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The Best Ways To Book Cheap Amtrak Train Tickets [Advance Bookings, Rail Passes, and Promo Codes]

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Amar Hussain
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Amar Hussain

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Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
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Train travel can be an enjoyable experience, kicking back and watching the scenery whiz past as you relax with a good book. Avoiding airport security queues and road congestion are just a couple more bonuses, but you still want to make sure you bag yourself a deal when riding the rail.

Getting your hands on cheap Amtrak tickets is not tricky — it just requires a bit of planning to know when and where to book. As well as booking direct, Amtrak tickets are only available on a select number of partner websites, but all have price parity. Sometimes, these websites provide handy calendar views to check when the cheapest time to travel is; others have filters to narrow your search criteria.

Book Cheap Amtrak Tickets in Advance

With Amtrak, the further in advance you can buy your ticket, the better. Fares are released 11 months before the departure date and work on 5 fare levels, with prices rising with demand. Amtrak has different thresholds for booked capacity that, once reached, will bump fare prices up to the next level.

Unfortunately, Amtrak doesn’t display how many tickets are left at a specific price, so the only way to ensure the cheapest rate is to book as early as possible.

Saver fares are available on some routes when booking coach at least 14 days before your departure. These fares are non-refundable but can be canceled up to 24 hours before departure to receive travel credit. When searching for a train from New York to Boston, a Saver ticket was $39 compared to a Value ticket at $69. That’s quite a savings if you’re confident your journey will go as scheduled.

Join Amtrak Guest Rewards

Joining Amtrak Guest Rewards won’t give you instant savings, but if you travel regularly, it’s worth signing up for long-term gains. Membership is free, and every time you travel, you’ll earn 2 points per dollar spent to redeem against free tickets for regular services, Auto Train, Acela, and sleeper services.

Frequent travelers can work their way up the membership tier statuses to receive further benefits, such as bonus point earnings, complimentary class upgrades, and companion coupons. Members can earn tier-qualifying points in a calendar year through Amtrak travel or using the Amtrak Guest Rewards® Preferred Mastercard®.

Hot Tip:

Amtrak Guest Rewards bonus points are also earned through business class and first class bookings on regular and Acela services.

Book Cheap Amtrak Tickets Online

Don’t wait until you get to the station to book your ticket, as Amtrak says the best rates can be found online. It’s also a good idea to avoid purchasing a ticket on board, as only the more expensive flexible fares are available. The best available rates can be booked at Amtrak.com or via the app, and you also can make changes to your reservation online, view your e-tickets, and avoid long queues at the station.

Register for Promotions and View Deals

Register for promotional emails from Amtrak to hear about flash sales and exclusive Amtrak Guest Rewards offers. Amtrak will also occasionally send targeted emails to Guest Rewards members. For instance, the rail company recently sent an email to register for the Amtrak Select Tier Challenge, which will give those targeted Select status through February 2025 after completing qualifying trips.

You can also check the Deals tab on the Amtrak website for regular offers.

Book Amtrak “Night Owl” Tickets

Amtrak’s new Night Owl program will reward travelers traveling at off-peak times with extraordinarily cheap tickets. 

Tickets can be as low as $5 each way, depending on your route. It’s only available for the Northeast Corridor between New York’s Penn Station and Washington D.C.’s Union Station and for departures between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Get an Amtrak Rail Pass

California Zephyr
California Zephyr. Image Credit: Amtrak

Passengers looking to embark on an Amtrak adventure through the U.S. can purchase a rail pass that includes a set number of segments that must be completed during a set number of days. You still need to book your seats along the way, and the duration starts from the departure date of your first segment.

USA Rail Passes

Amtrak’s USA Rail Pass is for 10 segments over 30 days. The pass is valid for 120 days after purchase (30 days after the first segment is traveled) and for coach travel only.

To see how much you could save with a rail pass, we priced an 8-segment journey with the California Zephyr from Chicago to the San Francisco Bay area and returning via the Southwest Chief from Los Angeles to Chicago.

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Route Segments

Saver Fare

Value Fare

Chicago to Omaha

$63

$79

Omaha to Denver

$67

$84

Denver to Salt Lake City

$69

$86

Salt Lake City to Emeryville (San Francisco)

$84

$105

Emeryville (San Francisco) to Los Angeles

$56

$67

Los Angeles to Albuquerque

$69

$86

Albuquerque to Kansas City

$98

$122

Kansas City to Chicago

$57

$71

Total

$563

$700

With this particular route, a rail pass saved over $100 compared to purchasing separate Saver fares for each segment. If you were booking within 14 days of the departure, Saver fares wouldn’t be available, and the lowest ticket would be a Value fare with savings of over $240.

We searched for travel dates 3 months in advance, so bear in mind that the closer to the departure date, the greater your savings would be using a rail pass, as ticket prices increase for individually purchased fares.

California Rail Pass

If you’re only looking to explore California, there’s a dedicated rail pass that is valid on Capitol Corridor, San Joaquins, Pacific Surfliner corridor trains, and Coast Starlight between Los Angeles and Dunsmuir. The pass is also valid on most connecting Thruway bus services that operate along these routes.

The pass costs $159 for adults and $79.50 for children. It allows travel on any 7 days during a consecutive 21-day period.

Hot Tip:

Not sure where Amtrak can take you? Check out our detailed guide to all Amtrak routes, including regional and long-distance options.

Book an Amtrak Multi-Ride Ticket

Booking a multi-ride ticket can save you money if you know you’ll need to travel the same route over a specific duration. Students may book a 6-ride pass valid within 365 days, and all passengers may book a 10-ride pass valid for 45 or 90 days, depending on the route.

We checked out the price of a 10-ride ticket between Los Angeles and San Francisco and compared the cost of purchasing 10 separate tickets.

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Purchasing a 10-ride ticket would save $58 (almost the price of 1 ticket) compared to buying these tickets separately, so a multi-pass would save you money if you are confident you’ll make the journey enough times within the required duration.

There are restricted trains that multi-ride tickets can’t be used on, so check out this list to confirm before you purchase your pass.

Everyday Discounts

Consider whether you’re eligible for any of Amtrak’s everyday discounts:

Find and Use a Promo Code

Amtrak releases monthly promo and coupon codes to third-party websites that you will rarely find on the Amtrak website. Promo codes consist of 4 digits that typically offer 10% to 50% savings. Railserve.com updates its page monthly to reflect new and ongoing promo codes valid for different regions within Amtrak’s route network.

Share a Sleeper Car

If traveling long distances or overnight, you might want to upgrade to a bed to get some shut-eye along the way. If you’re traveling with another person, booking a sleeper car would be much more cost-effective than traveling alone. Meals are also included when booking a sleeper car.

Hot Tip:

If you book a Roomette, passengers can enjoy the views from the 2 sweeping picture windows next to both beds.

Book Amtrak Tickets With Omio

Omio Amtrak tickets
Omio Amtrak tickets. Image Credit: Omio

Omio is an official partner of Amtrak that sells tickets without the need to go directly to the Amtrak website. Omio displays the same rates you would find on Amtrak.com, but Omio doesn’t permit passengers to purchase sleeper cabins.

When searching, you can filter whether you want only to see direct services or with a maximum number of stops. You can also filter by price or journey time.

Book Amtrak Tickets With Wanderu

Wanderu Amtrak Tickets
Wanderu Amtrak tickets. Image Credit: Wanderu

Wanderu is another partner of Amtrak and provides a valuable platform for passengers to search for cheap travel, including Amtrak tickets and other train and bus providers.

Although the pricing will be the same as booking directly with Amtrak, Wanderu allows visitors to filter by particular train providers and then by price to view the cheapest rates. For some popular routes, the calendar will display the cheapest ticket for each date of the month, so if you’re flexible, you can choose to travel at the most affordable time.

There’s also the option to switch on Include nearby locations, where cheaper rates might be available to stations not too far from your original choice.

Final Thoughts

With over 500 stations on the continental U.S., Amtrak is an excellent option for getting from A to B for business or pleasure or for embarking on a train adventure across the country. Although traveling by Amtrak is often cheaper than flying, it can take considerably longer, so get the best deal to justify this additional time.

The key to booking cheap Amtrak tickets is planning ahead, as the best fares are released 11 months before departure. Check Amtrak’s Deals page to see if any offers apply to your route, or check out current promo codes found on external sites.


The information regarding the Amtrak Guest Rewards® Preferred Mastercard® was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get cheap Amtrak tickets?

Getting your hands on cheap Amtrak tickets is not difficult — it just requires a bit of planning to know when and where to book. Book online in advance, use a promo code, or sign up for email offers to find the cheapest deals.

How much does it cost for an Amtrak ticket?

Amtrak tickets vary in price depending on the route, how far in advance the ticket is booked, and whether you book a standard seat or sleeper cabin. Search on the Amtrak website for fare quotes without any commitment to book.

Is it cheaper to buy Amtrak tickets online or at the station?

Amtrak says its cheapest rates can be found by booking directly on the Amtrak website. You’ll also get to avoid long queues at the ticket counters.

Is it cheaper to buy roundtrip or one way on Amtrak?

Round-trip Amtrak tickets don’t offer a discount. You’ll pay the same amount whether you book 2 one-way tickets or a round-trip ticket.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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