"train runs"/short trips for TQPs?

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SNJRider

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I'll be close to keeping Select Plus this year. Aside from the Bank of America credit card spend ($5,000 for 1,000 TQPs), are there any other ways to add TQPs? There are mattress runs and mileage runs for keeping hotel or airline status. I was wondering if anyone has done a train run? The main difference is that Amtrak calculates status by dollars spent (instead of nights stayed or miles flown).
 
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It is a matter of spending the amount of money that you need to reach select plus. For example. If you need 100 points, then you could book a trip for 50 dollars. If you needed 1000 points then you could do a trip for 500. At one point during covid, they had TQP promotions that caused me to earn select executive without even knowing it.
 

SNJRider

Train Attendant
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Joined
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Messages
29
Location
New Jersey
It is a matter of spending the amount of money that you need to reach select plus. For example. If you need 100 points, then you could book a trip for 50 dollars. If you needed 1000 points then you could do a trip for 500. At one point during covid, they had TQP promotions that caused me to earn select executive without even knowing it.
Yes, the promos definitely helped last year.
 

SNJRider

Train Attendant
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Does that bonus apply to TQP's, as well as regular points?

And does the 25% on regular business class also apply?
The bonus applies to both TQPs and points. Those are different than tier bonuses (for being Select, etc.). Those now only apply to points.
 
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I still do it, but you have to take a really expensive trip to get a reasonable number of TQPs. I miss the old days when you got 100 points minimum for any ticket you bought, whether it was a $50 BAL-PHL or a $6 PHL-Paoli. You could rack up several hundred points from some really cheap rides. Now you just have to spend the money (and find the time for the trips.) When I do this now, it's mostly Acela rides to New York, but that kills a whole day.
 

SNJRider

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I still do it, but you have to take a really expensive trip to get a reasonable number of TQPs. I miss the old days when you got 100 points minimum for any ticket you bought, whether it was a $50 BAL-PHL or a $6 PHL-Paoli. You could rack up several hundred points from some really cheap rides. Now you just have to spend the money (and find the time for the trips.) When I do this now, it's mostly Acela rides to New York, but that kills a whole day.
PHL to Paoli for $6? Wow, that would have been a great method. Would you just hop on and go back and forth, round trip, a few times?
 

BCL

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Sure I've done it, but way back when there was a 100 point per segment minimum, and a maximum of 4 minimum point segments per day. Taking advantage of the 100 point minimum became an art form. I didn't go to the Gathering in the Bay Area, but I remember discussions of how a dozen or so passengers tracked down a conductor between Berkeley and Emeryville, which is a whole 2 miles and scheduled for about 4 minutes. Then there were the legendary ones (before the limit of 4 minimum point accruals in a calendar day) where passengers would just buy 50 or 100 cheap tickets (all with the same passenger name) and insist that the conductor lift them on a ride that cost maybe $3 each ticket? But with live tickets they had to be processed and then the points would be counted.

I did a few where I got 400 points in less than 2.5 hours round-trip. I did that the first time I hit Select in December, and I think I made Select on Dec 30. Bus segments counted towards the 100 point minimum even if there was a nominal segment value of $1. I took advantage of the 50% Capitol Corridor advanced-purchase weekend discount. I think I needed to buy it 3 days in advance, but I did it for $12 for that round trip RIC-EMY-SFC-EMY-RIC. I think Berkeley would have been marginally cheaper, but Richmond Amtrak had a parking lot and there a better chance to get my ticket scanned. That was back when SFC had a "station building" next to the Ferry Building and I spend the 40 or so minutes there getting coffee at Blue Bottle and buying bread at Acme, and I still had about 20 minutes in the waiting room.

I don't think I did that in 2014 when I made Select Plus. But I did purchase and use a couple of multi-ride tickets to make it in December. I can't look up my AGR history since the transaction date select range is broken, but I checked my email and I got a Select Plus note on Dec 14, so it wasn't a last week run like I did in 2013.
 

Bob Dylan

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PHL to Paoli for $6? Wow, that would have been a great method. Would you just hop on and go back and forth, round trip, a few times?
They finally had to limit it to 4 Segments a day. (400 Points)

There are some Legendary Riders who racked up Thousands of Points (before they Limited it)since they lived where there are lots of Trains.( NEC/NE,Chicago and the West Coast).
 

SNJRider

Train Attendant
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New Jersey
Sure I've done it, but way back when there was a 100 point per segment minimum, and a maximum of 4 minimum point segments per day. Taking advantage of the 100 point minimum became an art form. I didn't go to the Gathering in the Bay Area, but I remember discussions of how a dozen or so passengers tracked down a conductor between Berkeley and Emeryville, which is a whole 2 miles and scheduled for about 4 minutes. Then there were the legendary ones (before the limit of 4 minimum point accruals in a calendar day) where passengers would just buy 50 or 100 cheap tickets (all with the same passenger name) and insist that the conductor lift them on a ride that cost maybe $3 each ticket? But with live tickets they had to be processed and then the points would be counted.

I did a few where I got 400 points in less than 2.5 hours round-trip. I did that the first time I hit Select in December, and I think I made Select on Dec 30. Bus segments counted towards the 100 point minimum even if there was a nominal segment value of $1. I took advantage of the 50% Capitol Corridor advanced-purchase weekend discount. I think I needed to buy it 3 days in advance, but I did it for $12 for that round trip RIC-EMY-SFC-EMY-RIC. I think Berkeley would have been marginally cheaper, but Richmond Amtrak had a parking lot and there a better chance to get my ticket scanned. That was back when SFC had a "station building" next to the Ferry Building and I spend the 40 or so minutes there getting coffee at Blue Bottle and buying bread at Acme, and I still had about 20 minutes in the waiting room.

I don't think I did that in 2014 when I made Select Plus. But I did purchase and use a couple of multi-ride tickets to make it in December. I can't look up my AGR history since the transaction date select range is broken, but I checked my email and I got a Select Plus note on Dec 14, so it wasn't a last week run like I did in 2013.
How many points did you need to get to Select (Plus)? I'm wondering how you figured the math so that the effort was worth getting the status.
 
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Yeah, I made my trip to Philly right before they changed AGR to eliminate the 100 point minimum. I think one of my Baltimore to Philly tickets was $35 (a saver), the other was $46, and the round trip to Paoli was $12. Thus, I spent $93 to get 400 points (all TQP points).
 
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As others have noted, I've made a good number of trips simply to rack up points. In the 'good old days' of AGR 1.0, my trick was Springfield MA to Hartford CT for $7 or something like that and get 100 points. Why Hartford? It provided a 10 minute layover before catching a northbound train back to Springfield and the 'new' station under the tracks had restrooms and food, if I felt so inclined. In addition, I can't ignore the metered $0.25 on street parking for 2 hrs adjacent to the Amtrak SPG station as part of the cost of each trip.

However, last year, with the Double TQPs promotion, I used 4 round trips in Acela FC NHV-WAS (for the 50% bonus) plus a handful of other trips the rest of the year to reach Select Exec. I may have to do that again to reach Select Plus this year, especially as the $5000 CC spending gets 1000 TQPs has not worked for me for over 2 years. Repeated emails to AGR get zero response whatsoever. However, the email I sent them about a month ago did net me an undocumented, unexplained, untraceable 1000 TQPs as I quoted my CC monthly spending and it was over $12K since 1/1!
 
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SNJRider

Train Attendant
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2022
Messages
29
Location
New Jersey
As others have noted, I've made a good number of trips simply to rack up points. In the 'good old days' of AGR 1.0, my trick was Springfield MA to Hartford CT for $7 or something like that and get 100 points. Why Hartford? It provided a 10 minute layover before catching a northbound train back to Springfield and the 'new' station under the tracks had restrooms and food, if I felt so inclined. In addition, I can't ignore the metered $0.25 on street parking for 2 hrs adjacent to the Amtrak SPG station as part of the cost of each trip.

However, last year, with the Double TQPs promotion, I used 4 round trips in Acela FC NHV-WAS (for the 50% bonus) plus a handful of other trips the rest of the year to reach Select Exec. I may have to do that again to reach Select Plus this year, especially as the $5000 CC spending gets 1000 TQPs has not worked for me for over 2 years. Repeated emails to AGR get zero response whatsoever. However, the email I sent them about a month ago did net me an undocumented, unexplained, untraceable 1000 TQPs as I quoted my CC monthly spending and it was over $12K since 1/1!
Were the NHV-WAS actual trips or did you do the runs only for the TQPs?
I don't understand why AGR or Amtrak is so unresponsive to emails. However, I'm glad you got 1000 TQPs but it sounds like they owe you more.
 

Bob Dylan

50+ Year Amtrak Rider
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Austin Texas
Back in the Good Old Days of AGR1.0 with the CHASE Card, I did many AUS-TAY-TPL-TAY-AUS Day Trips for $28 and got 400 Points.

This,combined with 2 LD Trips along with some Point runs in places like the NE,NW and California ( Emeryville to Berkley was my favorite) allowed me to make Select Plus for the Last time.

I have not even made Select since the 100 Point Minimum was deleted by AGR2.0!(plus the Pandemic and the "downsizing/downgrading" of the Texas Eaglete causing Ultra High Fares has contributed to me using the Airlines on my LD Trips instead of Amtrak.)
 

BCL

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San Francisco Bay Area
How many points did you need to get to Select (Plus)? I'm wondering how you figured the math so that the effort was worth getting the status.

10,000. Got me AGR bonuses and lounge access. Never had a chance to use an Amtrak lounge, but the reciprocal United Club access was nice and I used it once.

Theoretically 100 of these 100 minimum point segments was enough to make it to Select Plus. However, I had to think a lot between how much I was spending on my commute vs trying to score more TQPs. For instance, I could just get 10-ride tickets, but TQP accrual was only dependent on the price. Also - when that was a "live ticket", it didn't accrue (for the first day of the ticket validity) until the entire ticket was used, and accounting received the ticket to process. Later when it to eTickets for multi-ride, once the first use was recorded, it would then take a day or so for the TQPs to accrue. Something like RIC-SCC; I would usually just go EMY/BKY to GAC, but the cost was the same so it was better to just cover more stations. I think that was maybe $112, although a one-way BKY-GAC was $18. But the 10-ride was worth 224 points, and 10 single rides was worth 1000 points. In addition to that there were discounts to bring down the cost of single rides, and multi-city to double the points. Technically it could even triple or quadruple the points, but that took time, and I ran into issues because Capitol Corridor had limited trains to San Jose - about half ended at the Oakland Coliseum station.

I took advantage of as many discounts as I could, plus multi-city if I could combine that. There was often a supposed 25% off 49ers Levi's Stadium promotion for rides to/from GAC, but it was odd in that it wasn't just on game days and didn't have any advance purchase requirement. Also a 25% Oakland A's discount at OAC, where I'd combine rides with BART. Then split it up with a stop at FMT, where there was a cafe at the old SP Type 23 station building.

My wife wasn't too happy about it since I was getting up really early and sometimes coming home late trying to add a segment. She did like the one time that we used my Select Plus membership to get our family into a United Club. But apparently that benefit is gone. There was really no math to doing that. I just wanted it, and almost never used the benefits other than the points bonus.

However, at its most basic I could have theoretically just made 50 round trips between Berkeley and Emeryville for maybe $700. However, points runs for the sake of points runs seemed rather pointless if there wasn't more utility such as a commute or leisure travel.
 

BCL

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Were the NHV-WAS actual trips or did you do the runs only for the TQPs?
I don't understand why AGR or Amtrak is so unresponsive to emails. However, I'm glad you got 1000 TQPs but it sounds like they owe you more.

I think a lot of people did those just for the points. I know I did. But I live in an area where bus runs were like magic when it came to accumulating 100 points for a $1/$2 incremental cost. They were also specifically attached to the trains, so there was usually only 2-3 minutes and if the train was late the bus would be waiting for it.

All I needed to do was book a short ride to San Francisco, where there could be that short turnaround. A few times I just did it when I would have otherwise just taken BART. It was usually Capitol Corridor, but a few times it was the San Joaquin.

But the real gaming of the system was when one could buy a bunch of cheap tickets and get the conductor to lift all of them without a limit on the number of minimum points that could accrue per calendar day. I'm thinking the the conductors probably complained. I do remember a conductor seeing my ticket and a 45 minute stop in Fremont, California. She specifically asked if I was "doing it for points".
 
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SNJRider

Train Attendant
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Joined
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Messages
29
Location
New Jersey
10,000. Got me AGR bonuses and lounge access. Never had a chance to use an Amtrak lounge, but the reciprocal United Club access was nice and I used it once.

Theoretically 100 of these 100 minimum point segments was enough to make it to Select Plus. However, I had to think a lot between how much I was spending on my commute vs trying to score more TQPs. For instance, I could just get 10-ride tickets, but TQP accrual was only dependent on the price. Also - when that was a "live ticket", it didn't accrue (for the first day of the ticket validity) until the entire ticket was used, and accounting received the ticket to process. Later when it to eTickets for multi-ride, once the first use was recorded, it would then take a day or so for the TQPs to accrue. Something like RIC-SCC; I would usually just go EMY/BKY to GAC, but the cost was the same so it was better to just cover more stations. I think that was maybe $112, although a one-way BKY-GAC was $18. But the 10-ride was worth 224 points, and 10 single rides was worth 1000 points. In addition to that there were discounts to bring down the cost of single rides, and multi-city to double the points. Technically it could even triple or quadruple the points, but that took time, and I ran into issues because Capitol Corridor had limited trains to San Jose - about half ended at the Oakland Coliseum station.

I took advantage of as many discounts as I could, plus multi-city if I could combine that. There was often a supposed 25% off 49ers Levi's Stadium promotion for rides to/from GAC, but it was odd in that it wasn't just on game days and didn't have any advance purchase requirement. Also a 25% Oakland A's discount at OAC, where I'd combine rides with BART. Then split it up with a stop at FMT, where there was a cafe at the old SP Type 23 station building.

My wife wasn't too happy about it since I was getting up really early and sometimes coming home late trying to add a segment. She did like the one time that we used my Select Plus membership to get our family into a United Club. But apparently that benefit is gone. There was really no math to doing that. I just wanted it, and almost never used the benefits other than the points bonus.

However, at its most basic I could have theoretically just made 50 round trips between Berkeley and Emeryville for maybe $700. However, points runs for the sake of points runs seemed rather pointless if there wasn't more utility such as a commute or leisure travel.
Thanks for the detail. It seems like you were able to really work that angle. You must have been using a spreadsheet for all those variations!
I'm trying think of what Select Plus is actually worth in terms of TQP runs. For example, if I'm at 9,000 TQPs organically (just riding the train like I normally would), is it worth the time, effort, and money to get the other 1,000 TQPs? It certainly seemed easier when AGR was less restrictive. I suppose the other option is to do the $5k spend on the credit card for 1,000 TQPs.
 

JoshP

Service Attendant
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Oct 13, 2021
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Buffalo, NY
You can easy reach Select+ or Select Exec if you basically book roundtrip on sleepers between CHI-SEA and choose the expensive room (Like the $2000 ones) and you can easy reach the top, fast. The more expensive, the more TQP you will earn, same for points.

I am still on Select and just moved to Select+ as of yesterday so it says I need at least 7,000 more to go to reach to the top. I'm not sure if I can make it by March 2023 to reach that level or just remain on Select+ status.
 

BCL

Engineer
Joined
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Messages
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Location
San Francisco Bay Area
Thanks for the detail. It seems like you were able to really work that angle. You must have been using a spreadsheet for all those variations!
I'm trying think of what Select Plus is actually worth in terms of TQP runs. For example, if I'm at 9,000 TQPs organically (just riding the train like I normally would), is it worth the time, effort, and money to get the other 1,000 TQPs? It certainly seemed easier when AGR was less restrictive. I suppose the other option is to do the $5k spend on the credit card for 1,000 TQPs.

If one lives/works near an Amtrak longue, the food and beverages might be worth it. I don’t know what the current policy is in transportation, but previously there was no transportation requirement for a United Club or Amtrak lounges. One could go with the status. If I lived near Penn Station I would have gone there every day I was home and maybe multiple times.

United Club had domestic alcohol included. And theoretically one could prove access and get past airport security.
 
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