Recap: A Year on the Rails

In my week of recaps, I wanted to start with the one I was most excited to examine:  my Amtrak travel! As we all know, or should know by now, I love Amtrak for the convenience of getting to all the places I really need to go:  home and Nick’s home (conveniently also Hamilton). So, let’s dive in, and see what a year on the rails looked like!

Let’s start with the actual travel on Amtrak. Below is a breakdown of the trips I took:

As you can see from above, I traveled 21 segments on 13 distinct trips, with a total value of $1,699.30. Of those 21 segments:

  • I traveled 4,410 butt-in-seat miles, roughly the same distance as flying New York to Las Vegas, roundtrip.
  • I used 35,980 points for 11 segments (average:  3,271 points per segment)
  • I paid $717.20 for 10 segments (average:  $71.72 per segment)
  • I traveled on 7 distinct lines:
    • Acela Express (2)
    • Empire Service (1)
    • Ethan Allen Express (1)
    • Keystone (2)
    • Lake Shore Limited (1)
    • Maple Leaf (1)
    • Northeast Regional (13)
  • I visited 7 unique cities:
    • Baltimore (MD)
    • Boston (MA)
    • Castleton (VT)
    • New York (NY)
    • Philadelphia (PA)
    • Providence (RI)
    • Utica (NY)
  • 19 of my segments were in coach, 1 in business class, and 1 in first class
  • My busiest travel month was August, with four segments

Next, how did I earn points? There are four ways I earned points over the course of the year:

  • Amtrak travel:  my 10 paid segments earned me 2,177 points (average:  217 per segment)
  • Credit card spending:  On my Bank of America Amtrak card, I earned 19,949 points
  • Shopping Portals:  1,702 points
  • Transfers from Partner Organizations:  In October, I transferred 10,000 SPG points from my Starwood account

Total points earned: 38,155. This equates to roughly $1,029 in free travel ($950 if you take the annual fee into consideration)!

Amtrak has a tiered “frequent-rider” program, the four tiers being Member, Select, Select Plus, and Executive. Everyone starts at the Member level, and goes up based on the number of Tier Qualifying Points you earn. Here is a quick breakdown from the Amtrak website:


I was really hoping to at least hit Select status, as it comes with some good perks:  25% point bonus on all travel, two one-class upgrades (Coach to Business or Acela Business to Acela First), and two passes to the ClubAcela. Did I do it? The answer is: nope. Womp womp. My goal next year is to make sure I hit Select status.


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