Hall of Shame: Amtrak Guest Rewards

So you have to ride the train, and at least they give you points for that. But that’s more or less all you can say about Amtrak Guest Rewards.

I used to like their 2500 point award, one-way in the Northeast Corridor for unreserved service. I’d keep some tickets on hand. Of course, Amtrak doesn’t even have unreserved service anymore. And they upped the point requirements with just hree weeks’ notice. And they both imposed maximum points transferred out of the program in a year and dropped United as a partner without any notice at all. These more or less made me not trust the Guest Rewards program.

But their problems go even farther. Amtrak Guest Rewards has just implemented online award booking. In other words, they’ve entered the ’90s. But there’s a glitch. In one of my tree trials, the system encountered an error, didn’t complete the booking, but had already pulled the points from my account. (A reason perhaps to stay with telephone award booking for the moment, as much as I hate the phone and even though telephone hours are limited, a customer service problem in and of itself.)

I emailed Guest Rewards, even knowing that their email customer service is lacking. But the response I got was a new low. It wasn’t a generic, random cut-and-paste reply. It was a non-reply. Here it is, in its entirety:

    Thank you for contacting the Amtrak Guest Rewards Service Center.
    Please call us at 800.307.5000 Monday – Friday from 8 am – 8 pm EST if you have further questions or concerns regarding your Amtrak Guest Rewards account.

It took three full days to receive this by the way. How could i have further questions, when they didn’t bother to try to reply to the first one at all?

Amtrak Guest Rewards – among the worst programs, up there with Radisson’s Goldpoints, and only marginally better than GlobalPass.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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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