I’ve been reviewing several aspects of Amtrak recently, and wanted to take a look at their elite status levels for those of you who may ride the rails frequently.
Amtrak has 3 elite status levels:
Unlike airline status, Amtrak’s elite levels are a bit different – don’t expect many of the same benefits you would in the air.
So, let’s talk first about Tier Qualifying Points – these are earned for every dollar you spend on Amtrak. So, yes, Amtrak is a revenue based program. You’ll earn 2 points for every dollar you spend on Amtrak travel, with a 100 point minimum per trip. So, earning Select Executive status would mean spending $10,000 on Amtrak travel – which, if you’re a frequent user in the Northeast Corridor, may not be hard to do.
Once you do that, you’ll earn select status and begin to earn benefits:
100% Bonus on Amtrak Trips
Pretty self explanatory, but you’ll earn an additional 100% bonus on the amount of points you earn on your trip. Note that this is based on the fare of your ticket, and NOT mileage (like airline travel). As a reminder, redemptions start at just 1,500 points.
Priority Phone Number
I generally find Amtrak’s agents to answer fast on their regular line, so didn’t find too much value in this benefit, but it’s there for high call volume times.
Unlimited Point Transfer Capability
You can transfer an unlimited amount of points into/out of your account.
Access to Special Events
Don’t get too excited here. You’ll be invited to attend their National Train Day, and receive some other marketing type emails. Nothing special.
Access to Club Acela, Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge, First Class Lounges and United Club lounges
By far, this is probably the most valuable benefit at this tier level. Club Acela locations are in major hub cities in the Northeast, while Metropolitan lounges are in major hub cities of long distance routes in the midwest and west. You’ll also receive access to all United Club lounges, throughout United’s network, which, in and of itself, is valuable.
One Select Executive Earned Upgrade for every 3,000 Tier Qualifying Points
Many years ago, you used to earn 4 upgrade coupons per year that allowed you a one-class upgrade. These were most lucrative upgrading from Business Class to First Class on the Acela Express train. Now, you’ll get 1 coupon for every 3,000 tier qualifying points you earn. These coupons are available to upgrade from coach to business, and from business to first on Acela trains, though are not usable on longer distance sleeping trains.
If you’re going to earn this status anyways by way of excessive Amtrak travel, it’s worth it. However, don’t go out of your way to get the perks included – it simply isn’t worth it, and most of what’s provided is simply a marketing ploy for unknowledgeable people.
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