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How To Get Cheaper Train Tickets

It may seem a strange time to consider the issue of train fares and how to get better value. But many of us still travel out of necessity, even if there are plenty of spare seats. And with a vaccine, comes hope of normality in the near future. And then we will return to being ripped off again for our train journeys! But it does not have to be that way. There are tricks available to beat the system. We look at how to get cheaper train tickets.

Forward Planning – Book well in advance

An obvious tip, but still the optimum policy. Train companies generally release train tickets 12 weeks in advance, though in recent times a few are releasing cheaper fares earlier. Even if you don’t get the advanced fares as soon as they go on sale, it’s still worth booking as soon as you know when you are going to travel. Though the best fares often go quick, you can still get reduced fares the day before on many routes, and some even offer an advanced discount on the day

Travel off-peak

Hours vary by train company but think of it as the rush hour (or two) in the morning and late afternoon. Travel outside those times and you’ll save. I have never understood the logic of charging more for the busiest periods, but that is how it is. I guess it is because train companies have a captive audience that have to travel then, so it is easy money. So if you can be flexible in when you will travel you will see the prices dip mid-morning. For example, on the Manchester tram system it is 9:30am when peak travel ends.

How To Get Cheaper Train Tickets – Split your ticket

The labyrinth that is the UK train system means that by splitting up journeys, you can save a lot of money.  There is no explanation for why this should occur, except that many train lines are run by different companies, but the booking system cannot by itself work out a best value price for customers. Or more to the point, chooses not to. I assume there are apps and forums out there that will help you find the best value. But often it is best for you just to try a bit of trial and error. 

Check if two singles are cheaper than a return

And along the same lines, it may be worth your while to check the prices on paying for two singles for your trip, rather than the more convenient return price. It may be hassle for you, but it could save you a pretty penny.

Get a season ticket

For regular travellers, this is something of a no-brainer. Like buying in bulk, it pays to purchase multiple journeys with a single transaction. Most transport providers will sell weekly, monthly and annual tickets. Even an all-access daily ticket may be worthwhile for some modes of transport if you plan to make multiple journeys. If travel is work-related, as it usually is, t’s worth seeing if your employer will provide an interest-free loan to purchase your ticket. After all, it can be quite the upfront payment required to pay for a batch of train travel. 

Get a railcard

You’re a student? The Railcard is for you. A bit older? Then go for the 26-30 Railcard. The terms & conditions vary for each but you can save a 1/3 on travel, including often for people travelling with you. 

How To Get Cheaper Train Tickets – Credit Card Rewards

If the price for the ticket itself cannot be reduced, it may be worth thinking outside the box. And that means getting some of the cost back via alternative methods. And one way would be to utilise your credit card. Many cards offer rewards for purchases, so by using your card to pay for travel, you may get something back at a later date. Certainly something worth considering, as long as you know you can afford to pay off the balance.

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