How to Get Cheap Amtrak Tickets

Booking group tickets and redeeming points through the Amtrak Guest Rewards program are just two ways to score deals.
Chris O'Shea
By Chris O'Shea 
Updated
Edited by Mary M. Flory
cheap amtrak tickets

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If you're thinking of an alternative to flying to your summer vacation spot, consider Amtrak. The railroad passenger company operates more than 300 trains daily to hundreds of destinations in the U.S. and Canada. There's a good chance an Amtrak station is located where you're headed.

If you're ready to climb aboard, here's what you need to know to get Amtrak tickets at a discount.

Tips to get cheap Amtrak tickets

Some tried and true budget travel strategies — such as booking tickets on during lower travel periods — can help you snag cheap Amtrak tickets.

1. Earn travel rewards and get rewarded

Before you ride, join Amtrak Guest Rewards. Joining is free, and you'll get 500 bonus points when you take a trip within the first 90 days your account is open. You'll also earn 2 points for every dollar spent on Amtrak travel. If you prefer to travel business or first class on high-speed Acela trains, which operate in the Northeast, you'll get a 25% point bonus on the former and a 50% bonus on the latter.

2. Snag bonus points through partners

You can also rack up Amtrak Guest Reward when you spend money at hotels, car rental companies and other retailers Amtrak has partnered with. A few examples:

  • Book a stay at one of Choice Hotel's more than 6,800 locations and you'll earn 250 Amtrak points.

  • Rent a car through Budget and you'll earn 50 Amtrak Guest Rewards points for every qualifying rental day.

  • Send your loved one some flowers using Teleflora and you'll add 750 Amtrak Guest Rewards points to your account.

3. Redeem points for trips

Once you have plenty of Amtrak Guest Rewards points stockpiled, get the most out of them by redeeming for Amtrak trips. Redemption rates vary by route, date and time, but you can save a ton if you combine your points with special promotions.

Parents, take note of Amtrak’s child discount, which allows infants under 2 to travel for free and additional children under 12 to travel for a 50% discount.

4. Travel when it's not as busy

You can often score a discount by planning your trips on less busy days. For example, Amtrak recently held a sale in which — as long as you traveled on Saturday — you could buy one ticket and get the next one free. A two-passenger Saturday ticket from New York to Boston was a mere $83.

5. Bring a friend — or three

Amtrak wants you to bring some friends along for your summer vacation. Its Share Fare deal gets you a discount for every plus-one. Here's the breakdown:

  • Passenger 1: Full price.

  • Passenger 2: 15% off full price.

  • Passenger 3: 60% off full price.

  • Passenger 4: 70% off full price.

That's a lot of potential savings. Pick up the phone and call some people who not only appreciate the scenic appeal of Amtrak, but also love a good deal.

6. If you're taking Acela, book early

Acela trains, which operate between Washington, D.C., and Boston, offer large leather seats, fast Wi-Fi and luggage storage for up to four bags. While Acela travel typically costs more than other trains, you can score a discount if you simply plan your trip in advance. Book a ticket on the Acela a minimum of 7 to 21 days prior to your trip, and you'll get a 25% discount.


How to maximize your rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2024, including those best for:

Travel Cards from Our Partners
Chase Sapphire Preferred Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases.

Points

Intro offer

60,000

Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

Points
Chase Freedom Unlimited Credit Card

on Chase's website

Chase Freedom Unlimited®
5.0
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1.5%-6.5%

Enjoy 6.5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 4.5% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 3% on all other purchases (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year). After your first year or $20,000 spent, enjoy 5% cash back on Chase travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®, 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and unlimited 1.5% cash back on all other purchases.

Cashback

Intro offer

$300

Earn an additional 1.5% cash back on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) - worth up to $300 cash back!

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
4.7
NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

2x-5x

Earn unlimited 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Earn 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options.

Miles

Intro offer

75,000

Enjoy a one-time bonus of 75,000 miles once you spend $4,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel.

Miles
See more travel cards
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