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You Can Now Use Points + Cash To Book Amtrak — But Is It a Good Deal?

Victoria M. Walker's image
Victoria M. Walker
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Victoria M. Walker

Senior Content Contributor

615 Published Articles 1 Edited Article

Countries Visited: 26U.S. States Visited: 27

Victoria holds a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from the Howard University School of Communications and is an award-winning journalist, travel reporter, and the founder of the “Carrying On with Victoria...
Edited by: Stella Shon
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Stella Shon

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With a degree in media and journalism, Stella has been in the points and miles game for more than 6 years. She most recently worked as a Corporate Communications Analyst for JetBlue. Find her work in ...

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Points + Cash options are popular among frequent travelers who want options to pay their fares with a combination of rewards and cash.

Several major airlines and hotel programs offer this feature. Now, Amtrak has announced that it, too, will offer Points + Cash bookings — let’s take a closer look.

Amtrak’s New Points + Cash Option

Amtrak will now let you book travel with a combination of Amtrak Guest Rewards points and cash. 

Before this change, Amtrak only allowed travelers to book their tickets with cash or Guest Rewards points, not a combination of the 2.

To book a Points + Cash reservation, you will first log in to your Amtrak Guest Rewards account. Select the Use Points filter in the search results and input your departure and arrival cities. You’ll then check out as you usually would.

Amtrak Points + Cash
You’ll see the new Points + Cash option online. Image Credit: Amtrak

However, on the final page before checkout, you will see the option to book with a combination of cash and points. Here, you can edit how you want to split the points and dollars. Select the dropdown to see your points and cash options, and then book as you typically would.

In this example above, the full cash fare is $68. Or, you can redeem 3,113 points for the entire ticket, which presents a value of roughly 2.2 cents.

Unfortunately, Points + Cash won’t be worthwhile for most people. You could redeem 2,334 points and pay $42.09 in cash, which would result in a much poorer redemption value of 1.1 cents.

Hot Tip:

Note that you’ll need a minimum of 100 Guest Rewards points to make a Points + Cash reservation.

How To Earn Amtrak Guest Rewards Points

Amtrak Guest Rewards points are tricky to earn, due to the program not having any major transfer partners. Therefore, traveling by Amtrak is the easiest way to earn Amtrak Guest Rewards points. The rail company has a simple earning structure: 2 Amtrak Guest Rewards points for every $1 spent.

You’ll earn more if traveling in a non-coach class. If you travel in business class, you’ll earn a 25% point bonus and a 50% point bonus if traveling in Acela first class.

Amtrak also has 2 credit cards: the Amtrak Guest Rewards® Preferred Mastercard® and the Amtrak Guest Rewards® Mastercard®. Both offer sizable welcome bonus offers, bonus points on Amtrak purchases, and perks when traveling on Amtrak.

The Amtrak Guest Rewards Preferred card is currently running a limited-time offer through July 24, 2024, that you can find here. You’ll earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 billing cycles of account opening. Additionally, you’ll earn 5,000 TQPs (Tier Qualifying Points) toward Select status.

Final Thoughts

Amtrak gives travelers the option to book their tickets with a combination of points and cash, but you might want to pass on it given the poor redemption values. However, this update means travelers will have more ways to use their Amtrak points on more than 30+ routes throughout the U.S. and Canada.

The information regarding the Amtrak Guest Rewards® Preferred Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
The information regarding the Amtrak Guest Rewards® Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

Victoria M. Walker's image

About Victoria M. Walker

Victoria holds a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism from the Howard University School of Communications and is an award-winning journalist, travel reporter, and the founder of the “Carrying On with Victoria M. Walker” newsletter.

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