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Watch Out: Amtrak Guest Rewards Points Now Expire After 24 Months of Inactivity

April 09, 2019
3 min read
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It's one thing to impose a negative change on an award program without any advanced notice, but it's an altogether different thing to do so without notifying your members at all. Yet that's what the Amtrak Guest Rewards program has done. As first reported by View From the Wing, the program recently updated its terms and conditions to reflect that points now expire after 24 months of inactivity instead of the previous 36 months.

While the change itself isn't that significant compared to other recent updates, the lack of transparency is surprising and could create a nasty surprise for members that go a couple of years without any activity in the program.

Keep Your Amtrak Guest Rewards Points from Expiring

Like many frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs, Amtrak points only expire due to inactivity. As a result, any time you earn or redeem points, your expiration date is extended (now for 24 months from that date). Qualifying activities include earning points through travel or redeeming points for a train ticket. You can even extend the expiration date by redeeming points for small things like magazines or making a purchase of any size through the program's shopping portal.

And if you have one of the two Amtrak Guest Rewards credit cards from Bank of America, then your points will never expire. The two cards offered are:

  • Amtrak Guest Rewards® World Mastercard®: $79 annual fee
  • Amtrak Guest Rewards® Platinum Mastercard®: No annual fee

Unfortunately the benefits on the no-annual-fee card pale in comparison to its higher-fee counterpart, but if you really want to hang onto your Amtrak points, either card will help in that endeavor.

About Amtrak Guest Rewards

Amtrak Guest Rewards has used a revenue-based system since 2015, where the number of points required closely matches the price of the ticket. TPG's most recent valuations pegged these points at 2.5 cents each. While there are no credit card transfer partners for this program, you can transfer American Express points to Choice Hotels at a 1:1 ratio and then transfer those Choice points to Amtrak at a rate of 32,000 to 5,000. However, that transfer ratio makes this a very poor value proposition, unless you just need a few Guest Rewards points to top off your account for a specific redemption.

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Bottom Line

Any devaluation without notice isn't a good thing, but it's particularly galling when a change is made without even communicating it at all. That being said, shifting from a 36- to 24-month expiration policy shouldn't have a meaningful impact on anyone who uses the Amtrak Guest Rewards program on a semi-regular basis. Just be sure to keep this in mind if you have an upcoming lull in your Amtrak travel to make sure you don't lose out on your hard-earned points.

H/T: VFTW

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