UPDATE: Zombie links are now dead.
This morning I wrote that Chase was no longer offering the Amtrak credit card. In that post I explained why the card was interesting, even to those not interested in Amtrak travel. A few hours after publication, Miles Whip tweeted that a user who goes by mia on Flyertalk had published two working application links:
I tried the first application (Link 1), and it worked! I was approved instantly. I called to find out the signup bonus: 12,000 points after $500 spend in 3 months. That’s not as good as the recent 18,000 point bonus (after $1K spend) that was offered, but it’s a lot better than nothing.
Should you get the card?
Assuming that the Chase rep I talked with yesterday was correct, Chase is not planning to continue providing this card to new customers. If that’s true, then the above links will most likely become inactive very soon. That begs the question of whether it makes sense to jump in now while the card is still available. Let’s look at the pros and cons…
- Amtrak points transfer 1 to 3 to Choice Hotel points, which can be quite valuable (see this morning’s post for details), but you need Amtrak elite status or the credit card to make the transfer.
- No annual fee
- Amtrak points are extremely valuable for train travel. See more here: Easy wins.
- Sometimes it pays off to have a card that’s no longer offered. For example, now that Citi has dramatically improved its Citi ThankYou points program, I’m very lucky to have the no longer available Citi Forward card which offers 5 points per dollar at restaurants, bookstores (including Amazon.com), and more. It’s unlikely that the Amtrak card will prove to be that valuable, but you never know.
- Weak signup bonus in exchange for a hard credit inquiry
- It’s possible that the Chase rep I talked with was wrong. Maybe Chase will reveal an even better offer soon.
- Even with the Amtrak credit card, transfers to Choice hotels require Amtrak elite status or $200 of Amtrak spend per year. If you don’t spend that much on Amtrak, then you won’t have the ability to transfer points.
- Even with the Amtrak credit card and $200 of Amtrak spend per year, you are limited in how many points you can transfer to Choice Privileges. Without Amtrak elite status, you can transfer only 25,000 Amtrak points per calendar year. That would result in a total of 75,000 Choice Privileges points which would be, at best, good for two nights in one of the top hotels in the world. For longer stays, it would be necessary to transfer points over multiple years, or obtain points some other way.
- Transfers to Choice Privileges may take a long time. The terms and conditions say: Please allow 6–8 weeks for points to transfer or show up on account.
- Unused Choice Privileges points expire within 2 years, even with activity in your account. So, once you transfer points from Amtrak you better have a solid plan for using those points!
Overall, whether or not you should signup for the card now probably depends upon how likely you would be to take advantage of transfers to Choice Privileges points. If you think it is very likely that you would take advantage of it often, and that you can live within the 25K transfer limit, then go for it. Otherwise, its probably best to sit this one out.
Amtrak transfer to Choice Privileges, Terms & Conditions
For those interested, here are the terms & conditions for transfering Amtrak points to Choice (found here, under “Hotels”):
Only Members with Amtrak Guest Rewards Select, Select Plus or Select Executive tier and Members that are active cardholders of the Amtrak Guest Rewards® MasterCard® issued by Chase Bank with an Amtrak travel spend on the card of over $200 per calendar year may redeem for hotel points and Audience Rewards points.
- Members that are active cardholders of the Amtrak Guest Rewards® MasterCard® issued by Chase Bank with an Amtrak travel spend on the card of over $200 per calendar year may redeem up to 25,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards points per calendar year for hotel points and Audience Rewards.
- Current Amtrak Guest Rewards Select or Select Plus Members (including those who are active cardholders of the Amtrak Guest Rewards® MasterCard® issued by Chase Bank with an Amtrak travel spend on the card of over $200 per calendar year) may redeem up to 50,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards points per calendar year for hotel points and Audience Rewards.
- Current Amtrak Guest Rewards Select Executive Members (including those who are active cardholders of the Amtrak Guest Rewards® MasterCard® issued by Chase Bank with an Amtrak travel spend on the card of over $200 per calendar year) are not subject to point limits when redeeming for hotel points and Audience Rewards.
These maximums include, but are not limited to, Choice Privileges points.
- Amtrak Guest Rewards members may redeem Amtrak Guest Rewards points in exchange for Choice Privileges points. Members requesting to exchange points must be a member of both Amtrak Guest Rewards and Choice Privileges to complete the exchange. Both the Amtrak Guest Rewards account and the Choice Privileges account must be in the same name.
- Amtrak Guest Rewards points can be exchanged for Choice Privileges points by contacting the Amtrak Guest Rewards service center at 1-800-307-5000 or online. Please have your Amtrak Guest Rewards and Choice Privileges member numbers on hand.
- Amtrak Guest Rewards points will be converted to Choice Privileges points in increments of 5,000 Amtrak Guest Rewards points to 15,000 Choice Privileges points.
- Once Choice Privileges points have been requested, points will automatically be transferred to the member’s Choice Privileges account and deducted from the member’s Amtrak Guest Rewards account. Please allow 6–8 weeks for points to transfer or show up on account.
- Once points are credited to the member’s Choice Privileges account, changes, reissuance or recredit of Amtrak Guest Rewards points are not allowed.
- Amtrak Guest Rewards points that are exchanged into the member’s Choice Privilegesaccount are subject to the terms and conditions of the Choice Privileges program. Choice Privileges membership, earning of Points and Airline Rewards, and redemption of Choice Privileges points are subject to Choice Privileges Terms and Conditions.
- In the case of fraud, misrepresentation, abuse, or violation of applicable rules involving Amtrak Guest Rewards points or program rewards use, Amtrak reserves the right to take appropriate administrative and/or legal action, including the forfeiture of accumulated points and program rewards, and termination of participation in Amtrak Guest Rewards.
- All terms and conditions are subject to change without notice. Amtrak reserves the right to alter or cancel the Amtrak Guest Rewards program at any time. Amtrak Guest Rewards is not responsible for any products or services offered by other companies participating in the Amtrak Guest Rewards program (“Program Merchants”). Program Merchants are solely responsible for the quality and performance of the goods and services supplied. Any rules of the Program Merchants relating to returns and exchanges apply, but no points will be re-credited to a member’s Amtrak Guest Rewards account. Use of the Amtrak Guest Rewards does not, in any way, indicate that Amtrak recommends or endorses the Program Merchant, regardless of whether the Program Merchant participates in Amtrak Guest Rewards.
- Amtrak Guest Rewards point exchange is a benefit of the Amtrak Guest Rewards program, and is subject to all Amtrak Guest Rewards Terms & Conditions.