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As the holiday season arrives, travel becomes a hot topic. People start booking train tickets, airfare decisions are made, and routes for getting from here-to-there are determined. This time can also be a stressful one, as the price of travel usually increases and people take to the air and hit the road by the masses. Amtrak provides an alternative means of transportation and we wondered if it’s possible to save some of your hard earned money with the Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard. The card has ways to earn you points and save you money.
We decided to look further into this option and broke down the features below, so that you can decide if this card is right for you.
Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard Features:
- Receive 12,000 bonus points after you spend $500 in the first 3 months
- 2 points per $1 on Amtrak travel
- 1 point per $1 on everyday purchases
- 5% point rebate on Amtrak redemption travel
- Points never expire as long as you are a cardholder
What we Like
As a cardholder, you are automatically enrolled in the Amtrak Guest Rewards® program. As an Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard member, points will never expire, regardless of whether or not you make any Amtrak purchases or not; however, you must remain a cardholder to take advantage of this policy. We personally love a card where points never expire!
Let’s say you are purchasing tickets for your family to travel over the holidays, a time when you also purchase gifts. You can easily accumulate a fair amount of points with the ability to receive an additional 12,000 points by spending $500 dollars within the first 3 months of card membership. With those reward points, a free Amtrak ticket may not be so hard to come by. Free Amtrak travel starts at 1,500 points for a one way trip between Los Angeles and San Francisco. In the Northeast, one way trips start at 4,000 points.
An additional feature for cardholders is the rewards program; it gives the cardmember a 5% point rebate, with points being re-deposited into your Amtrak Guest Rewards® account each time you redeem for Amtrak travel. Finally, there is a “double dip” phenomenon that occurs because you earn 2 points per $1 on all Amtrak net purchases.
Amtrak is currently running a Double Days Double Points program for all Amtrak purchases now through November 22. To take advantage of this great deal, you must be an Amtrak Guest Rewards member –as a cardholder you are automatically enrolled- and then register for the offer.
What we’re not so Crazy About
Most of the rewards available are offered through the Amtrak Guest Rewards program. The World MasterCard version does offer a few additional perks, but these perks seem to be most salient for Amtrak regulars. One point per $1 earnings on everyday purchases is a pretty standard rate in the credit card industry, so if you don’t travel by Amtrak at least four times per year, you would be better off with a credit card that earns more points for everyday purchases. Always be sure to check the terms and conditions of your credit card.
If you are someone who passes the majority of their spending through a credit card, this card could offer you great benefits; however, if you only make the occasional purchase with this card, your benefits may not be so great.
The Bottom Line
Overall, the Amtrak Guest Rewards Program is relatively standard. The program has a four-tier membership system based on the number of points earned within a calendar year. Points can be redeemed for hotel stays, car rentals, train upgrades, cruises, movie tickets and gift certificates to retailers and restaurants.
With the Amtrak Guest Rewards World MasterCard you do have the additional ability to earn points through everyday purchases and are qualified to earn the previously mentioned 5% rebate when redeeming points for Amtrak travel. If you are specifically looking for a way to save on travel, and have an Amtrak station nearby, this card may be really useful for you, especially in the upcoming holiday environment. The card’s APR of 15.24% is relatively standard.
On the flip side, should you be someone who prefers to fly and really doesn’t travel by rail, you might want to consider a great rewards credit card that will get you points for air travel in addition to other modes of transportation. If you already have a rewards credit card, then simply becoming a member of the Amtrak Guest Rewards program may be a better fit for you. The main difference between only being a member of the program vs. becoming a MasterCard cardholder pertains to the increased possibility of accruing points and how the expiration of points is defined.
*Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.
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