Amtrak Guest Rewards® Platinum Mastercard® - Make Train Trips Affordable

The countryside sweeps by you, and time doesn't exist. It's just you, the coastline, and the rumble of the rails beneath you. This is how I experienced my first long-distance Amtrak trip.
My husband and I had both signed up for the Amtrak Guest Rewards card and used our thousands of points for an epic train trip. We started in Kansas City. Then we traveled through the southwest, up the coast of California, through Portland, and on to Glacier National Park. (And yes, we splurged on the roomette so we could sleep at night.)
The scenery was amazing. But honestly, if I was paying 100% out of pocket for the trip, I don't think I could have justified the expense. That's where the Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum Mastercard comes in. (Hello, 12,000 bonus points that never expire!)

What is the Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum Mastercard?

The Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum Mastercard is a Bank of America credit card that offers Amtrak travel rewards. Because it's a Mastercard, it can be used just about anywhere plastic payment is accepted.
The Amtrak part means you use rewards for train travel in the U.S. You can redeem points for booking tickets and onboard purchases like food and beverages. (The steak is amazing, by the way.)
I'm excited about these rewards because traveling by train is scenic, comfortable, and stress-free. Plus, you'll meet and talk to the most interesting people in the dining and observation cars.

How does the Amtrak Guest Rewards® Platinum Mastercard® work?

I knew I wanted an Amtrak rewards credit card, so I went straight to the Amtrak Guest Rewards website. If you select the "Apply Now" link under this card, you'll land on Bank of America's application page.
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The application is pretty straightforward. If you're already a Bank of America customer, you can prefill your application. If you already have an Amtrak Guest Rewards Member number, get it and put it in your application. If not, you'll get a number after you apply for the credit card. Besides that, be prepared to provide your standard demographic and contact information.
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You'll also need to provide your citizenship, employment, and financial information. Then, agree to the Terms and Conditions and submit your application.
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You might get an immediate response on the same screen telling you if you're approved or denied for the card.
If you don't get an immediate response, you'll get an answer in the mail in 7 to 10 business days. You can also check your application status online two hours after you apply by visiting the website.
If approved for the card, you'll need to enroll in an online account through Bank of America. If you don't already have one, you'll also want to sign up for the Amtrak Guest Rewards program. That will allow you to buy, transfer, and redeem the points you earn with your Amtrak card.
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How much does the Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum Mastercard cost?

One of the best things about this card? If you're not planning an epic train trip this year, you can tuck it away in the back of your wallet without paying a thing. That's because this card has a $0 annual fee.
There are costs associated with actually using the card. If you carry a balance, you'll pay a regular APR of 13.99-23.99% (depending on your credit score) for purchases and balance transfers. For cash advances, you'll pay up to 28.99% APR, and if your payment is late, you'll pay a fee of up to $40.

Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum Mastercard features

12,000 bonus points

Right now, you can get 12,000 bonus points if you spend at least $1,000 within the first 90 days of account opening. That equals about $300 in Amtrak travel, and it's worth more than you might think. Right now, just $9 could buy you a ticket from Boston, MA to Springfield, MA.

No foreign transaction fees

If you're traveling outside the U.S., you won't pay any pesky foreign transaction fees when you use this card.

Earn 1X points

You can earn 1 point for every $1 you spend on regular purchases and 2 points for every $1 you spend on Amtrak travel purchases.

5% point rebate

When you redeem your travel points by booking an Amtrak ticket, you'll get a 5% point rebate.

10% rebate

When you use the Amtrak card to buy food and beverages onboard, you'll get a 10% rebate as a statement credit.

No point limits

There are no limits or expiration for points as long as your account is open. Because of this and the $0 annual fee, you could rack up a ton of points over several years and essentially go on a dream trip for free.

Who is the Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum Mastercard best for?

The Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum Mastercard caters to people who use Amtrak frequently and don't want to pay an annual fee. It's ideal for commuters in the Northeast. You could use your points to book trips on the high-speed Acela train, which is more of a business class experience. Or you can save up points and go on a more extended trip like I did.

Who shouldn't use the Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum Mastercard?

This card's points are best used for Amtrak redemption. So if you're NOT a fan of rail travel, you should skip it.

Pros & cons

Pros
  • There is no annual fee.
  • You'll earn 1X points on all purchases in addition to the 12,000 bonus points.
  • Your points never expire.
Cons
  • Redeeming points for hotels or car rentals isn't as good of a deal.
  • It can take a long time to earn enough points for a single long-distance train ticket.
  • There aren't as many perks as other travel rewards cards.

Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum Mastercard vs. other travel credit cards

CardAnnual FeeAPRSign-Up Bonus
Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum Mastercard$013.99 to 23.99%12,000 points
Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard$7913.99% to 23.99%50,000 points
Chase Sapphire Preferred$9515.99% to 22.99%100,000 points
Capital One VentureOne$015.49% to 25.49%20,000 miles
Bank of America Travel Rewards$013.99% to 23.99%25,000 points
American Express Green Card$15015.99% to 22.99%50,000 points

Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard

The Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard is a worthwhile step up from the Platinum if you don't mind paying an annual fee. The World card offers 2X points on qualifying travel (not just Amtrak travel).
Perks include one complimentary Companion Coupon and a One-Class Upgrade coupon per cardholder each year your account is open. Plus, when you open an account, you'll also get one complimentary Single-Visit Station Lounge Pass.
You'll also earn 1,000 Tier-Qualifying Points (TQP) each time you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases during a calendar year. TQPs help you get to a more elite status of rewards like coupons, upgrades, and the potential to earn a 50% point bonus on Acela First Class travel.

Chase Sapphire Preferred

Chase's Sapphire Preferred card is one of the best out there for flexible travel rewards. That's because you can transfer your points 1:1 to other loyalty programs. Think: Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, and IHG Rewards Club.
You also get 25% more value for your points when you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Same thing when you redeem your points for statement credits through the Pay-Yourself-Back program. And if your trip gets canceled or car rental damaged, you're protected with Chase's built-in travel coverage.

Capital One VentureOne

The Capital One VentureOne card takes the approach of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. You can transfer reward miles to over 15 other loyalty programs like JetBlue and British Airways. But like the Amtrak Platinum card, there is no annual fee. Plus, you can earn unlimited rewards — 1.25 miles per $1 you spend on every purchase.

Bank of America Travel Rewards

Bank of America offers no annual fee, 25,000 bonus points, and unlimited 1.5 points for every $1 you spend on purchases. Rather than transferring points to another loyalty program, you redeem points for a statement credit after using your card to book a trip.

American Express Green Card

American Express offers some premium travel rewards cards. The downside? They're expensive to both the customer (higher annual fees) and merchants (higher swipe fees). Because of the swipe fees, American Express isn't as widely accepted as Visa or Mastercard. That said, their Green Card does offer a pretty compelling point system. You earn 3X points at restaurants, transit (including trains), hotels, airfare, car rentals, etc.

FAQs

Can I buy or transfer points?
Yes. You can buy points or share points with others. You can also transfer points from other loyalty programs into your Amtrak Guest Rewards account.
Can I redeem points on anything other than Amtrak travel?
Yes. You can redeem points for hotel stays and car rentals. You can also redeem points for gift cards. Think: Celebrity Cruises, Disney, shopping, restaurants, and entertainment.
Can I earn bonus points on balance transfers?
No. You have to make purchases using the card to get the bonus points.

The bottom line

The Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum Mastercard is a great card for people who love (or need) to travel by train. The $0 annual fee makes it easy to keep for the long term while you earn points for regular train travel or even a grand, long-distance adventure.
For people who aren't that into trains, though, the point redemption for hotels and car rentals is kind of a bummer. And unfortunately, you can't transfer points to other loyalty programs with this card.
If more points, perks, and redemption options are essential to you—and if you can pay an annual fee—opt for the Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard. But if you like the "free" aspect of carrying a decent rewards card and enjoy booking train trips with points, I recommend the Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum Mastercard.
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