by Alex Palmer | August 31, 2015

In an effort to provide its passengers with a simpler loyalty program in which it is easier to earn and redeem points and rewards, Amtrak has announced the rollout of a revamped Amtrak Guest Rewards program, launching in January 2016.
Among the changes the bus and railroad service has in the works are an end to blackout dates, the introduction of points that never expire, and a simplified redemption structure based on ticket price (rather than zones or routes, which had been the standard). The changes will remove time-of-day travel restrictions on the Acela line (from Boston to Washington, D.C.) and introduce bonus points for that line, as well as business-class travel.

The changes were sparked by the company's conversations with riders, and the issues most frequently raised about the Guest Rewards program.
"After 15 years, we knew it was time to take a fresh look at the program and ask customers what we were doing right," Vicky Radke, senior director of Amtrak Guest Rewards, told Incentive. "We asked our members what they liked and didn't like about the Amtrak Guest Rewards and we used their feedback to refresh the program. Our most frequent traveling members told us they love the benefits of their tier status and we've kept those benefits and the Tier Qualifying Points it takes to earn them the same."

Others told the team that it was too difficult to figure out how many points were required for a free Amtrak trip or that it took too long to earn enough points for a free trip. 

As a result, "We're simplifying our Amtrak travel redemptions and making it easier for members to book, cancel or modify their award trips on," said Radke.

To further help members, Amtrak will introduce a Points Estimator to make it easier for riders to assess how far their points will go. Amtrak has also made it easier for members to redeem points using a combination of points and cash.  

Through these changes, Radke expects "by lowering the minimum points needed to redeem we'll be able to engage members earlier in their tenure with the program and be more appealing to new members."


Photo courtesy of Amtrak