Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hilton HHonors: so close to being a great opportunity

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Update: Amtrak Guest Rewards is no longer a Ultimate Rewards transfer partner. 

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about why Hilton HHonors is seriously tempting me, and also how easy it is to rack up hundreds of thousands of Hilton points with a few credit card applications.

Following up on that, reader Chris S. asks the following:

Hey Lucky,

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.

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  1. IIRC, that Amtrak card required $200 in Amtrak spend per year to allow transfers. Not just generic spend. I’ve had a bunch of points “trapped” with Amtrak for years because of this rule.

  2. What about transferring MR to Hawaiian for the same play? I believe 1 Hawaiian transfers to 2 Hilton. I 55K MR I need to burn before I cancel my PRG next month and this could be the ticket to the extent no other MR promotions come up. BTW, don’t you value UR higher than MR? I’d think you’d want to dump MR before UR but perhaps it’s harder to sell folks on MR referral links these days. 😀

  3. BTW, I recall you also do MR to Virgin to 2x Hilton. Even better when there is a MR transfer bonus to Virgin.

  4. Chase UR points 1:2 to Hilton points? Even if it works, IMHO it’s such a waste of valuable UR points when there are tons of others ways to rack up Hilton points. But it’s a different story if you are sitting on millions of UR points lol.

  5. @ chris — Unfortunately to the best of my knowledge American discontinued the ability to transfer to HHonors last year.

  6. @ HikerT: NG on the transfer into Hawaiian and then transferring out to Hilton. The Hawaiian T&C do not allow you to transfer out points that are transferred in, only ‘organic’ points that are from their CC’s or flights (but that works and works well!)

  7. Just back from Koh Samui, but was staying in Le Meridien instead because of the location. Anyway, it’s a great island with good seafood and beer, and enjoy wander around the island with your scooter. Join the day tour for surrounding island if you have time.

  8. @Steelsnow thanks for the heads up that MR to Hawaiian to 2x Hilton is a no go. I assume you can do MR to Virgin Atlantic to 2x Hilton though?

  9. Oh how I long for the days when Amtrak was great for laundering, you could move Continental into Amtrak and from there to United with no limit. And only last names on accounts had to match.

    Tons of folks moved their entire family’s Continental (then Skyteam) balances into their United accounts that way.

    And of course you could credit Delta, Alaska, and Continental flights to Continental and move them to United, plus US Airways and United credited directly to United, so you could credit most of the major carriers (not American sadly!) to a United account.

  10. @rick

    or you can actually follow the rules and intent of the program… crazy thought for you, no?

  11. @ Lucky & HikerT: I have no experience with Virgin yay or nay, but if Gary has gotten it to work it sounds like that path may be open!

  12. Lucky, MR to Virgin Atlantic then to Hilton works very well, I did it myself, the points showed up in my Hilton account within a month (a little slow, indeed).

  13. You can transfer SPG to Hilton at a ratio of 1 to 2.5 by transferring 20,000 SPG Points to 25,000 Virgin Atlantic Miles and then transferring those miles to 50,000 Hilton points.

  14. I transferred 20K VA miles to 40K Hilton last week, and it took 2-3 days. You have to call in, but it was easy to do.

  15. Lucky, do you find availability at standard award levels for blue chip properties? I find it very hard now that they have those dynamic pricing awards.

  16. @ beachfan — Even at properties like the Conrad Koh Samui and Conrad Hong Kong I’ve still found availability to be pretty good at the standard award levels.

  17. Hey Lucky,

    Have you noticed there is little to no avail at the Conrad Koh Samui using Hilton points? Or were you able to find availability? I was looking for a 4 night stay from now through the end of the year and couldn’t find anything….



  18. @ stacey — I’ve actually found availability to be pretty good. Are you logged into your HHonors account and scrolling all the way to the bottom of the page, as they sometimes display the “dynamic” prices ahead of the standard ones?

  19. Lucky, regarding Koh Samui, do you find anything for late fall/winter or were you just checking summer.

    (I didn’t find any in February).

  20. Gary’s recollection of the good ol’ days of Amtrak laundering might have added that Amtrak shut that deal down with no notice-twice-leaving some people who transfered miles in stuck with big balances in the Amtrak program and no way to transfer them out.

    With most programs, we all wonder what changes will come in the future and how they’ll be introduced. No point in wondering with Amtrak-they impose chnages with no notice. Anyone considering an Amtrak transfer would be well advised to go with Ben’s suggestion and get your transfers out finished a few days after the transfer in.

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