Posted 01 October 2018 - 04:53 PM
Points are directly tied to the cash fare, so you'd want to find the dates with the lowest fares for what you want, since those will be the lowest point redemption, too.
Amtrak no longer routinely opens fares in the lowest buckets when they come into inventory 11 months out. They adjust the buckets in response to demand. Best fares seems to be about 3-5 months out.
Use Amsnag.net to find the lowest fares around your travel window. It will display up to 30 days of fares at a time.
You are not too early to start thinking about it. If Amsnag shows some days with low/lower bucket fares in your travel window now, you should probably grab them. If you tweak the dates later, you might get hit with a penalty (don't know what the redemption policy is now). More importantly, the fares may be low(ish) bucket one travel day, and high bucket the next day. So the hit might not be "little" especially if you change at a relatively late date if only higher buckets are available.
Edited by zephyr17, 01 October 2018 - 04:54 PM.
Austruck and cpotisch like this
Pre Amtrak: SP Coast Daylight, AT&SF San Diegan, AT&SF Super Chief, D&RGW Rio Grande Zephyr; Amtrak: Southwest Limited/Chief, San Diegan/Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin, Cascades, California/San Francisco Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Empire Builder, Sunset Limited (LA-ORL), Desert Wind, Pioneer, City of New Orleans, Silver Star, Silver Meteor, Lake Shore Limited (NY Section), Cardinal, Hoosier State (Amtrak), Hoosier State (Iowa Pacific), Ann Rutledge, Adirondack, Maple Leaf, NE Regional, Capitol Limited, Crescent, Acela Express, Lake Shore Limited (Boston Section)
Via Rail Canada: Via Canadian (CP route), Via Super Continental, Via Atlantic Limited, Via Hudson Bay, Via Skeena, Via Canadian (CN route), Via "Corridor" (Toronto-Montreal);
Other: BC Rail Cariboo Dayliner, Alaska Railroad, Eurostar, Thalys, DB, Netherlands Rail, Austrian Railways, BR, Korail (conventional), Korail KTX