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Book by Thursday to save 25% on Amtrak award trips

July 14, 2020
3 min read
Book by Thursday to save 25% on Amtrak award trips
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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.

ProgramTransfer Ratio
Audience Rewards1,000:1,000
Choice Privileges32,000:5,000
Hertz Gold Plus Rewards600:500
Hilton Honors10,000:1,500
Wyndham Rewards5:1 (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 image by Amtrak's The Adirondack train. (Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

TPG featured card

Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases