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Update: Amtrak Guest Rewards is no longer a Ultimate Rewards transfer partner.
Following up on that, reader Chris S. asks the following:
Just a quick question/thought based on your recent post about acquiring as many HHonors points as possible.
Could you transfer Ultimate Rewards 1:1 to Amtrak and then 1:2 to Hilton? UR points are pretty valuable, so I’m not sure it’s a beneficial transfer. But if it works, you could parlay the 40k Sapphire bonus or 50k Ink bonus into 80-100k HHonors points.
Chris S. makes an excellent observation, and I think it’s something a lot of people overlook. So does the 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points sign-up bonus on the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card translate to 100,000 Hilton HHonors points, and does the 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points sign-up bonus on the Ink Bold® Business Charge Card translate to 100,000 Hilton HHonors points? I would kill to redeem 73,000 Ultimate Rewards points for four nights at the Conrad Koh Samui in a villa for later this month.
One of Ultimate Rewards’ transfer partners is Amtrak Guest Rewards, and points can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio instantly.
From there, Amtrak Guest Rewards points can be converted to Hilton points at a 1:2 ratio in increments of 5,000 points, with a maximum of 35,000 Guest Rewards points (70,000 Hilton HHonors points) transferred in a day, and a maximum of 50,000 Guest Rewards points (100,000 Hilton HHonors points) transferred in a year. Those transfers typically take 1-4 days, so you could conceivably convert your Ultimate Rewards points to Hilton HHonors points in that time frame.
But of course there always has to be someone that ruins the fun, and in this case it’s Amtrak. Per the terms & conditions:
So yeah, in order to transfer points you either need elite status with Amtrak (which actually requires riding Amtrak… shudder), or you need to have the Amtrak Guest Rewards MasterCard (which offers a 32,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards points sign-up bonus) and spend $200 on the card per calendar year. The catch with that is that you can only transfer a maximum of 25,000 Guest Rewards points (50,000 HHonors points) if you have the card, so that really limits the opportunity.
I think it’s safe to say that this is really close to being a great opportunity. Fortunately even if it were possible it’s hardly the best use of Ultimate Rewards points, since they can be transferred to United and Hyatt as well, among others.