Leaked memo indicates Amtrak considering new fees, fare restrictions

Dec 29, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: This post was updated on Dec. 31 with a statement from Amtrak.

Heads up if you’re an Amtrak rider: A leaked memo suggests the rail operator will soon make its cheapest saver tickets completely nonrefundable, and add change and cancellation fees to value fares.

As originally reported by Business Insider, Amtrak is searching for ways to become profitable. This move brings the company’s ticketing policies closer in line with most major airlines (except Southwest, which never charges change or cancellation fees) — not a huge surprise considering Amtrak’s CEO Richard Anderson held the same position at Delta and Northwest Airlines.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

According to the memo, Amtrak may make saver fares (deeply discounted tickets with limited availability) completely nonrefundable after 24 hours of purchase, and add penalties for changing or canceling a value (regular) ticket. Here’s a comparison of the current and proposed rules:

Fare Type
Current change and cancellation rules Proposed change and cancellation rules
Saver Full refund if canceled within 24 hours of purchase

After 24 hours, 25% cancellation fee charged (receive 75% credit on a nonrefundable eVoucher)

Full refund if canceled within 24 hours of purchase

After 24 hours, fare is completely nonrefundable

Value Full refund if canceled eight days or more before departure

25% cancellation fee if canceled less than eight days prior to departure

No change fee

25% cancellation fee

15% change fee if ticket changed within 14 days of departure

Amtrak would not confirm these changes to TPG, but a representative stated: “We periodically review our policies to keep our fares competitive. It is premature to discuss any potential adjustments.”

These changes probably won’t mean much for those with firm travel dates, but if you’re a business traveler with plans that change frequently, the new fees could sting hard. You could always book a flexible fare (much like full-fare economy on most airlines) to avoid change or cancellation fees, but it will cost you — these tickets are often more than double the price of the lowest saver fares.

Related: The best credit cards for train travel

Change seems to be the theme at Amtrak nowadays as Amtrak recently removed full-service dining from its long-distance routes and made airline-like food and cabin updates to long distance routes serving New York City. And earlier this year, the Amtrak Guest Rewards loyalty program tightened its points expiration policy to 24 months of inactivity (from 36 months).

Featured photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.