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Amtrak Cheap Travel Deals — Tips on the Best Sites to Find the Hottest Discount & Coupon Offers
More and more people are finding Amtrak trains an extremely enjoyable and even exciting travel option. Travel by rail is a great alternative for anyone who dislikes the hassle of flying, the stress of taking long trips by car, or riding by intercity bus (motor coach), and it's particularly ideal for people who're not in a huge hurry and like to enjoy themselves (and possibly have some adventure) as they travel across the country.
I've discussed some of the advantages of rail passenger travel by Amtrak, with lots of special tips, in several articles, such as:
If you've been looking for a terrific, affordable deal for a long-distance trip on one of Amtrak's train routes, plenty of opportunities are available online.
There are a number of "standard", categorical discounts, and you can check these out on Amtrak's Passenger Discounts page (sorry — HubPages does not allow a link to this). These include:
• Children — Children ages 2 through 15 can ride half-price every day, and infants under 2 ride free.
• Seniors — Amtrak passengers 62 years of age and above are eligible to receive a 15% discount on the lowest available fare on most Amtrak trains.
• AAA members — Membership in the American Automobile Association can save you 10% of the fare when you use your AAA card.
• Military personnel and family members — Active-duty U.S. military personnel, their spouses, and their dependents, are all eligible to receive a 10% discount off most Amtrak rail fares.
• NARP members — Members of the National Association of Railroad Passengers save 10% of the cost of their fares.
• Students with ISIC card — Students with an International Student Identity card (ISIC) can save 15% of their fare.
(NOTE: HubPages prohibits a direct link to Amtrak's Discount page, but it's the same page as the Deals page — see link further below. Also, you can just access Amtrak's main website at Amtrak.com and then click on the Deals tab.)
By far, one of the best and easiest ways to earn free or discounted travel on Amtrak is to sign up for their Guest Rewards program. Registering for this program is free, and every time you take a trip on Amtrak, you can earn points that you can use on future trips. You earn two points for every dollar you spend on general Amtrak travel, and 500 points for every trip by Amtrak's Acela Business Class (the Acela trains run in the Northeast Corridor).
Lots of these special discounts are listed on Amtrak's Passenger Discounts webpage (sorry — HubPages does not allow a link to this), including Amtrak Advantage Card discounts and special group discounts:
• Student Advantage — Students can save 15% with a Student Advantage card.
• Veterans Advantage — U.S. military veterans can save 15% with a Veterans Advantage card.
• Group and Convention Travel — Groups of 20 or more passengers traveling together may be eligible for discounts of as much as 20% off the regular fare for every 20 paying passengers.
(NOTE: As explained above, HubPages prohibits a direct link to Amtrak's Discount page, but it's the same page as the Deals page — see link further below. Also, you can just access Amtrak's main website at Amtrak.com and then click on the Deals tab.)
In addition to these ongoing, everyday discounts for travelers in various special categories, Amtrak continuously offers a variety of special deals and promotions you can take advantage of — such as Weekly Specials, limited-time offers, and USA and California rail passes. Amtrak promotion codes (typically associated with limited-time discounts applying to a designated time period, often seasonal) can be used for discounts on your rail travel, and can usually amount to significant savings on your fare. Also, it's worthwhile to check out Amtrak's tour packages and Vacations offers, especially if you're trying to decide on a fun or useful travel destination.
So, where can you look for good discount deals on Amtrak travel? Here's a listing of some of the hottest places on the Web:
• Amtrak's Deals webpage — Amtrak's own Deals page is one of the best places to peruse for these kinds of discounts.
• RetailMeNot.com — This is a website with all kinds of coupons and deals on just about everything. Their Amtrak page has a bunch of quite attractive travel deals.
• Railserve — This site's Amtrak Coupons page has good info and links to Amtrak Promotion Code discounts and Coupon codes.
• FlyerTalk — FlyerTalk Forums hosts a forum on discounts in their Amtrak Guest Rewards section. For discounts valid in 2012, they have an additional 2012 page, but you'll have to look for different pages in future years.
• Trainweb — This forum has an Amtrak Travel Discounts page, hosted by Friends of Amtrak, that's another good source of info on rail travel discounts and coupons.
• Explore Massachusetts — This site's Amtrak Discounts page has a lot of valuable info on How to Find the Best Ticket Prices and similar topics.
So ... those sites should help speed you on your way to a rail travel deal that will work for you! Keep in mind that the best times for the best Amtrak travel deals are in the fall and winter (except, of course, for big holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas). Happy fare hunting ... and happy traveling!
Lyndon Henry is a writer, editor, freelance investigative journalist and analyst, and transportation planning consultant. His blog is: