Amtrak Guest Rewards Redemption Prices Going Up April 1

Just a reminder for both of you who collect Amtrak Guest Rewards points, redemption prices go up on April 1. This time they’ve made changes and actually given us notice!

  • The least expensive (‘special routes’) award goes from 1000 to 1500 points one-way (50% increase).

  • Northeast corridor coach goes from 3000 to 4000 points one-way (one-third increase). Business class goes from 6500 to 7500 (15% increase).

  • Other awards are getting more expensive as well, as many as 10,000 points more expensive one-way — the two and three zone sleeper car awards.

  • And an auto train award goes up from 10,000 to 15,000 points one-way for a car.

It’s not as though points-earning on Amtrak is that generous to begin with, that they’ve been printing points like crazy… Redeem any awards you’re thinking about now, before the price increase!

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary,

    Thanks for the rare BA reference to Amtrak points. One great feature of Amtrak redemptions is that they’re not capacity-controlled. For sleeping car travel, one award will cover two passengers with meals included. Prior to April 1, you can book two adjoining bedrooms in one zone for 40K points, and have a very large space to move around. Scenic routes like LA-Seattle or SF-Denver are the best deal, with roughly 34 hours on the train. You can justify a trip in every season. Bring your camera! The scenery offsets most staff or food shortcomings, and those aspects tend to be better on the Western trains anyway. I do advise steering clear of Eastern dog trains like the Cardinal, whose crew members can resemble jail wardens.

  2. Also regarding the difficulty of earning AGR points, it’s really not that difficult now that you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points into AGR.

  3. Does anyone actually earn Amtrak points? I transfer points from Continental or Chase Sapphire, and I used the “special routes” often to go from Portland to Vancouver. It’s a huge devaluation to have to pay 50% more for those trips now.

  4. The “special routes” (e.g. anywhere in California for 1000 points) often gave 5 cents or more in value per point. Indeed there were many instances when buying Amtrak points outright was the cheapest way to book a particular ticket. I know this kind of value is fairly common for high-end/aspirational awards on airlines that one has to save up for, but it really was unusual to have such good value at the extreme low end of the chart.

    I’m glad that the old chart lasted as long as it did, and that this devaluation isn’t /too/ brutal. The new chart brings values more into line with typical airline redemptions at comparable price levels, Really a bigger blow was the loss of transfer privileges from Continental; Chase UR fills the gap to some degree, but paid Amtrak travel has always been a terrible way to earn Amtrak points.

  5. We don’t have to wonder if Amtrak will suddenly yank the provision permitting transfers of Amtrak points to other programs. They’ve already done it twice, as I recall, so in my mind, the next time is not a matter of if but when.

    And my recollection is that they gave no notice of the prior two significant, negative changes om transfers.

    Caveat emptor, folks.

  6. I travel often on the Michigan routes and have the Amtrak credit card. Ends up being one of the best values for earning credit card points for me, though now I will need to reconsider this. Is the Ultimate Rewards redemption 1 to 1? Sounds like I should consider switching over to that card (I already have it anyway) and redeem Amtrak points as necessary.
    Only loss would be double points on Amtrak travel or cafe car food, but I rarely pay for a ticket anyway.

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