Full Review of Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard
Higher reward rate on travel purchases
Limited time 50,000-point bonus
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.
- Limited time 50,000-Point Bonus: If you spend at least $2,500 on purchases within the first 90 days of opening an account, you’ll get a 50,000-point bonus. That’s more than enough for a round-trip ticket on most 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 13.99% to 23.99%.
- 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 Capital One 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.
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 50,000 points if you spend at least $2,500 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 50,000 points for $500 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
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. Riding in a superliner roomette for the trip, let’s say it would cost you $515. If you brought your car along as well, you’d have to pay an additional charge of let’s say $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. In the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study, it ranked third out of 11 national issuers and had an above average score.
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.
Investopedia Credit Card Rating Methodology
Investopedia is committed to delivering the best credit card recommendations in the industry. We’ll tell you when a card is good, we’ll tell you when a card is bad, and we’ll only call a card the best if we would recommend it to our friends or family members.
Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
- While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
- We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
- We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
Low or Reasonable Fees
Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% – 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
Solid Security/Customer Service
Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.