If you live in a major city, you’ve likely heard of BoltBus and Megabus, as well as their rock-bottom $1 bus tickets.
Both companies make money by charging more for premium schedules, meaning you can score a deal on seats they are trying to fill during off-peak times.
How to Get $1 Bus Tickets
But how do you get your hands on one of those blink-and-you’ll-miss-them bargain fares? Follow these tips to grab the lowest-priced tickets.
1. Pick Your Route
Before you start saving, make sure these carriers take you where you want to go.
Megabus offers stops in 34 U.S. states. It also offers a route between Toronto and Montreal in Canada.
BoltBus has routes along the East Coast and West Coast. On the East Coast, it stops in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Its West Coast routes include stops in Oregon, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia.
2. Book Your Ticket as Early as Possible
To get the best chance at the cheapest fares, book your seats as far in advance as possible. If you can book months in advance, you’ll have a better shot at snagging a $1 ticket than if you wait until a few days before your trip.
Each scheduled trip will offer at least one $1 fare, according to the BoltBus FAQ. This unicorn of a deal is “generally within the first handful of seats sold. The earlier you book your ticket, the greater your odds are of grabbing a seat for a buck.”
If you’re not sure exactly when you’d like to travel, sometimes it makes sense to get a deeply discounted ticket just in case — and if you don’t wind up traveling, you’re only out a buck.
Be at the front of the line for Megabus, too. The company only gives $1 fares to “the first or initial customers that purchase a ticket for that trip,” according to its terms and conditions
As seats fill up, prices increase. Even if you don’t get a $1 fare, booking early can help you snag a $5 seat, which is still a steal.
3. Time Your Trip Right
Since routes offer only a few $1 fares, you’re more likely to score a cheap ticket if you can be flexible with your travel dates. Skip Friday and Sunday travel, as well as holidays and busy weekend times, to get the best deal.
The popularity of the route also goes into the pricing equation, as Megabus notes in its terms. While these routes still might only have a single $1 fare, less-popular trips may well have other low-priced tickets.
4. Look for Special Offers
From time to time, both companies run special offers and promotions. Following them on social media is a great way to stay on top of these deals and jump on newly announced trips.
You can also search for promo codes online on sites like RetailMeNot and WanderU, a bus and train travel site.
5. Sign Up for Bolt Rewards
BoltBus offers a frequent rider program called Bolt Rewards.
The deal is very simple: Travel eight times on BoltBus trips that you pay more than $1 for and your ninth one-way fare is free. It doesn’t matter how long the routes are — just travel eight times and your ninth ride is on them.
Kristen Pope is a freelance writer and editor in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.