Stay on track.
1. Travel in groups.
For holidays and day trips with friends and family, get the lowest price by buying all the tickets together at a group rate. Groups as small as three can save 25% on Advance fares with East Coast, or take 34% off a range of tickets from both Southern Railway and First Great Western.
2. Don’t purchase your ticket during peak buying hours.
Prices for tickets can change day to day depending on demand and traffic, so it’s best to avoid purchasing tickets on weekends and evenings. Scan prices during your lunch hour or on your morning commute to make the most of lower prices.
3. Take a sleeper train.
Skip hotel fees and peak-hour ticket prices by booking for a sleeper train on longer trips. Often sleepers are a much better and more comfortable deal overall – you can take First Great Western’s Night Riviera for as low as £49, including free WiFi and breakfast, or take the Caledonian Sleeper for £70.
4. Get a Two Together Railcard.
The Two Together Railcard is an absolute must for couples and BFFs who travel together often. Valid for a year, the two-person photocard costs £30 and offers a 1/3 discount on all tickets except morning peak times when the pair travels together.
5. Or a 16-25 Railcard if you’re eligible.
If you’re travelling alone and under 25, you can get 1/3 off every journey using a 16-25 Railcard. It’s just £30 a year, and is also available for full-time students over 25. Londoners can link their 16-25 Railcard to their Oyster to save on single journeys. And don’t forget to make the most of the deal by renewing your 16-25 Railcard for another year on the final day before you turn 26.
6. Take a slower train.
If you’re not in a hurry, it pays to take a slower train to your destination. Some lines, like Abellio Greater Anglia, offer slower routes than their competitors, but you can get get your ticket for as low as 1/3 the original price.
7. Buy Advance fare tickets, and buy them early.
For the best prices, buy your Advance fare tickets online or from a ticket booth at a station as early as possible (most tickets are available 12 weeks in advance of the journey). If you don’t absolutely require the flexibility an Anytime single to allow you to travel on any service at any time, committing to a journey through Advance fare can often save upwards of £100. Advance tickets can be bought online or at any station ticket machine in the UK.
8. Use an app or website to compare prices.
Browsing and buying through third-party websites like Red Spotted Hanky, or My Train Tickets can help you compare the prices for various times and from various train lines to get the absolute best price and most convenient trip.
9. Split your tickets.
Buying tickets for the individual legs of your journey instead of bundling the whole thing together can save a surprising amount of money, even if your journey doesn’t actually change at all. Use the convenient app, TicketySplit to discover the cheapest individual fares that will get you where you need to go for the best hidden prices, or check out the BBC’s helpful list of common routes that are made cheaper by ticket splitting.
10. Try the Megatrain.
While it’s not always a surefire success, it’s well worth it to always check if the Megatrain services your route before purchasing tickets from any other booker. If your journey is available, you can get round-trip tickets from £1.50 including the booking fee. The train primarily services regional UK, and bus results will always be included in your search, but doing a bit of sifting is bound to pay off once in a while.
11. Be smart about booking fees.
Some sites and services charge a variety of booking fees to buy tickets through their interface, while some charge nothing. Often the fee is under £1 and not worth worrying about, but sometimes last-minute a fee can hike-up the cost. Buying directly from a train line often eliminates booking fees, so when purchasing tickets, be sure to consider the final price from several sources to be sure you’re getting the best deal.
12. Buy a carnet.
If you travel the same route often but not daily, the best deal is a to buy a carnet directly from your preferred train line, which gives you 10 Anytime journeys for the price of 9. Valid for 3 months, and you can save even more by mixing and matching peak and off-peak tickets if you know your regular travel schedule.
13. Take off-peak tickets.
If your time is flexible, travel during off-peak hours to save on tickets and also for a more comfortable, less crowded journey in general. Check the off-peak hours on individual rail line websites, or use this helpful guide to off-peak hours on popular journeys.
14. Buy a Rover ticket.
If you’re on a longer holiday, get a Rover ticket for the area. This will give you the freedom to travel around and sightsee nearby without having to buy individual tickets over a week, and if you use it properly is bound to save you money by avoiding single trips. If you’re really ambitious to travel the entirety of Britain in a week, you can buy an All Lines Rover for unlimited travel across the entire UK for 7 days.
15. Take advantage of offers.
Get the most out of ticket prices by keeping tabs on offers and train line exclusives. Many UK train lines partner with hotels, restaurants, and other businesses to offer discounts and deals to help you save money on your trip overall. Sign up for railway newsletters to keep tabs on how to make the most out of your entire trip.
16. Get a Bite card to save on train snacks.
If you’re travelling often, save while you eat using a Bite card. Pick up a free card from any rail station and register it to get 10% off at most railway cafes and takeaways – you can even use it in select pubs for a pint between trains.
17. Add a PlusBus pass.
Adding a PlusBus pass to your ticket purchase can save you loads in your destination city. The pass varies depending on location, but always offers unlimited travel in the surrounding area of your destination with no peak charges.
18. Know your refund rights.
If you purchase tickets for a train that’s later delayed or cancelled, you can request a refund. Trains delayed over an hour earn you a partial refund, while you’re entitled to a full refund for trains delayed past two hours or fully cancelled. Most rail ways provide a form online, but be sure to hang on to your ticket as a proof of purchase.