Are you looking to save money on your next Amtrak adventure? Then this article is for you. If you are new to train travel, this will be handy, but if you have traveled on Amtrak before, you may know a few, so if I missed one, let me know.
Like any other form of travel, flexibility and early booking often yield good deals. Below are ways you can save even if time is not on your side.
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Group Ticket Discount Code (For Groups Two to Six)
Amtrak’s discount code V291 is for groups of two to six coach passengers. This code is valid for a limited amount of seats, must be booked three days in advance, and not available for all trains. This offer expires on June 30, 2021.
The way this program works, the first ticket is full 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 train 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 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.
Multi-city tickets allow you to book a whole trip or sections of an adventure together, even if they are not conducive 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 always work, but it’s worth trying. If it doesn’t save money, it helps 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 to promote passenger rail service around the United States. PRA’s mission includes developing and fighting for both regional rail and Amtrak.
A yearly or monthly tax-deductible membership offers a 10% discount on Amtrak rail fare. This reduction applies only to the base rail fare ticket’s cost and not to upgrades such as a room or business class.
If you are interested in joining PRA, click here, and further down in the article describes 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 are tier qualifying points (TQP) that lead to 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 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
- 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.
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
With coach reservations, the discount percentage comes off the total cost of the ticket. Discounts do not apply to Saver Saver Fares.
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, 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 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.
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. Sites like AMSnag displays prices for up to 30 days at a time. That site is an excellent tool during the early stages of trip planning when there often more flexibility.
Amsnag may not be working properly due to Amtrak’s service reduction.
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 my first ticket was scanned. 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 trains rides, and the 10% off has saved me more than the cost of my membership fee.