Amtrak Guest Rewards: How to earn and redeem points with train travel

Whether you want to save money on expensive airline tickets or experience a different mode of travel transportation, you might consider taking the train. While the American train system pales in comparison to many European and Asian train systems, it can still offer a convenient alternative to flying.

If you do decide to take the train in the United States, Amtrak, which operates most of the medium- and long-haul passenger trains, offers its own loyalty program to reward frequent customers with free rides.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know to maximize the Amtrak Guest Rewards program, including how to earn points, elite status, lounge access and more.

What is Amtrak Guest Rewards?

Amtrak operates the vast majority of intercity passenger rail routes in the U.S. From short-haul to cross-country routes, you can take the train to over 500 destinations in 46 states and Canada. Amtrak’s fleet includes a mix of trains with standard coach, business-class and first-class seating, private rooms, and auto trains.

If you want to earn rewards on your train rides, your only option is to credit your points to Amtrak’s own Amtrak Guest Rewards program. You earn and redeem points primarily based on ticket price and seating class. Depending on how much you spend or how often you travel in premium cabins, you may be able to earn one of three elite status levels.

Amtrak doesn’t use an award chart but instead prices its award tickets at a fixed valuation of about 2.67 cents per point.

Amtrak doesn’t partner with any major transferable points programs, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards. However, Amtrak Guest Rewards points can be transferred to and from Audience Rewards ShowPoints, which lets you earn on ticket purchases to Broadway and other live shows.

Most of the time, you’ll earn Amtrak Guest Rewards points for riding trains or spending on cobranded credit cards, but there are multiple ways to earn and redeem within the program.

Related: Amtrak debuts new self-check-in option on Acela trains

Coach class on the Northeast Regional Train.
Coach class on the Northeast Regional train. BENJI STAWSKI/THE POINTS GUY

How to earn Amtrak Guest Rewards points

There are various ways to earn Amtrak points, including ones that don’t require you to leave your home. Amtrak points expire after 24 months of inactivity, so be sure to keep your points active with any qualifying activity discussed below.

Earn Amtrak points by taking the train

The most common way to earn Amtrak points is from your paid train tickets. Members earn 2 points per dollar spent, plus a 25% bonus for business-class travel and a 50% bonus for Acela First class. You can also earn a 500-point bonus for referring a friend to the Amtrak Guest Rewards program.

Amtrak routinely offers promotions for discounted tickets and extra points. There’s often no limit to how many bonus points you can earn with these promotions, but registration is typically required.

Related: An exclusive behind-the-scenes look at a few of the most important Amtrak operations centers

Earn Amtrak points through partners

Amtrak also has several retail and specialty partners, such as Teleflora,, NRG and Vinesse Wines, that let you earn bonus points.

Amtrak even operates an online shopping portal, which offers up to 14 points per dollar spent at select merchants.

You can also buy points, but we typically only recommend doing so if you’re just short of the points you need for a specific award.

Transfer points to Amtrak

While Amtrak doesn’t partner with any major programs with transferable currencies like Chase or Amex, you can transfer points to and from Audiece Rewards ShowPoints. These points can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio in increments of 1,000 both ways.

Earn points with Amtrak credit cards

If you find yourself frequently traveling on Amtrak, you might want to consider applying for one of two cobranded credit cards issued by First National Bank of Omaha.

The no-annual-fee Amtrak Guest Rewards® Mastercard® offers 12,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first three billing cycles of account opening.

Meanwhile, the Amtrak Guest Rewards® Preferred Mastercard® comes with a $99 annual fee but offers 40,000 points after you spend $2,000 in the first three billing cycles of account opening. This welcome bonus is valued at about $1,068, based on Amtrak’s fixed award valuation of about 2.67 cents per point.

The information for the Amtrak Guest Rewards Mastercard and the Amtrak Guest Rewards Preferred Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Best credit cards for train travel

Here’s a breakdown of each card’s benefits:

Amtrak Guest Rewards Mastercard Amtrak Guest Rewards Preferred Mastercard
Earnings on Amtrak travel, including onboard purchases 2 points per dollar spent 3 points per dollar spent
Additional bonus earnings 2 points per dollar spent on dining 2 points per dollar spent on dining, travel, transit and rideshare
Earnings on all other purchases 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else 1 point per dollar spent everywhere else
Rebate on onboard food and beverage purchases 10% 20%

The Amtrak Guest Rewards Preferred Mastercard includes a round-trip companion coupon upon account opening and at each card anniversary, a one-class upgrade, a station lounge pass and 1,000 tier qualifying points for every $5,000 in qualifying purchases each calendar year.

Both cards include a 5% rebate when redeeming Amtrak points for travel and no foreign transaction fees. Points don’t expire on either card as long as the card account remains open.

The Cafe Car onboard

How to redeem Amtrak points

Amtrak points can be quite valuable, and searching for award space on Amtrak’s website is very easy. To search for an award ticket, select “Use Points” in the upper right-hand corner.

Though Amtrak doesn’t use a fixed award chart, much like Southwest Airlines or JetBlue, the reward prices are roughly tied to the ticket’s cash cost, and you’ll get a fixed value of about 2.67 cents per point.

Redeem points for Amtrak train tickets

For example, let’s say you want to book a popular train route, such as this one from New York to Washington, D.C.

Looking at a sample date in June, the standard Northeast Regional train starts at 750 points for a coach seat or 3,113 points in business class. This corresponds to cash prices of $20 for a coach ticket and $83 for a business-class ticket; therefore, you’d be getting a fixed valuation of 2.67 cents per point.

Amtrak price example

Amtrak runs dozens of trains on this route each day, with the price varying, depending on the type of train (Acela versus Northeast Regional), fare class and departure time.

If your travel time extends beyond a few hours, you may consider using your points to book a private room on some of Amtrak’s lengthier, more scenic routes. For example, you can book this 46-hour journey from Chicago to Seattle. A sleeper compartment on this nonstop journey costs just under 37,000 points versus $980 cash.

Amtrak pricing

If you’re curious about what 45 hours on a train feels like, make sure to check out TPG’s review of the Superliner Roomette from Chicago to Portland, Oregon. Senior writer Katie Genter booked the tickets on sale for $448 per person for the one-way trip. Besides the subpar dining experience, she enjoyed the scenic journey (though she admits that spending that long on a train certainly isn’t for everyone).

Related: 11 mistakes people make when taking a cross-country Amtrak train

A sleeper room that could hold three passengers.

Redeem points for non-train travel

Amtrak also gives you the option to redeem your points for other travel experiences, such as hotels, rental cars and cruises.

A $50 gift card for Airbnb,, Uber or Disney will set you back 6,000 points. That means Amtrak is valuing your points at 0.83 cents apiece for these redemptions, which is subpar compared to the 2.67 cents per point you can get when redeeming your points for train travel.

Amtrak Guest Rewards elite status

Amtrak Guest Rewards offers three elite status tiers, which include opportunities to earn bonus points, upgrades and lounge access. Qualification is based on your yearly total of tier qualifying points.

Basic members earn 2 points per dollar spent, plus a 25% bonus for business-class tickets and a 50% bonus on Acela first-class tickets. Amtrak Guest Rewards Preferred Mastercard cardmembers can also earn 1,000 TQPs for every $5,000 spent on their card.

Perks for earning elite status with Amtrak Guest Rewards are as follows:

Select Select Plus Select Executive
Tier qualifying points needed 5,000 10,000 20,000
Bonus points on Amtrak travel 25% 50% 100%
One-class upgrades 2 4 4 (plus one more with every additional 3,000 TQPs)
Companion coupons N/A 2 2
Access to Amtrak lounges 2 single-visit passes Yes Yes

All elite tiers come with two 10% discount coupons, priority call handling and exclusive offers. Select Executive members are automatically registered for promotions.

Related: The complete guide to Amtrak Guest Rewards elite status

Amtrak lounge access

Amtrak lounge

You can find Metropolitan Lounges in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Portland and Washington. Amtrak also offers unstaffed waiting rooms in New Orleans, St. Louis, St. Paul-Minneapolis and Wilmington, Delaware.

Access is available to those with a same-day ticket and one of the following:

  • Amtrak Guest Rewards Select Plus or Select Executive elite status
  • Amtrak Guest Rewards station lounge pass
  • First-class ticket
  • Private-room ticket
  • Business-class passengers (Portland and St. Louis only)

Business-class passengers can purchase daypasses for lounge use for $35 at select locations — Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston — or spend $50 for a daypass to access New York’s location. Pacific Surfliner business-class passengers have the option to purchase a $25 daypass for the lounge in Los Angeles.

Related: NYC’s hottest new bar? Amtrak’s Metropolitan Lounge

Bottom line

Amtrak may not be quite as popular as airlines in the U.S., but the company is working on turning that around. Amtrak can be a solid alternative to flying for many short trips, especially up and down the coasts.

Amtrak points can also be valuable, especially for trips where the cheapest tickets are already sold out.