I love to travel. But I also love to do it spending as little money as possible. Megabus is one of my absolute favorite ways to get out of town for super cheap. I’ve used the discount bus service a few times and it has been a really great experience, although their “free wifi” doesn’t always work.
Reader Anna Ruth dropped me a line with a question about how the Megabus $1 tickets work. By the way, if you have a question, don’t hesitate to contact me – maybe your question will end up in a post!
So here is Anna Ruth’s question: I was curious, how exactly do the $1 Megabus tickets work? How do I find seats at that price?
Here’s my response:
There are 3 keys to scoring one dollar Megabus seats.
Book in advance. Way in advance. There are only a few $1 seats on each Megabus route. Therefore, you’ll want to book your seat months in advance in order to score the lowest fare. Prices go up and up as you get closer to the departure date. Also, while $1 seats are awesome, the seats go up in price as more are sold. Scoring a $5 or $9 seat is pretty amazing too. If you see a low fare, jump on it. The average fare on Megabus is around $20 but I hope you avoid paying even that much with these tips. By the way, a 50 cent reservation fee applies to all bookings.
Be flexible with your dates. Have a travel window and look for seats within that window. The ticket prices can vary greatly from one day to the next depending on what’s been sold so far. You won’t score the best deal if you already have specific travel dates picked out. The more flexibility you have on date and time of departure, the more likely you are to ride for cheap! Also, travelling mid-week will often save you more money on Megabus trips.
Go ahead and book! If you stumble upon a $1 or $3 fare – buy it! Even if you are unsure if you are actually going to travel on those dates, what’s the worst that can happen? It is far wiser to book the ticket and not use it than to wait and have to pay ten times that as the date approaches.
Don’t forget to check the Megabus website for deals. They have lots of specials – especially for people willing to travel on weekdays! They even offer promo codes every once in a while. Good luck on scoring one dollar seats on Megabus!
Anyone else out there had a Megabus experience yet? What do you think of the low cost bus service?
[photo courtesy of Richard]
20 Comment responses
I’m taking my first ever bus trip in 2 weeks to Chicago. We are taking MegaBus but just booked so we are paying $40 roundtrip. Wish we would have booked sooner!
Nice! I hope you enjoy the experience. Some people complain that Megabus isn’t awesome – but for the price you pay I would say they go above and beyond. And hopefully you’ll score the absolute cheapest seats next time you book.
So I just found a couple of great Megabus $1 fares today from Boston to Portland and also some cheap $5 tickets New York to Boston. But in order to get to New York or Boston from where I live now in the southeast US, the website is saying the tickets are between $77-$81. What is that about? How is that a good deal? If I check on another day, are those tickets for the same times and dates likely to get cheaper at all?
When you think about it that is actually still kind of a deal. But, here’s why it’s so expensive: Megabus is all about short regional routes. To get all the way to NY from the southeast you are actually talking about purchasing roughly 3 Megabus tickets. You could easily travel in your region with 1 ticket and score a $1 seat, but for a trip that long you’ll be paying more. Any chance you could look even further in advance? If you looked as far advance as they have tickets you might be able to get all the way to NY for $15. That’s a lot of bus riding! Good luck.
Unfortunately, I do not have flexible travel dates, since I work for a company that gives all their employees exactly 1 week off a year (and everyone has to take the same week in August also so that the company can just shut down for 1 week a year and that’s it), so I can’t do it for any other time. But I will think about the $77 tickets if they are not likely to go down. It’s still cheaper than flying.
Bummer. Sorry about the lack of vacation time. Ticket prices on Megabus don’t go down unless they announce a special. Right now I’m not seeing one on their site. Maybe think it over for a day and then book if you still feel inclined. It is definitely cheaper than flying – but just remember, that will be a long bus trip! The longest I’ve done is from Atlanta to New Orleans, about 9 hours. This will be much longer than that.
Solid advice. They open a block of a couple of months about 45 days ahead of the first date. They just opened up through November 18 for instance. When I know they are opening up, I check every single day. As soon as it opens, I book every weekend on the route I take. I managed to get 20 $1 trips at once. Each of those trips is 500 miles.
I’m traveling 10,000 for $20.50.
Chris, you my friend, are a beast. Booking right when the tickets open up is definitely the way to go. And this also explains why I rarely get the $1 seats. Someone is buying them up before I get on the website…
In my defense, I’m only buying one. I’ve been told by a driver that there are actually three $1 seats per run, and that when they launch a new route there are 10 per run.
Definitely sign up for their Twitter feed. Not for news of when sales open – that always happens hours later and by that time, all the $1 seats are gone. But to celebrate new routes, they have occasionally launched nationwide sales with thousands of $1 seats on every route.
Hah. I’m not judging Chris. I think that’s awesome. And definitely a good tip to follow Megabus on Twitter. I do love their awesome sales.
I have taken Megabus on TONS of routes and I seem to find more dollar fares for the first stop on a long trip. So, I live in Atlanta and the routes to the northeast that go through Chattanooga have more dollar fares, it seems, than the next possible stops (either Knoxville or Nashville) And, well, yeah, DUH.
I think it is important to mention that Megabus is NO GREYHOUND: very few stops on the way, no stations (GAH! The Nashville stop used to be a literal wide spot on the road near the fairgrounds. SCARY. DARK. It’s better now, but a few blocks off the tourist areas of town.) There is little organization outside of the hubs. In ATL they line folks up on the sidewalk and get people moved – fast. Lexington and Charlotte were just goat-rodeos of shoving sometimes. I’ve not had a bad experience with passengers on Megabus – but sometimes (and it’s becoming more frequent as the business grows) the buses are VERY late. It’s not much comfort that one’s ticket price is automatically refunded when the bus is more than two hours late. Yea? I get my 5 bucks back? Dude, I got a job in the morning. Those three hours in the cold waiting on a late bus was not worth the five.
But, yes. It’s totally worth it. Bring your hand wipes, your own TP, something to drink, a protein bar, and some entertainment for yourself, and it’s REALLY a bargain. If only the taxi taking me the last five miles at the other end weren’t more expensive than the first 300…. *Sigh* Paging Megataxi?
Good call Emily. It certainly has some major differences from Greyhound. And I totally agree that we need a Megataxi! I hate spending more to get 3 miles TO the bus stop than the 300 mile trip to another city!
Rude bus from houston it was superb.
I RODE the bus from Austin to Houston. It was fantastic! I will be doing 3 more trips (that I know of). I like saving money too but I also want the service to be profitable and stick around, so paying a bit more sometimes isn’t such a bad thing.
Nice! Glad you liked it!
Unfortunately, it looks like the $1 fares have faded into history. I’ve been doing the same things as this post suggested for many years, but haven’t seen any $1 tickets in about a year. And if you look at their website, the animated logo they used to have that said “fares from $1″ now says “over 35 million customers served” instead. The $1 tickets were a way for them to gain traction against Greyhound in the market, but they couldn’t keep it up forever. In fact, if you try to book within a few weeks of the travel date, they actually charge more than Greyhound for the same route!
“Unfortunately, it looks like the $1 fares have faded into history.”
Not at all. They opened up through the end of March, and I bought 28 one-way trips between Chicago and Kansas City for $1 each – Friday night up and Sunday night back. And that was just seeing the announcement via Twitter. If you’re trying to travel between Boston and NYC, sure, those $1 fares are going to go even quicker, but I just checked, and a trip from Kansas City to Boston at noon on March 18th is STILL available for $1.
OK, so you don’t care to go between those two places, but name one other place on earth where you can find a warm, clean place to sleep with an outlet and free wi-fi for $1.
To follow up myself, I do occasionally buy more expensive Megabus tickets. I missed the rush around Christmas, and just bought one for $45. But that’s STILL an astonishing bargain compared to any other method of travel and the buses are so much better than the dreadful *thing* Greyhound stuck me on last time.
Yeah, I was freezing my butt off on the sidewalk Friday night waiting for the Megabus to Chicago, but that is still preferable to waiting in the Greyhound station. I think I’ll invest a bit of the money I saved in some long underwear and some extra-thick socks. When it’s really cold in Chicago (Really? Cold? In Chicago?) Megabus brings a non-Mega-bus to serves as a nice, warm waiting room.