Jump to: Read full review
The Bank of America Amtrak Guest Rewards® World MasterCard® is a stellar travel card that’s worth a look, especially if you like to ride the rails. Beyond offering the basics of a good travel card — such as no foreign transaction fees and a solid rewards program — the Amtrak Guest Rewards® World MasterCard® packs a punch for frequent Amtrak travelers. With this card, you can enjoy exclusive loyalty perks, such as a companion pass and lounge access.
In this review, we'll take an in-depth look at the Amtrak Guest Rewards® World MasterCard®'s offerings, which come with a $79 annual fee.
Amtrak Guest Rewards® World MasterCard® benefits and features
Many credit cards incentivize people to apply with a large welcome bonus, but tend to fall short on long-term benefits. The Amtrak Guest Rewards® World MasterCard® offers great benefits for both the short and long term — providing continuous value to those who travel on Amtrak.
Upon signing up, you’ll receive 20,000 bonus points after you make $1,000 or more in purchases within 90 days of account opening. According to Amtrak, these points are worth up to $500 in Amtrak travel. Considering the low spending threshold and the moderate annual fee, this sign-up bonus offers decent savings on Amtrak tickets.
The Amtrak Guest Rewards® World MasterCard® offers the ability to earn Earn 3 points for every $1 spent on Amtrak travel, including onboard purchases. Earn 2 points per $1 spent on other qualifying travel purchases. Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. Get a 5% Amtrak Guest Rewards point rebate when you book your Amtrak redemption travel.. This rewards rate focuses on travel, since you’ll earn double the points for many travel merchants, including airlines, car rentals, hotels, cruises, travel agencies and more. When it comes to everyday purchases, however, most travel rewards cards will offer better rewards rates — some will offer bonus points on grocery stores, restaurants or gas purchases.
Still, as long as you keep your account open, you won't have to worry about your points expiring. And as a cardholder, you'll also receive a couple of rebates. When using your Amtrak Guest Rewards® World MasterCard® to purchase food and beverages onboard, you'll receive a 20% rebate as a statement credit. Plus, when redeeming your points for Amtrak travel, you'll enjoy a 5% point rebate to your rewards balance.
What are Amtrak Guest Rewards points worth?
One of the best parts about the Amtrak Guest Rewards® World MasterCard® (and the Amtrak Guest Rewards loyalty program) is the high value of Amtrak’s points. On average, we found the value of a single Amtrak Guest Rewards point to be roughly worth $0.02 — worth about twice as much as the average rewards program currency.
The table below shows some sample one-way coach tickets:
|New York, NY||Washington D.C.||$39||2,627||0.015|
|Newark, NJ||Jacksonville, FL||$144||6,958||0.021|
|Chicago, IL||San Diego, CA||$191||8,458||0.023|
|Boston, MA||Los Angeles, CA||$226||10,792||0.021|
The value of your points will differ based on the redemption option. Even better, if you use points to pay for Amtrak travel, you’ll receive 5% of those points as a rebate — boosting the value of your points.
You can also transfer your Amtrak rewards points to a few other programs, though this will usually devalue your rewards.
Annual companion coupon
You'll receive a complimentary companion coupon when you first open your account. Upon your account renewal every year, you’ll receive another single-use companion coupon.
The companion coupon allows you to take one person with you on your journey, free of charge. This can prove to be a fantastic value, as the savings will be directly proportional to your ticket's cost. The more Amtrak zones you move through in your trip, the more expensive the tickets become. This benefit alone has the potential to cover the $79 annual fee.
You'll also receive a one-class upgrade when you first open your account and on your renewal date each year. You can use the one-class upgrade on a one-way ticket to move up from coach to business class — or business to first class. Therefore, if you book a round-trip itinerary, only one leg of it will be eligible for the upgrade.
To show you the potential value of the one-class upgrade, we found a business class ticket from New York City to Washington D.C. for $69, while a first-class ticket costs $199. In this scenario, you could gain a $130 value out of this annual perk — exceeding the card's annual fee.
Single-day lounge access
Finally, you'll receive a one-time day pass to any of Amtrak's station lounges. Unlike the annual companion coupon and one-class upgrade, you'll only receive this day pass when you first open your account. Like airport lounges, you'll have access to comfortable seating areas, snacks, beverages and Wi-Fi. This perk offers additional value to the Amtrak Guest Rewards® World MasterCard®.
Earn elite status with tier-qualifying points (TQPs)
With the Amtrak Guest Rewards® World MasterCard®, you can earn 1,000 TQPs for every $5,000 you spend each calendar year — for up to 4,000 TQPs. Usually, you need to travel with Amtrak to earn TQPs. Instead, everyday spending on this card can expedite your way to elite status.
The Amtrak Guest Rewards program offers four elite status levels: Member, Select, Select Plus and Select Executive. In addition to earning Amtrak Guest Rewards points on qualifying purchases, you'll also earn tier-qualifying points (TQPs) from your train trips. For most Amtrak purchases, you'll receive 2 TPQs for each $1 spent. Business and first class tickets receive a 25% and 50% point bonus, respectively (or 2.5 TQPs and 3 TPQs for each $1 spent).
Elite status level
|Select Plus||10,000 TQPs|
|Select Executive||20,000 TQPs|
As you move up each elite status level, you'll enjoy TQP point bonuses, additional one-class upgrades and companion coupons. The top two membership levels (Select and Select Executive) will even enjoy unlimited access to Amtrak lounges.
How does the Amtrak Guest Rewards® World MasterCard® compare to other credit cards?
Although the Amtrak Guest Rewards® World MasterCard® provides a good value on earning and redeeming points, you're limited when it comes to redemption options. Other travel rewards cards can offer much more flexibility with redeeming your points — such as other types of travel or statement credits — or better earnings rates on everyday purchases. We compared the Amtrak Guest Rewards® World MasterCard® to some other leading options to get a sense of how it performs in the travel cards space.
Amtrak Guest Rewards® World MasterCard® vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, one of the best travel rewards credit cards, has historically been a good choice for all types of travelers. You’ll earn 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases.
Thanks to its flexible redemption options, you can redeem your Ultimate Rewards points to book various types of travel — and receive a 25% point redemption bonus. While booking Amtrak tickets isn't one of the options, you can book airline tickets, hotels, rental cars, activities and more. At $95 per year, this card is best for those looking for flexibility with their travel rewards.
Amtrak Guest Rewards® World MasterCard® vs. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
If you want to keep things as simple as possible, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is another strong contender. Unlike the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card doesn’t offer you any bonus for redeeming miles — miles redeemed for travel are always worth $0.01 each.
However, you earn 2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. If you don’t frequently travel with Amtrak and want a card with simplicity and flexibility, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card might be a great alternative to the Amtrak Guest Rewards® World MasterCard®. This card also comes with a $95 annual fee.
Amtrak Guest Rewards® World MasterCard® vs. Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
If you're not sold on a credit card with an annual fee, consider the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card. Its rewards rate encompasses many everyday categories: Earn 3X points on eating out, ordering in and popular streaming services, 3X points on gas stations, rideshares and transit, and 3X points on travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals. Earn 1X points on other purchases.
However, although there's an elevated rewards rate, the card's points are worth far less than Amtrak points — points are worth only 1 cent each when redeemed for travel, gift cards or statement credits. On the plus side, though, these points are much more flexible. You can reimburse many types of purchases on your credit card — including Amtrak purchases — with the statement credit redemption option. The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card's flexibility and $0 annual fee make it an attractive option for amateur travelers.
The Amtrak Guest Rewards® World MasterCard® is a phenomenal offering for those who take trains as their main mode of transportation. It's not often that a travel rewards card — with just a $79 annual fee — comes with a generous sign-up bonus, ongoing loyalty benefits and an expedited path to elite status. Still, the card does lack in its flexibility of redemption options, so you'll want to be an avid Amtrak traveler to maximize its benefits.
The information related to Amtrak Guest Rewards® World MasterCard® and Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.