Review of The Amtrak Guest Rewards MasterCard
Credit cards affiliated with the airlines are the most popular kind of travel reward cards, with hotel cards being second. Yet these two types of travel rewards overlooks an important exception, rail travel. Chase offers the Amtrak Guest Rewards MasterCard as a way of earning points for rail travel.
New cardholders earn 12,000 bonus points after their first use of this card. One point is earned for each dollar spent on most purchases, with two points per dollar being earned for purchases with Amtrak. There is no annual fee for this card, and points never expire. The standard interest rate for this card is equal to the Prime Rate plus 11.99% and there are no 0% APR credit card offers for financing at this time. There is a 3% foreign transaction fee on all transactions processed outside of the United States.
This card is nothing if not simple. There is no annual fee, a simple points accrual system, and the sign-up bonus comes after the first purchase. Likewise, redeeming Amtrak points is nearly as simple. Their award chart separates the country into three zones, and members redeem a ticket for any available seat or room throughout the zones they will be traversing. Furthermore, there is a lot of value in Amtrak’s award chart. For example, a bedroom on a trip within a single zone is a mere 25,000 points. With an airline miles credit card, this may get you a single coach seat on a domestic flight, assuming the award is available for the lowest amount of miles. With Amtrak, that same number of points can be redeemed for trip within one zone for a bedroom that sleeps two adults and a small child. This trip can be as long as 36 hours and it includes meals for all of the occupants. Such a ticket normally costs over $1,000, returning an excellent four cents in reward value per dollar spent on the card. Perhaps the best aspect of their program is that they have no capacity restrictions, although there are some blackout dates.
There are no promotional financing offers for this card. As a reward credit card, the interest rate is higher than other, low interest rate cards. Finally, it would be nice to see Chase remove the foreign transaction fees from all its products, rather than just the ones targeted at international travelers.
This is a great card for anyone who wishes to travel the rails for free. By combining a simple reward card with a valuable loyalty program, Chase and Amtrak make it easy to earn free train trips.