Book by Thursday to save 25% on Amtrak award trips

Jul 14, 2020

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Back in 2016, Amtrak’s Guest Rewards program moved from a fixed zone system to revenue-based redemptions, with point requirements tied to the cash price of a ticket. Redemptions are generally paired to the “Value” category and above, with rates varying depending on the product you book.

TPG values Guest Rewards points at 2.5 cents apiece. During a recent search, meanwhile, a standard Northeast Regional train redemption offered a value of 2.89 cents, while an Acela train offered a redemption value of 1.7 cents, based on cash fares.

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This week, however, redemption amounts have dropped across the board, as part of Amtrak’s three-day flash sale, running from today, Jul 14, through Thursday, July 16. While rates vary depending on the train and route you select, Amtrak’s quoting the following redemption values for popular trips:

I’m actually seeing slightly lower rates on a route I’ve traditionally traveled quite often, between my home in New York City and my family in Philadelphia. Even for same-day travel, award rides are available for just 1,449 points.

Compared with the “Value” category fare of $56, that represents a redemption value of 3.87 cents, in line with Amtrak’s advertised 25% discount.

Note that Amtrak doesn’t partner with the most popular transferable points programs, like American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards, but you can still transfer points from the below programs into your Amtrak account. Be sure to check with your program of choice before initiating a transfer, as the sale may end before your points arrive.

Program Transfer Ratio
Audience Rewards 1,000:1,000
Choice Privileges 32,000:5,000
Hertz Gold Plus Rewards 600:500
Hilton Honors 10,000:1,500
Wyndham Rewards 5:1 (6,000:1,200)

 

The terms and conditions state that blackout dates apply, but I was able to book with the discount all the way through the end of the current schedule, in June of 2021. Awards can generally be canceled and refunded before departure with a 10% penalty, or within 24 hours of departure with a 20% penalty — if you’re reasonably certain you’ll be able to ride as booked, it could make sense to take advantage of this sale, even if you aren’t expecting to travel for quite some time.

Featured photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy.

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