No more transfer points to Choice Hotels?

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Visitor200

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It was just a few weeks ago that I saw my ability to transfer Amtrak Rewards directly to Choice Hotels. Now I don't see the option. Instead, all I see is Best Western and one other. Anyone know if this is a goof?
 

PRR 60

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Still seeing the ability to transfer to Choice and Hilton. You must be an AGR Select, Select Plus or Select Executive or have $20k calendar year spend on the AGR credit card to make an outbound transfer.
 

Visitor200

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Just got off the phone with Rewards and they said that although I have 100k in points, because I have been sitting on them I no longer have any privileges except barebone that allows me to only transfer 5000 Choice points once per year. At that rate it will take me 20 years to get my choice hotel points. Is there any reasonable way I can dump my points, exchange, or sell them just to get out of what is becoming a no win Amtrak relationship?? (When I joined them back in the 90's they allowed me to transfer Continental Airline points to Amtrak, they had more train routes, and they prided themselves on dining car kitchens that are going to fast food boxes. Their current hotel partners are now Best Western and Fairmont which are not known for a budget hotel like Choice)
 

Visitor200

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Well, this is disappointing. I guess my account is a "base account" because they want me to spend $5000 a year to become a Select member to be able to transfer my points. In the meantime, they now allow me to book hotels using their website and my points, but the selection of hotels are more pricey than the Choice hotels. They seem to want 11,000 of my points instead of 5000 of my points to stay anywhere.

Anyone know how else I may be able to transfer 100,000 points to Choice in a round about way?
 

Devil's Advocate

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It sounds like the only option that meets all of your goals is to find someone with excess Choice Privileges points so you can exchange train tickets for hotel reservations. Even if you can find a way to move the points themselves through other programs you'll be taking a loss at every turn. Loyalty points are a transient currency with severe restrictions and crippling inflation that renders them unsuitable for long term savings.
 
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jebr

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Well, this is disappointing. I guess my account is a "base account" because they want me to spend $5000 a year to become a Select member to be able to transfer my points. In the meantime, they now allow me to book hotels using their website and my points, but the selection of hotels are more pricey than the Choice hotels. They seem to want 11,000 of my points instead of 5000 of my points to stay anywhere.

Anyone know how else I may be able to transfer 100,000 points to Choice in a round about way?
Select requires $2500 in spend, not $5000. Note that that will only get you 50,000 points per calendar year, though Select status does go through two calendar years (so you could get there through that if needed.) The other alternative would be to spend $20,000 in a year on the Amtrak World Mastercard - that'd let you transfer 25,000 points over in a year, and if you spend $500 on Amtrak travel you'd have enough to earn Select status (which, if timed well, should let you transfer your points over.) Of course, then you'd have earned another 20,000ish points that would need transferring, so it might take three years to deplete it that way.

I have been able to successfully transfer points as a Select member to Choice Privileges, so the partnership is still there. The limitations also apply to any other program that you'd want to transfer Amtrak points out of, so there's no way to get points out of Amtrak into an intermediate transfer partner. Your only way without finding someone in the opposite situation (a lot of Choice points that they want to make into Amtrak tickets) would be to either use Amtrak's portal, or cash out gift cards (of which Best Western is one option, though at a poor redemption rate.)
 

Visitor200

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Thanks very much for your help. Yes, I noticed that Amtrak has added a new Hotel Booking portal that takes my points, but the nights average around 11k to 15k for modest, compared to the Choice transfer rate of 5k to get 15k in Choice.
 

the_traveler

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Although you may have over 100K, in order to be Select, you must earn over 5,000 points from Amtrak travel per year!
 

TC_NYC

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Nov 1, 2015
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Go to points.com. It allows you to exchange point currencies, including AGR Points. This is how I'm able to get points into AGR from Air Canada Aeroplan, which gives me 1 amtrak point for every 1.71 Aeroplan point. I can get Aeroplan points from my American Express card, effectively getting 1 AGR point for every 1.71 Amex membership reward point. It looks like points.com will exchange AGR points into IHG Points (Holiday Inn ect...) as well as a bunch of airlines if you don't have a use for them.

This is completely separate from the Amtrak points transfer program and the Amtrak agents won't know anything about it in all likelihood. It has no kind of spend requirements.
 

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neroden

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It is *only* cost-effective to redeem Amtrak points for Amtrak travel, pretty much never for anything else. I guess this doesn't help you if you've stopped taking Amtrak -- points.com is your best choice in that case.

Basic rule of thumb on Amtrak points is spend 'em whenever you're taking Amtrak, I think. Only exceptions are (a) you need a fully refundable ticket due to expecting travel plans to change, (b) you're trying to get TQPs for Amtrak status for lounge access, and *maybe* (c) you do intend to travel more Amtrak in the future and it's Double Days.
 

jebr

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It is *only* cost-effective to redeem Amtrak points for Amtrak travel, pretty much never for anything else.
The Choice transfer program isn't a terrible transfer if you're eligible for it, and you use points decently well within the Choice chain of hotels. I've gotten a points value of over a penny per point before, though arguably the highest value of a Choice point should be 3/4 of a cent, since you can do points + cash reliably where the cash portion equals 3/4 of a penny per point bought.

At Amtrak's 1 AGR > 3 Choice Points transfer, that gets 2.25 cents of value per Amtrak point. That's arguably a better ratio than some Saver fares, if you're wanting to use a companion pass or upgrade coupon, or travel on very cheap fares (where you get hit by the 800 point minimum.) I've personally transferred the bulk of my points over to Choice - I don't see myself easily using too many more Amtrak points over the next couple of years, but I can probably use them within the next couple of years with Choice. Given that Amtrak (and Choice) could devalue the points whenever they see fit, I wanted to transfer them to a partner where they'll be more quickly used without losing a significant portion of value. I'm also losing Select status at the end of the month, so I wanted to do the transfer before I lost status and could no longer easily do it.
 

Devil's Advocate

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Basic rule of thumb on Amtrak points is spend 'em...
We can probably stop right there. Basic rule of thumb for all loyalty programs is to earn and burn without carrying a balance larger than your next redemption goal. Storing value in loyalty points is like putting cash under your mattress...and then setting your bed on fire. Here in the era of dynamic pricing there are flights that cost nearly a million points per seat. Imagine storing miles over several years of routine travel and only getting one free flight out of it. Amtrak isn't quite that bad yet, but there is no reason to assume they won't be heading down a similar path in due course.
 
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