Why Does Amtrak Charge Me Extra To Use My Student Discount?

Consumerist reader Rachel was recently trying to book a train trip from Washington, D.C., to Newark, NJ, on Amtrak’s website and ran across a bit of a snag — When she attempted to claim the Student Advantage discount, her ticket was suddenly $13.90 more expensive.

Here’s how Rachel tells it:

Tonight I went online to buy an Amtrak ticket for next month (5/22) on the usually expensive Northeast Corridor Line though I lucked out and was able to find a $49 ticket. Coupled with my Student Advantage Discount, I was pretty pleased that for once I wouldn’t be paying a ridiculous sum to ride the rails. However, when I put in my information for the discount, the price of the ticket jumped to $62.90.

Does Amtrak have some sort of policy against using discounts on fares lower than $50? It seems pretty ridiculous to be unable to take advantage of your discount at all times (excepting the policy that tickets must be bought no later than 3 days in advance), but hey, that’s me.

We were able to replicate Rachel’s situation and got the exact same results. And when we tried one of the higher-price fares listed for that day, the Student Advantage discount was actually a discount.

Looking at the Amtrak page that details the Student Advantage program, there doesn’t appear to be anything in the listed limitations regarding a threshold at which the discount no longer applies.

Our best guess is that, aside from a computer glitch, Amtrak considers the $49 fare as an already-discounted rate, but then Rachel should have gotten a message that she could not combine the discounts instead of a higher price.

Below are screenshots of the fare with and without the Student Advantage “discount.”
Itinerary with Student Discount.bmp

Same Itineray, No discount.bmp