Between now and December 31, 2011 you can purchase Amtrak points with a 30% bonus. Amtrak points can be purchased at $0.0275/point. With this bonus promotion, purchasing points can potentially enable you to ride for much cheaper than buying the ticket out right. For example, purchasing 5,000 points will give you an additional 1,5000 bonus points for a total of 6,5000 points. Since I am in the New York, I am most familiar with the Northeast train which goes from Portland, ME to Virginia Beach. A round-trip coach class Northeast ticket will run you 6,000 points (3,000 each way). To purchase the points needed for a free trip with this promotion will cost you $137.50 (and still give you 500 points left over). In my personal experience, $137.50 for a round-trip ticket is a pretty good deal – especially if you are booking last minute. The cost of a normal ticket really depends on where you are traveling to/from.
If you are a planner, purchasing points for redemption probably is not too beneficial for you. However, if you are more of a last minute traveler, having a bank of Amtrak points can save you some decent money. The good thing about Amtrak is that redeeming points is quick and easy. You can do it online and last minute. While there are some black out dates (i.e., Thanksgiving time frame), as long as there is a seat available for purchase you are able to redeem your points.
This past winter, I had flight issues for 2 out of the 3 big storms in the Northeast. During my flight home from Utah the only way I was able to get back East was by taking a flight to Baltimore. From there, I was able to take Amtrak into Penn Station for 3,000 points. Since this was a same day reservation and a busy time for Amtrak due to all of the flight cancellations, to purchase this fare was about $180. This was a great redemption of points and made me pretty happy to have these points readily available.
While this is not as good as the 50% bonus promotion they ran in September, it can still be worthwhile. Amtrak does run these promotions quite often, so I would not purchase these points if you do not know of any upcoming travel or do not travel on Amtrak often. The T&C state that the bonus points will be posted within 72 hours of completing the transaction.
Click here to purchase points with this promotion.