The Amtrak Guest Rewards MasterCard Review

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Reviews

Jul 12, 2016 | Updated May 06, 2019

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Amtrak travelers have two credit cards to pick from to earn points on the train: the Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum MasterCard® and the Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard®.

Both offer points for Amtrak purchases, but the World MasterCard is the higher-end card, offering more points and better additional benefits – for an annual fee.

Riding on the train could potentially be a bit cheaper, and occasionally more comfortable. Should you be bringing one of these cards along? Keep reading to find out.

Where Can I Use The Amtrak Credit Cards?

You can use both of these cards anywhere MasterCard is accepted, which is pretty much everywhere. But you’ll get the most points-per-dollar when using them for Amtrak purchases.

The Rewards

These cards come with slightly different rewards, with the World MasterCard featuring the best offer.

Guest Rewards Platinum MasterCard

  • 2 points per dollar on purchases from Amtrak, including onboard purchases
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
  • 5% point rebate when redeeming for Amtrak travel
  • 12,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days

Guest Rewards World MasterCard

  • 3 points per dollar on purchases from Amtrak, including onboard purchases
  • 2 points per dollar on other qualifying travel purchases (check your account details for more information)
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
  • 5% point rebate when redeeming for Amtrak travel
  • 20,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 in the first 90 days

You’ll want to redeem your points with Amtrak to get the most out of them, because that 5% will add up to a lot over time. Travel redemptions start at 500 points, though that won’t usually get you too far, and you can use your points for other expenses as well.

Insider Tip: Wondering how many points it’ll take to get to your destination? Every trip might be different, and the date may affect the price as well. Check Amtrak’s website for full details about reward redemption, including how many points you’ll need for a specific trip.

Children aged 2-12 only require 50% of the points to redeem for tickets, when traveling with an adult. This applies to up to 2 children per adult.

Your point redemption possibilities are varied:

  • Single or multi-trip tickets
  • Travel upgrades
  • Private club passes
  • Hotels. Amtrak Guest Rewards MasterCard holders may redeem points for hotel stays (Hyatt, Hilton, Starwood and various Choice Privileges hotels), provided they spend at least $200 per calendar year on the card. This benefit is also offered to program members whose status is Select or above.
  • Rental cars (Hertz)
  • Retail gift cards (Macy’s, Lowe’s, Staples and others)
  • Restaurant gift cards (Ruth’s Chris, Olive Garden, Applebee’s and others)
  • Movie theaters
  • Cruises

The Benefits

The extra benefits for these cards are different – the Platinum MasterCard contains none of the Perks listed below, only the other Account Management and Security features. The World MasterCard offers all of the features listed below, which are quite valuable.

Perks

  • Earn Tier-Qualifying Points

    Each year you can earn 1,000 Tier-Qualifying Points towards a higher status for spending $5,000 (up to 4,000 points per year).

  • Annual Companion Coupon

    Each year you’ll get a companion coupon, which is valid for 1 free companion rail fair with the purchase of 1 regular adult fare.

  • Annual One-Class Upgrade Coupon

    Good for a single-class one-way upgrade, if space is available. Valid only from Coach to Business class, or from Acela Business class to Acela First class, on a single travel segment or leg.

  • Single-Day ClubAcela Pass

    Ride in the ClubAcela first-class lounge. You can bring a guest, or your spouse/domestic partner and children under 21.

Account Management

  • Account Alerts

    Get alerts about account information on your phone.

  • Mobile Banking

    Pay your credit card bill online, transfer funds, check available credit and more.

  • Text Banking

    Send a text and get important account information.

Security

  • Fraud Protection

    You will not be held responsible for unauthorized use of your card.

  • Overdraft Protection

    Link a Bank of America account to your card and prevent declined purchases and return checks if you take out too much money from your account.

  • ShopSafe®

    Protection when you are shopping online.

The Costs & Fees

Card Annual Fee Purchase APR Balance Transfer APR Cash Advance APR Foreign Transaction Fee
Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard None 13.24% - 23.24% *Variable 13.24% - 23.24% *Variable 16.24% - 25.24% *Variable None
Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard $79 13.24% - 23.24% *Variable 13.24% - 23.24% *Variable 16.24% - 25.24% *Variable None
Card Penalty APR Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard Up to 29.99% *Variable Up to $37 Up to $27
Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard Up to 29.99% *Variable Up to $37 Up to $27

There’s only one significant difference to note here: the World MasterCard has a $79 annual fee, while the Platinum MasterCard has no fee. Other than that, the terms are the exact same.

Remember that annual fees are not necessarily bad. You’ll be getting 3 points per dollar, a larger signup bonus, and several benefits for that fee, compared to the free card. If you use the card enough with Amtrak, racking up enough reward points and using your benefits each year, the card will pay for itself.

The Bottom Line: 3 and 4 Out Of 5 Stars

If you’re already riding Amtrak somewhat regularly, the no-annual-fee Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum MasterCard could be earning you points every time. Or, if you ride more than that, the Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard could be the card for you.

Take a look at your spending habits, and how often you ride the train. Would one of these cards fit easily into your life? If you want the rewards and benefits of the World MasterCard, check your spending to make sure that you’ll end up using it enough to justify the fee.

Or, if you’re not sure how often you’ll use it, the Platinum MasterCard can be a safer bet because there’s no annual fee to worry about. So, as long as you avoid paying interest by paying off your balance in full each month, the card can be free to use.

We gave the Amtrak Guest World MasterCard 4 out of 5 Stars because it’s the best option for Amtrak riders who want to earn points on the train. You’ll also be able to earn points on other qualifying travel purchases, and you’ll get some nice extra benefits as well. But what might be the best benefit, the ClubAcela pass, is only awarded once, not annually.

We gave the Amtrak Guest Platinum MasterCard 3 out of 5 Stars because it’s not quite as good as the World MasterCard, offering fewer rewards and lacking the best benefits. But it has no annual fee, so it’s not a very bad offer.

Want to apply for or learn more about one of these cards? Just click the card’s name below.

Was this review helpful to you? Go ahead and share it with a friend! And if you use one of these cards, click to leave your own review of the Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum MasterCard or the Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard, we’d love to hear from you!

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