A money-saving ‘advantage’

Tracy Warner

For many Western Illinois University students, travel is a big part of college life. So is being on a tight budget. The Student Advantage Discount Card enables students to save money on Amtrak fares as well as discounts on purchases at 15,000 locations on campus, online and nationwide. When students use the Advantage Card they can save 15 percent on most Amtrak coach fares all year long to over 500 destinations in the U.S.

The annual fee for the card is $22.50 or $62.50 for four years, with the card covering travel on either the Amtrak or VIA Rail Canada line. One condition of using the card is that it must be utilized at least three days before the expected travel date.

According to Macomb Travel Center General Manager John Vigezzi, approximately 8,500 college students in Illinois currently use the discount card. Between 500 to 600 applications were passed out at Western, but Vigezzi said that he does not have a record of how many Western students actually have or use the card.

“It’s a great advantage for college students because the more money you can save, the better,” Vigezzi said. “The Advantage Card saves them so much money.”

By using the Advantage Card, students can make their travel plans ahead of time and get the lowest fares in addition to their card savings. According to Vigezzi, with the savings on just one trip, the card pays for itself.

“Having been a college student myself, I know that it can be a burden to get back and forth, especially numerous times if you have classes or friends that you want to see or if you want to go back and see mom and dad,” Vigezzi said. “If you’re saving $15, in four trips you can pay yourself for another trip. So essentially, for every four trips, you’re getting a free trip.”

“I take the train once in a while to Naperville, but I never really knew about the Advantage Card and all of its benefits,” said Randi Foust, junior fashion merchandising major. “I might look into it.”

The Student Advantage Discount Card benefits do not stop with discounts on travel with Amtrak. College students can also get cardholder savings on everyday items like food, clothes, music, textbooks and much more. Target, Urban Outfitters, Dell, Barnes & Noble, Champs Sports, Spring Break Travel and Lady Foot Locker are just a few of the participating locations that offer discounts to Student Advantage cardholders.

Students who are interested in applying for the Student Advantage Discount Card can do so in a variety of ways. The Macomb Travel Center has applications that can be completed and mailed in, or students can call 1-877-2JOINSA and use Promotion Code STUDENT 31. An online application is also available at www.studentadvantage.com.