The New Amtrak Guest Rewards Credit Card is a Real Winner!

The details of the two new Amtrak Guest Rewards Credit Cards have been released, and, in my opinion, one of them is actually a real winner, for the regular Amtrak traveler.

Essentially, they’ll be two new cards – a World MasterCard and a Platinum MasterCard, the former of the two being the more premium version.

Via the Amtrak Guest Rewards website

On the World MasterCard, you’ll have the following benefits:

  • Pay a $79 annual fee
  • Earn 20,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards bonus points after $1,000 in purchases within the first 90 days
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 3 points per dollar on Amtrak purchases
  • 2 points per dollar on qualifying travel purchases (TBD what will qualify)
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Chip-enabled card
  • A one-day Acela Club, Metropolitan Club or First Class lounge pass
  • A one-class upgrade certificate (not valid on sleeper trains)
  • A companion ticket for Amtrak travel (not valid on Acela or long distance trains)
  • Upon your card-year anniversary, and upon paying the annual fee, you get another companion ticket and one-class upgrade certificate
  • Earn a 5% rebate on Amtrak Guest Rewards redemptions
  • Earn 1,000 tier qualifying points after each $5,000 in purchases (up to 4,000 TQPs per year)

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On the Platinum MasterCard, you’ll have the following benefits:

  • No annual fee
  • Earn 12,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.
  • 2 points per dollar on Amtrak purchases
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Chip-enabled card
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Earn a 5% rebate on Amtrak Guest Rewards redemptions

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The Platinum card is similar to the current (soon to be former) version of the Amtrak Guest Rewards card issued by Chase – in fact, it’s exactly the same, but adding in no foreign transaction fees, which is pretty much a standard benefit with today’s credit cards.

But, the better card of the two is the World MasterCard, which has some pretty incredible features, in my opinion. For $79, you’re getting your money back, even if you don’t spend on the card. The 20,000 points alone are worth the $79 initial fee (which won’t be waived), since these can be used for 4 one-way Northeast Regional trips, still leaving points leftover, for example. That’s a value of at least $400 there – more in many cases. The spending bonuses are decent, but nothing unusual – 3x at Amtrak, 2x on travel (this might be valuable if it includes gas), and 1x everywhere else. Not a home run, but nothing to shy away from either. Here’s where you’ll really get your value – the companion ticket, which can be valued as much as $100 (or more) in many cases, and the one-class upgrade, which is valued at around $100 (or more), if used on the Acela Express. Certainly, this upgrade certificate won’t be worth it on most regional trains, but is more valuable on their higher-speed, premium line, the Acela. As a point of reference, this certificate will not be able to be used on long-distance sleeper-service trains, so don’t get too excited. On your anniversary, you earn both of these benefits again, not to mentioning the 5% rebate on redeemed points, without the need to put any spend on the card. I’ll be curious to see how far you can use the companion ticket, though my guess it will only be for short-haul, non Acela routes (it will probably have blackout dates too)

So, assuming Chase Ultimate Rewards will continue to be being able to transferred into Amtrak Guest Rewards, that’s a consistent 5% rebate, which isn’t too bad, especially for the frequent Amtrak traveler, such as myself.

My Take

If you’re a regular Amtrak customer, the World MasterCard is worth it to apply for in my opinion – it provides some great value:

  • You’ll earn the 20,000 bonus points upon spending 1,000.
  • You’ll get lots of value from the 5% rebate depending on how many points you redeem, which will take a little bit of the sting away from the new revenue based program.
  • The one-class upgrade will be valuable if you use on Acela Express.
  • The annual companion certificate for those on routes with high ticket prices – traditionally those in the Northeast.

I’ll be getting this card; will you? What do you think of the new Amtrak Guest Rewards credit cards?

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Comments

  1. Juno says

    Just the fact that this is from BofA makes me want to get one. I am running in to too many cards with Chase so it’ll be nice to have a good card (the World Mastercard version) to use on my Amtrak trips.

  2. Kal says

    Just a few things… the companion ticket is good on any Amtrak train. Whether its’s local or cross country. Yes you could travel from Los Angeles to Boston and your friend travel free. It’s even good on the Acela in business class (upgrade to Business Class or Acela First Class by just paying the regular upgrade charge). Black out dates are going away as of January 24, 2016 including no more restrictions on peak hour travel on the Acela.

    • says

      That’s not correct, unfortunately. The companion ticket is not good on all trains, per Amtrak. The info was checked with Amtrak prior to publishing (they reviewed the entire post). There are limits as to what trains the certificate will be good on, and long distance trains won’t be covered. Your friend can travel free across the country if you’re in a sleeper compartment because that can accommodate 2 people, however that has nothing to do with the companion pass.

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