Good afternoon everyone. This summary post is kind of bittersweet. On 1 hand, I enjoyed every minute of the ~33 hour journey on the California Zephyr from Denver to Emeryville (Oakland/San Francisco), but I doubt I will take Amtrak again anytime soon. With the Amtrak Guest Rewards devaluation (AGR 2.0), premium Amtrak routes now cost 50-100% more Amtrak Points than before. My recent trip cost exactly 25,000 Amtrak Points, but the new price would be in the 40,000-50,000 Amtrak Point range. With the loss of Amtrak as a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, acquiring Amtrak Points is now harder than ever.
Bank of America is now the card issuer of the Amtrak Guest Rewards credit card, so I will probably apply for 1-2 Amtrak credit cards this year. The current sign up bonus is 20,000 Amtrak Points after spending $1,000 in 3 months. When you redeem for Amtrak travel, you will get a 5% point rebate and points do not expire if you have your credit card open (I think Amtrak has a pretty generous expiration policy, so this is not a big deal). Since Amtrak Points are worth exactly 2.9 cents per point (CPP), the credit card sign up bonus is worth $580 in Amtrak travel. Most roomettes I have seen are under $580 for 1 zone trips. Unfortunately, the bedrooms cost around $1,000 or more, so you will need at least 2 credit card bonuses to acquire the necessary Amtrak Points balance. Bank of America is also less likely to approve customers for several credit cards at one time, so the slow approach might be necessary.
Without further ado, here are the 3 parts I wrote about my recent California Zephyr Amtrak trip:
- Part 1: Planning an Amtrak Trip from Denver to Emeryville (San Francisco)
- Part 2: Amtrak Menu, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner & Dessert
- Part 3: Amtrak Lounge Car, Snack Bar & Stunning Views
I did not take any pictures or review the roomettes or bedrooms on this recent trip, but you can see pics and read about my previous experience on the Coast Starlight (Seattle to Los Angeles):
- Part 1: Advice for an Amtrak Noob (mostly out of date due to the AGR 2.0 devaluation, but still has some useful information)
- Part 2: Bedrooms and Roomettes
- Part 3: Bedrooms at Night, Showers, Parlour Car, and Movie Theater
If you have any questions about Amtrak or the Amtrak credit card, please leave a comment below.
Lastly, let me leave you with this lovely image from the top bunk from my Amtrak bedroom.