Guide To Amtrak Guest Rewards (2023)

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While you might be accustomed to frequent flyer miles and hotel points, there is another reward program that many people overlook. If you’re taking Amtrak trains anywhere in the U.S., you can earn points and rewards on all of those trips.

Amtrak’s loyalty program is known as Amtrak Guest Rewards. Members who are part of this program benefit from it by earning points they can use to redeem for free travel on Amtrak’s train service, as well as other items like gift cards, hotel rooms and more.

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History

We like thinking of Amtrak as a company that has been around since time immaterial, but it was President Nixon who signed its existence into law in the 1970s as part of the Rail Passenger Service Act, creating what would later be known as Amtrak as part of corporation to take over intercity passenger rail obligations from private corporations.

Through the years, Amtrak’s routes expanded to cover international destinations in Canada, and much later, to provide service to the Mexican border, thanks to multi-million dollar investments in infrastructure, high-speed trains, stations and comforts like first-class dining facilities and sleeping cars.

Considering the population density of the East Coast of the United States, Amtrak has focused much of its attention to the highly traveled coastal corridor with many frequent services between major cities such as Washington, D.C., New York, Philadelphia, Boston and more. There are various transcontinental routes and also special services that go up the West Coast as well.

Introduced back in 2000, Amtrak does offer a high-speed train—clocking in at around 150 miles per hour—known as Acela Express, with a travel time between New York City and the National’s Capital in under three hours.

How To Earn Amtrak Guest Rewards

While the main way to earn Amtrak Guest Rewards is riding on Amtrak trains, you can also do so via hotel bookings, shopping portals and even spend on your Amtrac co-branded credit cards.

Riding Amtrak Trains

The most straightforward way to earn Amtrak Guest Rewards is riding on its trains. Members can earn 2 points per dollar spent on Amtrak travel. There is a 25% point bonus on business class and 50% point bonus on first class tickets.

Referring Friends

Amtrak Guest Rewards will give you 500 points for each person you refer to the program when they enroll and book a trip within the first 90 days. All it takes is entering the email address of the person you want to refer and Amtrak will send them an email invitation. Once they complete a paid trip on Amtrak within the first 90 days, you will be issued your 500 miles.

Earn With Status Miles

Every Amtrak passenger who enrolls in the program can earn 2 Amtrak Guest Rewards per dollar they spend on Amtrak travel. When you reach elite status though, you can earn even more:

  • Member: Earn 2 Amtrak Guest Rewards for every dollar spent.
  • Select: Get 25% more Amtrak Guest Rewards for every dollar spent.
  • Select Plus: Get 50% more Amtrak Guest Rewards for every dollar spent.
  • Select Executive: Get 100% more Amtrak Guest Rewards for every dollar spent.

Earning Status With Amtrak Guest Rewards

Amtrak Guest Rewards has a four-tier program, but before detailing how to earn status with Amtrak, let’s see the benefits each level can get you.

  • Member: No extra benefits other than earning and redeeming points
  • Select: 25% point bonus, two one-class upgrades, two 10% discount coupons, two single-visit passes to the Amtrak Lounges, priority-call handling and exclusive offers. Additionally, the ability to buy unlimited amounts of points, sharing up to 100,000 points and transferring up to 50,000 points from your account
  • Select Plus: 50% point bonus, four one-class upgrades, two companion coupons, two 10% discount coupons, unlimited access to the Amtrak Lounges, priority-call handling and exclusive offers. Ability to buy unlimited amounts of points, sharing up to 100,000 points and transferring up to 50,000 points from your account.
  • Select Executive: 100% point bonus, four one-class upgrades plus an extra one for each 3,000 tier qualifying points, two companion coupons, two 10% discount coupons, one auto train priority vehicle offloading coupon, unlimited access to the Amtrak Lounges, priority-call handling and exclusive offers. Ability to buy, share or transfer unlimited amounts of points. Select Executive members are auto registered for any promotion the program runs.

While the ancillary benefits keep getting better and better as you move up the tiers, the most valuable benefit is the ability to earn more points faster by way of the bonus multipliers.

To earn status with Amtrak Guest Rewards, you will need to earn Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) by riding Amtrak trains each calendar year. The more you travel, the more you earn. But, keep in mind that if you travel in business or first class, you will earn them even faster: a 25% and 50% faster rate, respectively.

  • Select: Achievable by earning 5,000 TQPs in a calendar year.
  • Select Plus: Earned by accruing 10,000 TQPs in a calendar year.
  • Select Executive: Reached once you earn 20,000 TQPs in a calendar year.

The main way to accrue TQPs is by riding Amtrak trains, but you can also earn them if you have an Amtrak Guest Rewards Preferred Mastercard, at a rate of 1,000 tier qualifying points for every $5,000 you spend with your card.

Earn Amtrak Guest Rewards Through Partners

Amtrak partners with several retail establishments, rental car companies and hotels that also allow you to earn rewards with its program.

  • Hotels: Earn up to 10,000 points per night when booking your stays through Amtrak hotels in one of its over 350,000 properties worldwide, helping you rack up your point balances higher.
  • Rental Cars: Book your rental cars through Amtrak rental cars also helps you earn extra points, and you can book a car at one of the program’s more than 29,000 locations worldwide.

Credit Cards

The First Bank of Omaha issues two Amtrak co-branded credit cards, with one being an entry-level card and the other a slightly more premium offering with an annual fee.

  • Amtrak Guest Rewards® Mastercard®*: Earn 2 points per dollar spent on Amtrak travel, including onboard purchases, 2 points per dollar spent on dining and 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else. There’s also a welcome bonus that allows new cardmembers to earn 12,000 bonus points after making at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 billing cycles of account opening.
  • Amtrak Guest Rewards® Preferred Mastercard®*: Earn 3 points per dollar spent on Amtrak travel, including onboard purchases, 2 points per dollar spent on dining, travel, transit and rideshare and 1 point per dollar spent on other purchases. There’s also a welcome bonus that allows new cardmembers to earn 20,000 bonus points after making at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 billing cycles of account opening.

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Guide To Amtrak Guest Rewards (4)

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2 points per $1 spent on Amtrak travel, including onboard purchases, 2 points per $1 spent on dining, 1 pointRead More

Card Details

  • Earn 12,000 bonus points after making at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 billing cycles of account opening
  • 2x points per $1 spent on Amtrak travel, including onboard purchases
  • 2x points per $1 spent on dining
  • 1x point per $1 spent everywhere else
  • 20% rebate on onboard food and beverage purchases in the form of a statement credit

Earn 12,000 bonus points after making at least $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 billing cycles of account opening.

Credit Score ranges are based on FICO® credit scoring. This is just one scoring method and a credit card issuer may use another method when considering your application. These are provided as guidelines only and approval is not guaranteed.

Transfer Partners

Amtrak isn’t a transfer partner of any of the main transferable currency programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards, however, you can transfer points from other smaller programs and convert them into Amtrak Guest Reward points.

While not necessarily the best conversion rate, these are the programs that allow transfers to Amtrak:

  • Audience Rewards: Convert 1,000 Audience Rewards ShowPoints to 1,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards
  • Choice Hotels: Convert 32,000 Choice Privileges Rewards points to 5,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards

Shopping Portals

Just like some airlines, Amtrak operates its own shopping portal, through which you can earn points for all the purchases you normally do online. The portal will redirect you to the retailers websites and track your purchases to issue Amtrak Guest Rewards points for every dollar spent. Shopping portals are an excellent way to earn additional points by stacking point earning on top of what you can do with a credit card.

Buying Amtrak Guest Rewards

Amtrak allows you to purchase points, and although it’s normally not a great value, it might come in handy if you need to top up your accounts before redeeming points for travel.

Amtrak runs promotions on buying points where you can get more points at a discounted price.

How To Redeem Amtrak Guest Rewards

There are a few ways you can redeem your points, ranging from Amtrak travel, to upgrades, to gift cards and even hotel stays. Understanding the value of your points will help you get the most out of them.

Amtrak Guest Rewards award tickets have a dynamic pricing structure, meaning that the point price is closely tied to the cash value of that ticket. This means the opportunities to obtain outsize value from your points are somewhat reduced, but it also means there are no bad redemptions when it comes to award travel.

On Amtrak Trains

To book Amtrak tickets using your Amtrak Guest Rewards, simply search for the train ride you want and select the “use points” box to see the options for the route and dates you want.

Guide To Amtrak Guest Rewards (5)

Once results are retrieved, you will be shown all your options matching your search criteria, listing all the prices in points for every available class of service (coach, business or first class).

Guide To Amtrak Guest Rewards (6)

You can book any available ticket using your points, going from a simple coach ticket, to roomettes all the way to family rooms that include complimentary meals on board.

Guide To Amtrak Guest Rewards (7)

Finish your booking by adding your selections to the cart and clicking next, where you will be able to include any add-ons like space for your bike or for your pet, and you will be shown your baggage allowance. Follow the prompts to enter all of your passenger information and you will be done with your award booking in no time.

On Partner Hotels and Car Rental Companies

You can use your Amtrak Guest Rewards to offset the cost of your hotel and rental car reservations. The point cost of award reservations varies with the cash cost of that reservation and requires checking on a case-by-case basis.

Sweet Spots

Because Amtrak Guest Rewards award booking prices are tightly tied to the cash cost of that ticket, there aren’t any particularly better redemptions than others.

Fees

One infant per adult can travel for free, provided the adult is riding on a paid ticket. However, if the adult is using points to book an award ticket, children between two and 12 become eligible for the child rate of half the points it would take to book an adult ticket.

Family Pooling

You can transfer up to 100,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards to your family members every year so that you can pool your account balances so you can have enough points to redeem for that coveted train ride for you and your family. Once you reach the highest tier in the program, Select Executive, there is no cap to the amount of points you can share.

Other Ways To Redeem Amtrak Guest Rewards

You can redeem your Amtrak Guest Rewards for gift cards, but while that is possible, it’s always worth noting that those redemptions don’t usually result in the best value you can get for your points. For example, a $100 gift card for Disney will set you back 12,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards, whereas you will only need 7,775 Amtrak Guest Rewards to book a business-class ticket from Chicago to Seattle that costs $219.

Quirks

Your points in the Amtrak Guest Rewards will not expire for as long as you remain an active member in the program. A period of more than 24 months in which you don’t earn or redeem points in the program will render your account inactive and you will forfeit your balance.

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Bottom Line

Amtrak Guest Rewards is not particularly an aspirational loyalty program that one should go out of their way to accumulate points on or achieve elite status with. That being said, for anyone who frequently uses Amtrak’s train service, particularly up and down the East Coast, enrolling in Amtrak Guest Rewards to leverage their points to get free travel might make a lot of sense.

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