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Do Amtrak prices vary depending on how far in advance you book them, or are they the same price up until the day of travel?

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

Yes, it is worth purchasing Amtrak tickets as early as possible.

Amtrak does practice yield management, although it is not nearly as sophisticated as the airlines in this regard. Fares will increase closer to the date and time of travel. Equally importantly, however, Amtrak has a relatively generous change policy in that if your plans change, you only need to pay the fare difference, without a penalty or change fee.

If someone purchased a ticket in a low fare bucket and then cancels it close to the departure, sometimes the seat gets released for the original price; however, this is not something you can count on.

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And almost as soon as I post, Amtrak changes its refund and exchange policy! For reserved coach and Acela Business, a 10% charge (min $5 max $100) applies if the reservation is canceled less than 24 hours prior to scheduled departure. – choster Aug 17 '12 at 3:13

If you are planning on traveling first class (a.k.a. sleeper service) on a long-distance train, you want to get your tickets as early as possible as the various sleeping arrangements (roomettes, bedrooms, family bedrooms and accessible bedrooms) often sell out, particularly in the summer. As the rooms become scarcer, the prices go up. Note that with the price of a room, all meals are complimentary.

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Also for North East Regional, if you book in 14 days advance, you get a discount too.

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