Amtrak has announced changes to its reward chart effective January 3, 2006.
Business and first class redemptions on Acela Express and Metroliner trains go up 500 points apiece (to 8,000 and 10,500 each way respectively).
$50 gift cards go from 5000 points to 6000 points, a 20% increase. It used to be that Amtrak points were worth a penny apiece when redeemed for merchandise at this level. That penny-a-point parity threshold has now been breached.
However, if you want to retain that purchasing power you’ll need to redeem 10,000 points for newly introduced $100 gift cards set to be on offer next month.
I got the news in my online statement which arrived by e-mail today. Three weeks notice isn’t enough for these kinds of changes — but it’s better than the no-notice changes Amtrak is known for, such as shutting down transfers to United overnight and capping transfers out of the program at 25,000 points per calendar year without warning.