The New (Worse In Some Ways) Amtrak Guest Rewards Starts Soon & How to Book Sleeper Trains Now Before It’s Too Late!


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new amtrak guest rewards deadline

Book Old Amtrak Guest Rewards Awards Now!

Amtrak Guest Rewards is moving towards a revenue based program. As part of this overall revamp, redemptions will be based on the cost of the ticket and not their previous zone map. While some regional tickets may actually decrease in cost, long haul sleeper train service will become much more expensive when redeeming points.

Last year Amtrak dumped Chase as their co-branded credit card partner in favor of Bank of America. As part of that transition Ultimate Rewards points no longer transfer over to Amtrak. I know a lot of you speculatively transferred points over to Amtrak before the cutoff date. If you did that, keep in mind that starting on Sunday January 24, 2015 the new program kicks in.

new amtrak guest rewards deadline
View from the train heading north on the Coast Starlight.

This means that if you are looking to book long-haul Amtrak sleeper tickets then you need to do it before Sunday. If you forgot about how Amtrak’s old Rewards system works I have you covered. For more information on searching and booking under the old program (which is good through Saturday), see: A Complete Guide to Booking Train Travel with Amtrak Guest Rewards.

In 2014 my son and I took both the Coast Starlight and Empire Builder long haul trains. You can find my review here. We really enjoyed the experience and can’t wait to take another trip this year with the points I transferred over from Chase before the cutoff date. With so much on my plate I still haven’t booked our trip so I better get to it before it’s too late!


If you haven’t yet booked your train tickets under Amtrak’s old program then now is the time to do it. The new program takes effect on Sunday January 24, 2016 so you only have a couple of days before your points will be worth significantly less for sleeper trains. Thankfully Amtrak makes it easy to search and book so you do have plenty of time. Just don’t wait too long!

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  1. If you never travel super long distances on sleeper trains on Amtrak (and, quite frankly, I am not sure who would enjoy that), then the program is absolutely not “worse,” it’s much better!

    • Well that really depends on the price of the ticket. If you book commuter travel in advance then the new program is likely better, but for last minute tickets or for high demand dates then it is more expensive. Keep in mind the old program had fixed rates and could book any ticket that was available so there was opportunity to get up to 10 cents per point in some cases.

      • If you live on the NEC, the new program is undoubtably better whether booking in advance or last minute. 4,000 point redemptions between DC/Philly and NY are outrageous for a $54-95 last minute ticket. These passengers will fare much better under the new redemption rates.

  2. The better or worse is in what tickets you need. It is better for me as one way tickets in the NE corridor are cheaper now than before. I will be taking my two nieces and my sister to NY from DC to see a broadway show in March. The point cost for these tickets is much better than before.

  3. The break even point for travel on the northeast corridor (Old Vs. New program) is $116. For most people booking in advance, I’d say a one way ticket will be around 2K.

    It’s a shame about the sleeper car travel, though–I would never pay the prices they’re asking for that trip. I’m glad I got to do it at the reduced level, though. It’s a great experience.

  4. Ok can I just get clarification on one thing?

    Is it that the sleeper awards will not be available via Points? Or they will be much more expensive?

    I tried to look into booking a trip for my family and got so frustrated trying to figure out how to book the sleeper cars I just gave up and decided to revisit at some point. From the wording in the post it sounds like availability might be going away entirely…or is it just going to be more expensive because they won’t be a flat rate anymore? Thanks for the remind – really appreciate it as I am one of the ones who speculated and dumped points into the program before they cut off Chase. 😉

    • Sorry for not being more clear. You will still be able to book the seats, but the cost in points will be based on the ticket. Points will be valued at about 2.5 cents for redemptions.

      For example, on May 22 the a bedroom on the Coast Starlight for 2 adults runs $790. Under the current program it would cost 25,000 points for that room. On the new program it will be about 32,000. That example isn’t quite as bad. On some routes the bedrooms go well over a thousand dollars.

  5. Booked a one bedroom using points for a July 2016 New York to Los Angeles trip as well as an Auto Train bedroom for next month. Glad I did as there are few bedrooms left now.


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