Earn a boatload of bonus Amtrak points when booking hotels and car rentals
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
All aboard! For the entire month of September at The Points Guy, we'll be exploring the world of train travel with reviews, features, deals and tips for maximizing your trip by rail.
It appears that Amtrak wants in on the fun of TPG train month —they've published a promotion offering thousands of bonus points for booking hotels and rental cars through their site.
- You must book and complete travel by Oct. 20, 2019, at 11:59 p.m Eastern Time
- Limit one hotel bonus and one car bonus per member
- You'll earn bonus points in addition to the normal base points you'd get from a hotel or car rental booking
- Only valid for members making their first booking on each hotel and car rental through Amtrak Hotels & Cars
- You will receive your points within two weeks of your completed reservation
Amtrak also states that if they smell anything fishy (such as creating several Amtrak accounts to get this one-time bonus multiple times), they'll retract the bonus points. They didn't just fall off the turnip truck yesterday.
Here's a rundown of the deals you can book.
Bonus points for hotel stays
- Spend $150 to $299 — get 1,000 bonus Amtrak points
- Spend $300 to $449 — get 2,000 bonus Amtrak points
- Spend $450 or more — get 3,000 bonus Amtrak points
TPG values Amtrak points at 2.5 cents each, meaning if you spend $450 on a hotel, you're essentially getting a $75 rebate in the form of Amtrak credit, on top of the base points you'd normally earn through Amtrak's portal.
You can normally buy Amtrak points for 3.77 cents each. This promotion can help you "buy" Amtrak points at a slight discount while giving you a free hotel. For example, the Conrad Chicago offers 13,600 Amtrak points per night, and costs $597.43 (after taxes). You'll get an extra 3,000 points for spending more than $450, giving you a total of 16,600 points. You've effectively purchased Amtrak points at a value of 3.6 cents each, and you've got a night at a five-star hotel.
That's a lot of Amtrak points. Again, according to TPG's valuation, 16,600 Amtrak points is worth $415. Just note that you won't earn hotel points or have your elite status recognized when booking through Amtrak.
I live in Cincinnati, so a leisurely jaunt to Chicago costs as little as 1,760 points. I can usually book a roomette for between 6,000 and 7,500 points each way. You can see how far Amtrak points can go.
Bonus points for rental cars
- Spend $150 to $249 - 500 bonus Amtrak points
- Spend $250 to $349 - 1,000 bonus Amtrak points
- Spend $350 or more - 1,500 bonus Amtrak points
If you're looking to rack up Amtrak points, this is a far less profitable angle. You've got to spend a lot of money for relatively few Amtrak points. I recommend passing on this one, and instead book directly with the rental company. They've often got some kind of promotion going on (like this latest one from Avis).
Plus, there are cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve that offer elite status with National and Avis (meaning almost certain upgrades and fast check in). But as is the case with hotels, you likely won't reap those status benefits if you book through Amtrak as there's no place to put your rental car loyalty number.
You can check out our guide on credit cards that offer elite status for car rentals.
Featured photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images