Amtrak has been rolling out some good deals all year, but this might be the best one yet: The railroad service is bringing back the USA Rail Pass for $299, which is 40% off their usual price—making it a cheaper alternative to travel by plane or car. Here’s what you need to know.
What is the USA Rail Pass?
The pass is a multi-ride coach ticket that allows passengers to book ten segments of travel over 30 days, valid for hop-on, hop-off travel across 500 of Amtrak’s destinations (a “segment” is when you need to switch trains to continue traveling along your route). When purchased, the pass is valid within the first 120 days of purchase, although once the first trip is taken, the remaining segments have to be used within 30 days. Fortunately, there are no blackout restrictions on dates or times. You can buy the pass here.
The USA Rail Pass is cheaper than traveling by plane or car
With the discount, each travel segment will cost less than $30 each, making Amtrak the cheaper option compared to the price of traveling by car or plane, for many destinations (although the journey will take longer—it’s still a train, after all). For example, let’s look at travel between New York to New Orleans:
- Without the discount, a one-way train ticket can be found for around $150
- Airfares (excluding baggage) can be found for around $80
- If you’re traveling by car, the cost of gas is roughly $150
The USA Rail Pass comes with some restrictions
The pass is only valid for Saver Fares or Value Fares only (which means no private rooms, business class, or Flexible Fare pricing), and it’s not available for the Acela service, the Auto Train, Maple Leaf, and Thruway Bus Series 7000 to 7999.
Also, this pass is better suited for big cross-country trips instead of regional commutes, as the Pass limits you to only two roundtrips between the same two stations (consider a multi-ride pass if your traveling frequently between the same destinations).
You will also have to follow social distancing guidelines and wear a mask, except for eating and drinking.