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 the Amtrak reward points you earn on train tickets, you might want to use the Amtrak card as your general-purpose reward card and for all of your travel spending. If you only travel on Amtrak occasionally, the card might still be interesting for its valuable signup bonus.
Amtrak Credit Card Options
There are two Amtrak credit cards.
World Mastercard. If you are interested in an Amtrak card, you should probably get the regular version. It is worth paying the $79 annual fee to get a more generous signup offer, higher reward earning rates, and extra benefits. Bank of America Webpage. Amtrak Webpage. Signup Bonus Chart.
Platinum (no-annual-fee). 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. Amtrak Webpage. Signup Bonus Chart.
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. For many tickets, 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).
- If you don't use them for Amtrak purchases, points are worth much less . 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 at higher value with Amtrak instead.
To be fair, if there are saver fares available (Amtrak's lowest fare class), the award pricing is still based on the regular "value" fare, and therefore 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 2,077 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.
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 typical signup bonus is 20,000 Amtrak points, 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.
- 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 for the initial year is $700 (35 cents per dollar spent). Your value may be higher or lower, depending on how much you value Amtrak points and the companion, upgrade, and lounge certificates.
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.
- Earns elite status qualifying points. For every $5,000 you spend with the card each year, you'll receive 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.
- 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
- DoorDash and Hello Fresh discounts. Cardmembers who have a DoorDash membership get $5 off their first two orders each month when paid for by their Mastercard. If you don't have a free membership from Chase, you can get your first three months membership for free through Mastercard. You also get a 5% credit back on each HelloFresh purchase.
- 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%). 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. Both version of the card essentially earn about 2.6 cents per dollar on everyday purchases. 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 are willing to use your points for award travel, you can earn more valuable rewards from other cards. For example, Using 1.5x Ultimate Rewards points for Hyatt award nights has more upside than getting 2.6 cents for Amtrak purchases, as is using 1.5-2x Membership Rewards points for frequent flyer tickets. As a result, the Alliant card is primarily for people who put a premium on actual cashback or who otherwise can't get enough value out of these other points currencies. Get a Great General Purpose Reward Card and Use It for All of Your Spending.
- If you don't travel frequently enough to redeem all the points you would earn each year, 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 to easily use all the points you earn on train travel. Then use a different general-purpose card for any additional 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. The Sapphire Reserve and Ink Preferred probably earn more valuable rewards on travel, but both are affected by the Chase 5/24 rule. Several cards earn more valuable rewards on airfare purchases. 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, which is 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 without worrying about losing your Amtrak points. Once you earn them, they are treated like any other points in your Amtrak account.
- If you cancel your card, you may not be able to easily get it back. Bank of America limits your ability to get more than 4 cards every 24 months and 3 cards every 12 months. And you can't get one of their cards if you've gotten more than 3 personal credit cards from any bank in the last 12 months (7 cards for BOA banking customers). If you are signing up for bunch of new credit cards, you won't be able to get new Bank of America cards.
- If you decide to cancel, you may want to change to the Cash Rewards Card instead. The Cash Rewards Card earns a base rate of 3% on your choice of categories, including online shopping. With Platinum Honors status, the reward rate is boosted to 5.25%. Since bonus rewards are capped for each quarter, it can be helpful to have multiple copies of the card. But the only way to currently get multiple copies is to convert from other Bank of America cards.
- If you want to cancel your Amtrak World Card, it is best to do so before you are charged your annual fee. Bank of America may refund the fee if you cancel shortly afterwards, but they may not.
- You might be able to receive a retention offer to keep your card. It could be enough to make it worthwhile to keep the card.
If you no longer want the Amtrak World Card, you can convert it to the no-annual-fee version. If you frequently travel on Amtrak, it is usually better to keep the World version. But if you don't want to pay the fee, converting to the no-annual-fee version makes it easy to convert back if you want to and continues to provide access to some minor benefits.
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