Amtrak Imposes New Points Expiration Rules Without Notice (or Even Telling Members)

For years Amtrak has made changes with no notice to its loyalty program. Even multiple times in a matter of days. A practice they’ve engaged in many times, and been called out in the Wall Street Journal for. (Amtrak even eliminated their satisfaction guarantee because too many customers were dissatisfied.)

Now that former Delta CEO Richard Anderson is in charge at Amtrak I haven’t expected anything different. So I’m not really disappointed and certainly not surprised to learn that Amtrak has imposed new expiration rules on the program without notice and without even telling members.

Effective last Wednesday Amtrak Guest Rewards points expire after 24 months of inactivity, instead of the previous 36 months.

Expiring points means reducing the liability on Amtrak’s books. And expiring points when members thought they still had time to redeem or earn more is a particularly shady way of doing it.

Several years ago Jeff Robertson, then leading the SkyMiles program, explained that they eliminated expiring miles because CEO Anderson believed it was the right thing to do. Of course they did this after first imposing more draconian expiration rules and clearing plenty of mileage liability off their books, which they did not then restore.

If not expiring miles was the right thing to do before, what made Anderson change his mind that more draconian expiration rules are right for customers today?

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. Thanks for the coverage… but this is in general ridiculous. What about members who had between 12 and 18 months without activity, will all their points expire suddenly?

  2. 24 mos after what? after the points arre first posted to the account?
    what about points transferred in from Chase Ult Rewards (when that was possible)?

  3. If you take the Amtrak surveys, does that count as activity to preserve your points?

  4. Fortunately I take the train at least once a year but this really sucks that they don’t think their customers deserve notice. Waiting for seat cramming and the nickel and dime fees to start next.

  5. The change without notice certainly is a shady move. However, the change itself seems reasonable enough. If you don’t have any activity in your account for two years, clearly the miles aren’t really serving their purpose as an inducement to loyalty. And any activity resets the clock — I’ve often found that amtrak’s shopping portal often has some of the best point earnings rates. All it takes is a single song from itunes and you have another two years.

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