Deal alert: Acela tickets drop to lowest ever, starting at $20 one-way
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
As the travel industry reopens following COVID-19 shutdowns, TPG suggests that you talk to your doctor, follow health officials’ guidance and research local travel restrictions before booking that next trip. We will be here to help you prepare, whether it is next month or next year.
It's become apparent during the coronavirus pandemic that, aside from safety precautions, a significant portion of convincing travelers to head on the road will be cheap deals.
Amtrak seems to have taken this to heart, as it has launched promotions on several popular lines like the Northeast Regional and Auto Train. Now the company is back with another deal.
Amtrak is celebrating 20 years of its popular Acela service, the all-business and first-class train that travels up and down the Northeast Corridor. Acela changed the game after it first entered service in December 2000, and to celebrate two decades, Amtrak is launching fares on the Acela line starting at $20 one-way or $40 round-trip.
We've seen Acela deals before, even during the pandemic, but this appears to be the lowest we've seen so far.
Here a few examples of what you can book:
New York, NY to Washington, D.C. for $20 one-way:
Philadelphia, PA to New York, NY for $20 one-way:
Baltimore, MD to Providence, RI for $20 one-way:
Washington, D.C. to Boston, MA for $40 round-trip:
You must book from now through Thursday Nov. 12, and travel must occur between Nov. 16 and Dec. 17, 2020. There are several restrictions, such as upgrades not being allowed. There are several blackout days as well, including Nov. 24 and 25 and Nov. 28 to 30. The $20 fares are not available for travel on Fridays and Sundays.
This deal is also only valid for cash tickets on Amtrak's Acela; that is, you won't be able to use your Guest Rewards points.
If you decide to hop on the promotion, make sure you pay for the tickets with a travel rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which are both among the best cards for general travel purchases.
You might also consider applying for one of Amtrak's two cobranded credit cards issued by Bank of America. The Amtrak Guest Rewards® World Mastercard® and no-annual-fee Amtrak Guest Rewards® Platinum Mastercard® both offer 20,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening. TPG values Amtrak points at 2.5 cents each, making each of these bonuses worth $500.
As TPG reported earlier this year, Amtrak has been testing the new high-speed train cars, with service tentatively set for sometime in 2021. The new interiors feature sanitary improvements as a nod to the coronavirus pandemic and can hold 378 passengers. The new trains will include touch-less bathrooms, more space between customers, and no-touch overhead bins.
The information for the Amtrak Guest Rewards and Amtrak Guest Rewards Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Related: Amtrak plans to expand new nonstop Acela service from New York
Amtrak also instituted enhanced cleaning procedures and mandated masks for current service. As I reported over the summer, the rail company announced that it can “remove customers or ban them” from future travel if passengers don’t comply.
Related: Planes, trains and a bus: We raced from NYC to DC to find which was fastest