Skip to content

The best credit cards for train travel

Nov. 07, 2022
7 min read
The best credit cards for train travel
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

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.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

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.

TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
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
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
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

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
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

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • 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.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees