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), 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.