Not flying this summer? Buy Amtrak points with a 50% bonus

Jun 11, 2020

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Citi Premier® Card

Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with the latest promotion.

If you’re not ready to take to the skies this summer and plan on booking train travel instead, listen up. Amtrak is currently offering a bonus when you buy points, but only for a limited time.

Now through June 17, you can get 50% extra points when you purchase Amtrak Guest Rewards points. Unlike many of Amtrak’s previous buy points offers, this promotion is not tiered, and you’ll get the 50% bonus as long as you purchase at least 1,000 points. TPG values Amtrak points at 2.5 cents each — the highest of any award currency — and taking advantage of this promotion means that you’re paying roughly that amount (2.51 cents per point).

Let’s take a closer look to see if this makes sense for your next train trip.

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(Photo courtesy of Amtrak)

The details of Amtrak’s buy-points promotion

  • Offer is valid now through 11:59pm ET, June 17, 2020
  • Must purchase at least 1,000 points to get the 50% bonus
  • Members can buy a maximum of 30,000 points per calendar year (Select Executive members have no annual point purchase limit)

Related: The current buy points and miles promotions worth considering

Is it worth buying Amtrak points?

Amtrak — like Southwest and JetBlue — ties its points redemptions to the dollar value of the ticket. Generally, this means that purchasing points is only a good idea when you need to top off your account. However, with this promotion, it looks like the bonus might just be enough to make it worth it in certain circumstances. Keep in mind that Amtrak points expire after 24 months with no activity.

On this sample itinerary, the cash cost for a ticket from Los Angeles to Chicago (with a roomette) is $623.

The same ticket would set you back 21,494 points:

With the bonus on purchased points, you can buy enough to cover this award for $565.50, thus saving you $57.50.

Of course, we’ll skate past the 43-hour trip length for this itinerary. Still, if you’re looking for a unique way to cross the country, this is an interesting option.

Related: 45 Hours, 8 States, 3 Burgers, 1 Cabin: Riding the Rails From Portland to Chicago in an Amtrak Roomette

This promotion can be valuable on shorter itineraries too, such as New York City to Rochester (in business class):

If you’re a huge train buff or have some upcoming Amtrak travel, this could be a good deal for you — just be sure to crunch the numbers to ensure it makes sense.

Which credit card to use

Amtrak point purchases are processed by, so these purchases won’t code as travel and won’t earn bonus points from cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Instead, you’ll want to use a card that offers maximizes return on everyday spend, like the Citi® Double Cash Card (2% cash back; 1% when you buy, plus 1% as you pay) / 2x points on all purchases) or the Chase Freedom Unlimited (1.5% cash back / 1.5x points on purchases). Both of these cards become more rewarding when paired with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the Citi Premier® Card because you’ll be able to convert your cash back into fully-transferable points.

Related: The best travel rewards credit cards

Featured photo and all screenshots courtesy of Amtrak.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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