Image by Hunter-Desportes
Do you ride the rail on a regular basis? If you do then you have certainly noticed that train fares seem to keep getting higher and higher. If you want to save money on your ongoing transportation costs then you need to learn how to reduce train fares. This guide can help!
Start with Season Tickets
The simplest way to start saving money on train fares is to get season tickets. There are season tickets available for unlimited travel in a seven day period. If you’re a really frequent train traveler then you can invest in monthly season tickets or even long-duration season tickets up to one year. Customers who choose to get a year-long season ticket may qualify for a gold card, which provides additional savings on travel. You pay a flat rate for all season tickets so the more you travel on the train the more you will save with this easy option. Note that this is a good option for short and medium length trips on the rail network but may not be the best money saver for long trips.
Check out Carnets
Tom Edwards, the London transport correspondent for BBC News, recommends learning to make the most of Carnets to save money on train fares. Carnets are books of tickets that you buy at once to get a bulk discount on the purchase. This can save you more money than season tickets in some cases.
Here are some tips for saving the most with this option:
- Buy a combination of off-peak and peak time Carnets. Edwards says that you can save a considerable amount of money if you make sure not to use peak fare Carnets during off-peak travel times. For example, if you leave for home on the train after 7 pm then you can use an off-peak ticket.
- Look for the best bulk deals. For example, you can sometimes get ten tickets for the price of nine when you buy Carnets in the right places. There are several companies that sell these money-savers so shop around. Check out the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) for a current list of companies that sell Carnets.
- Compare Carnets with other money-saving options. You always want to choose the cheapest option.
Use Groupsave on the Train
If you ever find yourself taking the train with the whole family then make sure that you use the GroupSave ticket option. With this option you pay for an adult ticket and then get as many as four children’s tickets for a flat rate of just £1 each. This option is available on numerous train companies throughout the UK although it isn’t available on all of them. For example, ScotRail and Stansted Express don’t offer GroupSave.
Look at the Current Special Offers
When you are getting ready to purchase your train tickets, make sure that you check out what the latest special offers are for fares. The different train companies each run their own promotions. You should look online for related promotional codes that will decrease the cost of your train fare. You can also check the “special offers” tab for the National Rail website for information on deals.
Add Bus Savings
If you are taking the train in London then you may often have to combine your rail travel with travel on other public transit systems such as the bus system. You should make an effort to save money on all parts of your travel. This can be done by using a PlusBus season ticket or a London Area Travelcard. The PlusBus season ticket combines a season ticket for the train with a season ticket for the bus at one low cost in one easy transaction. The London Area Travelcard can is a season ticket that works on nearly all public transport systems within the London Area. You can learn more about both types of savings cards through the National Rail website.
Use the National Rail Journey Planner
There may be times when you don’t purchase your tickets in advance. However, you can still look for the best deal on the train trip that you need to take. Simply go to the National Rail website and use their interactive fare finder to find the cheapest tickets. Note that sometimes it is cheaper to buy two one-way tickets than a single return ticket. Another similar tool that you can use to find cheaper train tickets is Split Your Ticket, a site that helps you break down your trip into smaller chunks to get a total overall lower cost on your train fare.
The quickest way to waste a lot of money on your train trip is to get a fine. It’s not worth it to dodge the fare especially since authorities are cracking down lately and fining everyone who gets caught. Make sure that you fill in the dates on any tickets that require you to do so (such as Carnets) because even legitimate tickets that aren’t filled out properly can lead to fines.
Buy your Train Tickets with a Cash Back Rewards Credit Card
You are able to purchase your train tickets and season passes with a credit card. Take advantage of this fact. Use a cash back rewards credit card to get some money back for your purchase. Always pay the balance in full right away so that you don’t accrue interest charges that cut into your total savings.
Do you Qualify for Discounted Tickets?
Finally, you should see if you qualify for any special discounts on your tickets. Does your employer pay for some of your travel costs with a rail pass? It doesn’t hurt to ask! Do you work for a charity? You may qualify for discounts on some lines including the Virgin Trains. Are you blind or otherwise disabled? You may get a disabled person rate or use the Freedom Pass, which is a discounted rate pass for the elderly and disabled. Are you buying tickets for kids under age 15? They get cheaper tickets too!
What do you think is the toughest part about saving money on train fares? Share your thoughts in the comments below – maybe we’ll have a solution for you!
Published April 20, 2011 & Filed in Discount Coder Chat
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