Full Review of Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard
Higher reward rate on travel purchases
5% Amtrak travel rebate
Penalty APR applies
Rebate limited to Amtrak travel
Few other travel benefits
- Higher Reward Rate on Travel Purchases: With the Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard, you'll earn:
- 3 points per $1 spent on Amtrak travel, including onboard purchases
- 2 points per $1 on qualifying travel purchases
- 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
If you travel often and you prefer to take the train instead of a plane, this card’s rewards rate is fairly high.
- 20,000-Point Bonus: If you spend at least $1,000 on purchases within the first 90 days of opening an account, you’ll get a 20,000-point bonus. That’s more than enough for a round-trip ticket on many Amtrak routes.
- 5% Amtrak Travel Rebate: When you redeem your reward points for Amtrak travel, you'll get a 5% rebate, with the points redeposited into your account. So if you redeemed 1,000 points on an Amtrak ticket, you’d get 50 points back.
- Penalty APR Applies: If you get this credit card, you'll want to be sure to make all of your minimum monthly payments on time. Otherwise, you’ll be subject to a penalty APR that’s far higher than the regular APR; the penalty APR can be up to 29.99%. Once your account has been charged the higher rate, the penalty APR will apply indefinitely to any existing balances. If that makes you nervous, consider a credit card that doesn’t charge a penalty APR. For example, the BankAmericard has no penalty APR, and it offers 0% introductory APR on purchases and for balance transfers for 15 months made within 60 days of account opening. After that, your APR will be 14.49% to 24.49%.
- Rebate Limited to Amtrak Travel: You'll receive less value if you redeem your points for travel arrangements other than Amtrak trips. Every time you redeem your points for an Amtrak ticket, you'll get a 5% rebate on the points you redeem. If you redeem your rewards for non-Amtrak travel or gift cards, you'll lose out on this perk. If you don't travel much via train, consider a more general rewards card. For example, you’ll earn 2 points per $1 on travel and dining and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, which carries a $95 annual fee. If you redeem your rewards for travel through the Chase Ultimate rewards portal, your points are worth 25% more. If you had 60,000 points, for example, they'd be worth $750.
- Few Other Travel Benefits: Although the Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard offers some nice benefits, such as companion coupons and upgrade coupons, they are generally limited to Amtrak. That is a big disadvantage compared to other travel credit cards that come with more comprehensive benefits. For example, the VentureOne Rewards card from CapitalOne has no annual fee, but it offers secondary auto rental collision damage waivers, travel accident insurance, extended warranty protection, and 24-hour travel assistance services.
This Card is Best For
Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
Dines out regularly while traveling or in home city
Primarily responsible for household grocery and other major purchases
If you like to travel by rail and do so often enough, the Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard may be a good option for you. It does have a $79 annual fee, but if you take Amtrak a few times a year, you can earn enough rewards to justify the cost.
As mentioned above, you'll earn 3 points per $1 spent on Amtrak purchases, 2 points per $1 on qualifying travel purchases, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. If you redeem your points for Amtrak travel, you'll get a 5% rebate on your points.
Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard Bonus
When you apply for the card and are approved, you’ll get 20,000 points if you spend at least $1,000 within the first 90 days of opening the account.
Depending on how you redeem those points, that bonus can be lucrative. For example, 17,733 points would get you a superliner roomette, which accommodates one or two passengers, from Chicago to Austin, that would otherwise cost $514.
Or, you could redeem all 20,000 points for $200 worth of gift cards to various restaurants and retailers.
Rewards Earning Details
With this card, you'll earn:
- 3 points per $1 spent on Amtrak purchases, including onboard food and drink purchases
- 2 points per $1 on qualifying travel purchases, including hotels, airlines, car rental agencies, cruise lines, and non-Amtrak rail travel
- 1 point per $1 on all other purchases
Rewards Redemption Details
You can redeem your Amtrak Guest Rewards points for Amtrak travel, hotels, travel arrangements, and gift cards.
In general, redeeming your points for Amtrak travel will give you the most value. When you go this route, your points are worth about 2.5 cents each. Plus, you’ll get a 5% rebate on those points. You can redeem your points for Amtrak travel once you have accrued at least 800 of them.
Redeeming your points for other rewards, such as non-Amtrak travel or restaurant gift cards, gives you a much lower redemption rate. In most cases, your points will be worth just 0.8 to 1 cent each. For example, you could get a $100 Budget Rental gift card for 12,000 points, or a $50 Macy's card for 6,000 points.
You can transfer points between your Amtrak account and several other loyalty programs.
Points from the following loyalty programs can be transferred into your Amtrak account, at the rates indicated:
- Audience Rewards: 1,000 Audience Rewards points = 1,000 Amtrak points
- Choice Privileges: 32,000 Choice Privileges points = 5,000 Amtrak points
- Hertz: 600 Hertz Gold Plus Rewards points = 500 Amtrak points
- Hilton Honors: 10,000 Hilton Honors points = 1,500 Amtrak points
- Wyndham Rewards: 6,000 Wyndham Rewards points = 1,200 Amtrak points
You can transfer your Amtrak points into the following loyalty programs:
- Audience Rewards: 1,000 Amtrak points = 1,000 Audience Rewards points
- Choice Privileges: 5,000 Amtrak points = 15,000 Choice Privileges points
- Hilton Honors: 5,000 Amtrak points = 10,000 Hilton Honors points
How to Maximize Your Rewards
To get the most value from the Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard, you'll want to use it whenever you book travel on Amtrak or make purchases while on an Amtrak train.
For example, say you were traveling from Lorton, Va., to Sanford, Fla., on the Amtrak Auto Train. If you booked a superliner roomette for the trip, it would cost you $515. If you brought your car along as well, you’d have to pay an additional $258. The trip would last for over 16 hours, so you might spend another $30 on food while onboard. All told, your trip would cost you $803.
If you used your Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard to pay for those charges, you'd earn 3 points per $1 on the $803, giving you a total of 2,409 points. Redeem them later for Amtrak travel, and those points could be worth up to $60.23. Plus, you'd get a 5% rebate on your points.
Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard's Outstanding Benefits
- Annual companion coupon worth up to $300 in Amtrak travel when you open an account and each year when your account renews
- Annual upgrade coupon worth up to $150 in Amtrak travel when you open an account and each year when your account renews
- Opportunity to earn Tier Qualifying Points and attain a higher status in Amtrak's Guest Rewards program, making you eligible for ticket class upgrades and other perks
- Complimentary single-visit station lounge pass when you open an account
- 20% rebate on Amtrak food and beverage purchases
The Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard is issued by Bank of America. Unfortunately, Bank of America isn't known for its customer service. In the 2019 J.D. Power U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study, it ranked seventh out of 11 national issuers.
Bank of America's customer service team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 800-732-9194. It offers online and mobile banking, as well.
This card also provides free FICO credit score access.
The Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard has basic security features, such as zero-liability protection. Bank of America says it will also monitor your account for fraudulent activity and alert you if there are any suspicious transactions.
If you frequently travel on Amtrak, the Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard could be a worthwhile card for you. You'll earn 3 points per $1 on Amtrak purchases, 2 points per $1 on other travel purchases, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. Plus, you’ll get some valuable perks like an annual companion coupon.
However, if you are more likely to fly than take the train, you’ll likely be better off with a general travel rewards card that offers more points on flights and hotel stays and also has more flexible redemption options.