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A 4-Step Guide: Getting Cheap Train Tickets On Amtrak Southwest Chief from Chicago to Los Angeles!

In the world of rail travel, there are so many different types of trains and travel options that it can get overwhelming. 

Sunset over the central New Mexican Plains near Estancia.
Photo by Raychel Sanner on Unsplash / Sunset over the central New Mexican Plains near Estancia.

The Southwest Chief train travels from Chicago to Los Angeles and stops at several smaller cities in between, including St. Louis, Mo., Marshall, Ark., and Albuquerque, N.M.

While the Chief only operates once a day in each direction, it’s still a popular mode of transportation for passengers. 

For those who live in or near a city with its trains, like New York City or Chicago, the cost of rail travel is pretty high. 

The chief also has one of the most expensive train tickets on Amtrak’s network. 

However, for people who are willing to drive to a train station, take a bus to that station, and then take an Amtrak train somewhere else (often at a very inconvenient time), the cost goes down quite a bit! 

If you love seeing new places and exploring new cities, but don’t love the cost of public transportation or renting a car, one of the best ways to get around on the cheap is by taking an Amtrak train. 

With tickets as low as $19 each way on certain routes, it’s one of the most affordable options for long distance travel. 

If you’re an avid traveler on this route or just planning to take it once or twice during your next trip, you’ll want to know how to get cheap train tickets on the Southwest Chief as soon as possible. 

This article will explain some insider tricks about how to get cheap train tickets on the Southwest Chief and give you some advice on where and when to book them for optimal savings.

Here’s how you can save even more money on your next trip!

 

Who Should Use This Strategy?

If you are one of the people that have to drive to the train station and then take a train somewhere else, you get a massive discount in terms of cost. 

You’ll also get a lot less hassle since you won’t have to deal with traffic, public transportation, or rental car problems that you might encounter with other modes of travel. 

If you are one of those people, then this is the perfect strategy for you. It’s also perfect for people who want to explore new places, but don’t want to break the bank on travel. 

Amtrak trains are often less expensive than other modes of transportation, especially when you’re traveling long distances.

 

How to Get Cheap Train Tickets on Amtrak Trains

If you want to save money on train tickets, you’re going to want to take advantage of advance purchase deals.

Just like with plane tickets, Amtrak has special deals if you’re willing to book in advance. 

The earlier you book, the cheaper the tickets will be. If you’re okay with traveling at a less convenient time, you can also save money by traveling on less popular routes. 

While it’s convenient to get on the train that goes straight to your destination, it’s often more expensive. 

If you’re willing to take a train that makes more stops, you can save a lot of money.

 

Take Advantage of Advance Purchase Deals

There are all kinds of these deals, so it’s important to do your research. 

You can find a list of Amtrak advance purchase deals here. 

They change pretty often, and different trains have different deals. 

You can find out if there are any deals on the train you want to take, and then use that to decide when you want to take your trip. 

For example, you can take advantage of a $19 one-way deal on the Southwest Chief that runs between Los Angeles and Chicago. 

This particular deal is available only on certain dates, so you’ll have to plan accordingly.

Use a Travel Credit Card

If you travel a lot and you’re okay with taking the train, you should use a travel credit card. 

Most travel credit cards have sign-up bonuses that will let you earn enough points for a free trip, or at the very least, a big discount on your next train ticket. 

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards is one of the most popular options. 

Once you earn the points, you can use them for flights, hotels, car rentals, and, yes, train tickets. 

For example, the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card currently offers a sign-up bonus of 70,000 points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months. 

70,000 points are worth $700 in free travel when redeemed through Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, or you could use those points to book a train ticket on Amtrak.

 

Check for Promos and Find Out When Earning Points Is Worth It

Some Amtrak routes have special promos that lower the price of tickets. 

You can find out if there are any promos available on the train you want to take by checking Amtrak’s website. 

It’s important to check the cost of travel before you earn points because you want to make sure you’ll save money by using them. 

For example, there is currently a 15% off promotion for California Zephyr riders. 

This is a popular route between Chicago and San Francisco, so if you’re going that way, you can save $112 on a one-way ticket! It’s important to note, though, that the price of the ticket is $173 if you book online. You’ll only save $112 if you book by phone.

 

Conclusion

If you want to travel, but don’t want to spend a ton of money, Amtrak is the perfect option. 

While it’s not as flashy as flying or even taking the bus, it’s a great way to see the country without spending a fortune. 

If you’re willing to drive to a train station, take a bus to that train station.

And then take an Amtrak train somewhere else (often at a very inconvenient time), the cost goes down quite a bit! 

It’s also perfect for people who want to explore new places, but don’t want to break the bank on travel.