Home > Credit Cards > Looking to Save on Rail Travel? Take This Card Aboard

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Traveling by train offers a number of advantages over flying or driving. Rail travel can provide better comfort, eliminate the hassle of the airport and offer a better opportunity to take in sights along the way. Amtrak covers many American regions by rail, offering passengers a way to travel to more than 500 destinations in 46 states.

If you love to travel with Amtrak, you may want to check out the Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard, which rewards spending with points that save on train tickets.

Riding the Rails Earns Rewards

The Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard earns three points for every dollar you spend with Amtrak. You’ll also earn two points for every dollar you spend on other qualifying travel purchases such as airfare, car rentals, cruises and hotel stays, and one point for every dollar spent on everything else.

You’ll get 20,000 bonus points if you spend $1,000 on your card within 90 days of opening your account.

Points can be redeemed for many things, including hotel certificates, car rentals and gift cards. But the greatest redemption value is reserved for rail travel, as you’ll earn back 5% of all points redeemed for Amtrak tickets.

In addition, every $5,000 in purchases you charge to your card in a calendar year earns 1,000 Tier Qualifying Points (TQPs), for up to 4,000 TQPs in a year. Earning enough TQPs can qualify you for Amtrak Guest Rewards membership, which comes in different tiers and offers benefits such as extra point bonuses, seat upgrades, exclusive discounts and lounge access.

Additional Amtrak Perks

You’ll also get the opportunity to travel with a friend and ride in style. Upon opening your account, you’ll receive a free Companion Coupon, a class upgrade and a single day pass to Amtrak’s ClubAcela, Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge or First Class lounges.

Each year you renew your card membership, you’ll get another free Companion Coupon and class upgrade.

The Cost to Ride the Rails

The card comes with a variable 13.74% to 23.74% annual percentage rate on purchases and balance transfers.

The annual fee is $79. There are no foreign transaction fees. Balance transfers incur a fee of $10 or 3% of the amount of the transfer, whichever is greater.

Is Amtrak’s Credit Card for You?

As you might have guessed, Amtrak’s credit card is best suited to frequent Amtrak customers. Amtrak ticket purchases earn the greatest number of points, so you won’t see as much value if you don’t frequently travel with Amtrak. The best redemption value is reserved for Amtrak tickets, which earn back 5%. If you’re eyeing the signup bonus, remember that it comes with a 90-day spending minimum.

You’ll also have to be willing to pay an annual fee of $79. If that isn’t appealing, Amtrak offers a credit card with no annual fee, but it earns fewer points, has a smaller signup bonus and doesn’t offer complimentary Companion Coupons.

If you also like to fly or drive to your destinations, you might be better off with a general travel card that rewards all travel methods. As different travel credit cards reward different types of purchases, you’ll want to shop around for the card that rewards the trips you tend to make.

Travel rewards credit cards usually require good to excellent credit. A hard inquiry into your credit can lower your score a few points, so you should be reasonably certain you can qualify before you apply. You can see two of your credit scores free on Credit.com to gain insight into your credit.

Want more ideas on how to save on travel? We’ve got 50 ways to travel without overspending right here.

Image: halbergman

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