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It’s always important to have a good understanding about the cancellation policies for your travels — whether they be on a plane, train, or any other form of travel that you can conjure up. The Amtrak cancellation policy is straightforward and easy to understand in some cases but in others, it’s much more difficult to ascertain the details.
In this article, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Amtrak cancellation policy including details about the fees and ways to get around those fees. By the way, if you want to learn more about the value of Amtrak points click here!
What is the Amtrak cancellation policy?
The Amtrak cancellation policy that applies to your booking will depend on the type of fare that you purchased (much like how airfare works). Amtrak offers five different types of fares that you can purchase which include:
- Saver Fares
- Value Fares
- Flexible Fares
- Business Fares
- Premium Fares
Below, I’ll go into detail about these different types of tickets and what their cancellation policy entails. However, you can generally expect to pay a 25% cancellation fee if you cancel your ticket 24 hours or later after your purchase and a 10% penalty for reward tickets.
Saver Fares cancellation policy
Saver fares allow you to get a full refund if you cancel within 24 hours of purchase (this is similar to how airlines offer you a full refund within 24 hours of booking). However, Saver fares are non-refundable 24 hours or more after booking. The good news is that you can still qualify for an eVoucher.
If you cancel your ticket within 24 hours of purchase, your eVoucher will be for the full value of your ticket. But if you wait longer than 24 hours after booking, you’ll be hit with a 25% cancellation fee, which will essentially leave you with a 75% credit.
It’s really important to note that if you fail to cancel and don’t show up, the ticket is forfeited and you will not get funds that can be applied toward future travel.
Value Fares cancellation policy
Value fares allow you to get a full refund if you cancel eight days or more before departure. Otherwise, there will be a 25% cancellation fee charged if cancelled less than eight days prior to departure. (Unreserved tickets incur 25% fee an hour or more after purchase.)
if you cancel your ticket 8 days or more before departure, your eVoucher will be for the full value of your ticket. But if you cancelled less than 8 days prior to departure, you’ll be hit with a 25% cancellation fee, which will essentially leave you with a 75% credit.
Unreserved tickets incur 25% fee an hour or more after purchase.
Value fares have the same no-show policy that Saver Fares have.
Flexible Fares cancellation policy
If you book a flexible fare you can get a full refund with no fees and no questions asked. Notice that you can even request a full refund after the train has left the station — this makes flexible fares the best fares when it comes to getting refunds. These flexible fares could include the following classes:
- Unreserved Coach
- Reserved Coach
- Acela Express Business Class
If you’d like an eVoucher instead, you can get that issued to you for 100% of the purchase price.
Business Fares cancellation policy
Business Fares also offer a full refund with no fees and no questions asked if cancelled before departure. These include Non-Acela Business Class. Business fares have the same no-show policy that Saver Fares have.
Premium Fares cancellation policy
Premium Fares also offer a full refund with no fees and no questions asked if cancelled before departure. These include Acela Express and First Class. These fares have the same no-show policy that Saver Fares have.
If you booked a sleeper accommodation then you’ll have a different refund policy. Those will offer you a full refund if cancelled within 24 hours of your purchase. If you wait until after 24 hours but more than 15 days prior to departure a 25% cancellation fee will be in effect. If you cancel less than 15 days prior to departure, you won’t get a refund.
Reward tickets (points) cancellation policy
If you’re wondering about reward or points tickets, the outcome all depends on the type of reward ticket in question.
One-Way, Round-Trip, or Multi-Segment Reward Travel
If you have booked a One-Way, Round-Trip, or Multi-Segment Reward Travel there will be a 10% point penalty assessed for any refund.
If you are canceling a non-sleeper ticket within 24 hours prior to departure, or a sleeper ticket within 14 days prior to departure, there will also be an additional “close-in” penalty of 10%. Keep in mind that this close-in fee will be waived for Select Executive members.
If you are just making a modification to your reward ticket then you will have to cover the points difference and you will also get hit with a 10% points penalty.
If you are modifying a non-sleeper ticket within 24 hours prior to departure, or a sleeper ticket within 14 days prior to departure, an additional “close-in” penalty of 10% of the points redeemed will be collected. Once again, this is waived for Select Executive members.
Multi-Ride (Six-Ride, Ten-Ride) Reward Tickets
For cancellations on Multi-Ride (Six-Ride, Ten-Ride) Reward Tickets, your points will be refunded minus a 10% points penalty if unused and unexpired. It’s important to note that points are non-refundable if the first trip is used or if the ticket is expired.
Modifications: Before first ride, a full exchange in point value will be issued without penalty. No exchange in point value after first ride or after expiry—whichever comes first.
Monthly Pass Reward Travel
For cancellations on Monthly Pass Reward Travel, your points will be refunded minus a 10% point penalty prior to first day of valid month. Redemptions are non-refundable on or after the first day of the valid month.
Modifications: You can get a full exchange in point value prior to the valid month, but there is no exchange in point value on or after the first day of the valid month.
If you have purchased multi-ride tickets, then your cancellation policy will depend on the type of tickets you purchased.
For monthly tickets, if you request the refund before the valid month you can get a full refund, minus a 25% fee (so essentially a 75% refund).
If you cancel day 1 through day 10 of the valid month, then you’ll only be able to get a 50% refund, less a 25% cancellation fee. And finally, if you wait until on or after day 11 of valid month, you will not get a refund at all.
If you purchased a Ten-Ride and Six-Ride Ticket then your refund amount depends on the number of rides you have taken (or haven’t taken). If you have NOT taken any rides then you can get a full refund, less a 25% cancellation fee. But if you have taken one or more rides then your ticket is not refundable.
Gift card refunds
If you paid for your booking by using a gift card and cancel that booking, you should be given a credit in the form of an eVoucher.
Boarding the wrong train
You might be wondering what happens if you do something like exiting at the wrong train station. In that case, you might wish to get refunded for the amount that you did not actually travel. However, that’s not how this generally works and you won’t be able to receive a refund for that.
If you end up downgrading you might be able to get a refund and you should inquire about obtaining a Refund Authorization Form from the conductor. Just note “to receive a fare adjustment the customer must change the reservation before the train departs the original boarding station of that train.”
How to get a refund with Amtrak
There are four different ways you can request a refund with Amtrak. The easiest method is to go process it online, which can be done here (you may also do it over the Amtrak Mobile App).
Another method is to call the customer service phone number at: 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
If you’re at or near an Amtrak Station, you can process your refund there. And finally, you may make a request for a cash refund by mailing in your request to the following address:
30th St. Station
2955 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-2898
Note that if paper value tickets were printed, with the exception of eTickets, they must be returned for any refund.
Additional things to note
Amtrak tickets become non-refundable, not valid for carriage and have no exchange value, after one year from the date payment was made for that ticket. Similarly, an eVoucher or other credit is valid for one year from date of issue.
There is a minimum cancellation fee of $5 and a maximum cancellation fee of $250 (the maximum does not apply to monthly or multi-ride tickets.
As you can tell, the Amtrak cancellation policy is quite complex given the nature of all of the different types of fares offered. Unless you’re booking a flexible fare, you really need to pay close attention to the type of ticket that you’ve purchases so that you don’t end up screwing yourself over in the future.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. His content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.