Who Is This Credit Card Best For?
Flies regularly and likes finding ways to score even more travel—for free See more cards
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain See more cards
Hits the road often, whether for work or play See more cards
Loves to explore places and experience new things See more cards
Who Is This Credit Card Best For?
There’s a good chance you’re already an Amtrak fan if you’re reading this, but are you enough of a fan to choose this card? We calculate that each Amtrak Guest Rewards point is worth about 2.5 cents apiece when you redeem for train tickets. That means you’d need to spend at least $1,054 per year on Amtrak travel (the card’s best rewards-earning rate) in order to break even after you take the $79 annual fee into account. If that’s you, this card may be a good fit.
If you’re not an Amtrak superfan, but still want to earn some rewards points and perks from your Amtrak travel, consider the Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum Mastercard, which doesn’t charge an annual fee.
The Amtrak Guest Reward World Mastercard is also a good choice if you prefer to travel in style, or with a friend. You’ll get coupons each year that allow you to bring a friend, get a complimentary fare upgrade, or get one complimentary visit to the premium lounge.
A trio of annual travel coupons
Valuable rewards points
20% rebate on food and drinks on Amtrak trains
Blackout dates apply
Inflexible rewards program
Few points transfer options, and restrictive rules
- A trio of annual travel coupons: When you’re approved for the card, and on your cardholder anniversary every year thereafter, you’ll get three coupons to make the going friendlier and more comfortable: a companion coupon for a friend (max ticket value $300); a travel class upgrade (max value of $150); and one station lounge pass (max value $25).
- Valuable rewards points: We calculate that Amtrak Guest Rewards points are worth 2.5 cents apiece when redeemed for train fare on Amtrak. (And you’ll get a 5% points rebate for using them this way.) We consider any points redemption value above 1 cent per point to be a good deal—2.5 cents is rare, even among the better travel rewards programs.
- 20% rebate on food and drinks on Amtrak trains: If you get hungry or thirsty while riding the rails, you’ll get a 20% rebate back in the form of a statement credit when you pay for your snacks and beverages with your Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard.
- Blackout dates apply: There are slightly fewer options available for train tickets if you use your points to book the trip than if you pay with cash or credit. It might not be a big deal if you plan well in advance, but it could get in the way if you’re planning a last-minute trip for a popular travel time, for example.
- Inflexible rewards program: You can use your Guest Rewards points to pay for lots of things: Amtrak travel, gift cards, hotels, car rentals, and more. The catch is that these categories don’t include as many options as other rewards programs.
- Few points transfer options and restrictive rules: If you have this credit card, you may transfer your Guest Rewards points to three other rewards programs—but only if you’ve already spent at least $20,000 on your card for that year. Even then, you can only transfer up to 25,000 points total.
Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard’s Bonus for New Cardholders
If you’re able to spend $1,000 within the first three months of getting this card, you’ll earn a bonus of 20,000 points. That’s worth about $500 towards Amtrak travel, according to our math.
That’s a good bonus, but it’s not quite as good as comparable airline cards offer. Then again, there aren’t really any other major train networks in the U.S. to compare to. To put it into a bit more perspective, 20,000 points wasn’t quite enough to book a cross-country, round-trip train ticket on the routes we tried. But it should be enough to get you a shorter long-haul ride (for example, from Portland, Maine to Indianapolis).
Earning Points & Rewards
You’ll earn 3 Guest Rewards points for every $1 spent on Amtrak purchases, which is slightly more than comparable airline cards offer. You’ll also earn 2 Guest Rewards points for every dollar spent on other travel purchases such as hotels and car rentals, and 1 point for every dollar spent on everything else.
Another way you can earn points is by redeeming your already-accumulated points for an Amtrak ticket. When you do, you’ll get a 5% points rebate credited back to your account. So, if you book a 5,000-point ticket, for example, you’ll get 250 points kicked back into your account.
The trickiest part of using your card is probably redeeming rewards. On its surface it seems like you have a lot of options. But once you dig in, you’ll find the choices within categories are limited, especially when compared to more wide-reaching travel rewards programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards.
We recommend sticking to redeeming your points for train tickets, since in our estimation, that’s the best redemption value (around 2.5 cents per Guest Rewards point). This value might vary, though, depending on when you choose to travel and where you choose to go.
You can also redeem your points for gift cards, car rentals, and hotels, although you’ll get less value per point with those options. This is especially true for hotels and rental cars, based on our survey of Amtrak’s offerings via its portal.
If you spend at least $20,000 each year with your card, you’re allowed to transfer up to 25,000 of your points out of your Guest Rewards account into one of three other programs: Audience Rewards (for Broadway shows), Choice Privileges, and the Hilton Honors program.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
We recommend always using your card to pay for Amtrak purchases, including tickets and food and beverages along the way. You should redeem your points for more Amtrak tickets in order to get the most value. This card comes with a lot of annual side benefits such as the companion ticket, class upgrade, and lounge access, so keep track of those.
This card can also give you a boost in status within Amtrak’s Guest Rewards loyalty program. For every $5,000 you spend on the card, you’ll earn 1,000 Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs) toward the next level of status. You can earn a maximum of 4,000 TQPs this way annually. (You’ll need 5,000 TQPs to qualify for the first tier above the basic membership.)
You can always reach 24/7 customer service with Bank of America. Bank of America ranked third among 11 major card issuers in a 2020 survey by J.D. Power. One of the nice things it offers is a free FICO score.
Similarly, Bank of America follows all the industry-standard security practices to protect you from fraud, but it doesn’t go beyond that.
Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard’s Fees
This card’s fees aren’t out of line with what its competitors charge, with one exception: cash advances. In general, cash advances aren’t a great choice with credit cards because they’re expensive, but with this card there’s a confusing fee scheme depending on how you get your cash. We say: Just avoid cash advances entirely if you can.