Amtrak Credit Cards
40,000 Amtrak points, plus $100 statement credit, plus the other first year benefits ($2,500 spend). This is the best offer ever. Offer Link.($1480 net value, .59/$)
20,000 Amtrak points, plus a companion ticket, upgrade certificate, and single-visit lounge pass.
$1,000 initial spend
($800 net value, .80/$)Signup Bonus Chart
3x Amtrak Travel (≈8.7%)
2x Other Travel (≈5.8%)
1x Everything Else (≈2.9%)
No Foreign Transaction Fee
If you travel on Amtrak frequently enough to use all your Amtrak reward points on train tickets, you might want to use the Amtrak card as your general-purpose reward card and for all of your travel spending. Otherwise, the card is still interesting for its valuable signup bonus.
Amtrak Credit Card Options
There are two different Amtrak credit cards.
- Regular (World Mastercard) version. If you are interested in this card, you should probably get the regular version. It is worth paying the annual fee, to get a more generous signup offer, higher reward earning rates, and annual benefits.
- No-annual fee (Platinum) version. The no-annual fee version has a 12,000 point signup bonus (rather than a bonus of 20,000 points and several different valuable certificates). In addition, you'll only earn 2x points on Amtrak tickets (instead of 3x), and 1x points on other travel purchases (instead of 2x). Regardless of whether you only want the card for the signup bonus, or you are planning to make it a core part of your credit card collection, you are better off with the regular version of the card. Official Webpage
Introduction to Amtrak Points
- Amtrak's points are incredibly valuable (when used for Amtrak tickets). Amtrak operates a fixed-value reward program, where the number of points you need is calculated directly from the price of the seat or cabin you want to book. Points are valued at 2.89 cents each.
- You'll get slightly lower value if you redeem for Acela First Class. Amtrak gives you 2.5 cents per point, instead of 2.89 cents.
- Points are worth much less, if you don't use them for Amtrak purchases. You are only likely to be able to get about 1 cent per point. Technically, you could get decent value by transferring your points to Choice's hotel program. But, this option is only available for people with Amtrak elite status. And, if you are travelling on Amtrak often enough to earn elite status, you should be able to redeem your points with Amtrak instead.
To be fair, if there are saver fares available (Amtrak's lowest fare class), the pricing is still based on the regular "value" fare, and the value you receive for your points would be lower. For example, if there is a saver fare of $40, a value fare of $60, and a flexible fare of $80, a coach seat will cost 2077 points. Since you could have bought the ticket for $40 (instead of the $60 that was used to calculate the point cost), you would only be getting 1.9 cents in value per point.
If you are redeeming for business class seats, there are no saver fares, so you'll always get full value from your points. And much of the time, Saver fares aren't available, even for Coach, so your alternative would be paying the value fare.
Collecting the Signup Bonus
- If you travel on Amtrak (or are planning to travel on Amtrak), it is worth signing up for the card, just to collect the signup bonus. The normal 20,000 point signup offer is valued at $580 (at 2.9 cents per point). In addition, you'll get a coupon for a free companion ticket, upgrade, and lounge visit, which can be worth hundreds more.
- You can frequently receive an extra $100 statement credit. To get this better offer, you need to start making a "fake" purchase on the Amtrak website. When you get to the payment stage, Amtrak will typically present an offer to apply for the card, which includes the extra $100.
- You may want to wait for a promotional offer to become available. This card has occasionally offers a 30,000 point signup offer. Just don't put off getting the card if you want to take advantage of its benefits.
- It is possible to earn the same signup bonus multiple times. Bank of America doesn't limit your ability to earn multiple signup bonuses. You can even have more than one copy of the same card, at the same time. However, you will only be approved for four Bank of America cards every two years (with a maximum of three cards in any twelve month period, and two cards in any two month period), so choose your opportunities wisely.
- Don't bother signing-up for the no annual fee version. Even though the no annual fee version has an attractive signup bonus, there are limits to the number of Bank of America cards you can apply for, and you are better off with a card that has a more lucrative offer, even another version of the higher-end Amtrak World Mastercard.
For the purposes of our net value calculation, we value the various coupons at $200, but they can worth considerably more. After subtracting the annual fee, and the opportunity cost of using the card for $2,000 of spending, the calculated net value of the sign-up is $700 (35 cents per dollar spent). Your value may be higher or lower, depending on how much you value the points and the companion certificate.
Even if you want to make the no-annual-fee version part of your core credit card collection, you should initially sign up for the higher-end card, collect the better signup bonus, and then downgrade at the end of the year.
Other Notable Benefits
- Earns elite status qualifying points. For every $5,000 you spend with the card each year, you'll get 1,000 qualifying points for Amtrak elite status. Combined with the points you earn for travel, you'll have a faster path to Amtrak elite status. Qualifying points are capped at 4,000 points per year (from $20,000 in spending).
- 5% points rebate. When you redeem your points on Amtrak tickets, which is their most valuable redemption option, you'll receive 5% of your points back.
- Food and Beverage discount. The World version provides a 20% rebate and the Platinum version provides a 10% rebate on charges made for onboard food and beverage service.
- Free cell phone insurance. All Mastercard World credit cards include cell phone insurance if the use the card to pay their cell phone bill. Unlike most other credit card cell phone policies, the insurance even covers cosmetic screen scratches. The deductible is $50 and the maximum liability of $600 per claim and $1,000 per year.
- Access to Mastercard luxury hotel program. When you book at one of the participating hotels, you'll get an number of valuable benefits, like free breakfast, a $100 hotel credit, a room upgrade, and late checkout.Take Advantage of Luxury Hotel Programs for Valuable Extra Perks
- Free ShopRunner membership. Like all World Elite Mastercards, your card entitles you to a complimentary ShopRunner membership, which provides free two-day and return shipping from around 150 of the largest online retailers. ShopRunner
- Free museum entry. As with all Bank of America credit cards, you'll get free admission to hundreds of museums on the first weekend of every month. Admission is for the cardholder only. Guests are not included, nor are any special exhibitions and other ticketed shows. Museums on Us.
- BankAmeriDeals. Bank of America has a shopping discount program that works like Amex Offers. To get each discount, you'll need to "activate" it through their website. Once activated, discounts are automatically applied when you use your card for the corresponding purchase. Most deals are cash-back based (typically 10%), with the money being automatically applied to your credit card statement. BankAmeriDeals.
Using the Card for your Everyday Spending
- If you travel frequently enough on Amtrak to be able to redeem all your points on train tickets, the Amtrak card can be an excellent general-purpose reward card. Either version of the card essentially earns about 2.6 cents per dollar, on any purchase. You'll get price protection coverage, but you won't get return protection. Automatic Protection for the Things You Buy with Your Credit Card.
- If you don't travel frequently enough to redeem points from all your spending, but you occasionally travel on Amtrak, you can use the card for only a portion of your spending. For every $10,000 you spend on the card, you'll earn points good for $290 worth of Amtrak fares. If you are willing to deal with the extra hassle, it can be worthwhile to use the no-annual-fee Amtrak card for just enough spending, so that you can easily use all the points you earn on train travel. Then use a different general-purpose card for any additional spending.
For many people, this is a higher reward value than you can earn with any other card. However, if you highly-value premium cabin airplane seats, and have the patience to build-up enough points and find award availability, you should always try to collect Membership Rewards or Ultimate Rewards points instead. Advanced Options for Everyday Spending.
- The Amtrak card earn great rewards on travel purchases. The World Mastercard version earns 2x Amtrak Points, valued at 5.8 cents per dollar, on travel purchases. The Sapphire Reserve and Ink Preferred probably earn more valuable rewards on travel, but both are affected by the Chase 5/24 rule. The Amex Platinum card offers more valuable rewards on airfare purchases. And the more obscure Synovus Travel card can earn a bit more back. But, using this card is about as good as it gets. Best Credit Cards for Travel Spending.
- If you have the "regular" version of the card, you should use it for your Amtrak purchases. It earns 3x points, valued at 8.7 cents per dollar, more valuable than what you can earn from any other card. The no-annual-fee version only earns 2x points, valued at 5.8 cents per dollar. This is still a great rate, but lower than what is possible with one of the cards that offer the best rewards on travel spending.
- You don't want to use these cards for your everyday spending. You'll earn higher rewards from a good general-purpose reward card. Get a Great General Purpose Reward Card and Use It for All of Your Spending.
If you plan to use the card for your travel purchases, you should probably get the regular version'. You'll only need to spend about $3,000 on combined Travel or Amtrak purchases, for the extra reward points to offset the extra annual fee
Getting Rid of the Card
You can cancel your card without losing your Amtrak points. They are treated like any other points in your account.
You can convert your Amtrak card to the no-annual-fee version, but if you frequently ride Amtrak, you are usually better off keeping the annual-fee based version.
If you no longer want your either version of the Amtrak card consider changing it to a no-annual-fee BOA Cash Rewards Card, rather than cancelling it. The Cash Rewards card earns 3% on your first $2,000 of spending in a category of your choice, including a very broad "online purchases" category. If you have over $100,000 in assets at Bank of America and Merrill Lynch (including in a low-fee Merrill Lynch retirement account), you'll get a 75% points bonus, increasing the reward rate to 5.25%. You can only signup for this card if you don't already have one (or one of Bank of America's many other cards that have the same earning structure). But, you can product change to it, regardless of how many other Cash Rewards cards you have, allowing you to increase the amount of bonus rewards you can earn each quarter.
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