Have you been trying to reduce the expenses for your daily commute as well as leisure travel? The truth is, we all strive to save as much as possible on essential items, and train tickets are no exception.
Ticket prices are always on the rise, and you probably don’t see a way out of this vicious spending circle.
Well, don’t despair because we have a solution, or more likely, a handful of helpful ideas. Regardless of whether you are a regular commuter or a casual traveler, we’ll help you find the cheapest train tickets.
Table of Contents
- 1 How To Buy Cheap Train Tickets Online?
- 2 Ways To Get Cheap Train Tickets
- 2.1 1. Book In Advance
- 2.2 2. Use An App To Monitor Prices
- 2.3 3. Practice Split Ticketing
- 2.4 4. Book Last Minute
- 2.5 5. Get A Railcard
- 2.6 6. Be Flexible
- 2.7 7. Travel Off-Peak Hours
- 2.8 8. Single Vs. Return Tickets
- 2.9 9. Student, Military And Senior Discounts
- 2.10 10. Purchase A Season Ticket
- 2.11 11. Avoid Extra Booking Fees
- 2.12 12. Get Cashback On All Train Ticket Purchases
- 2.13 13. “Traveling- short” Is A No-Go
- 2.14 14. Learn Your Train Refund Rights
- 2.15 15. Get First-Class Train Tickets For Less
- 3 Bottom Line
- 4 FAQs
How To Buy Cheap Train Tickets Online?
Purchasing inexpensive tickets can make or break your day. When booking a business trip, a longer holiday excursion, or a last-minute day out, finding decent fares can be a daunting experience. ProMoneySavings has selected a range of useful hints that will make train traveling both a cheap and memorable experience.
Our comprehensive guide includes ideas on how to waive booking and cancelation fees and use the full potential of railcards. Further on, we’ll teach you how to split tickets, avoid rush hours, and find deals and promotions.
Combine these ideas with our ultimate money-saving travel tips and your vacation won’t empty your bank account.
Ways To Get Cheap Train Tickets
Don’t you just adore train journeys by the mere thought of lovely views? Well, traveling by train can be the most convenient way if you know how to reduce the cost. As a result, we took great care to help you in the pursuit of cheap train tickets to London, New York, and elsewhere. Just follow our expert money-saving tips, and you can enjoy picturesque and wonderful landscapes for a fraction of the cost.
1. Book In Advance
The rule of thumb while booking tickets is to do it well in advance. The recommended period for booking earlier extends up to 12 weeks ahead. This way, travelers will be able to save as much as 70% of the regular train rate. The truth be told, even if you book a week before the trip, it can still make a significant difference.
Don’t overlook the fact that tickets get more expensive as the day of travel draws near. So, the earlier you buy, the more affordable the price will be. The cheapest train tickets can be found just a couple of days after being released for purchase.
Nowadays, some operators release advance tickets more than 12 weeks ahead. This depends on the provider and the journey itself. If the interest for certain tickets is high, the probability that you’ll hunt down cheap tickets drops. Make sure you check whether the train line has an app that allows you to track ticket prices.
2. Use An App To Monitor Prices
You have an app for whatever comes to mind, right? In case you don’t, install the app of your preferred train line at once. Such tools predict when ticket prices will increase and by what amount. Additionally, train line apps have extra features that make travel an enjoyable experience.
The only downside of the apps is that you might be charged surplus fees for booking and delivery. Also, you may not always be offered the lowest price, so check other booking websites as well. All in all, we suggest you use railroad apps to cut the cost of train travel but always double-check.
Lastly, try getting cheap tickets alerts via relevant train apps. By doing so, you’ll be among the first clients to get information that your tickets are available. What you must do is insert the train route and the time of travel.
Here are a few options to consider:
- Rail Map
- Ixigo Train
3. Practice Split Ticketing
Are you tracking down cheap tickets to London? Imagine slashing the price while still being on exactly the same train. Think big, and consider splitting your tickets for significant savings. This is some kind of a trick that involves manual searching, but it works every time if you follow some simple rules. First, instead of the entire journey, search for tickets valid for the constituent legs of your trip.
In short, instead of one ticket, you’ll probably have two or three that cover the route from scratch to hatch. Even more, you can sit on the same seat, and this is perfectly legal according to the official rules of the national railroads.
Anyways, remember that the train must stop at all stations you have tickets for.
4. Book Last Minute
Plans often change, and we are forced to buy tickets at the last moment before we set off. Yet, buying just before the train leaves the platform doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. The price you pay on the day of travel depends on the demand for tickets, so you are required to negotiate a bit. Some age groups might be eligible for a lower price before the journey, too.
The fact is that railroad companies are eagerly trying to fill up their trains. As a result, you might be surprised to land a last-minute discount. So, don’t forget to ask if there’s a special or last-minute price available to make use of cheap rail tickets.
5. Get A Railcard
All over the UK, you can cut the cost in half if you exploit the famous Railcard. Railcards are available only for certain categories of people that must meet specific criteria. To start with, only children aged 16-17 are eligible for 16-17 Saver and get 50% when traveling. Moreover, 16-25 Railcard and 26-30 Railcard holders who are full-time students save 1/3 on most fares throughout the country.
Seniors at the age of 60 or more are entitled to the Senior Railcard and also save 1/3 on most regular tickets. A Disabled Persons Railcard would cost only £20 for a year, and as little as £54 for three years. The Family and Friends Railcard is undeniably the best deal you can get and enjoy the comfort of trains. For only £30, up to 4 adults and 4 children who are not related can travel together the entire year.
6. Be Flexible
The best thing about not having sharp travel times is that you can get exclusive fares. Meaning, if your travel day and time are flexible, the likelihood to find seriously cheaper tickets increases. After all, you’ll avoid the crowds around rush hours or during major holidays.
Flexibility can help you save when it comes to occasional travel for entertainment and sightseeing. When searching, don’t forget to tick the ‘I’m flexible’ option so that the machine gives you the best rates. Good luck with hunting down the cheapest train tickets out there!
7. Travel Off-Peak Hours
Do you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy trips in slow times of the year? If you’re going to escape the hustle of busy holiday periods, get ready to save more than you imagined. Also, avoid tickets for weekends and during rush hours, because at these times, prices rocket. By purchasing tickets for off-peak periods, you’ll boost your buying potential, for sure.
When you travel off-peak, you can also avoid standing for the whole journey. Trains are always full during rush hours, so make sure you avoid traveling before 9 am and after 5 pm or reserve a seat. Avoiding the crowds means you can enjoy quieter trains, too.
On top of that, if you decide to book tickets online, you can save even more. Consider the discount you’ll get with tickets bought online for off-peak times. Beware that similar to airlines railroad tickets tend to increase around the holiday seasons and the periods when most people commute.
8. Single Vs. Return Tickets
The general rule we usually follow is buying return tickets whenever possible to cut the travel expenses. But, this is not 100% applicable because often singles beat returns in terms of price. Moreover, two single tickets can get you a cheaper fare rather than a return ticket, so check both options when booking.
The reason behind this inconsistency lies in the fact that discounts are usually tied to individual tickets. The savings aren’t huge, but if you travel often, it pays off in the long term. Whether you’ll save or not depends on your research skills and dedication. Most railroad operators would give you a comparison between two singles and a return ticket, so it’s up to you to decide.
9. Student, Military And Senior Discounts
Being a full-time student can be challenging in terms of paying full-price transport fares. Students aged 17 to 25 are given a 15% discount on Amtrak if they opt for a ‘Flexible Fare’ or ‘Value’. Anyways, remember that whatever discount you choose to apply for, always check the eligibility conditions.
MBTA, for example, doesn’t give a discount to monthly Commuter Rail passes for seniors but offers discounted 10-ride tickets. Conversely, middle, and high school students benefit from reduced fares if they belong to participating schools. College students can be part of the Semester Pass Program but aren’t allowed the same reduced rates.
When it comes to kids, Amtrak offers a 50% discount for children 2 to 12 years, provided they are accompanied by fare-paying adults. One child under the age of 2 can ride ticket-free with each full ticket-paying adult. Consider MBTA’s Youth Pass for low-income teenagers and youngsters in participating communities, too.
Military members regularly get discounts both for themselves and their immediate families. In other words, they get 10% off the regular fare for all Amtrak routes. Even veterans of the US military service are entitled to cheap rail tickets with a 10% discount with certain restrictions.
10. Purchase A Season Ticket
Do you commute every day to the nearby town? Or maybe you study on campus several miles from your home. Consider getting a season train ticket if you make the same journey all over again. This is a smart investment because season tickets give a discount to frequent travelers.
There are several types of season tickets, including weekly, monthly, and even yearly based ones. Pay attention to whether your season ticket covers different legs on the journey. Some cheap rail tickets can be used on a broader network and some not. Depending on the area the ticket covers, the price will increase proportionately.
On top of this, you’ll avoid waiting in long lines before ticket machines. Also, if you’re running late, you don’t have to miss the train because you need extra time to purchase a ticket. Make sure you check out the season ticket calculator to see whether your ticket will pay off in the long run.
11. Avoid Extra Booking Fees
Do you feel ripped off every time you are charged a booking fee? In that case, forget about websites that impose booking fees on each journey. Though such fees are small, you can avoid them by booking elsewhere. There are many sites where the price of train tickets is the final price you pay. This usually refers to the home pages of railroad operators.
Always check whether there are cancelation fees in case you’re not sure of travel times. For instance, if you plan a trip aboard Acela in the Northeast, you won’t be charged any change fees. Amtrak offers the option of Flexible Fares that can be easily modified or changed without paying additional fees.
12. Get Cashback On All Train Ticket Purchases
Before making the next reservation, consider this: check out cashback sites. In a word, bypass the websites of rail companies and book tickets via sites that offer you cashback. The scheme will apply to each purchase you make through their site.
Take into account registering with cashback services to earn a fixed amount of funds back to your debit card. In some cases, you get a certain percentage back, usually $5, or a free journey once in a while. The great thing is that you get the same service for a reduced rate. Pay attention that a cheap train ticket to London might not entail the same cashback as a ticket to Norwich.
The only big ‘but’ is that often the cashback is insignificant. Meaning, it can be way cheaper to shop with another retailer at lower prices. Hence, if you’re a regular traveler, take some time and explore as many train ticket retailers as possible. Revisit the sites often to check for current deals and promos.
13. “Traveling- short” Is A No-Go
Popular and commuter routes are most often full, and therefore cheap advance tickets are a rare sight. Yet, some people buy tickets for a longer journey than the planned one hoping to make serious savings. How is this possible? Well, you’ll get off earlier than the final destination of your ticket since it incorporates your route.
The fact that you’re not going until the end of your route is known as ‘traveling short’. Unfortunately, this is against the rules of advance tickets and, therefore, banned. You can even get fined for making such calculations. Always abide by the starting and final point of your advance tickets since this is a binding legal obligation.
Anyways, be aware that with other non-advance tickets, you can break the journey without any negative consequences. To make sure this is allowed, ask at a station or check the ticket’s conditions.
14. Learn Your Train Refund Rights
Knowing your consumer rights can spare you from much trouble. Getting acquainted with the refund policies, on the other hand, can save you decent money. Yet, every railroad provider has a different set of rules, so take your time to read them thoroughly.
Canceling train tickets will most likely depend on the selected fare. So, with Saver Fares, you are not allowed any changes or upgrades and can get refunds within 24 hours of booking. With Flexible and Business fares, you’re entitled to make changes for free and get a feeless refund before departure. Most Amtrak refunds and cancelations can be performed online. You can also proceed with the refund via phone or even at stations with Amtrak ticket offices.
15. Get First-Class Train Tickets For Less
Want to enjoy the perks of first-class while spending less? It seems like an impossible mission, right? Though most of the time, we advise against traveling first class, now we have an extra tip to get the maximum of your money. Watch out for sales when first-class tickets cost just a couple of dollars more than the standard.
For just 5$ extra when traveling first-class with a discount, you can end up saving money. How is that viable? First-class tickets include many benefits for passengers, such as unlimited free food and drinks for the entire journey. Plus, you can make use of free WiFi that usually includes free movies and TV.
If you still can’t afford or wouldn’t like to splash out on first-class tickets, there are other ways to exploit the perks. When the train is half-empty, nothing will stop you from sitting nearby the first-rate section because you don’t reserve a specific seat. So, skip reserving and risk standing, or reserve and hope that your assigned seat is by the WiFi accessible spot.
Once we have explained the strategies for lowering train expenses effectively, it’s your turn to put them into action. We suggest you start by selecting one idea, and as you get the hang of it, move further. This comprehensive guide on inexpensive train tickets is a real treasure for those trying to tighten their belts.
As always, we do our best to provide you with creative ways to save money. So, make sure to subscribe to our ProMoneySavings Newsletter and get our latest cash tips in your inbox.
How do you get cheap train tickets?
There are multiple ways to save substantial amounts of money on railroad tickets. One of the most widely-spread strategies is to purchase a Railcard. If traveling often, get a season ticket and make sure you book well in advance. When possible, avoid traveling at peak times and pay attention to whether two singles or a return ticket is more favorable. Finally, make use of cashback and loyalty sites that announce regular deals and promotions.
Is it cheaper to buy train tickets online or at the station?
The general rule is that if you buy online, you get various deals with discounted prices. Anyways, travel addicts claim that they can get the same prices at stations by showing a Railcard. What is more, most people feel that online booking fees are unfair. Pay attention that you can also buy advance tickets at regular train stations.
Are VIA Rail tickets cheaper on Tuesdays?
Tuesdays are your lucky days with VIA Rail. In short, you can make significant savings if you opt to book and buy tickets on Tuesdays. The great thing is that you are not obliged to travel on Tuesday only. You can travel any day, any time from Friday to Thursday. Moreover, VIA Rail offers enormous discounts on specific classes, including meals and cabins, if you make a deal on Consumer Day.
How can I get cheap train tickets in Europe?
Never underestimate the power of booking return journeys at the same time. Make use of the national Railcard if you’re a frequent traveler to save on fare rates. Check if you fall under specific categories that receive discounts such as seniors, kids, and students. Most importantly, buy in advance if you know the exact time of travel. Some countries allow booking as far as 180 days ahead.