If you want to save money on your next Amtrak adventure, then this article is for you. If you are new to train travel, this article is a handy tool. For those who have traveled on Amtrak before, you may know a few I missed, so let me know. Like any other form of travel, flexibility and early booking often yield good deals with Amtrak. Below are ways you can save even if time is not on your side.
Sign Up For Amtrak Emails To Save Money To Keep Updated
Stay up to date on the latest Amtrak deals
Signing up for Amtrak emails is an excellent idea whether you are a spur-of-the-moment traveler or a long-term planner. Amtrak emails out their deals where if you can book ahead, you can save, and a few times, they have discounts for a quick getaway.
- Include limited-time offerings
- Exclusive deals for Amtrak Guest Rewards members (more about this below)
- Plus, receive the most recent Amtrak news.
Group Ticket Discount Code (For Groups Two to Six)
Amtrak discount code V291 is for groups of two to six coach passengers on one ticket. To use this code, you need to book three days in advance, and there is a limited number of seats available for the deal. This offer expires on June 30, 2021, and not available for all trains.
This program works because the first ticket is a regular price, and the second is 15% off. The third ticket is 60% off, and the rest are 70% off. All the reservations need to be purchased together for this offer.
The discount does apply to many long-distance trains, Northeast Regionals, and associated thruways. For more information about what trains may not be qualify and restrictions, check this link out.
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 for Regional Trains (Six Or Ten Rides & Monthly Passes)
Select routes such as the Hiawatha offer flexibility and savings with multi-ride passes. Passes range from unlimited monthly passes, ten-ride passes, and a student six ride pass in a few areas.
For more information, check out this page on Amtrak’s Multi-ride Passes.
Multi-city tickets allow you to book a whole trip or sections of an 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.
This tip does not save money every time, but it’s worth trying. Even when this trick does not save money, it still can help, for this method allows you to stay organized by reducing the number of individual 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 that promotes passenger rail service around the United States. PRA’s mission includes developing and fighting for both regional rail and Amtrak.
Yearly or monthly memberships are tax-deductible membership that offers a 10% discount on Amtrak rail fare plus other companies. This reduction applies only to the base rail fare cost and does not apply to the cost of upgrades such as a room or business class.
Further down in the article, describes a little more how the PRA/NARP discount works.
Amtrak Guest Rewards Program
Amtraks loyalty program to earn free rides (after redeeming points)!
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 is inactive for two years.
Ways To Accumulate Amtrak Guest Reward Points
- 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. If you use an Amtrak Credit Card, you can double dip and earn even more free travel points.
- 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; if you stay at a listed hotel, your hotel points can go to your Amtrak Travel. Like wish shopping, if you use an Amtrak Credit card, you can double-dip in this program.
- 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.
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 adventures.
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.
Qualifications for Saving Money On Amtrak Tickets
Anytime discounts for qualified passengers but do not apply for upgrades.
- Seniors receive10% 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 employees’ 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 as well but might not be bookable online.
How Discounts Apply To Your Reservations
Coach reservations discounts are taken off the total cost of the ticket. Discounts do not apply to Saver Saver Fares or other 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 and not to the upgrade cost.
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 a $31 rail fare and $21 for the business class upgrade; the cut comes off the rail fare $31 portion (a saving of $3.10). The $52 business class ticket becomes $49.
With room accommodations, each person pays a rail fare and one room cost. 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 at any time.
Book Trips: Tips To Save Money
Flexibility is key
When booking, if you have flexibility, consider checking a few dates before or after your target date; leaving a day sooner or later could save money.
Buying tickets as early as possible often helps, not only for rooms but for a coach ticket. Amtrak usually offers “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 started earning points when the conductor scanned my first ticket. Because I took advantage of the programs with traveling and online purchasing and filling out surveys, I received several point trips. I even received a free coast-to-coast ride with roomette accommodations! I used to average a free one-way big trip every year.
NARP/PRA is a cause I support, fighting for Passenger Rail nationally and regionally, but the discount is handy. Every year I average 100 train rides, and the 10% off has saved me more than the cost of my membership fee.