How To Save Money On Amtrak Tickets

by Kev
How to save money on Amtrak cover photo

How To Save Money On Amtrak Tickets

Updated August 30, 2019

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 forms of travel, flexibility, and early booking often the way to get good deals. But there could be ways to save even if time is not on your side.

Sign Up For Amtrak Emails To Save Money, And Keep Updated

Amtrak's Capital Limited

Amtrak’s Capitol Limited stopped in Cumberland, Maryland

Stay up to date on the latest Amtrak deals

Amtrak emails:

  • Include limited time deals
  • Exclusive deals for Amtrak Guest Rewards members (more about this below)
  • Plus receive the most recent Amtrak news

Click here to sign up for Amtrak’s email list

Amtrak Ticket Discount Code For Groups Up To Six

Updated 12 August 2019

Amtrak Roomette

Amtrak Superliner Roomette

Amtrak’s latest discount code V291 is for groups of two or to six passengers riding together in coach. Booking must be three days in advance, and the offer expires on June 30, 2021. V291 works for groups up to for people.

Tickets:

The way it works is the first ticket is full price, and the second is 15% off the second ticket. The third is 60% off, and the rest are 70% off. All the reservations need to be purchased together to use this offer.

The discount does apply to long-distance trains, Northeast Regionals, and associated thruways.

For more information and restrictions, check this link out.

To use: When booking your coach seas two 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. Meaning you may not be able to take advantage every time you try, or on the date you want, 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

Multi-ride Passes On Regional Trains (Six Or Ten Rides & 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.

Amtrak Coffee

Coffee from Amtrak’s Cafe Car

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 companies and Amtrak.

A yearly tax-deductible membership comes with a 10% discount on Amtrak rail fare. This 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)!

Portland Union Station

Portland Union Station in Portland, OR.

Amtrak Guest Rewards (AGR) is a multi-tiered rewards program offering free Amtrak travel. You can earn points from Amtrak travel! You can even earn more points from deals with partners sites, purchasing products online, transferring points. If needed you can buy 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 lead to status levels.

Status level rewards include free upgrades, companion coupons, and bonus points.

For more on the points program

Make sure you use your Amtrak Guest Rewards Number every time you book a ticket, so you get all your points. 

Ways To Accumulate Amtrak Guest Reward Points

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.

Credit cards

If you need a credit card, get one that will help you travel.

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

Qualifications To Saving Money On Amtrak Tickets

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
  • Veterians: 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
  • 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 Discounts Apply To Your Reservations

Amtrak's long-distance coach seats

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

With coach reservations, the percentage comes off the cost of the whole ticket, but discounts do not apply to Saver Saver 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, looking at the train The City fo New Orleans, a coach seat cost $135, and a roomette $269, with a 10% discount coach, is $122 and $256 for a roomette.

With rooms accommodations, each person pays a rail fare and one room cost. Using the City of New Orleans example, without a discount, roomette is $269 for one and $404 for two people. 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, 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. 

Book Trips: Tips To Save Money

Flexibility is key

Amtrak Silver Star

Amtrak’s Silver Star in Orlando, FL

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.

Kev’s notes:

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. One of my free trips was 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

Safe Travels!

Kev

If you are interested in more information on traveling on Amtrak check out this page! If I can help, please reach out and let me know!

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 the programs suggested, and Travels with Kev is not affiliated with Amtrak. The information is a guide to you, and deals can change at any time.

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