As predicted when I made the original mileage transfer post in October, Amtrak was indeed the weakest link in the deal.
As is customary for Amtrak, they changed the transfer rate to Choice from 1:5 down to 1:3 without any advance notice.
Additionally, Choice is now requiring you to have stayed in a Choice hotel since 01/01/06 or have a Choice credit card in order to transfer points to Southwest.
This certainly cools the deal down, so is it still worth it?
-Under the new exchange rate 25,000 AMEX/Continental points (or 20K/25K starpoints) will net 30 Southwest credits instead of 50.
-20,000 AMEX/Continental points will net 60,000 Choice points instead of 100,000 Choice points. A $350 Manhattan hotel room costs just 20,000 choice points, so there is still a lot of value in this exchange.
-It will no longer be possible to funnel AMEX/Continental points into 9 other airlines on a 1:1 basis.
-In order to get the 12 free RT Southwest tickets with the companion pass it will require 85,000 Continental/AMEX points instead of 50,000. A compelling value to be sure, just not as compelling.
However the additional requirement to stay in a Choice hotel or open the patently uncompetitive Choice Visa definitely puts a damper on the deal…
Do you think it’s still worth it? Post a comment!