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Make reservations without paying?

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rrdude

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Baltimore/DC Area
Is it still possible to make reservations, via the toll-free #, withOUT actually putting the charge on your credit card?
 

zephyr17

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Jul 22, 2009
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Washington State
Is it still possible to make reservations, via the toll-free #, withOUT actually putting the charge on your credit card?
Yes, and they hold them for 7 days. They'll tend to ask you for a credit card payment, though. Just politely say you just want to hold at this time while you finalize your plans.
 
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sky12065

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Jun 23, 2008
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The Villages FL - Formerly Waterford NY
Is it still possible to make reservations, via the toll-free #, withOUT actually putting the charge on your credit card?
I made reservations on the Autotrain southbound last week. Because I was more than 11 months out for the return trip I asked them to hold my reservation for the 7 days. This Wednesday will be the seventh day and is the first day I can book the return trip and will finish the reservation then and pay for it using my CC. I reserved under the name of Mickey Mouse, so are there any guesses where we'll be staying during part of out stay in Florida? :lol:
 

sunchaser

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Feb 12, 2009
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Salt Lake City, Ut
Is it still possible to make reservations, via the toll-free #, withOUT actually putting the charge on your credit card?
I made reservations on the Autotrain southbound last week. Because I was more than 11 months out for the return trip I asked them to hold my reservation for the 7 days. This Wednesday will be the seventh day and is the first day I can book the return trip and will finish the reservation then and pay for it using my CC. I reserved under the name of Mickey Mouse, so are there any guesses where we'll be staying during part of out stay in Florida? :lol:
Sea World? :lol: Enjoy Dizzyland!!
 

sky12065

Conductor
Joined
Jun 23, 2008
Messages
1,631
Location
The Villages FL - Formerly Waterford NY
Is it still possible to make reservations, via the toll-free #, withOUT actually putting the charge on your credit card?
I made reservations on the Autotrain southbound last week. Because I was more than 11 months out for the return trip I asked them to hold my reservation for the 7 days. This Wednesday will be the seventh day and is the first day I can book the return trip and will finish the reservation then and pay for it using my CC. I reserved under the name of Mickey Mouse, so are there any guesses where we'll be staying during part of out stay in Florida? :lol:
Sea World? :lol: Enjoy Dizzyland!!
I won't be doing Sea World, but our son who along with his girlfreind who will be joining us from Los Angeles may do it pre-Disney while we're at an Orlando hotel where we all will be staying at for an Elk's Convention!
 

AlanB

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Aug 22, 2002
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Queens, New York
It is still possible to make reservations via the toll free number without paying, but please be aware that the 7-day rule isn't an ironclad deal anymore. Amtrak got tired of people making multiple unpaid reservations on the NEC, and in particular on Acela, to hedge their bets about which train they'd get and to lock in lower prices.

So about two years ago the rules were changed. The time limit is now variable depending on the route and the demand for a particular train on the route. The computer will give the agent the time limit. Most are quite good at telling you when the reservation had to be paid by, but if they don't tell you, ASK. Don't assume that you're going to get 7 days.

In fact during my recent fun and games with the VIA Rail strike, I could only get Amtrak to hold my unpaid alternate reservation on the EB & LSL for 2 days. I unfortunately really needed 3 days, since the strike was scheduled for Friday and my unpaid reservation expired Thursday night. So I was forced to pay for the reservation on Thursday, even though I still wasn't sure that I was going to actually use it.
 

jmbgeg

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Nov 15, 2008
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spokane
It is still possible to make reservations via the toll free number without paying, but please be aware that the 7-day rule isn't an ironclad deal anymore. Amtrak got tired of people making multiple unpaid reservations on the NEC, and in particular on Acela, to hedge their bets about which train they'd get and to lock in lower prices.
So about two years ago the rules were changed. The time limit is now variable depending on the route and the demand for a particular train on the route. The computer will give the agent the time limit. Most are quite good at telling you when the reservation had to be paid by, but if they don't tell you, ASK. Don't assume that you're going to get 7 days.

In fact during my recent fun and games with the VIA Rail strike, I could only get Amtrak to hold my unpaid alternate reservation on the EB & LSL for 2 days. I unfortunately really needed 3 days, since the strike was scheduled for Friday and my unpaid reservation expired Thursday night. So I was forced to pay for the reservation on Thursday, even though I still wasn't sure that I was going to actually use it.
My experience is the same on various long distance trains, Alan. The number of days they will hold a reservations does vary.
 

Upstate

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Feb 21, 2009
Messages
405
In fact during my recent fun and games with the VIA Rail strike, I could only get Amtrak to hold my unpaid alternate reservation on the EB & LSL for 2 days. I unfortunately really needed 3 days, since the strike was scheduled for Friday and my unpaid reservation expired Thursday night. So I was forced to pay for the reservation on Thursday, even though I still wasn't sure that I was going to actually use it.
They did that to me on a reservation for a trip last month. I was leaving from an unstaffed station and it was three days out so the agent told me to call back up at one day out and have the agent reset the timer so it would hold it for me to pay on the train.
 

DivMiler

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Joined
Nov 12, 2007
Messages
295
Location
Central Pennsylvania
It is still possible to make reservations via the toll free number without paying, but please be aware that the 7-day rule isn't an ironclad deal anymore. Amtrak got tired of people making multiple unpaid reservations on the NEC, and in particular on Acela, to hedge their bets about which train they'd get and to lock in lower prices.
Can I still assume that if I make a reservation on the telephone and am told that it is good for 7 days, that the fare I am quoted is good for seven days ("locked in"), even if the fare bucket sells out and current reservations are for the next higher bucket? I have a reservation for coach on the Keystone and Crescent, and it seems that there are only six seats still available at the lowest bucket.
 

jmbgeg

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Nov 15, 2008
Messages
2,148
Location
spokane
It is still possible to make reservations via the toll free number without paying, but please be aware that the 7-day rule isn't an ironclad deal anymore. Amtrak got tired of people making multiple unpaid reservations on the NEC, and in particular on Acela, to hedge their bets about which train they'd get and to lock in lower prices.
Can I still assume that if I make a reservation on the telephone and am told that it is good for 7 days, that the fare I am quoted is good for seven days ("locked in"), even if the fare bucket sells out and current reservations are for the next higher bucket? I have a reservation for coach on the Keystone and Crescent, and it seems that there are only six seats still available at the lowest bucket.
You are usually safe but I assume nothing that I don't see in writing. I always ask for an e-mail confirmation and that document states the "must purchase by" date.
 

Acela150

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Jan 11, 2008
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In a Sea of Foam
If you're lucky you can get a Customer Relations agent to extend the 3 day hold to a longer time. I had that happen once.

Stephen
 

AlanB

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Aug 22, 2002
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Queens, New York
Stephen,

It's not a 3 day hold time. It used to be 7 days no matter what. But Amtrak found too many business people would book 3 or 4 trains one hour apart on a day that they were traveling home from a meeting to hold the lower bucket prices, then cancel the ones that they didn't need at the last minute and only pick up the ticket for the train that they were actually going to catch.

So now Amtrak has a rolling system setup that considers how far away from the travel dates are you making this reservation, are you traveling from a station where you can get tickets, are you traveling on the NEC or other high ridership/high value corridor or are you going long distance, cost of ticket(s), and perhaps even a few other factors like load on the train. Based upon those factors, the system decides how quickly the tickets must be paid for before automatic cancellation occurs. Depending on the factors, you could find yourself with 24 hours up to 7 days to pay for those tickets.

And the agents aren't given much leeway to extend the time limit provided by the computer.
 
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The Metropolitan

OBS Chief
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Apr 13, 2006
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849
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Baltimore, MD
If travelling sleeper, I believe you can also reserve the accomodation part of your trip without paying for it immediately by doing the following:

1) Reserve and purchase a coach ticket, and elect to have the ticket mailed to you.

2) Call back the following day (may not be necessary) and modify the reservation to add the sleeper.

3) Since your ticket has been mailed to you, it can't be added to your actual ticket by this point, so the accomodation is locked in and added to your reservation.

4) You have all the way up to the day of travel to pay for your accomodation upgrade, and will do so by bringing your mailed ticket to a station, and changing it in for a new ticket with the upgrade added. At this point, you will make payment.

In essence, you get extended a sort of line of credit up until the point of your trip.

This is particularly useful if you see that your accomodation charge is on the verge of going up substantially, and you know you are not ready to pay for the entire ticket at the time.

It does carry some costs and risks: you will have to pay for mailing of the ticket if you are boarding at a staffed station, and you'll lose the ability for a full refund by having the paper ticket printed. Also, I don't know how the whole process works when boarding at an unstaffed station (though presumably its pay on board). Still, if you're mostly certain you want to make a trip in sleeper that you can't yet fully afford, it is a great way to guarantee a lower bucket sleeper rate and avoid days or weeks of stress hoping the lower bucket rate holds until you're ready to pay.
 

dlagrua

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Nov 24, 2009
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Hillsborough, NJ
Its advantageous to buy the ticket online and wait to pick it up at the station. if you do it this way you can follow the fare and if it drops you can call ask for the lower fare and Amtrak will honor it.
 
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