You are currently viewing 12 Tips On How To Save Money On Amtrak Tickets
How To Save Money On Amtrak Tickets

12 Tips On How To Save Money On Amtrak Tickets

Do you like saving money? If you do, this article is for you if you want to save money on your next Amtrak adventure. If you are new to train travel, this article is a great page to bookmark for later.

Milwaukee Amtrak ticket counter
Milwaukee Amtrak ticket counter

Like any other form of travel, flexibility and early booking often yield the best deals.

Some discounts count for tickets bought on your day of travel while others may need three or more days.

If you want to learn how to save money when booking Amtrak tickets, check out these tips I put together to see if you can save some money.

Let’s see if we can save you some cash!

1) Sign Up For Amtrak Emails To Save Money To Keep Updated

Stay up to date on the latest Amtrak deals.

Amtrak's Capital Limited
Amtrak’s Capitol Limited stopped in Cumberland, Maryland.

Signing up for Amtrak emails is an excellent way to stay updated with Amtrak’s newest deals.

Amtrak emails

  • Include limited-time promotions
    • Amtrak sometimes runs spur-of-the-moment promotions where you buy now and travel soon.
    • Or they offer deals where you book now and travel later.
  • Exclusive deals for Amtrak Guest Rewards members (more about this below)
  • Plus, receive the most recent Amtrak news.

While we all get a lot of emails in our inboxes, this could be worth your time. Another one you might enjoy is the Travels with Kev email.

2) Travel With A Buddy

While I am a solo traveler, I know having a travel buddy can save you money. It can be fun to share your experience with someone else, and a bonus if they can help save you both some cash.

Paula and Mack
Paula and Mackenzie outside of their Amtrak sleeper car

You can save money with a buddy when sharing an Amtrak Sleeper Accommodation.

There is one room rate when booking a room on Amtrak, although both passengers pay a rail fare.

When booking two people in a room, the price on the screen is the price for both, providing you searched for two people.

Another Way Two Passengers Can Save Money

There is another way you can save money if traveling with others.

If you want a little more room and considering a bedroom, sometimes booking two roomettes can be cheaper than booking one bedroom. You need to call Amtrak or go to a staffed station to see if you can get rooms across from each other or at least near each other if you do this option.

This tip could also work in reverse, meaning that one bedroom could come in cheaper than two roomettes.

While the bedroom has more room for luggage and whatnot, two roomettes give each person more personal space, and this way, no one has to climb in an upper bunk.

3) Amtrak Share Fares (Three-Eight Passengers)

Amtrak Share Fares are a discount for up to eight people.

Amtrak Coach
Amtrak Superliner coach seating

Amtrak Share Fares provides a group discount of up to 60% off tickets for eight passengers traveling together on the same reservation. Here’s how the deal works:

  • Passenger 1 – regular price (or lowest available fare)
  • Passenger 2 – regular price (or lowest available fare)
  • Passenger 3 – 17% off all tickets
  • Passenger 4 – 30% off all tickets
  • Passenger 5 – 39% off all tickets
  • Passenger 6 – 47% off all tickets
  • Passenger 7 – 54% off all tickets
  • Passenger 8 – 60% off all tickets 

Share Fares are available on Coach seats for most Amtrak routes, including train routes such as the Northeast Regional, Empire Builder, Auto Train, Downeaster, Palmetto, and California Zephyr. The offer is also available in Acela Business Class.

Discount applied automatically when qualifying travel is selected from this page or apply code V291 on the Amtrak app or website. A 2-day advance purchase is required to get this deal. 

4) Check Out Amtrak’s Online Deals

Amtrak’s online deals include seasonal, limited-time offers and exclusive discounts on select trains.

The Amtrak website offers some deals for you to check out.

  • Current Deals
  • Saver fares: Amtrak offers 25% off long-distance coach seats when purchased 14 days in advance. Reservations are limited, and restrictions do apply.

5) Buy A Multi-ride Pass for Regional Trains

Select routes such as the Hiawatha offer flexibility and savings with multi-ride passes. Passes range from monthly to ten-ride passes and a student six-ride pass in a few areas. It is kind of like bulk buying of tickets. These tickets are not transferable, meaning others cannot use yours.

For more information, check out this page on Amtrak’s Multi-ride Passes.

6) Buy Multi-City Tickets

Multi-city tickets allow you to book a trip or sections of your adventure together without them being in consecutive days or cities. In other words, if you are planning a journey from the Sturtevant Depot to Charleston, SC, but want to spend a few days in Philadelphia, it is possible to book it on one ticket.

While this trip may not save money, it’s worth trying. Even when this trick does not save money, it can still help you stay organized with fewer tickets.

7) Rail Passenger Association Membership

Amtrak Coffee
Coffee from an Amtrak Cafe Car

Members receive a 10% discount on Amtrak’s rail fare when purchasing tickets three or more days in advance (the discount does not apply to upgrades). 

The Rail Passenger Association (PRA), formally known as the National Association of Rail Passenger Association (NARP), is a non-profit organization that promotes passenger rail services around the United States.

PRA’s mission includes developing and fighting for both regional rail and Amtrak.

Yearly or monthly memberships are tax-deductible, plus you receive a 10% discount on Amtrak rail fares, plus other companies. This reduction applies only to rail fare costs and not to upgrades such as a room, business, or first class.

Further down in the article, it describes how the PRA/NARP discount works a little more.

8) Sign-up For Amtrak’s Guest Rewards Program

Amtraks loyalty program to earn free rides (after redeeming points)!

Siemens SC-44
A Siemens SC-44 Charger on Amtrak’s Hiawatha during a Sturtevant Depot stop

Amtrak Guest Rewards (AGR) is a multi-tiered rewards program offering free Amtrak travel. AGR awards two points for every dollar spent on Amtrak travel. Like airline rewards programs, points earned while traveling allow you to advance in a tiered program; for Amtrak, tier qualifying points (TQP) lead to advancement in status levels.

Status level rewards include free upgrades, companion coupons, and bonus points. Click the link for more information on the points program. To ensure you get all your Amtrak Guest Rewards points, use your Amtrak Guest Rewards Number every time you book. Points do not expire unless the account has been inactive for two years.

Ways To Accumulate Amtrak Guest Reward Points

You can double-dip with several options when using an Amtrak Credit card; more information is in the next section.

  • Points by shopping
    • While this process takes a few more clicks to shop, it is a way to get additional Amtrak points even when you are not traveling.
  • Buying or transferring points
    • If you are a bit shy of points for your next trip, you can buy those extra points to travel when you want.
  • Points from staying at hotels
    • Don’t leave points on the table; your hotel points can go to your Amtrak Travel if you stay at a listed hotel.
  • Car rentals
    • Like hotels and shopping, this is an easy way of earning Amtrak points doing something you may already plan on doing.
  • Partners and surveys 

New AGR members earn 500 bonus points if the first Amtrak trip is within 90 days of joining.

10) Amtrak Credit Card

Earn points from shopping and paying bills.

Credit cards
If you need a credit card, get a travel-friendly card.

Amtrak is in the process of changing from Bank of America to First National Bank of Omaha. So currently, you cannot get a new Amtrak credit card. Some of this information could change.

The Amtrak Mastercard will help accumulate points faster for free adventures if planning a cross-country trip or riding the regional routes.

Typically, Amtrak offers 20,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 within three months of activating a new card (click the link below).

Bonuses of the card include:

  • 1 point for every dollar charged
  • 3 points for every dollar spent on Amtrak and other travel-related purchases
  • When redeeming points for travel, there is a 5% point rebate
  • Passes and coupons such as free business Class upgrade, companion coupon, and lounge pass
  • Tier qualifying points are available for faster progression within the program.

If you are interested in more information on the Amtrak Mastercard getting one, click here.

11) Qualifications For Everyday Discounts On Amtrak Tickets

Anytime discounts for qualified passengers, but do not apply for upgrades.

There are some trains where you could save more than the percentage listed below.

  • Seniors receive 10% off for those 65 years or older
  • Kids two and under are free, but their name must be on an adult’s ticket, and children between 3-12 are 50% off, and these must travel with someone 18 years old or older.
  • Active Military members and spouses receive 10% off but must have a valid military ID.
  • Veterans: from any branch receive 10% off base tickets *New as of August 2019*
  • Military kids: 2-12 military kids receive half off, plus an additional 10% off (best deal out there!)
  • People with a disability and companion (when booked together) receive 10% off.
  • US Federal employees have a discount program. These tickets must be booked through a federal employee travel management company or corporate booking tool and are not bookable on Amtrak.com.
  • Groups of 20 or more people receive a discount but might not be bookable online.

12) College Student Discounts

Amtrak offers students between ages 17-24 the chance to save 15% on purchases made one (1) day in advance with our national student discount – making it easier for those adventurous spirits to enjoy wherever it is they’re going and to stress less about getting there. There are some terms and conditions to receive your discount.

How Discounts Apply To Your Reservations

Amtrak's long-distance coach seats
Amtrak’s long-distance coach seats. These seats have foot and leg rest, trays, and an outlet.

Coach reservation discounts come off the total cost of the ticket. Discounts do not apply to Saver Saver Fares or sales.

Business-class and room accommodations discounts are more challenging to understand because the discount percentage only applies to the rail fare (coach ticket price) that everyone pays, not the upgrade cost.

For example, when booking a business class ticket on the Lincoln Service between Chicago and St. Louis.

Without a discount, a business class ticket is $52. That ticket breaks down to a $31 rail fare and $21 for the business class upgrade; the cut comes off the rail fare of $31 (a saving of $3.10). The $52  business class ticket becomes $49.

With rooms, looking at the train, The City of New Orleans, a coach seat costs $135, and a roomette $269, with a 10% discount coach, is $122 and $256 for a roomette.

Each person pays a rail fare and one room cost with room accommodations. Using the City of New Orleans example, the roomette is $269 for one and $404 for two people without a discount. For this example, each person pays $108 to ride the train, and the room costs $135. So this means $108 (First rider) + $108 (second rider) + $135 (room price) = $351 for two people.

Room reservation includes all scheduled dining car meals on the train.

The prices given were used as an example and may change anytime. 

Book Trips: Tips To Save Money

Flexibility is key

When booking, consider checking a few dates before or after your target date; leaving a day sooner or later could save money.

June 20 2021 Amtrak #5 oma
The California Zephyr #5 in Omaha, Nebraska.

Flexibility is not always possible, but the savings can be worth the inconvenience.

Buying tickets as early as possible often helps, not only for rooms but for a coach ticket.

The best thing to do is check different times to get a feel of ticket prices to see when is best for you to book.

Amtrak offers “saver fairs” for tickets bought 14 days in advance, but those offerings are limited. You may book up to 11 months in advance.

Kev’s notes:

I know a few things about this.

Before my first Amtrak trip, I signed up for AGR and earned points after the conductor scanned that first ticket. Because I travel often, do online purchasing, and fill out surveys, I received several free trips from the points I earned, even a free coast-to-coast ride with roomette accommodations!

NARP/PRA is a cause I support, fighting for Passenger Rail nationally and regionally, but the discount is handy. Over the years, I averaged 100 train rides, and the 10% off has saved me more than the cost of my membership fee.

Safe Travels!

Kev

Do you like travel tips?

Are you interested in getting travel tips in your inbox, or want to know when new articles come out? If so, join my email list! Here is an example of an email.

Note: The information given was current at the time of publication. Read all the restrictions and fine print to make sure you get the most out of the programs suggested, and Travels with Kev is not affiliated with Amtrak. The information is a guide for you, and deals can change anytime when Amtrak seems fit.

052619

Kev

Kev has been traveling with Amtrak since 2012, celebrating his tenth year this year. Over those years, he has been on over 700 trains covering over 200,000 miles of rail. Kev enjoys helping others achieve their travel dreams by assisting them to get started. Kev enjoys making music as an organist.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.