Train trip, anyone?
If you're a member of Amtrak's Guest Rewards program, you can earn double points on all routes between March 22 and May 7, and triple points from May 8 through May 29.
The normal earning rate is two points for every dollar spent on Amtrak tickets, with a 100-point minimum for four one-ways; or 500 points for Acela Express trips between selected cities.
So in a best-case scenario, a Washington-New York Acela trip during the month of May would earn 1,500 points.
On the award side, a free one-way Amtrak trip, on "special routes," is priced at 1,000 points, and goes up from there, to as much as 50,000 points for a bedroom on a trip spanning three geographic zones.
Deal or No Deal
Double and triple points are always better than the alternative. In this case, the value question concerns the program itself: Is Guest Rewards a loyalty scheme worthy of your loyalty?
Like the great majority of travel rewards programs, Guest Rewards is free to join, so there's no financial disincentive to signing up. But if you're not a regular Amtrak customer, or a consumer focused on earning free Amtrak rides as awards, there's just no compelling reason to add this to the list of programs you spend time and energy participating in.
(The all-important points expiration policy: "If no Amtrak travel is purchased, recorded or reported within a three-year period, or if you do not make and honor an Amtrak travel reservation within this time-frame, your points will expire.")
So, if you're already a member of the "All Aboard" set, Guest Rewards—and this promotion—is a no-brainer. Otherwise, it's more likely to be a yawner.