Looking to Save on Rail Travel? Take This Card Aboard

The Amtrak Guest Rewards World Mastercard rewards spending with points that save on train tickets.

[DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

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.

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Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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Amex Soups Up Platinum Card With Free Uber Rides

platinum card free uber rides

American Express is giving Platinum cardholders up to $200 a year in free Uber rides as part of a host of new rewards taking effect March 30.

The American Express Platinum card, which already came with a host of premium benefits like access to airport lounges and a $200 statement credit toward airline fees, is also increasing its already hefty annual fee of $450 to $550 as the new benefits come online.

In addition to the Uber credits, Platinum members will get five points in the American Express Membership Rewards Program for every dollar they spend booking eligible hotels on amextravel.com. Members also get access to more airport lounges and a new Global Dining Collection, which includes exclusive reserved seating at culinary events.

How to Get the Uber Credits

Many American Express cardholders use Uber, the company said in a press release. The new Uber Rides with Platinum reward will give members $15 in Uber credit per month, plus a $20 bonus in December, if they add their American Express Platinum Card as a payment method in the Uber app. The credits will show up in the app.

The expansion of the Global Lounge Collection gives cardholders access to more than 1,000 airport lounges across 120 countries. American Express also is expanding its “By Invitation Only” program, giving cardholders access to swanky events like the Harper’s Bazaar 150th anniversary party or the Grand Prix de Monaco.

Meanwhile, the existing benefits of Platinum membership remain, including one Membership Rewards Program point for every dollar spent. The points can be redeemed with more than a dozen airlines and to snag other rewards, like gift cards and merchandise. The card also confers travel insurance and purchase protections policies.

Another important thing to know: This isn’t really a credit card, but rather a charge card. Card holders are expected to pay their balance in full each month.

Regardless, you’ll need a strong credit score to qualify. To see where you stand, you can get your two free credit scores, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com.

At publishing time, the American Express Platinum card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

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5 New Starwood Hotels You Can Visit for Free

Planning your spring break vacation? Be sure to factor in these Starwood hotels you can stay at for free.

As we move into spring break season, a lot of you may have vacation plans. If not, then it might be time to start planning a trip. Deciding where to go can be the hardest part of all, as your bucket list of locations may be pretty long. However, if you have credit card rewards, your travel plans will probably be made based on your points and rewards. (You may also consider these 28 ways to save for this years big adventure.)

If you have a large balance of Starwood Points, you might want to consider one of these five Starwood properties that have recently opened around the world. Take a look.

1. Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel

Located in California’s Napa Valley, this new Luxury Collection hotel is perfect for any wine lover. Most of the hotels’ rooms come with spacious balconies overlooking the vineyards. When not taking advantage of the complementary shuttle, you can indulge yourself at the hotels’ luxury spa. Or you might choose to dine at The Acacia House, the restaurant by Top Chef alum Chris Cosentino.

This is a Category seven property, so it will set you back 30,000 to 35,000 points a night.

2. W Las Vegas

If Las Vegas is more your scene, make sure you check out the new W Las Vegas. Located on the northern end of the Strip, you will find this new property in one of the SLS towers. You will have access to seven different restaurants as well as three entertainment venues and a bar to wind down with a drink. If you want to get out and explore the Las Vegas area, Enterprise Rent-a-Car service is available.

The W Las Vegas is a Category five property, so it will cost 12,000 to 16,000 points a night.

3. Le Méridien Visconti Rome

If you are looking to get out of the U.S., then Rome might be the perfect place to visit this year. This new Starwood property is located in a prime location near the Vatican. If you have ever been to Rome, then you know that most of the city’s hotels were decorated with the renaissance style in mind. The Le Méridien Visconti Rome chose to do things a little differently, going for a sleek contemporary look. Not only does this hotel have the perfect location, you will enjoy its rooftop terrace while you relax after a long day of sightseeing.

The Le Méridien Visconti Rome is a Category five property, meaning rooms cost 12,000 to 16,000 points a night.

4. The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club

Polo is one of the most popular sports in the United Arab Emirates, and this property sits on a massive equestrian complex. In fact, the St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club is host to the Dubai Polo Gold Cup.

The St. Regis Dubai, Al Habtoor Polo Resort & Club is a Category six property, so rooms will cost 20,000 to 25,000 points a night.

5. Four Points by Sheraton Kolasin

If you are looking to hit the slopes this spring, you might want to check out the Four Points by Sheraton Kolasin. This chalet-style hotel, situated near Montenegro’s northern city, Kolašin, feels just like you are in the Rocky Mountains or Swiss Alps. And it has the services you require. You will find two on-site restaurants, a rental car counter, and a spa where you can relax after a long day on the slopes.

The Four Points by Sheraton Kolasin is a Category four hotel, which means rooms will cost 10,000 points a night.

How to Earn Starwood Points With Your Credit Card

The easiest way to earn Starwood points fast is by using the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express. When you sign up for this card, you will earn up to 35,000 points. You will earn 25,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. You will then earn an additional 10,000 points after spending another $2,000 in the first six months. (This offer expires April 5, 2017.)

When you use the card at Starwood properties, you can earn up to five points. You can also earn two points when you use the card at participating Marriott properties. All other purchases with the card will earn one point. As a cardholder, you will receive a credit for two stays and five nights that count toward SPG Elite status. (You can read more about this card in our American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Card review.)

You can choose to redeem your points at any of the 1,000+ Starwood properties, including the five mentioned above. You can also choose to transfer your points to one of many different airlines. When you do this, you will receive a 5,000 point bonus for every 20,000 points you transfer. This card has an annual fee of $95 that’s waived the first year. It carries a variable APR of 15.74% to 19.74%, based on your creditworthiness. (Not sure where your credit stands? You can view two of your scores for free on Credit.com.)

Note: Marriott bought Starwood hotels last year — You can go here to read about how this will impact your credit card rewards.

How to Earn Starwood Points for Your Business

If you are a business owner, then you will have even more options for earning Starwood points. In addition to the personal credit card, you will also be able to get the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express. With this card, you will have the chance to earn 35,000 points. You will receive 25,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. You will then earn another 10,000 points after spending an additional $3,000 in the first six months. (This offer ends April 5, 2017.)

With this card, you will be able to earn Starwood points the same way you can with the personal card. The business card also comes with a few extra benefits. You will receive unlimited complimentary Wi-Fi at any Boingo hotspot, and you will receive access to Sheraton Club lounges. The Starwood Preferred Guest Business card has a $95 annual fee, which is waived the first year. Its variable APR is 15.74%, 17.74% or 19.74% based on your creditworthiness when you apply.

At publishing time, the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer. Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer.

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The Credit Cards That Will Get You Past the Bouncer

red_carpet

Do you enjoy going to special events? Unfortunately, it’s become increasingly difficult to obtain tickets to the most popular sports and entertainment extravaganzas, and there’s many other experiences that never offer passes to the general public. Some credit cards, however, can offer you access to these events, including VIP experiences that can provide a glimpse “behind the velvet rope.”

Of course, you’ll need to read the terms and conditions carefully of any plastic you are considering to find the credit card that’s right for you. And you’ll also want to check your credit before applying. A good credit score helps you qualify for the better products on the market and you’ll want to be sure your credit score can handle a hard inquiry. (You can see where you currently stand by viewing your two free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com.)

Having said that, here are some credit cards and a few credit card rewards programs available with many cards that you can use to gain greater access to your favorite events.

1. The NFL Extra Points Card From Barclaycard

The NFL Extra Points Card from Barclaycard offers points that can be redeemed for tickets to NFL games or exclusive football experiences. Tickets are available to regular season games, the playoffs and even the Super Bowl. You can also redeem your points to attend experiences that are not sold to the public, such as a sideline pass for pre-game warm-ups, a chance to see your team emerge from the locker room or a post-game press conference. Cardholders choose a team before applying and the exclusive experiences can vary based on what that team offers. There is no annual fee for this card; it has a variable annual percentage rate of 15.24%20.24% or 25.24%, depending on your creditworthiness.   

2. The Platinum Card From American Express

One of the numerous benefits of American Express’ Platinum Card (see full review here) is its By Invitation Only program that gives cardholders access to extraordinary experiences including sports, fashion shows, fine dining and performing arts events. These experiences are customized for Platinum Card Members and are typically not available to the general public. This card also offers preferred seating to popular concerts, sports and entertainment events. There is a $450 annual fee for this card.  

3. The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card From American Express

The Starwood Preferred Guest credit card (see full review here) allows you to earn points in the Starwood Preferred Guest program which features SPG Moments, a chance to redeem points for exclusive access to music, sports and entertainment events. For example, packages that have been available include your own private luxury suite at Wrigley Field in Chicago, a luxury suite at Madison Square Garden to see comedian Amy Schumer and an event where you can meet Jennifer Lopez and enjoy VIP seats to her show in Las Vegas. There is a $95 annual fee for this card, waived the first year. Its APR is between 15.49% to 19.49% variable, depending on your creditworthiness. 

4. Citi Private Pass

This benefit is offered to Citi credit card and debit card holders, and features special access to live music, sports, dining, and family entertainment events. For example, events have included pre-sale concert tickets to see country music star Toby Keith, VIP and preferred pricing to a youth football camp with Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller of the Denver Broncos and an event featuring Cameron Diaz and Rachael Ray. (Full Disclosure: Citibank, American Express and Barclaycard advertise on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)

5. MasterCard Priceless Cities

Credit cardholders that are part of the MasterCard network can sign up for its Priceless Cities program, which features exclusive access to special events in some major cities. Offers have included a private Monument Park Tour at Yankee Stadium in New York and a behind-the-scenes tour of the Warner Bros. studios in Los Angeles.

6. Visa Signature

Credit card users who hold a Visa Signature card have access to exclusive events. For instance, events have included a free round of golf at Pebble Beach Golf Links with a two-night minimum stay at The Lodge, The Inn or Casa Palmero. In addition, preferred seats have been available to Cirque du Soleil shows.

At publishing time, the NFL Extra Points, American Express Platinum, Starwood Preferred Guest and Citibank credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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