How to save money on Amtrak and earn free trips
FYI feel free the blue text for they are links
If you are looking to save money on an Amtrak trip, this article is for you. If you have traveled on Amtrak before you may know a few of these, but there could be a few discounts you don’t know about, or if I missed one, let me know.
Like any other form of travel, flexibility and booking early often the way to get good deals, but there could be ways to save even if time is not on your side.
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NEW: Save money on Amtrak tickets with discount code V291
Amtrak’s latest discount code V291 is for groups of two or more passengers riding in coach. Booking must be three days in advance, and the offer expires on June 30, 2021.
The first ticket is full price, and the second is 15% off the total cost, the third is 60% off; finally the fourth is 70% off when all the tickets are bought together and using this offer.
This discount does not apply to some of the Northeast Corridor or Virginia trains, or connecting services numbered 7000-8999. For more information and restrictions check this link out.
To use: When booking your coach seas three or more days in advance, add the code V291 when prompted
Side note: There might be a set amount of tickets available for this deal, this means that you may not be able to take advantage every time you try, but this is a guess.
Amtrak’s online deals
Amtrak’s online deals include seasonal, limited time offers, and exclusive deals on select trains
The Amtrak website offers
- Current Deals
- Weekly Sales
- Saver fares: Amtrak offers 25% off long-distance coach seats when purchased 14 days in advance. Reservations are limited, and restrictions do apply
Multi-ride passes (six or ten rides and monthly passes)
Select routes such as the Hiawatha, offer flexibility and savings with multi-ride passes. Passes can be unlimited monthly passes or ten-ride passes and in a few areas a student six ride pass.
For more information check out this page on Amtrak’s Multi-ride Passes.
Programs to join that can save money on Amtrak tickets!
Rail Passenger Association Membership
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 to promote passenger rail service around The United States, their mission includes both regional rail and Amtrak.
A yearly tax-deductible membership comes with a 10% discount on Amtrak rail fare, and the reduction applies only to the base rail fare ticket and not to upgrades such as a room or business class. If you are interested in joining PRA, click here, and below is information on how the PRA/NARP discount works when you buy tickets.
Amtrak Guest Rewards Program
Amtraks free loyalty program to earn free rides (after redeeming points)!
Amtrak Guest Rewards (AGR) is a multi-tiered rewards program offering free Amtrak travel. You can get points from Amtrak travel, deals with partners sites, purchasing products online, transferring points, or can be bought for yourself or as gifts for others (links are below). Points do not expire unless the account is inactive for three years or more.
AGR awards two points for every dollar spent on Amtrak travel, like airline rewards programs, points earned while traveling are tier qualifying points (TQP) that leads to status levels.
Status level rewards include free upgrades, companion coupons, and bonus points.
For more on the points program
Ways to accumulate more Amtrak Guest Reward Points
- Points by shopping
- Buying or transferring points
- Points from staying at hotels
- Car rentals
- Partners and surveys
New AGR members earn 500 bonus points if the first Amtrak trip is within 90 days of joining.
Point redemption trips, aka Free rides, start at 900 points on up. The number of points needed for a trip is based on the current market value of the ticket or accommodations you are after.
Side note: AGR member can earn points for joining RPA
Amtrak Credit Card
Earn points from shopping and paying bills.
If planning a cross-country trip or riding the regional routes, the Amtrak Mastercard will help accumulate points faster for free adventure.
Typically, Amtrak offers 20,000 bonus points for spending $1,000 with three months of activating a new card (click the link below for more information).
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
Save money on Amtrak tickets by just being you (if you qualify)
Anytime discounts for qualified passengers but do not apply for upgrades
- 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
- 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
- Federal employees have a discount program but must be booked through a federal employees travel management company or corporate booking tool and are not bookable on Amtrak.com.
- Groups of 20 or more people receive a discount as well, but might not be bookable online
How to get the most of the AGR Program
How to get the most out of The Amtrak Guest Rewards Program to receive free trips!
Before booking your first trip get involved with these programs, or sign up now if you already travel with Amtrak.
If you don’t use your AGR number when booking, you will not earn points. Amtrak has made it even easier to sign into your AGR account be combining your Amtrak account and the AGR account.
If you have questions, call 1-800-USA-RAIL
How discounts apply to your reservations
With coach reservations, the percentage comes off the cost of the whole ticket, but discounts do not apply to Saver Safer Fares.
Business class and room accommodations discounts are more challenging to understand at first. The percentage off only applies to the rail fare (coach ticket price) that everyone pays and not to the portion of the upgrade.
For example, if you are 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 $31 rail fare and $21 for the business class upgrade, so the percentage comes off the rail fare $31 portion of the ticket. The $52 business class ticket becomes $49.
With rooms accommodations, each person pays a rail fare, so using the City of New Orleans example, without a discount for one person the roomette is $269, and for two people the room is $404. So in that example, each person pays $108 to ride the train, and the room cost $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, but for the Silver Star that does not have a dining car.
The prices given were used as an example, and may change at any time.
How to book trips to save money
Flexibility is key
When booking, consider checking a few dates before or after your target date (if possible), because leaving a day sooner or later could save money. Sites like AMSnag displays prices for up to 30 days at a time. That site is an excellent tool for the early stages of a trip when there is often a lot of flexibility.
Buying tickets as early as possible often help, not only for rooms but for a coach ticket as well can save you money. Amtrak usually has “saver fairs” for tickets bought 14 days in advance, but those offerings are limited. You may book up to 11 months in advance.
I know a few things about this
I signed up for AGR before I took my first Amtrak trip, so I earned points when my first ticket got scanned. Because I took advantage of the programs not only with traveling but online purchasing and filling out surveys, I received several free trips, and one trip was a coast to coast ride in a roomette for free! I average a free one-way big trip every year.
NARP/PRA is a cause I support, fighting for Passenger Rail both nationally and regionally, but the discount is handy. Every year I average 100 trains rides, and the 10% off has saved me more than the cost of my membership fee