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I was alerted on Twitter of some upcoming changes to the Amtrak Guest Rewards program.
— Henry Fung (@calwatch) August 13, 2015
The link goes to a Flyertalk thread, which in turn references a PDF on the LOSSAN / OCTA site. (PDF Link here). LOSSAN is the name for the Los Angeles – San Diego – San Luis Obispo Rail Corridor, and OCTA is the Orange County Transportation Authority, and the PDF is titled “Amtrak Marketing and Sales: Major Programs Update” and has the Amtrak logo on it, so while we can’t say with 100% certainty that it’s accurate, it seems like it
Amtrak Guest Rewards 2.0 details
The Powerpoint / PDF is 30 pages long, and most of it is only interested if you’re a true rail geek, but the most important stuff for miles and points people was on Pages 27-29, where it describes Amtrak Guest Rewards 2.0
- Eliminate the travel award “zone chart” by aligning redemption point requirements with fares. There goes my $6500 (free) train trip!
- Make the program more relevant and attainable to more audiences by making both earning and redemption a function of price.
- No more blackout dates
- Amtrak Guest Rewards 2.0 will be announced on August 31st and go into effect in January 2016.
More info on the new Amtrak Guest Rewards credit card
We did get some more info on the new Amtrak Guest Rewards credit card. You’ll remember that earlier in the week I posted about how the Amtrak credit card was likely to return this fall. The Powerpoint shares some additional info, saying
The Amtrak Guest Rewards team will launch two new co-brand credit card products on September 12, 2015 with a new issuing bank.
The pictures in the document are Mastercards, though I don’t know if that means anything. It looks like the speculation about it moving away from Chase was correct.
(EDIT: Using the name and numbers on these sample credit cards, it looks like we are able to make a pretty good guess about the new bank issuer for the Amtrak Guest Rewards card)
What we don’t know
- We still don’t know if there will be a transfer partner for Amtrak any more. With a new issuing bank, it certainly seems likely that transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards will no longer be available
- We don’t know if there will be any change to the ability to transfer Amtrak points 1:3 to Choice hotels, which is another huge perk of having this card. You can see in my ranking of the 8 hotels we stayed at on our recent trip to see how valuable that transfer was for us.
- It does seem like (though not confirmed) we’ll have until January to make redemptions under the current system, so you’ll want to study the sweet spots on the Amtrak zone map to book sooner rather than later!
Stay tuned as information breaks! ((EDIT: Frequent Miler has also posted some analysis)