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A few weeks ago, I was among the first to announce that Amtrak was introuding Amtrak Guest Rewards 2016, a major devaulation of its current loyalty program. The details were leaked through a presentation that was posted on the LOSSAN/ OCTA site (then taken down, but not before it caught like wildfire through the Internet). Now View from the Wing is reporting that the initial details have been made live on the Amtrak site.
You can read the details at the Amtrak Guest Rewards site.
Earning and redemption levels
Amtrak is moving towards a fixed redemption level, which we knew, but now we also know how much you’ll earn for spend and how much your points will be worth. Amtrak specifically mentions that you will earn 2 points per dollar spent on Amtrak travel (with 25% and 50% bonuses for traveling in Business or First on the Acela), but they don’t specifically call out how much your points will be worth. They do, however, give a “Points Estimator”, which makes it easy to figure out
Points will be worth ~2.9 cents on Coach, Business or Sleeping car travel, and 2.5 cents on Acela tickets.
The new Amtrak credit card
We also used some sleuthing (Hello, Chris L Martin!) to figure out that the new Amtrak Guest Rewards 2016 card was very likely going to be offered by Bank of America. This new release does not confirm nor deny that, so I am continuing to operate under the same assumption.
The other important thing will be if using your Amtrak Guest Rewards credit card to spend at least $250 on Amtrak travel will allow you to do the lucrative 1:3 transfer to Choice Hotels, which can give super cheap redemptions
Amtrak Guest Rewards 2016 – when does it go into effect?
Amtrak Guest Rewards 2016 goes into effect on January 24th, 2016, and any award tickets made BEFORE that date will use the current (much better) system. So if you have a good redemption you’re looking to book, you’ll want to do it before then.
I took a look at our $6500 family train trip that we just returned from
It cost us 100,000 Amtrak points (transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards), but now that itinerary would cost us over 225,000 points, over twice as much!
(SEE ALSO: 4 reasons my Amtrak trip was a blast…)
Any good news?
There are a few minor nuggets of good news.
- No more Amtrak blackout dates – currently, many of the dates around holiday travel are blacked out, so you can’t use your points to travel on those days. Now, you will, though I assume the prices will be much higher so it will take many more points
- I just wrote last week about when Amtrak points expire – currently they expire with 36 months of no PAID TRAIN TRAVEL, but with Amtrak Guest Rewards 2016, you can keep them from expiring with ANY Amtrak activity
- Amtrak will introduce a new option to redeem with Cash + Points, though they haven’t given details on what the cash co-pay will be.
Time to add some links to the comprehensive guide to Amtrak: everything you need to know!