10 Ways To Get Cheap Amtrak Train Tickets on the Empire Builder from Chicago to Portland!

The Empire Builder Amtrak train route is one of the most scenic train rides in America. 

Mike Petrucci @mikepetrucci / Glacier National Park, United States

The train travels from New York to Seattle, stopping at cities like Buffalo, Minneapolis, and Spokane along the way. 

Many people who want to take this trip find that it can be pricey because tickets are limited and sell out quickly. 

But there are ways to get cheap train tickets on the Empire Builder route! 

The key is planning and being ready to act fast when a deal comes your way. 

Here are ten ways to get cheap Amtrak train tickets on the Empire Builder route:

Check Out The Empire Builder Train Deals Calendar

Before you do anything else, make sure you’re checking out the Amtrak deals calendar. 

You can find this calendar on Amtrak’s website or by searching for “Amtrak calendar” on Google. 

Once you open the calendar, you’ll see all the dates where there are Amtrak specials, including cheap Empire Builder train tickets. 

You can then use the calendar to plan your trip and adjust your schedule as needed. 

You can also use the Empire Builder train deals calendar to find out when people usually book tickets so you can avoid the rush. 

You should also check ticket prices regularly so you can keep track of when they shoot up. 

For example, you can sign up for alerts from Amtrak or other booking websites so you’re notified when prices increase. 

This can help you get in on the cheaper rates before they’re gone.

Look For Empire Builder Train Promos On Travel Platforms

If you use a travel booking platform such as Orbitz, Expedia, or Travelocity, you can find Empire Builder train promos that may not be listed on Amtrak’s website. 

These booking sites often run sales on Amtrak tickets to encourage people to use their services. 

Even if the prices are a bit higher than what Amtrak would charge, it might be worth it to avoid the hassle of booking directly. 

You can also check sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for people trying to unload cheap train tickets they bought but can’t use.

Try The Greyhound Route As A Cheap Alternative

If you’re trying to get from New York to Seattle on a budget, you may want to consider taking the Greyhound route instead. 

While this route doesn’t include the same scenic views as the Empire Builder route, it’s often much cheaper. 

One thing to keep in mind is that Greyhound tickets change as often as every 15 minutes, so you can’t guarantee the price you see now will be the price when you go to book. 

You can check Greyhound’s website or sign up for alerts from travel booking sites to get notified when prices drop.

Join the Amtrak Rewards Program

If you plan to take the Empire Builder train multiple times, it might be worth it to join the Amtrak rewards program. 

This program lets you earn points for your Amtrak tickets that you can then use to get free tickets or discounts on future trips. 

While it’s not exactly free since you have to put in the time to earn the points, it’s a way to save money if you travel by train a lot. 

You can also use travel rewards credit cards to get bonuses, points, and cashback that you can use to cover the cost of train tickets.

Use a Travel Credit Card To Save Even More!

If you have a travel rewards credit card, you can use it to save money on many aspects of your trip, including Amtrak train tickets. 

Some travel credit cards have bonuses that let you get cash back or rewards points when you make purchases on travel-related items such as plane tickets, hotels, or Amtrak tickets.

 If you use an online travel booking platform, you can often take advantage of these travel rewards bonuses as well.

Check For Last-Minute Deals

The best way to get cheap Amtrak train tickets on the Empire Builder route is to check for last-minute deals. 

This can be tricky because Amtrak doesn’t always have tickets available for this route. 

But if you check for last-minute deals regularly, you might be able to find an opening in the schedule. 

Be sure to check both Amtrak’s website and travel booking sites like Orbitz and Expedia for last-minute deals.

There is one thing you should keep in mind, though: Amtrak’s last-minute fares are often more expensive than its standard prices. 

This is because they’re trying to fill seats on a route that has limited availability. 

So if you’re willing to pay a bit extra, you might have a better chance of getting seats on the Empire Builder route.

Go In Off-Hours

Many people assume that train tickets are more expensive during peak times. 

While this is true for some types of travel, it’s not the case with Amtrak. 

The company’s business model is to sell tickets at a set price, regardless of what time of day they’re purchased. 

This means that you have the same shot at getting cheap train tickets on the Empire Builder route during off-hours as you do during rush hours. 

You may even find that the trains are a little less crowded during off-hours.

Sign Up For Alerts

If you’re willing to sign up for alerts, you can often get alerts when people cancel their Amtrak tickets. 

This is especially common if the person booked the ticket on a whim and then realized they can’t make it. 

When people cancel their tickets, Amtrak usually puts them up for sale again, so they can be just as cheap as normal tickets. 

You can sign up for alerts from Amtrak or travel booking sites such as Orbitz and Expedia.

Book In Advance With Commuter Or Guest Trainer Tickets

If you’re looking for cheap Amtrak train tickets on the Empire Builder route and you don’t mind booking tickets in advance, you can also try booking commuter or guest trainer tickets. 

These are tickets that Amtrak employees use to travel from one city to another. 

If you book these tickets in advance, you can often find them for cheap. You can find them on Amtrak’s website or travel booking sites such as Orbitz and Expedia. 

You should keep in mind, though, that commuter and trainer tickets aren’t available for every single train. 

You’ll also have to travel to the departure city, which may not be as convenient as taking an Empire Builder train.

Find Out If You’re Eligible For A Discount

Some people who want to get cheap Amtrak train tickets on the Empire Builder route may be eligible for a discount.

This includes people with disabilities, seniors, military personnel, and others.

You can call Amtrak to ask if you’re eligible for a discount.

You can also use travel booking sites to look at discounted tickets to see if there are any for the route you want.


This article looked at ten ways to get cheap Amtrak train tickets on the Empire Builder route. 

Be sure to check the Amtrak deals calendar before booking, as you can often find cheap train tickets on Empire Builder during the off-season. 

You can also try booking commuter or guest trainer tickets, as these are often cheap. 

Lastly, it’s important to check for last-minute deals and sign up for alerts so you can find cheap train tickets when they’re available.