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It was supposed to be coming, but no sign of it.

 

In the meantime, you can buy points to make up the balance.

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Yes. I AT almost monthly so have a lot of points. Some trips I just put the car on points, cash for the bedrooms. Sometimes I'll use points one-way and cash for the return. It gets a bit complicated, so I always use the GR number and have a live person make my reservations. And it takes that live person to book my specific rooms. They've always been great to deal with!

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It was supposed to be coming, but no sign of it.

 

In the meantime, you can buy points to make up the balance.

 

I don't have the numbers readily available, but buying points can be a losing proposition. When AGR 2.0 came about, it was stated that the exchange rate was 34.5 points per dollar, somewhat less on the Acela. In the meantime, I've noticed that when using points, it doesn't always work out at 34.5. If memory serves, I think I 'paid' at 37.5 or some similar, more costly rate for a trip this past June. I suspect that the 'exchange rate' fluctuates with the percent of train filled, or lowest bucket, whatever. Maybe it's they use a lower exchange rate for sleeper accomodations. I do know from experience that paying in points does not use senior discount, or, at least, the 34.5 rate. But then, getting a 5% rebate for using points doesn't hurt, either.

 

So, before deciding to buy points or not, price out your trip for cash and points, and decide as appropriate. As mentioned above, booking a portion of the journey with points and the rest with cash may be the best choice. On the other hand, if you're only a 1-2,000 points short, buying the points may be the best bet. And, as usual, when they have a 'buy points and get a bonus' deal like they do right now, THAT's when to buy the points, not in the middle of May for a June trip, etc.

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Buying points en masse is pretty much universally a bad proposition. Even with the recent sales, points cost more than their redemption value. This is pretty common among rewards programs, but worth remembering. Thus, even with the "sales" on points, I wouldn't buy any points unless you have a redemption in mind that you're planning to book right away and the points cost is relatively low compared to the cash cost.

 

If you just need to top off a couple thousand points, it's probably easier to just buy the extra points than to try to find a point where the redemption can be broken into a cash segment and a points segment. It's almost always cheaper to book through than it is to buy two tickets, so an A - B and B - C ticket together are more than an A - C ticket where the train goes through B. That may also weigh in, making it cheaper to top off on points.

 

It would be nice if Amtrak implemented a true "points + cash" option like they promised in their advertising, but until then buying points is the only real option to do so (and it's a rather blunt tool at that.)

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Buying points has worked out great for me! Sometimes I'm just a few shy. I'll weigh the cash saved vs. cost of points to save it ... usually works out. It's just basic math! Remember the OLD system a few years back - made a killing working that one. Alas...the Accounts figured that out! LOL LOL

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Remember the OLD system a few years back - made a killing working that one. Alas...the Accounts figured that out! LOL LOL

When the old system went out in Feb 2015 (or was it 2014?), there was time for me to 'rack up' a bunch of TQPs by a series of fairly short round trips on the NEC. I made a lot of headway to reaching Select status once all the AGR 1.0 points were posted!

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It was supposed to be coming, but no sign of it.

 

In the meantime, you can buy points to make up the balance.

 

I don't have the numbers readily available, but buying points can be a losing proposition. When AGR 2.0 came about, it was stated that the exchange rate was 34.5 points per dollar, somewhat less on the Acela. In the meantime, I've noticed that when using points, it doesn't always work out at 34.5. If memory serves, I think I 'paid' at 37.5 or some similar, more costly rate for a trip this past June. I suspect that the 'exchange rate' fluctuates with the percent of train filled, or lowest bucket, whatever. Maybe it's they use a lower exchange rate for sleeper accomodations. I do know from experience that paying in points does not use senior discount, or, at least, the 34.5 rate. But then, getting a 5% rebate for using points doesn't hurt, either.

 

And those points per dollar are only good for UNDISCOUNTED (i.e. Adult) fares. No Senior, AAA, NARP discounts

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Or Saver fares. That's the big one for me - if there's a Saver fare available for the class of service I'm buying a ticket for, I won't redeem points. Better to save it for a redemption where I can get less of a discount or no discount at all.

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With the new system, I've been trying to maximize my "return on points" by figuring out the $/point on each trip, comparing cash price (with NARP discount) to points price. So far the best points rate I've gotten was for business class tickets on the Lake Shore Limited.

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With the new system, I've been trying to maximize my "return on points" by figuring out the $/point on each trip, comparing cash price (with NARP discount) to points price. So far the best points rate I've gotten was for business class tickets on the Lake Shore Limited.

I usually do the same, though I usually pay for my trips and use all my points each year for vacation. On occasion, I'll use points to pay one way, and cash the other, generally based on point 'exchange' values per dollar and make payment decision based on those results.

 

For me, though, it's more about how fast can I get points, especially Tier Qualifying Points. The best bang for the buck in getting points is during 'double days', especially in Business Class as the B/C 25% point points are TQPs. If they weren't, I'd go coach. Unfortunately, all other kinds of bonus points are not TQPs. Having reached AGR Select Plus status for the first time about 15 months ago, I get an extra 50% point bonus as well.

 

Whether paying with points or cash, I sometimes look at the cost on a 'per hour' onboard a train. Living in New England, the NEC is my obvious most-used route, and also the most expensive per mile and per hour.

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