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Can I make a payment to buy a ticket using a regular gift card

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slee0912

Guest
It's my first time planning a trip on the Amtrak and I do not have a credit/debit.

I was thinking about paying cash on the day, but I was afraid that the train might not have enough seats which means I need to make a reservation. Can I make a payment online using a visa gift card? Or better, can I buy a ticket in advance at the station?

So for example, If I'm leaving on Nov 8th, can I go to the station on Nov 2nd or something to buy a ticket for Nov 8th?

Thank you!
 

FrensicPic

Conductor
Joined
Jan 15, 2012
Messages
3,041
Location
LAX
You may certainly purchase a ticket at the station ahead of time. Don't know the answer to the gift card question...you might bring it with you when you go buy the ticket at the station and see what they say.
 
S

slee0912

Guest
You may certainly purchase a ticket at the station ahead of time. Don't know the answer to the gift card question...you might bring it with you when you go buy the ticket at the station and see what they say.
At least I know that I can purchase a ticket ahead of time. :) Thank you!
 

bmjhagen9426

OBS Chief
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Apr 16, 2014
Messages
761
Location
Klamath Falls, Oregon
If the station is staffed, you can buy your tickets in advance at the station. Otherwise, you will need to call Amtrak or reserve it online, which means that you will need a credit card or a debit card with Visa or Mastercard logo on it. If you buy your tickets over the phone, you can choose to pay later, which means you can pay for it at a staffed station. If you buy online, you will need to provide credit card or Visa/Mastercard debit card information as soon as you reserve your train. If the train you're riding is not sold out the day you're taking the train, you may be able to pay the conductor onboard, but you will pay the highest bucket price (i.e. the Flexible fare). As for Visa gift cards, here is the official policy on prepaid/gift cards:

Gift cards and other prepaid cards with a credit card logo: These are accepted only when the transaction can be electronically validated: at station ticket offices, at Quik-Trak kiosks, at Amtrak.com, by phone at 1-800-USA-RAIL, and on trains for payment of fares and food purchases when the conductor or food services attendant has an operating credit card validation device. Refunds are made back to the gift card, so be sure not to dispose of it once you have used up its value until you are certain that you will not return anything that you have paid with it.
They are accepted, but if you decide to request refund, it will be refunded to that gift card, so don't throw it away until you are certain that you will not request refund on what you paid with your gift card.
 

the_traveler

Conductor
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Location
Whatever siding I'm sitting on!
You can also phone an agent to make a reservation - they will give you a reservation number and a date you must purchase your tickets by. This may be 3-7 days from when you made the reservation. This allows you time to get to a staffed station and/or accumulate the money (like at the bank).

Also note that payment by credit card DOES NOT have to be on a card in your name. You could use (say) your friend's credit card, as long as they let you. I'm sure they would want to be repaid!
 

Devil's Advocate

Sarcastic Misanthrope
Joined
May 24, 2010
Messages
11,638
Location
Texas
If Guest_slee0912_* pays cash for the ticket at the last minute, might he/she not be singled out for a search by our drug lords?
That thought crossed my mind too.
Cash transactions and last minute purchases are indeed considered suspicious events for purposes of traveling through the US. In addition to those pre-trip flags, a long list of observational criteria that the TSA (and presumably other agencies) look for was leaked back in 2015.

These are the observational factors which count against you as part of the TSA's threat assessment points system...

Arriving early

Arriving late

Initiating eye contact

Avoiding eye contact

Maintaining eye contact

Yawning

Fidgeting

Clock watching

Head turning

Shuffling feet

Leg shaking

Touching face

Touching upper body

Rubbing hands

Wringing hands

Trembling

Repetitive grooming

Exaggerated grooming

Using hands to communicate

Insufficient body movement

Passes object to someone else

Accepts object from someone else

Pale face

Flushed face

Excessive blink rate

Insufficient blink rate

Excessive breathing rate

Visible swallowing

Arterial movement

Rigid posture

Arms close to sides

Body odor

Sweaty hands

Bag heavier than expected

Bag has unsuitable appearance

Baggy clothing

Looking at screeners

Looking at other passengers

Looking at scanning equipment

Looking at security cameras

Looking at luggage

Looking around the room

Looking down at floor

Crying

Laughing

Smiling

Whistling

Excessive talking

Excessive swallowing

Dry mouth or lack of swallowing

Change in voice pitch, rate, or volume

Talks loudly

Talks softly or covers mouth

Delayed response to questions/orders

Hesitation or Indecision

Focused behavior

Distracted behavior

Ignores questions

Focuses on or repeats questions

Gives answers which are too vague

Gives answers which are too detailed

Complains about screening process

Perspires before or during scanning

Wearing unusual or inappropriate clothing

Wearing clothing similar to other travelers

Having same luggage as another traveler

Gripping baggage tightly

Placing hand inside luggage

Demonstrates situational awareness

Interest in security personnel

Interest in security process

Lack of respect or contempt/arrogance

Appears confused

Appears disoriented

Appears disguised

Asks questions about security process

Does not respond to instructions/commands

Possesses almanac

Possesses blueprint

Possesses GPS unit

Possesses flight manual

Possesses scuba manual

Possesses liquid or gel

Possesses prepaid calling card

Possesses rope

Possesses wire

Possesses duct tape

Possesses batteries

Possesses electronics

Passenger is single

Passenger is male

Passenger is under 65 years old
 
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me_little_me

Conductor
Joined
Jul 16, 2010
Messages
3,304
I believe AAA and Travel Agents may sell tickets at face value - at least they used to as Amtrak paid commission even when airlines no longer did so.
 

FrensicPic

Conductor
Joined
Jan 15, 2012
Messages
3,041
Location
LAX
If Guest_slee0912_* pays cash for the ticket at the last minute, might he/she not be singled out for a search by our drug lords?
That thought crossed my mind too.
Cash transactions and last minute purchases are indeed considered suspicious events for purposes of traveling through the US. In addition to those pre-trip flags, a long list of observational criteria that the TSA (and presumably other agencies) look for was leaked back in 2015.

These are the observational factors which count against you as part of the TSA's threat assessment points system...

Arriving early

Arriving late

Initiating eye contact

Avoiding eye contact

Maintaining eye contact

Yawning

Fidgeting

Clock watching

Head turning

Shuffling feet

Leg shaking

Touching face

Touching upper body

Rubbing hands

Wringing hands

Trembling

Repetitive grooming

Exaggerated grooming

Using hands to communicate

Insufficient body movement

Passes object to someone else

Accepts object from someone else

Pale face

Flushed face

Excessive blink rate

Insufficient blink rate

Excessive breathing rate

Visible swallowing

Arterial movement

Rigid posture

Arms close to sides

Body odor

Sweaty hands

Bag heavier than expected

Bag has unsuitable appearance

Baggy clothing

Looking at screeners

Looking at other passengers

Looking at scanning equipment

Looking at security cameras

Looking at luggage

Looking around the room

Looking down at floor

Crying

Laughing

Smiling

Whistling

Excessive talking

Excessive swallowing

Dry mouth or lack of swallowing

Change in voice pitch, rate, or volume

Talks loudly

Talks softly or covers mouth

Delayed response to questions/orders

Hesitation or Indecision

Focused behavior

Distracted behavior

Ignores questions

Focuses on or repeats questions

Gives answers which are too vague

Gives answers which are too detailed

Complains about screening process

Perspires before or during scanning

Wearing unusual or inappropriate clothing

Wearing clothing similar to other travelers

Having same luggage as another traveler

Gripping baggage tightly

Placing hand inside luggage

Demonstrates situational awareness

Interest in security personnel

Interest in security process

Lack of respect or contempt/arrogance

Appears confused

Appears disoriented

Appears disguised

Asks questions about security process

Does not respond to instructions/commands

Possesses almanac

Possesses blueprint

Possesses GPS unit

Possesses flight manual

Possesses scuba manual

Possesses liquid or gel

Possesses prepaid calling card

Possesses rope

Possesses wire

Possesses duct tape

Possesses batteries

Possesses electronics

Passenger is single

Passenger is male

Passenger is under 65 years old
Guilty on may counts! :ph34r:
 

fairviewroad

Conductor
Joined
Jan 13, 2011
Messages
3,353
If Guest_slee0912_* pays cash for the ticket at the last minute, might he/she not be singled out for a search by our drug lords?
That's highly dependent on the itinerary. We don't know anything about the OP's travel plans.

If OP buys a last-minute roomette with cash from EMY to CHI, then yes, that's likely a red flag to the authorities. If OP buys a last-minute coach seat with cash from NYP to BOS, no one will notice and/or care.
 

NW cannonball

Conductor
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Messages
1,555
Location
Minnesota
You may certainly purchase a ticket at the station ahead of time. Don't know the answer to the gift card question...you might bring it with you when you go buy the ticket at the station and see what they say.
At least I know that I can purchase a ticket ahead of time. :) Thank you!
You can reserve a seat or room on-line or by telephone or at the (staffed) station and pay cash, check, credit card.

Gift cards -- nobody seems to know.

If your trip is on an unreserved train -- no helpful answers either.

Was that an Amtrak gift card or a generic one?

In any case ask the station agent or phone agent and buy the ticket any way that works for you.
 

Tennessee Traveler

Conductor
Joined
Apr 11, 2010
Messages
1,230
Location
Franklin, TN
If gift card is also identified as VISA or MasterCard, you simply use it as a VISA or MC card. Does not matter if it is gift card or regular credit or even debit card. One Caution -- the gift card balance available should be greater than the Amtrak charge.
 

PVD

Conductor
Joined
Jul 8, 2015
Messages
4,901
Location
NYC/Queens
Second caution (these are repeats of postings from a few days ago) don't get rid of the card right away, any refund or credit goes back to that card.
 

KmH

Conductor
Joined
Dec 6, 2014
Messages
2,055
Location
Is this heaven? No. It's Iowa.
Cash transactions and last minute purchases are indeed considered suspicious events for purposes of traveling through the US. In addition to those pre-trip flags, a long list of observational criteria that the TSA (and presumably other agencies) look for was leaked back in 2015.

. . . . . . . . .

Passenger is under 65 years old
Thank goodness.I'm now over 65.

Another 65th year birthday perk.

Woo! Hoo!
 
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