Glutamate transporters are cation-coupled secondary active membrane transporters that clear the neurotransmitter L-glutamate from the synaptic cleft. These transporters are homotrimers, with each protomer functioning independently by an elevator-type mechanism, in which a mobile transport domain alternates between inward- and outward-oriented states. Using single-particle cryo-EM we have determined five structures of the glutamate transporter homologue GltTk, a Na+- L-aspartate symporter, embedded in lipid nanodiscs. Dependent on the substrate concentrations used, the protomers of the trimer adopt a variety of asymmetrical conformations, consistent with the independent movement. Six of the 15 resolved protomers are in a hitherto elusive state of the transport cycle in which the inward-facing transporters are loaded with Na+ ions. These structures explain how substrate-leakage is prevented - a strict requirement for coupled transport. The belt protein of the lipid nanodiscs bends around the inward oriented protomers, suggesting that membrane deformations occur during transport.