Amtrak! No, this isn’t a


No, this isn’t a post about how Amtrak should be liquidated through a bankruptcy proceeding. It’s a post about getting the most out of your rail travel.

Occasionally, I move past airlines and offer other tips such as how to get rental car discounts.

In this case, I have several tibits to offer.

First, I’m always surprised how many people don’t realize that Amtrak has a frequent rider program. Definitely worth signing up. However, don’t just sign up because the program is there. Wait until you’re going to take a train trip, and you’ll get 500 bonus points.

Second, Amtrak has an elite level that offers upgrades to first class if space is available, and passes to their first class lounge. 5 roundtrips on the Acela Express or Metroliner in a year is all it takes to qualify.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, there are several ways to get discounted travel.

The online booking form has a space to enter a promotion code.

  • “H208” gives you 30% off any ticket on regional (not acela) services with a 7 day advance purchase
  • V529 is good for 20% off to/from New York City and Philadelphia

Amtrak is currently running a sale that can be used in creative ways. Their train “The Carolinian” goes from New York Penn Station through Philly, Wilmington, and Washington, into Richmond and down to Raleigh and Charlotte to Greensboro. Special fares work as long as the destination is in North Carolina. For instance, New York–Rocky Mount, NC (first station in NC) is $28 one way.

Of course, there’s no reason that you have to stay on the train past Washington, DC. So you can take “The Carolinian” from New York to Washington, DC for $28… (Wilmington to DC should run you $21 this way.)

Now, if you book the same train from NY-DC the cost will be much higher. Book the ticket all the way to North Carolina and just get off the train.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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