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Update: The current sign-up bonus for the Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard is 12,000 points after spending $500 in the first 3 months, 2 points per dollar spent on Amtrak, and one point per dollar on everything else.
Amtrak Guest Rewards is running a 50% bonus on purchased miles until September 30, 2011. The maximum purchase is 10,000 per year, so the maximum amount you can get is 15,000 miles (which includes the bonus) for $275. Simply log-in to your Amtrak Guest Rewards account, and then click Earn Miles-> Buy points.
Why is this a good deal? Because Amtrak only charges 3,000 points for a one-way ticket for all travel within the Northeast zone. So for $275 you can get 5 trips between Portland, Maine and Virginia Beach, for example. Those trips are usually well over $100, so this deal can save you over 50%. Even New York to DC trains can cost over $200 each way, so this can make a lot of sense – especially if you book last minute. If your one way trips cost less than $60, then I would not recommend this promotion.
This deal is also great for people who can take advantage of their 1,000 point “Special” routes. These routes include Blue Water, Wolverine, Cascades, Pacific Surfliner, Capitol Corridor, San Joaquin, Hiawatha, Downeaster, The Lincoln Service, Illini Service, The Carl Sandburg, Missouri River Runner, The Illinois Zephyr, The Saluki, The Hoosier State, The Pere Marquette, The Piedmont, and The Heartland Flyer.
Amtrak points can be transferred to airline miles at a 1:1 ratio, but you need to be an Amtrak elite or Chase Amtrak cardholder and the yearly maximum is 15,000 points. Chase Ultimate Rewards points from the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Bold Business cards can be transferred to Amtrak at a 1:1 ratio.