Tag Archives: Amtrak

My 5 New Year’s Travel Resolutions for 2020

Good afternoon everyone, I hope you all had a great New Years!  With the beginning of the new year, I wanted to make a few travel resolutions for the coming year.  Here are my 5 New Year’s travel resolutions for 2020.  Feel free to share your own travel resolutions in the comments section.

1. Travel Somewhere Every Month

For the last several years, this has been my only travel resolution.  It could be a short weekend trip, a road trip, a cross country trip, or a long international trip.  I love to travel and take advantage of the 52 weekends every year (it helps that I work in San Francisco and can easily get to SFO or OAK in less than an hour).  I’ve got the first 3 months of the year covered:

  • January: Laura and I will do a short road trip down to Carmel / Monterey for a long weekend and use our Hyatt Free Night Certificates.
  • February: I will fly down to Orange County for Super Bowl Weekend with my family and then we will make a second trip to Orange County for my cousin’s wedding.
  • March: Laura and I are flying to Ireland for her Spring Break (she is an assistant principal).  Check out my post How to Book Aer Lingus Award Tickets with British Airways Avios (Call BA to Save $100+ on Taxes & Fees).

There are a few other trips planned the rest of the year, so my first travel resolution should be accomplished.  Here are the 4 other travel resolutions I have in mind for 2020:

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Amtrak Guest Rewards Points Expire? Call Amtrak to Reinstate Points for Free (1 Time Courtesy)

Good afternoon everyone, happy Friday.  Yesterday, I had a mini panic attack when I got an AwardWallet notification that my Amtrak Guest Rewards account balance dropped to 0.  I immediately logged into my Amtrak Guest Rewards account and saw that my 22,510 Amtrak Guest Rewards Points had expired.  Oh no!!  According to Frequent Miler’s Reasonable Redemption Values (RRVs) for Amtrak Guest Rewards Points, these points are worth between 2.5-2.9 cents each, so those 22,510 Amtrak Guest Rewards Points were worth up to $653 in Amtrak travel.  I hadn’t taken an Amtrak trip since my California Zephyr trip from Denver to San Francisco in February 2016 – but I definitely had my eye on the Empire Builder route from Chicago to Seattle/Portland.

Strangely, the Amtrak Guest Rewards Points were deducted from my account on August 15, but I didn’t get the AwardWallet account update until September 12.  Come on AwardWallet, tell me sooner that my points are expiring next time!

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Amtrak Quietly Makes Big Negative Changes to Cancellation & Refund Policies

Buenos dias everyone,

For a long time, Amtrak has had a very generous cancellation policy, similar to Southwest Airlines – as long as you canceled your ticket before departure, you could get the full amount paid back as an eVoucher valid for one year. And depending on the type of fare you purchased, you could even get a refund back to your credit card (possibly with a 10% service fee depending on when you canceled your ticket).

This has all changed. For tickets purchased starting March 20, 2018, most tickets will be hit with a 25% service fee when refunding to an eVoucher. Unfortunately, the news of these changes is buried in the fare rules on Amtrak’s website and on their Refunds and Cancellations page – and even that doesn’t note that there’s been a change, or when it went into effect.  Here’s the breakdown of the new policy (credit to AmtrakLKL on Amtrak Unlimited, via NovaEngr on Flyertalk):

Advance Purchase Saver Fares

  • Full refund to original form of payment (or eVoucher) within 24 hours of purchase
  • 75% refund to eVoucher after 24 hours, as long as you cancel before departure
  • No refund for no-shows

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ICYMI: Travel News Roundup for Saturday, May 6, 2017

Here’s all the news that caught my eye this week – let me know if you learn something new!

Airlines + Miles

The TSA is reportedly piloting a new requirement in Kansas City (MCI): forcing passengers to remove any paper products from their luggage. Yet another reason to get Global Entry if you don’t have it already. [Schneier on Security]

American Airlines has a new promotion where you can earn up to 10,000 points for transactions with their shopping partners. [Mommy Points]

American Airlines also announced that they plan to cram so many seats into their new 737 MAX planes that some rows will lose two additional inches of legroom. [CNN Money]

Hawaiian Airlines unveiled a brand and livery refresh. It looks pretty slick! [The Design Air]

JetBlue and Icelandair announced a frequent flier partnership. [USA Today] Continue reading

Tonei’s January Credit Card App-O-Rama Results

Buenos diás everyone. I’m not usually one for credit card App-O-Ramas, typically preferring to apply for credit cards one at a time when they have high bonuses, but at the end of January, I decided to throw caution to the wind and apply for five new credit cards in one day, from three banks: Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, Bank of America, and Chase.

Banco Popular de Puerto Rico

I finally decided to jump on the Banco Popular de Puerto Rico 60,000 Avianca LifeMiles offer that Grant wrote about in December. Like Grant, I also got instantly approved with a large credit line.

Image of the front of an Avianca LifeMiles Vuela Visa card with "Mr Grant Thomas" on the front. The numbers have been blacked out.

My card looks just like this, but it doesn’t have Grant’s name on it.

I paid my annual fee in February and made purchases on the card in March and April, but my LifeMiles balance is still zero. I emailed customer service to ask about it but got an automatic reply to call for assistance – when I did so, the representative (who I could barely hear) just said it takes 6-8 weeks for miles to post and that I should keep an eye on my balance at lifemiles.com. I’ll also email LifeMiles customer support and see if they can check whether I might have a duplicate LifeMiles account. Continue reading