First published on September 22, 2013
The Amtrak Guest Rewards program enables you to earn, buy, and redeem points for Amtrak travel. For the Amtrak Cascades train route between Vancouver, British Columbia and Eugene, Oregon, it is often cheaper to purchase points and use them for travel rather than buying tickets directly.
Enrolling in Amtrak Guest Rewards is free.
A ticket for any 1-way trip on the Amtrak Cascades route (a great train ride!) costs 1,500 points. A business ticket between any stops on the same route costs 2,000 points. In other words, if you go from Vancouver, BC to Eugene (the first and last stop) it costs you the same number of points as going between Seattle and Tacoma (which are only 2 stops apart). You can buy 1,500 points for $41.25 USD, and 2,000 points for $55 USD. (All prices mentioned are USD.) Once in a while Amtrak will have a promotion where buying different points amounts will get you extra points.
The regular prices for buying tickets directly will vary depending on the distance you travel, how far in advance you book, how fully booked that journey is, and of course whether there are any promotions.
The regular prices for a 1-way trip if you book at least 2 weeks in advance between Vancouver, BC and Seattle are as follows:
Business class: $62
The regular prices for a 1-way trip if you book at least 2 weeks in advance between Vancouver, BC and Portland are as follows:
Business class: $96
In other words, promotions aside, using those 2 examples, every ticket level is cheaper between Vancouver, BC and Portland. Business class tickets are cheaper for both example routes.
Refunds for points tickets are apparently possible before you’ve taken the trip, with the points being returned to your Amtrak Guest Rewards account.
If you’re travelling on the Amtrak Cascades route, compare the pricing for booking directly on amtrak.com against buying and then redeeming points. It might be cheaper to buy and redeem points!