When Are Amtrak Tickets Cheapest? How To Save Money

So, when are Amtrak tickets cheapest? Amtrak tickets are cheapest when you book them ahead of time. You can also save more by using Amtrak points and booking with their promotional discounts.

Let’s explain.

when are amtrak tickets cheapest

Oh, the wonders of traveling by train. Imagine lounging about with a book as you sit and take in the beautiful landscapes.

And, perhaps, there’s no better train to book your travels, than with Amtrak!

Plus, it’s often cheaper than flying by air, well mostly.

Not to mention, there’s less fuss, going through multiple airport security checks etc etc. But of course, you still want to shop for the best prices out there!

Who wouldn’t want lower prices, discounts, and deals? So, with that said, when are Amtrak tickets cheapest?

Much like plane tickets, Amtrak ticket prices vary mainly on the destination.

Ultimately, tickets are cheapest when you book ahead of time. There are also other contributing factors and so many things you can do to score low and bang-for-buck prices.

Overall, it isn’t difficult to find the cheapest Amtrak tickets to your desired destination. But, it does need some forethought and preparation.

It’s all about scoring them at the right time. 

Only a few partner websites sell tickets in addition to the official Amtrak website. For the most part, all prices are the same. 

Today, we present you with the ultimate guide to scoring the best deals on your Amtrak tickets. We go through a wide spectrum of discounts and different passes.

That’s not all! We also reveal some great booking tips and tricks too.

How Much Does An Average Amtrak Ticket Cost? 

It’s best to know the standard and typical Amtrak ticket costs first. This way, you get to compare their overall value. 

As previously stated, the price of an Amtrak ticket is comparable to that of an airline ticket.  It all depends on your seat choice and the kind of train. It also varies depending on the season, time, destination, and class. 

A one-way Amtrak ticket on a short route may cost anywhere from $6 to $30, depending on the route.  Longer journeys and luxury seats, on the other hand, may cost well over a grand. 

If you’re traveling less than 500 miles, expect to pay between $40 and $300 per economy class seat.

However, there are certain places that Amtrak does not service. In this case, the cost of a bus or a cab might add to the total of your bill.

Many times, while purchasing a ticket, you’ll see this as an option.

Upgrades from economy to deluxe seats or a bedroom may add $200 to $600 to the cost of each ticket. It’s important to note that the previous criteria influence this cost.

A 10% cancellation fee is also applied after the 24-hour refund window has ended if the ticket has not been canceled before departure.

You also have to factor in the baggage. The company offers a maximum weight limit of 50 pounds for each bag. Additionally, every bag should be no larger than the 28x22x14 mark.

Amtrak issues $20 carry-on charge and other items that exceed the weight and volume restrictions.

Pets are allowed on Amtrak for $25 However, they must be no more than 20 pounds.

Amtrak.com’s price page will help you figure out the actual cost of your train ride.

When Are Amtrak Tickets Cheapest: 5 Ultimate Ways To Score The Cheapest Tickets 

Now you know what a typical ticket costs, when can you score it at its lowest? Fortunately, there’s more than one way to do so.

Don’t worry, we’ll let you in on some of our best-kept tips and tricks. Good deals span from ongoing discounts to special packages to passes.

Let’s dive deeper into each and every one!

1. Book Early

Amtrak releases its fares 11 months before its departure date, so you have plenty of time to book.

The earlier you book, the better. 

This is one of the best tips for scoring cheap Amtrak tickets. 

Dates come in five tiers of fares, and they rise by their demand. Once their system sees a rise in ticket purchases, they’ll instantly up the cost. 

And unfortunately, ticket availabilities for certain price points don’t reflect on the system. So, the only way to get the best deal is to purchase fast and early. 

Certain destinations, however, offer saver rates if booked at least two weeks prior to travel.

But, note that they are non-refundable. You do, however, have the option to cancel it within a day. And once you do, it converts to travel credit. 

For instance, a New York-Boston saver ticket cost $39. You save a staggering $30 from its Value ticket priced at $69. 

2. Use Amtrak Guest Rewards

This is a great, long-term benefit for frequent travelers. Amtrak Guest Rewards will not rapidly save you money.

However, if you travel often, the long-term benefits are worth getting involved in.

Membership is also free! 

With Amtrak Guest Rewards, you earn two points for every dollar you spend, which can be used for your future tickets. 

This program also comes in membership tiers, and as you get promoted, you earn more benefits.

These include more points, seat or class upgrades, and companion discounts. Amtrak Guest Rewards® World Mastercard® holders may also earn tier-qualifying points through their card. 

moving amtrak train

3. Amtrak Regular and Ongoing Discounts

Did you know that you can score deals all year round?

Amtrak offers continuous savings to passengers who meet specific criteria.

This includes demographics or involvement in certain organizations. The following include:


Half-priced tickets are available for children under the ages of 2-12. This discount is applicable to every paying adult. 

On the other hand, Amtrak offers free rides for toddlers and infants under 2 years old for every ticket-purchasing adult. Note, that this applies if they do not occupy a seat.

Depending on the availability, additionally, infants may be ticketed as “adults” for 50%.

Also, please note that infants or children under 12 years old cannot travel alone. A paying adult passenger must accompany them.

These discounts are also not available on the following trains and seats: 

  • Weekday Acela Express trains
  • Business Class seats
  • First Class seats
  • Sleeper accommodation fares
  • Particular Amtrak Thruway linking trips (check website for specific areas)

Senior Citizens

Amtrak offers a 10% discount to elders 65 and older for the cheapest possible rail price.

However, these discounts are also not available on the following trains and seats: 

  • Premium class seats
  • Sleeper accommodation fares
  • Acela Express
  • Auto Train
  • VIA Rail Canada and Amtrak cross-border services

Make sure to provide identification that verifies your age.

woman travelling by train

National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) Members

If you are a National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) member, you can get up to a 10% discount on the cheapest possible price on most Amtrak trains.

Please note that the NARP discount cannot be used if you don’t purchase your tickets three days ahead of the trip.

NARP discounts are also not available on the following trains and seats: 

  • Business Class seats
  • First Class seats
  • Sleeper accommodation fares
  • On top of Saver fares
  • Particular VIA Rail Canada and Amtrak cross-border services

Make sure you bring your membership card at all times.


Certain Veterans such as those with:

  • Active and valid United States Armed Forces IDs
  • Active US military personnel 

Can avail discounts for their spouses and dependents. They may receive up to a 10% discount on the lowest possible fares. This discount also includes the Auto Train.

Veteran or military discounts are not available on the following trains and seats: 

  • Weekday Acela Express trains
  • On top of Saver fares
  • Business Class seats
  • First Class seats 
  • Sleeper accommodation fares
  • Particular VIA Rail Canada and Amtrak cross-border services

College Students

Students in college or University may receive a College 6TIX Pass. It runs for a year on the trains on Downeaster. Specifically:

  • Boston to North Station
  • Brunswick and MA
  • ME

College students should also bring their valid school ID upon purchasing. 

PWD (Persons With Disabilities) 

Adults with disabilities are eligible for a 10% discount on train fares. 

Downeaster train passengers also get a 50% discount on their fares.

Children with disabilities, on the other hand, receive 50% off. On top of this, they get another 10% discount on the standard Amtrak children discount. This is valid despite the service they use.

Amtrak additionally provides 10% off for passengers ages 8 or older with a companion.

Federal Employees

Amtrak provided discounted train tickets for government employees traveling along the Northeast Corridor.

Federal personnel traveling on official business are also provided subsidized coach prices.

However, they cannot simply purchase them on the website.

Instead, tickets should be reserved by email. So, if you are a federal employee, email Amtrak at amtrakgovernmenttravel@amtrak.com.

Corporate Incentive Programs

There are also corporate incentive programs for trains traveling the Northeast Corridor.

This includes New York, Boston, and Washington D.C.

Group Travel 

Are you traveling with 20 or more travelers? There are convention and group discounts available to parties.

However, not all Amtrak routes provide it. Contact 1-800-USA-1GRP if you have any questions.

Amtrak Special and Seasonal Discounts

Train deals aren’t marketed as often as airplane promotions. But, did you know that there are actually a bunch of them?

In fact, Amtrak offers a broad variety of deals on its website. It’s easily accessible. Here are the two special and seasonal Amtrak discounts that you can benefit from: 

Weekly Specials

Amtrak’s weekly specials section is the best location to start your search for discounts. They feature up to 30% discounts from Tuesday to Friday.

The majority of promos are grouped by area. Deals vary per week. So, it’s best to check back every Tuesday.

parked amtrak train

Amtrak Deal Page

Amtrak also has a dedicated deal page. Here, you can find all the special deals per location and route. Perhaps the best thing about it is that they are long-term deals.

These promotions span for as long as 6-8 months. The discounts also stretch from 15 to 30% off. 

4. Vacation and Rail Passes and Packages

Another way to score cheap and lower Amtrak tickets is through rail or vacation-themed packages.

Rail passes provide a predetermined number of rail travels over a specified period. On the other hand, vacation packages allow travelers to go on vacation and travel by train. 

Multi-Ride Tickets

If you’re going to be using the train a lot, you’ll save money by purchasing a multi-ride ticket.

And if you’re looking for a versatile package, the Monthly Rail Pass is a good option. However, there are limitations to these passes. 

The vast majority of long-distance railway lines do not service this pass. But for those who use the train often within an area or between two nearby regions, this pass will be a sensible investment.

Ten-Ride Passes 

Ten-ride passes can have a 45-60 day validity. These passes are also valid for 10 journeys, as the name suggests. 

Even so, rates vary based on the traveler’s region and trip arrangements. These tickets are more suitable for seldom train passengers. This way, they save money when traveling between two and six months.

Themed Rail Vacation Package  

Amtrak’s themed rail vacation packages are especially great for vacationers. It’s very similar to travel tour packages, but Amtrak style.

Check out the Amtrak website for more details and specials.

5. Third-Party Websites 

As we mentioned, Amtrak only has a few booking partners. And, they don’t offer their own discounted rates or promos.

Most of the time, they only display the existing rates on the websites. So, although you can purchase train tickets on sites such as Omio or Wanderu, their pricing will be exactly the same as Amtrak.com

When Are Amtrak Tickets Cheapest? The Bottomline

Everyone loves a good discount, especially when traveling.

If you’re wondering what Amtrak tickets are the cheapest, it’s when you book ahead of time.

There are also a plethora of ways and existing discounts for you to score a bang-for-buck ticket that we have listed above.

Safe travels