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5 Best, 5 Worst Customer-Loyalty Programs

Worst: Amtrak Guest Rewards

It's hard to tell whether the product or the program is to blame. At one point, loyal Amtrak customers could transfer their rewards points to United (UAUA) for free flights. No more.

Now, entry-level customers get 2 points for each dollar they spend. This may make the 1,000-point base price of a free Amtrak trip seem somewhat distant, but considering that Acela trips rack up 500 points a pop, you'll get there in no time.

That's about the extent of the perks, however, as point deals with partners like Hertz (HTZ - Get Report), Hilton and Macy's (M) start at roughly five times the redemption value of a trip.

Even when a traveler reaches Amtrak's upper echelon -- Select Plus -- he or she only get a 50% bump in point accrual, club access and blackout availability. When a points program gives a customer more incentives to deal with partners -- Select Plus members get double points at Hertz and Hyatt -- its value goes off the rails.
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