Greyhound Road Rewards offers great value

Greyhound Road Rewards may be the best value travel rewards program out there, yet it flies under the radar because it doesn’t have the high profile of its own credit cards and internet shopping portals. It offers plenty of free travel — companion passes, discounts, and free tickets — at a low entry point.

Sign-up is simple and online and will give you your Road Rewards number. You start collecting rewards immediately. I explain the fare types, rewards, how to earn free travel, and other considerations below.

Fare Classes

Greyhound offers three fare classes, which are:

  • Economy: 1 point for each one-way trip (2 points round-trip)
    • $20 fee to rebook
  • Economy Extra: 2 points for each one-way trip (4 points round-trip)
    • Free same-day exchange or $20 fee to rebook
    • Priority boarding
  • Flexible: 3 points for each one-way trip (6 points round-trip)
    • Fully refundable
    • Priority boarding

If you book as a group, you can enter your Road Rewards number for both on the booking screen and earn points for members of the party.

Road Rewards

Rewards are given according to the following schedule:

Sign-up: 10% off
6 Points: Companion pass, 15% off, 10% off food
10 Points: Companion pass, 20% off
16 Points: Free ticket anywhere

That means, conservatively, after Economy 3 round-trips you’ll earn a free companion fare, then again after your 5th, and a free ticket after your 8th round-trip, not even taking into account the periodic smaller 10-20% discounts given. Greyhound also offers periodic seasonal discounts via email.

Once you reach 16 points, you’ll start over at 0 to repeat the cycle.

Earning Free Travel

I generally purchase the Economy tickets and let the rewards build up slowly, 2 points per trip to be exact, but I have reconsidered recently, for the following reason — and this is an extreme example because upgrades often cost much less:

rewards

Given that 6 points will earn a companion pass, the extra $22 you’d spend above to upgrade to Flexible will give you 4 points or 2/3 of a companion pass, i.e. $33 for a full companion pass. Since one full-price round-trip ticket is around $70, paying $33 for a companion pass would be a savings of over 50% for that second ticket.

I went to purchase tickets for Thanksgiving, which were already quite expensive, and the price differential between Economy and Flexible was only $3! That means for an extra $3, I earned 2/3 of another free ticket, plus the added benefit of free exchange or cancellation.

While the New York to Syracuse route may be our most frequent, Greyhound offers frequent service to Washington, DC, Boston, and even Montreal, among other cities.

Companion or free fares can be earned via travel on less expensive routes and redeemed for longer or non-stop routes, as we did on our overnight trip to Montreal. While 6-8 hours is usually my limit in a bus, if you wanted you could even use your rewards travel to Florida.

Considerations

The points and redemption structure is miles simpler than the airlines, though there are a few key caveats:

  • Tickets must be purchased online to receive the best rate
  • Points are only awarded after the trip has been taken
  • Any accrued points expire on the one-year anniversary of sign-up, so you’ll start over at 0, though you’ll keep your rewards
  • Rewards have an expiration date based on when they were earned. Details are available here
  • Greyhound’s ticketing policy includes an extra charge if the ticket purchaser isn’t part of the traveling party
  • Travelers on free or companion fares do not earn points

Conclusion

Greyhound’s Road Rewards policy is simple to understand and start earning rewards. Its structure allows some sweet spots, for example, earning rewards on shorter trips and redeeming for longer or more expensive routes.

It really shines if you take the bus often and tend to travel as a couple or with a friend, since companion passes are easy to earn and frequent. It’s also free to sign up and use.

In conclusion, sign up, you lose nothing and will receive great benefits.

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