Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Barclaycard, Capital One, Chase, and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.
Update: You can no longer transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Amtrak.
Never taken the train? Now might be the time!
You can get expensive train tickets for relatively few Amtrak points, and that can get you Big Travel with Small Money!
Remember, you can collect Amtrak points WITHOUT riding the train by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
For example, a family of 4 can book an Amtrak Family Bedroom from the East Coast to the West Coast, including meals, for 60,000 Amtrak points!
Shorter trips like Boston to New York, New York to Washington, DC, and scenic trains rides along the California coast are also good values.
Keep reading to learn how you can use Amtrak points.
Double Points on Amtrak
Link: Double Points on Amtrak
From March 16, 2015, to May 16, 2015, you’ll earn 2X Amtrak points after you register for the promotion.
Normally you get 2 Amtrak points per $1 spent with a 100-point minimum for each trip regardless of the price. But with this promotion you’ll get:
- 4 Amtrak points per $1 (or 200 point minimum)
- 1,000 Amtrak points for Acela Business Class (or 2 Amtrak points per $1, whichever is greater)
- 1,500 Amtrak points for Acela First Class (or 2 Amtrak points per $1, whichever is greater)
See the terms for eligible city pairs.
However, you’re only allowed a maximum of 1 round-trip or two 1-way trips per day.
How to Get More Amtrak Points
|Personal Cards||Business Cards|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||Chase Ink Plus|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred||Chase Ink Bold (No Longer Available to New Applicants)|
|Chase Freedom||Chase Ink Cash|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited|
|Chase Sapphire (No Longer Available to New Applicants)|
|Note: Points earned from the Chase Freedom, Sapphire, and Ink Cash cards can only be transferred to travel partners if you also have a Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, or Ink Bold card.|
How You Can Use Amtrak Points
Link: Amtrak Guest Rewards
Link: Amtrak Award Chart
Link: My Review of Amtrak
Amtrak uses a zone-based award chart. So the more zones you cross, the more Amtrak points you pay. But even so you can find good values. Let’s look at some examples.
1. New York to Washington, DC (1 Zone)
A 1-way Business Class ticket from New York to Washington, DC, on the Acela Express high-speed train (only Business Class and First Class seats) costs $184 or 8,000 Amtrak points.
And in First Class, you’d pay $303 one-way or 12,000 Amtrak points.
Note: You can NOT redeem points on the Acela Express between 12:01 am Eastern Standard Time to 8:59 am Eastern Standard Time and 2:00 pm Eastern Standard Time to 5:59 pm Eastern Standard Time Monday through Friday.
2. Family Bedroom From Chicago to Seattle (2 Zones)
40,000 Amtrak points gets you a family bedroom from Chicago to Seattle.
Family bedrooms cost the same number of points as a regular bedroom, but can sleep 2 adults and 2 children!
Whereas a paid ticket costs $2,963!
Note: The train takes 3 days including a ~5 hour stop in San Antonio (late at night) and a ~5 hour connection in Los Angeles (not enough time to stop by Disneyland). But everyone gets 2 free checked bags each and all meals!
You won’t have your own bathroom or shower, but they are nearby. You can get off and stretch your legs in San Antonio, if you’re still awake!
Riding Amtrak is similar to flying in a plane. You have to stay on the train until you reach your destination (or connecting city). You have to book a stopover if you want to get off and explore that city. And you can catch the train the next day, but your ticket will cost more.
3. California Coast (1 Zone)
Traveling in 1 zone normally costs 5,500 Amtrak points for coach and 6,500 Amtrak points for Business Class.
But on “Special Routes” (short-haul trains between major cities), like the Pacific Surfliner from San Diego to San Luis Obispo, it only costs 1,500 Amtrak points in coach or 2,000 Amtrak points in Business Class.
A 1-way coach ticket between San Diego and San Luis Obispo costs $61.
And a 1-way Business Class ticket from San Diego to San Luis Obispo costs $92.
Use Amtrak Points on Hotels
You can also use Amtrak points for hotel stays. This is NOT the best value, but it could be interesting to some folks.
Amtrak points can be used towards 1-night stay certificates at Category 1 to 4 Starwood hotels:
- Category 1: 10,000 Amtrak points
- Category 2: 15,000 Amtrak points
- Category 3: 22,500 Amtrak points
- Category 4: 27,500 Amtrak points
One night at the Four Points by Sheraton Cocoa Beach costs 22,500 Amtrak points.
But you’d only pay ~$151 cash! So I wouldn’t redeem Amtrak points for Starwood stays!
2. Transfer Points to Hilton
Link: Hilton Award Chart
If you have Amtrak elite status or the Amtrak credit card (appears to be closed to new applicants) and spend over $200 per calendar year on Amtrak, you can use Amtrak points for Hilton hotel stays.
You get 10,000 Hilton points for every 5,000 Amtrak points transferred.
You can also redeem Amtrak points for restaurant, entertainment, retail, car rental, and cruise gift certificates. However, it’s NOT a good value.
You can get 2X Amtrak points on Amtrak trips from March 16, 2015, to May 16, 2015. But you have to register for the promotion!
Using Amtrak points on expensive train rides like family bedrooms from the East Coast to West Coast gets you Big Travel with Small Money. There are also good deals on shorter trips going north and south along the coasts.
And you can use Amtrak points to stay at Starwood and Hilton hotels or redeem for gift certificates for car rentals, cruises, dining, entertainment, and retail stores. Although, it’s not the best use of your Amtrak points.
* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 20,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!