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The Ultimate Guide to Amtrak Guest Rewards Select Executive Status

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James Larounis

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James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in...
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Select Executive is the highest status level Amtrak offers members of their Guest Rewards program.

There are 3 tiers in Amtrak’s loyalty program:

In this post, we’ll look at the top tier status, Select Executive.

The perks are numerous, and if you’re a frequent rider of Amtrak for work or leisure, Select Executive status entitles you to many benefits, special offers, and ways to earn travel points.

As a Select Executive member, you’ll get benefits such as:

  • Unlimited access to Amtrak’s private lounges: Club Acela in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C.; the Amtrak Metropolitan Lounges in Chicago, Portland, and Los Angeles; and first-class lounges in St. Paul/Minneapolis, St. Louis, New Orleans, and Raleigh (Select Executive members may bring immediate family members traveling together, or 1 guest who is not a family member — unaccompanied guests are not permitted.)
  • A 1-class upgrade for every 3,000 Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) you earn
  • The ability to buy and share any amount of points with no limit
  • Availability to transfer any number of points from your account with no limit
  • Access to special events and redemption opportunities
  • Automatic registration for promotions
  • A dedicated customer service phone number for Select Executive members

In this post, we’ll look at each of those perks and how to maximize them.

Guidelines for Amtrak Membership

Anyone in the United States or Canada can become a member by enrolling on Amtrak’s website, completing an enrollment form, or calling 1-800-307-5000. You’ll then supply basic information such as your name, address, and email.

Upon enrollment, members are provided with a membership number. This number is significant as it’s how you earn Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs). Be sure to provide the number when booking a train, hotel, or rental car reservation.

Your Amtrak member number is unique to you and is nontransferable.

What Are TQPs and How Are They Earned?

Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) are the basis of the Amtrak Guest Rewards program.

Your tier or status level is based on how many TQPs you’ve earned in a calendar year. To qualify for Select Executive membership, you must earn at least 20,000 TQPs in a calendar year.

To get this top-tier status, you must spend $10,000 a year on Amtrak travel. Remember, most domestic airline programs require at least $15,000 in spending for top-tier status, so Amtrak is still among the “cheapest” programs within the U.S.

Bottom Line: For every $1 you spend on Amtrak, you earn 2 tier qualifying points.

Amtrak Points

As a traveler on Amtrak, you earn 2 points for every dollar you spend, a 25% point bonus for all business class tickets, and a 50% point bonus for all First Class Acela travel. You can also earn 2 points per dollar spent on an Amtrak monthly or a multi-ride pass or ticket.

Amtrak travel can be redeemed starting at 800 points. The price you pay in points is based on the cash price of a ticket. You can get up to 2.9 cents per point redemption value which is very valuable.

For example, you can get a fare valued at $100 for about 3,448 points. Blackout dates and times may apply to point use; peak travel may cost more in points.

Using points is a great way to book cheap Amtrak tickets.

Hot Tip: Make sure you purchase tickets directly from Amtrak because tickets purchased from a secondary travel source or discount portal won’t earn you points.

Best Ways To Earn Amtrak Points

Select Executive members are entitled to offers from Amtrak partners, including earning points for hotel stays, car rental, and more.

Amtrak also hosts a shopping portal, which allows members to earn points by shopping at select retailers. Gift cards for restaurants and other Amtrak partners can also be purchased with Amtrak points.

From 6,000 points, Select Executive members can get free car rentals. Some companies, such as Hertz, Budget, and Enterprise, also offer members the chance to earn Amtrak points if they reserve cars with them. When members use their Amtrak membership number, points are credited to their account.

amtrak acela express business class
Image Credit: Amtrak

Amtrak also has co-branded credit cards. Aside from riding a train, this is one of the easiest ways to earn points.

There are 2 versions of credit cards that earn points in the Amtrak Guest Rewards program: the Amtrak Guest Rewards® Preferred Mastercard® and the Amtrak Guest Rewards® Mastercard®.

The Amtrak Guest Rewards Preferred card comes with the following benefits for a modest [up cc_id=334372 name="amtrak-guest-rewards-preferred-annual-fee-number"] annual fee:

  • 3x points on Amtrak travel
  • 2x points on all other dining, travel, transit, and rideshares
  • 1x points on all other purchases
  • 20% rebate on onboard food and beverage purchases
  • Complimentary companion coupon
  • Complimentary 1-class upgrade
  • Complimentary station lounge pass
  • Ability to earn 1,000 TQPs for every $5,000 spent
  • No points expirations
  • A 5% rebate on all redeemed Amtrak points when redeemed for Amtrak travel
  • No foreign transaction fees

The Amtrak Guest Rewards card comes with these benefits for [up cc_id=369257 name="amtrak-guest-rewards-annual-fee-number"] annual fee:

  • 2x points on Amtrak travel
  • 2x points on dining
  • 1x points earned on all other purchases
  • 10% rebate onboard board food and beverage purchases
  • No points expiration
  • 5% rebate on redeemed Amtrak Guest Rewards points
  • No foreign transaction fees

Member Benefits

Let’s take a look at each of the Select Executive member benefits in detail.

Unlimited Access to ClubAcela and Metropolitan Lounges

Select Executive members get unlimited access to ClubAcela and Metropolitan Lounges, which can be found in the following cities:

  • Boston
  • Chicago
  • Los Angeles
  • New York City
  • Philadelphia
  • Portland
  • Washington, D.C.

While Amtrak’s lounges are generally more basic than airline clubs, they’ve been improving them and introducing entirely new spaces at select stations. You can expect snacks, non-alcoholic beverages (though some lounges now feature a bar), ticketing assistance, restrooms, TVs, and more.

100% Points Bonus on Amtrak Travel

Any travel you take with Amtrak earns you a 100% point bonus, which means your points can add up faster. Because Amtrak’s redemption system is based on the cash cost of a ticket, you’ll have more points to cover the cost of the ticket.

Four 1-Class Upgrades

Amtrak Select Executive members get 4 1-class upgrades. These can be used on any train except long-distance overnight services in sleeping car classes.

The best uses of these certificates are on Amtrak’s Acela Express trains when you purchase a business class fare and can upgrade to first class for free.

For full clarity, these are the trains you cannot use a one-class upgrade on:

  • Adirondack®
  • Auto Train®
  • California Zephyr®
  • Capitol Limited®
  • Cardinal®
  • City of New Orleans®
  • Crescent®
  • Empire Builder®
  • Keystone Service®
  • Lake Shore Limited®
  • Silver Meteor®
  • Silver Star®
  • Southwest Chief®
  • Sunset Limited®
  • Texas Eagle®
  • Train/Thruway series 7000 – 8999

To redeem your 1-class upgrade, contact Amtrak over the phone or at the station within 12 hours of departure. If a business class or first class seat is available, it’s yours.

Bottom Line: The best use of one-class upgrades is on Acela Express First Class seating since this includes larger seats, complimentary meals and drinks, and lounge access.

Earn 1-Class Upgrades Faster

For every 3,000 tier qualifying points you earn (about $1,500 worth of spending with Amtrak), you’ll earn an additional 1-class upgrade.

However, you can earn these faster by traveling Acela Express Business Class, earning a 25% point bonus, or Acela Express First Class, earning a 50% point bonus. The more you travel Acela, the faster you’ll earn these TQPs toward 1-class upgrades.

Priority Call Handling

When you call Amtrak’s call center, your call will be handled before other Amtrak elites. Since the call centers usually don’t receive a ton of calls to begin with, this is a fairly useless benefit.

amtrak acela business class
Image Credit: Amtrak

Two Companion Coupons

When you travel in any non-premium cabin, you can upgrade 2 companions for free. These upgrade vouchers are for one-way or round-trip travel, so you’re much better off using them for round-trip trains, where you’ll get much more bang for your buck.

If you want to upgrade to a premium cabin, you need to purchase a coach first for yourself, upgrade your companion, and then both pay whatever the up-charge is into business class, first class, or sleeping accommodations.

Discount Coupons

As a Select Executive member, you’ll receive 2 10% discount coupons per year, which can be applied to your trip.

Auto Train Benefits

As an Amtrak Select Executive member, you’ll get 1 Auto Train priority vehicle offloading coupon per year. You’ll skip the wait, as your vehicle will be one of the first 30 offloaded from the train.

Managing Points

Amtrak Select Executive members can purchase unlimited Guest Rewards points (capped at 50,000 points annually for general members). Plus, Select Executive members can share and transfer unlimited points per year.

Auto Registration for Promotions

Unlike lower elite levels where you need to register for promotions, as a Select Executive member manually, you’ll be registered automatically.

Bottom Line: This is an excellent benefit for people who forget to register for promotions. Remember, these promotions contain valuable free points!

Other Information Select Executive Members Should Know

  • Sleeping car points: When sharing a sleeping car, there’s only one accommodation charge for all passengers, but each person pays a rail fare. Points for the sleeper car are rewarded to the account of the member making the reservation. Points for rail fares can be awarded to multiple accounts, so make sure you add member numbers if this applies.
  • Auto Train points: In addition to a rail fare, there’s a fare for bringing a vehicle or a motorcycle on an Auto Train. Points for vehicles are awarded only to the member making the reservation. Points for rail fares can be awarded to multiple accounts.
  • Sharing Points: To share your points with another member, you must have the member number of both you and the recipient. Points can be shared in 1,000-point increments. Sharing points with another member can take up to 72 hours to post on the recipient’s account. As a Select Executive member, you can transfer unlimited points every year. Lower elite levels have restrictions on this amount.
  • Buying Points: To purchase points, you must have your Amtrak Guest Rewards member number, the recipient’s member number, and a valid credit card. Points may be purchased in increments of 500 points. It can take 72 hours to post the points to your account or the recipient’s account you’re buying the gift points. Amtrak Select Executive members can buy an unlimited amount of points, unlike lower elite levels where there are caps.

Running Out of Upgrades?

It’s doubtful you’ll run out of upgrades as a Select Executive member, but if you do, you can purchase 5 upgrade passes for 10,000 points. The upgrades move you from coach to business class and business to first class on a single travel leg.

Hot Tip: Do you know where Amtrak can take you? If not, check out all the Amtrak routes available, including regional and long-distance options.

Final Thoughts

By far, this is the best Amtrak status — you can really see the benefits. If you travel with Amtrak often, you’ll find the upgrades plentiful.

If you typically purchase business or first class fares, you may find Amtrak Select Plus status cheaper (and just as valuable), but for the regular rider, Amtrak Select Executive is full of great benefits to help you ride the rails.

If you want to learn more about Amtrak Business class, explore our Amtrak Northeast Regional Business Class review.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I earn Amtrak Select Executive Status?

To earn Amtrak Select Executive Status, you need to earn 20,000 tier qualifying points during a calendar year, which amounts to around $10,000 of spending with Amtrak. If you travel in Business Class or First Class, you can earn tier qualifying points faster, thus reducing your overall spend.

What benefits are there of Select Executive Status?

Benefits include:

  • Unlimited access to Amtrak lounges
  • 100% point bonus on Amtrak travel
  • Four 1-class upgrades
  • Ability to earn extra upgrades
  • Priority call handling
  • Auto registration for promotions
James Larounis's image

About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.


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