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The best credit cards for train travel

Nov. 07, 2022
7 min read
The best credit cards for train travel
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Whether you're aiming to reduce your carbon footprint or simply eliminate some of the hassles that can come with air travel on shorter trips, you may find yourself opting to travel by train more often than you used to.

And when booking train travel, you'll want to pay attention to the credit card you reach for. Many of our favorite travel cards also offer an excellent return in this space, but train travel also unlocks the unique benefits of the Amtrak credit cards.

Recently, the cards formerly known as Bank of America Amtrak credit cards became First National Bank of Omaha (FNBO) Amtrak rewards credit cards.

THE POINTS GUY

And after a period of being closed to new applicants, these cards are now available again. In addition to a new bank, they also have new looks and new bonuses.

If you find yourself traveling by train, it's worth your time to take a look at these cards and determine if they are a worthwhile addition to your wallet.

Amtrak Guest Rewards® Preferred Mastercard®

THE POINTS GUY

Sign-up bonus: Earn 30,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three billing cycles from account opening. TPG values Amtrak points at 2.5 cents apiece, making this bonus worth $750.

Annual fee: $99.

Perks: Earn 3 points per dollar on Amtrak travel (including onboard purchases), 2 points per dollar on dining, travel, transit and rideshare and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Cardholders also receive a 20% rebate as a statement credit for onboard food and beverage purchases with this card as well as receive a 5% points rebate when redeeming points with Amtrak. They receive a station lounge pass, one class upgrade and a round-trip companion coupon. Additionally, they are exempt from points expiration.

The information for the Amtrak Guest Rewards Preferred has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

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Amtrak Guest Rewards® Mastercard®

THE POINTS GUY

Sign-up bonus: Earn 12,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three billing cycles from account opening. TPG values Amtrak points at 2.5 cents apiece, making this bonus worth $300.

Annual fee: $0.

Perks: Earn 2 points per dollar on Amtrak travel including onboard purchases, 2 points per dollar on dining and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Cardholders receive a 10% rebate as a statement credit for onboard food and beverage purchases, a 5% rebate when redeeming points for travel on Amtrak and exemption from points expiration.

The information for the Amtrak Guest Rewards Mastercard has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Best cards for train travel

Of course, an Amtrak Guest Rewards credit card isn’t the only way to earn points for train travel. Here is how they compare to some other great options for travelers exploring the world by rail:

CardAmtrak Guest Rewards® Mastercard®Amtrak Guest Rewards® Preferred Mastercard®Capital One Venture Rewards Credit CardChase Sapphire Preferred CardAmerican Express® Green Card
Annual fee$0.$99.$95.$95.$150
(see rates & fees).
Earning rates2 points per dollar on Amtrak travel, 2 points per dollar on dining, 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.3 points per dollar on Amtrak travel, 2 points per dollar on other travel and 1 point per dollar on everything else.2 miles per dollar on everyday spending.5 total points per dollar on all travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3 points per dollar on dining, including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out; 3 points per dollar on select streaming services; 3 points per dollar on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs); 2 points per dollar on all other travel purchases; 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.3 points per dollar on travel and dining at restaurants, 1 point per dollar on everything else.
Sign-up bonus12,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three billing cycles from account opening.30,000 points after making at least $1,000 in purchases within the first three billing cycles from account opening.75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.40,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first six months
TPG points value*2.5 cents.2.5 cents.1.85 cents.2 cents.2 cents.
Benefits10% rebate for onboard food and beverage purchases, 5% rebate when booking Amtrak with points.One free station lounge pass per year; annual companion, upgrade coupons; and 5% rebate when booking Amtrak travel with points.Transfer miles to Venture Rewards partners; up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck.Transfer points to Ultimate Rewards partners; travel insurance and purchase protection.Transfer points to Amex Membership Rewards partners, $189 statement credit annual toward CLEAR.

*Bonus valuation based on TPG valuations and not provided by the issuer.

The information for the Amex Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Bottom line

If you regularly travel by train, an Amtrak credit card in your wallet is a smart choice.

The additional points per dollar earned on Amtrak travel along with the train-related perks that come with them make the Amtrak cards a smart choice for riding the rails. While other cards can match the points per dollar earning, Amtrak points are worth more than many other types of points. This means that, for instance, earning 3 points of those points per dollar will have a greater return than earning 3 points per dollar on the Amex Green card.

That said, to realize that increased value, you’ll need to redeem the points on Amtrak travel (although you can also redeem them for hotels, car rentals, cruises, dining, entertainment and gift cards). If you are worried about lengthy delays or cancellations, factoring in various card’s built-in trip protections when booking your train ticket may also be wise.

So, for frequent Amtrak travelers, it makes sense to have and use an Amtrak rewards credit card, especially when booking train trips. However, using an all-around top travel card with more flexible rewards is likely a good call for those who aren’t frequent Amtrak riders.

For rates and fees of the Amex Green Card, please click here.

Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson.

Featured image by ANDRESR/GETTY IMAGES
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more