The Best Credit Card for Amtrak: Ride the Rails to Rewards in 2021

These credit cards are ideal for Amtrak travelers because you can earn bonus points for train travel, whether it’s personal or for business.
Last updated Jun 4, 2021 | By Christy Rakoczy
Best Credit Card for Amtrak

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Amtrak spans 46 states plus Washington D.C., has an estimated 21,000 miles of routes, and operates more than 300 different trains each day. Because you can take Amtrak to get to more than 500 different destinations across the U.S. — and even a few in Canada — it should come as no surprise that traveling on Amtrak is a popular transportation option.

Whether you take Amtrak to work on a daily basis or are taking it for the first time for a fun trip, it's important to consider what the best credit card for Amtrak is. By choosing a card that provides extra credit card points and miles or special perks for Amtrak trips, you can get rewarded for the spending you're doing as you enjoy a pleasant, safe, and energy-efficient journey.

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How to choose the best credit card for Amtrak

When choosing which credit card to use for an Amtrak purchase, you'll likely want to focus on a card that rewards you for transportation or travel spending. Train tickets are typically classified by credit card issuers as travel spending and your ticket purchase will account for the bulk of your Amtrak-related expenditure.

That said, you can get even more bang for your buck if the card you choose provides bonus points for spending on dining, in addition to travel. This can help you maximize the points you earn if you eat on the train and your food purchase is categorized as restaurant spending.

But it's not just the chance to earn bonus credit card rewards that makes a particular card a good choice for Amtrak. You also want to look at the cardholder perks. These perks can include free companion tickets, travel rebates for Amtrak spending, and other Amtrak-specific benefits. Cards that offer special perks are more common for airline travel, but there are options for those who prefer to ride the rails.

As you read our recommendations for the best credit cards for Amtrak below, it will help to think about how the card will fit with your broader lifestyle as well. If you're a regular commuter, you take the train every day, and you spend a fortune with Amtrak, then it makes a lot of sense to get an Amtrak-focused card. But if Amtrak is just one of many means of transportation you use, a broader general purpose travel card may be a better bet.

The 5 best cards for Amtrak

Card Welcome bonus Rewards rate Annual fee
Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard Earn 20,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in first 90 days 3X points on Amtrak purchases, including onboard purchases; 2X points on other eligible travel purchases; 1X point on all other purchases $79
Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum Mastercard Earn 12,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days 2X points on Amtrak purchases, including onboard purchases; 1X points on all other purchases $0
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Earn 100,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months 5X points on Lyft rides (through March 2022), 2X points on eligible dining and travel, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases $95
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months 10X points on Lyft rides, 3X points on travel (excluding $300 travel credit), 3X points at restaurants, and 1X points per $1 spent on everything else $550 
Citi Premier Card Earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months 3X points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations, and on air travel and hotels; and 1X points on all other purchases $95

Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard

The Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard is a top choice for a credit card if you commute regularly with Amtrak and want cardholder perks designed for frequent train users.

This card not only offers great points-earning potential — 3X points on Amtrak purchases, including onboard purchases; 2X points on other eligible travel purchases; 1X point on all other purchases — but you can also get a free companion coupon to bring a friend along on your journey. The companion coupon is worth up to $300 in Amtrak travel and is awarded both when you open your account and when your account renews on each anniversary. So you get one for each year you have the card.

An annual upgrade coupon also lets you travel in style once per year and has a $150 value. Plus you get a 5% rebate on rewards whenever you redeem for Amtrak travel and a 20% rebate on food and beverage purchases made with your card on board Amtrak trains.

As if all this wasn't enough, your card also scores you a Station Lounge Pass for a complimentary free visit once per year, and you'll earn 1,000 Tier Qualifying Points in the Amtrak Membership program for each $5,000 in spending per year, up to a maximum of 4,000 tier qualifying points. Amtrak's membership program has four tiers, including Member, Select, Select Plus, and Select Exclusive. Each tier comes with great perks including class upgrades, lounge access, companion coupons, and more.

These features make the card well worth its $79 annual fee, especially when you factor in the 20,000 bonus points for new cardmembers who make $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening. This bonus is enough for a free trip to many popular Amtrak destinations.

Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum MasterCard

The Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum MasterCard is a no-annual fee Amtrak card that could be a better choice for those who want Amtrak-specific rewards but who don't travel on Amtrak trains often enough to justify the annual fee for the World MasterCard.

The Guest Rewards Platinum Card provides a 12,000-point bonus for new cardmembers who make $1,000 or more in purchases within first 90 days of opening an account. Cardmembers also get 2X points per dollar spent on Amtrak purchases, including onboard purchases, instead of 3X points per dollar with the Amtrak World MasterCard. You earn 1X points per dollar spent on all other purchases, so there's unfortunately no bonus for other travel spending.

The card does not come with all the perks that the World MasterCard does, though. That said, you’ll still get a 5% rebate on points redeemed for Amtrak travel, and you’ll enjoy a 10% rebate on food and beverage purchases on Amtrak trains.

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a great card if you travel on Amtrak but also want to earn rewards for other trips you take. The card provides 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases, so you'll get bonus rewards both for buying your train tickets as well as for any food you purchase on the train. If you need a ride to the train station, you can also earn 5X points on Lyft rides (through March 2022).

The annual fee of $95 is more expensive than the Amtrak World MasterCard but you get plenty of features and perks for that price, including a 25% bonus on all points redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards and free DoorDash DashPass for a year, as well as trip cancellation insurance and baggage delay insurance.

New cardmembers also earn 100,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. While Chase Ultimate Rewards points can no longer transfer to the Amtrak Member Rewards program as they did prior to 2015, Chase still allows you to redeem points for travel through Ultimate Rewards or to transfer points to one of many airlines or hotel partners. So, although you can't use your Chase points for Amtrak tickets anymore, you could use them to book a hotel at your destination or for other trips where you don't take the train.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

This Chase Sapphire Reserve Card comes with a $550 annual fee so it’s is best used by those who will fully take advantage of its benefits — including travel not only with Amtrak but also other travel purchases including plane tickets, hotels, cruises, rental cars, and more.

This premium travel card is ideal for Amtrak users because you get 3X points on travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and restaurants, so you can be richly rewarded for train ticket purchases and food purchases in rail car restaurants. You'll also get a $300 statement credit to reimburse you for travel purchases charged to your card, which goes a long way toward defraying the annual fee. And, if you redeem your points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, your points will be worth 50% more.

As if all this isn't enough, the Chase Sapphire Reserve opens up the door to airport lounges in more than 500 cities with complimentary lounge access. So if you fly as well as take the train, you can relax in style at the airport. You'll also earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. This alone is worth up to $900 in free travel.

Citi Premier Card

The Citi Premier Card charges a $95 annual fee, which makes it more expensive than the Amtrak cards but less expensive than the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

The card is a great one for Amtrak users despite this fee because you get 3X points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel, hotels and 1X points on all other eligible purchases. So like many other cards on this list, you get bonus points both for train ticket purchases as well as for food you buy on the train. All will net you point per dollar spent.

With the Citi Premier you can also earn 80,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. This can be redeemed for up to $750 in free travel with no blackout dates.

The 2 best business credit cards for Amtrak

If you're an entrepreneur, using Amtrak can help keep commuting costs down for you and your employees — and a train trip is an excellent time to get work done. There are also plenty of great business cards that will help you score additional rewards for your Amtrak purchases.

Two of the best business credit cards to consider include the following.

  • Chase Ink Business Preferred: This card comes with a very generous 100,000 points for new cardmembers who spend $15,000 in the first 3 months. You can also earn 3X points per dollar on first $150,000 spent each year on travel, shipping, internet, cable, or phone services, and advertising purchases with social media and search engines — so you can earn ample bonus points for buying Amtrak tickets. Free employee cards also enable your staff to book their train travel with their cards and supersize your rewards. The $95 annual fee is well worth these perks, especially as you get a 25% bonus when redeeming points for travel-related purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • Bank of America Business Advantage Travel Rewards World Mastercard: With this card, you get 3X points per $1 spent on rental car, hotel, and airline purchases made through the Bank of America Travel Center; and 1.5X points on all other eligible purchases. You can also earn 30,000 points after you spent $3,000 in the first 90 days. With a $0 annual fee and a 0% APR on purchases for 9 months, this is one of the most affordable business cards you can use to earn points on Amtrak purchases as well as trips you take via plane or rental car.

Why we chose these cards?

We looked for credit cards that offered special benefits for Amtrak riders, as well as cards that rewarded travel and dining purchases since your Amtrak train tickets and on-rail purchases would fit within these categories.

We also looked for cards that provided enough perks to justify their annual fees — if they charge for being a cardholder — and that offer generous signup bonuses so you'll be rewarded for becoming a cardmember.

The bottom line on the best credit card for Amtrak

Picking the best travel credit cards for Amtrak isn't always easy with so many good options out there. You should consider your lifestyle and spending priorities when you pick which card is right for you.

If you only or primarily travel on Amtrak, one of the Amtrak-focused cards would be a better bet — but if you also fly or drive, then consider one of the broader travel credit cards that rewards you for every type of trip you take no matter how you get to your destination.

New, Higher Sign Up Bonus - Worth $1250 Toward Travel

Benefits

  • Best offer ever! 100,000 point sign-up bonus
  • 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases
  • 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Premium travel protection benefits

Author Details

Christy Rakoczy Christy Rakoczy has a Juris Doctorate from UCLA Law School with a focus in Business Law, and a Certificate in Business Marketing with an English Degree from The University of Rochester. As a full-time personal finance writer, she writes about all things money-related but her special areas of focus are credit cards, personal loans, student loans, mortgages, smart debt payoff strategies, and retirement and Social Security. Her work has been featured by USA Today, MSN Money, CNN Money and more, and you can learn more at her LinkedIn profile.