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As ATPCO moves to the cloud, it should be easier for the industry to experiment more with initiatives like dynamic pricing.
That quote comes from an article written by ZDNet about a big change coming to the travel world. Its implications are a bit unsettling.
ATPCO stands for “Airline Tariff Publishing Company.” This is the company that handles data for the airline industry. They offer ~1600 data elements that the airlines can use to determine the best prices for each fare. From there, ATPCO circulates those prices to airline websites, online travel agencies like Orbitz and Expedia, and anywhere else you’ll find fares.
So what does ATPCO mean when it says it’s moving to the cloud? And what does that mean for points collectors like us?
Maintain the Value of Your Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Despite the ATPCO Transition
ATPCO has existed since the 1960s. In its early days, the process to correctly price an airline ticket involved giant manuals with different fare rules that were pieced together for your specific itinerary.
Now, 50+ years later, their current super-automated system will not suffice. They’re responsible for 200 million fares across 460 airlines (not to mention all the search engines and fare aggregators they serve). The company has begun migrating to Amazon Web Services. According to ZDNet:
By moving to the cloud, ATPCO plans on exploring ways it can leverage new technologies like machine learning and blockchain…
As stated above, this can facilitate airlines to explore “dynamic pricing.” That’s usually the PC way of saying, “we’re going to charge more money for airfare whenever we can.”
The Negative Impact for Chase Ultimate Rewards Points Collectors
A popular way of using Chase Ultimate Rewards points is to book travel through the Chase Travel Portal. You can redeem your points through the portal to “buy” travel at a fixed rate.
- If you’ve got the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, your points are worth 1.25 cents through the Chase Portal. So you can buy a $100 in airfare for 8,000 points
- If you’ve got the Chase Sapphire Reserve, your points are worth 1.5 cents through the Chase Portal. You can buy $100 in airfare for 6,666 points
You might know that the Chase Portal is powered by Expedia. If airfare begins to rise because of new and progressive “dynamic pricing,” you’ll be spending more Chase points when buying airfare through the Chase Portal.
There’s a better way to spend your Chase points than through the Chase Travel Portal. You can instead transfer your points to airlines like Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Iberia, etc. This is a GREAT way to beat the cash price increase, because the cash price doesn’t have any bearing on the amount of points you’ll pay.
As long as you have one of the following cards, you can transfer your points to airline partners:
- Chase Sapphire Preferred – 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card – 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
I like to transfer my Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Iberia for domestic flights. For example, when I visit Oklahoma City I can transfer 17,000 points to Iberia for a roundtrip ticket. The cash prices may increase, but I’ll still pay the same amount of points (unless the airline announces changes to its award charts).
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