggest benefit of the Sapphire Preferred Card which neither BOA card have is that the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) is primary NOT secondary like it is on the BOA cards. This alone can save you a lot of money on rentals. With secondary any claims go to your automobile insurance which is primary unless the CDW is noted as primary. This is a huge reason not to drop your Sapphire Preferred card.
It is definitely unfortunate for CSP card-holders who are members of AGR, such as myself. But I'm not sure I see the basis for concluding that "AGR is wrong in getting rid of this option as it only gives members more flexibility and the AGR program more rewarding". Just because they have eliminated some flexibility and made the AGR program less rewarding for some members doesn't mean that this change isn't a good business decision for AGR. We just don't know.
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Old Oct 1, 15, 1:19 am
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Originally Posted by physioprof View Post
It is definitely unfortunate for CSP card-holders who are members of AGR, such as myself. But I'm not sure I see the basis for concluding that "AGR is wrong in getting rid of this option as it only gives members more flexibility and the AGR program more rewarding". Just because they have eliminated some flexibility and made the AGR program less rewarding for some members doesn't mean that this change isn't a good business decision for AGR. We just don't know.
There's a lot here we'll probably never know (for example, what rate was Chase buying AGR points at vis-a-vis the "market rate"?). To be fair, allowing points to be transferred in at no cost to the end-user only makes sense if Amtrak is somehow getting paid for those points from Chase's end, and it was likely that Chase was not willing to shell out enough for it to be worth Amtrak's while to keep such a tangentially-connected transfer partner in place.

Particularly problematic is the fact that under the new regime it would be FAR cheaper for someone to simply "churn up" points, even if they had to eat the CC fees, than to buy them (the effective cost to buy points at present is $0.0377/point without a sale and $0.029 with a 30% sale). Some distortion there is survivable, but if you can regularly do that for $0.029/point or less (depending on what a given processor charges, there are definitely avenues that run in the range of $0.02475-0.0275) then exploits like substantial gift card purchases make more sense than does actually buying the points. With an "internal" credit card (e.g. the AGR card) I believe the damage is somewhat controlled, but with an "external" one (e.g. Chase Sapphire now) that becomes an issue.
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Old Oct 1, 15, 11:56 am
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Originally Posted by GrayAnderson View Post
There's a lot here we'll probably never know (for example, what rate was Chase buying AGR points at vis-a-vis the "market rate"?). To be fair, allowing points to be transferred in at no cost to the end-user only makes sense if Amtrak is somehow getting paid for those points from Chase's end, and it was likely that Chase was not willing to shell out enough for it to be worth Amtrak's while to keep such a tangentially-connected transfer partner in place.
Amtrak is most definitely getting paid by Chase for points transfers in - as do all the other loyalty program partners (and the same goes for Amex MR and similar transferrable point bank programs). As with co-branded CCs and other arrangements, the selling of miles & points to bank partners is usually very profitable for the corporation - sometimes it can make the loyalty program a profit center even as their main business of flying, etc. loses money. In turn the bank needs to make sure that its costs for points are below what it earns on average from swipe fees and other CC fees. That's the whole point of such partnerships.

The loss of UR transfers was due to either (a) inability of Chase and AGR to come to an agreement to continue selling points at a mutually acceptable price or (b) AGR-BofA contract terms that preclude AGR having such an arrangement with Chase or another bank program after a certain point. Obviously we in the general public will likely never know for certain unless one of the parties discloses it.
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Old Oct 5, 15, 12:33 pm
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A) Thanks for the heads up on this. I really appreciate that we've been given notice. I hope other users that don't frequent this board are being contacted by email and USPS as well.

B) As with all the ongoing changes to AGR, I'm also extremely disappointed, but I didn't figure BoA was going to allow this to continue, especially since Chase is offering 2x points on dining as well. Basically this change will greatly decrease my earning potential and the increased point requirements for future travel after January will greatly limit my long distance Amtrak travel. I understand that AGR has been too lax in the past and probably too generous, but I think it has flipped to the extreme opposite end of the spectrum. I could understand if Amtrak was running on time consistently and had some amazing perks, but Amtrak users pretty much have to be very forgiving and willing to deal with anything. I just arrived on the Southwest Chief last night which was was 10 hours late into Chicago. I love Amtrak and the AGR perks sort of helped smooth over my issues with the service, but being dinged on point value, cancellation fees and now baggage charges are swinging into airline territory. I came to Amtrak to see the country, support rail travel, avoid airports and most importantly, avoid the treatment of the major airlines, but lately I feel more like a cog and less like a customer.

C) I just traveled CHI to RNO and then returned on LAX to CHI. Neither train has any posters, flyers, brochures or anything even indicating AGR exists or the changes to the system. Speaking to other customers they were basically 50/50 on AGR users vs people who had never even heard of it. Almost every AGR user I spoke to either wasn't aware of the upcoming changes or knew very little about the changes, other than the fact that their card was cancelled. In one case they used the AGR card as their primary card and didn't have enough time to get the new card before they traveled because there was less than a month overlap between one card stopping transfers and the other ramping up.

D) I really do appreciate the communication and help you provide Anthony, and I hate to be such a downer on this whole thing, but in almost all cases the new system is a negative change to the way I utilize Amtrak. I agree that adjustments were warranted, I just think that for some customers the swing is greatly testing our loyalty.
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Old Oct 5, 15, 4:34 pm
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Originally Posted by 84fiero View Post
Amtrak is most definitely getting paid by Chase for points transfers in - as do all the other loyalty program partners (and the same goes for Amex MR and similar transferrable point bank programs). As with co-branded CCs and other arrangements, the selling of miles & points to bank partners is usually very profitable for the corporation - sometimes it can make the loyalty program a profit center even as their main business of flying, etc. loses money. In turn the bank needs to make sure that its costs for points are below what it earns on average from swipe fees and other CC fees. That's the whole point of such partnerships.

The loss of UR transfers was due to either (a) inability of Chase and AGR to come to an agreement to continue selling points at a mutually acceptable price or (b) AGR-BofA contract terms that preclude AGR having such an arrangement with Chase or another bank program after a certain point. Obviously we in the general public will likely never know for certain unless one of the parties discloses it.
It's almost assuredly (a). If it was (b) then there was no reason for AGR to hold off on announcing the change; also, (b) is what Virgin Atlantic has with Chase/BofA (their CC is BofA but they're still a UR transfer partner).
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Old Nov 2, 15, 3:53 pm
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I too am greatly disappointed to see this change, and greatly echo nuschu's comments about Amtrak starting to treat more of its customers like airline passengers. That's the whole point of why I travel Amtrak, so I DON'T get treated like an airline passenger. I have transferred hundreds of thousands of UR points to Amtrak over the years.

Another case in point -- I just booked a room on the Silver Star train, and was informed that Amtrak was doing a "test case" where they remove the dining car, and "allow" accommodations passengers to purchase food in the cafe car, which is basically akin to a 7/11 convenience store. First of all, food was previously included in the accommodations fare, although supposedly Amtrak is testing this concept in an effort to lower accommodations fares. By what, 5%? 10%? Big deal. Passengers will lose much of that anyway buying pre-made microwaved hamburgers made a few weeks ago. The dining car is a huge part of the allure of traveling by train, and absent that, and now all of these changes in ticketing, UR, and AGR, I will be much more inclined to simply get to point B via plane. A huge disappointment for us, but with the huge premium we generally pay for Amtrak, I have little tolerance for these changes.

Dave
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Old Nov 3, 15, 2:17 pm
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When traveling by air, you spend a different proportion of time at the airport vs plane than at the train station vs train. So while the dining on the train may better than that on the plane (at the very least in coach), that's necessary because your'e spending a longer time on the train (for a given distance trip) than you would on a plane. I would think that, especially with these Amtrak changes, the dining is going to be much better at airports, even if not on board the plane (beyond what you bring onto the plane that you bought at the airport, of course). But as with everything else, YMMV based on what airports you fly between, how much time you have at the airports, what hour of day you fly, etc.
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