(EXPIRED) Amtrak sale: stack w/ discounted gift cards

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Amtrak sale is having a 2-for-1 roomette sale that might stack well with current discounts. While I don’t personally travel via Amtrak often, this sale is timed right to coincide with the ability to stack discounted gift cards, a rotating quarterly bonus, and maybe even a shopping portal. Whether or not that all adds up to a deal is likely dependent on your level of excitement about riding the rails, but if you’ve got an itch to experience old-fashioned travel, this deal might scratch it.

I traveled in a roomette like the ones on sale last year.

The Deal

  • Amtrak is offering 2-for-1 roomette sale good for travel from January 7, 2019 to May 23, 2019 on select routes
  • Direct link to this promotion

Key Terms

  • Valid for one (1) free companion fare traveling in a roomette with the purchase of one (1) regular (full) adult or senior fare.
  • The free companion and full fare passenger must travel together in the same roomette and reserve in the same reservation.
  • Valid for sale December 4 – 11, 2018.
  • Valid for travel January 7 – May 23, 2019.
  • Only valid for travel in a roomette and is not valid for travel on the Auto Train.
  • Roomettes must be cancelled at least 15 days prior to the scheduled departure for a refund and a 25 percent cancellation fee applies.
  • Roomettes are limited and are not available on all trains.
  • Not valid for onboard ticket purchase.
  • Once travel has begun, no changes to the itinerary are permitted.
  • See promotion page for full terms

Quick Thoughts

Amtrak gives the following table with example round trip fares for two passengers, though many more routes are on sale:

As you can see, prices aren’t bad, but neither are they amazing. Two passengers could often fly from New York to Chicago for less than $344 round trip and be there a lot faster. That said, there’s a certain romance to train travel that might appeal to you.

I traveled from Boston to Albany in a roomette last year, having earned some Amtrak points through the shopping portal and combined them with a transfer from SPG. The roomette itself wasn’t bad.

Though you’ll note that the chair on the left has what looks like an end table or another chair to the side of it (the red surface at the left of the picture). That’s actually the toilet (the red surface is the lid). Whether or not you want to spend the better part of a day or two seated next to your toilet likely depends….on a number of factors.

The train was….rustic.

Despite those things, I really regret not traveling by train more. I wish I had taken advantage of the old Amtrak award chart back when they were an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner.

The nice thing about this sale is that it comes at the right time. Earlier today, we posted about Amtrak gift cards being on sale at BJ’s Wholesale Club at 20% off face value ($50 card for $39.99).

If we take a route like Washington, DC to Chicago ($275 example price) and assume you don’t want to buy more in gift cards than necessary, it should break down like this:

  • Buy 5 x $50 Amtrak Gift Card at BJ’s for $199.95
  • Use a Freedom or Discover card for 5x/5% back this quarter at wholesale clubs ($10 back)
  • Go through a portal for that gift card purchase and maybe earn another $2 back (most portals exclude gift cards, but you never know(

Your net cost should be somewhere around $215 for the $275 journey. For two passengers round trip, that’s probably not a bad deal.

Note that I’m not positive whether or not you can use five gift cards on one transaction at Amtrak. The website says this when you get to the payment page:

As you can see, it clearly says you can use one or more gift cards, you just have to enter them separately. Might you be able to use a bunch and then combine them into a single voucher by cancelling? I don’t know. I don’t travel via Amtrak often enough to test this one out. If any readers have experience using Amtrak gift cards, let us know any pertinent details we need to know in the comments.

Overall, this could make for some decent values if not amazing ones. Keep in mind that roomette passengers get free meals, coffee, water, access to showers, and fresh towels and linens, so that certainly might make it more comfortable than an economy class flight.

H/T: TPG

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