Top tips for saving money on train tickets

Here are some tips and tricks for saving money on train tickets. Some of which you’ll undoubtedly know already, but others you might be less familiar with.

Book as early as possible

Lots of train companies release cheaper Advance tickets up to 12 weeks before the journey. Once they’re sold out, the remaining regular tickets are left.

Just be aware that Advance tickets come with a few caveats: they are non-refundable and are only valid for the specific train shown on the ticket.

Get a railcard

Getting a railcard does require an upfront cost, but can often pay for itself after just a handful of journeys.

Most national railcards cost £30 a year and save up to a third of the normal price. So if the journey you’re booking is over £100, you could potentially save money immediately!

Railboard supports using 32 national and local railcards.

Travel in a group

Want railcard-level discounts with zero upfront costs or hassle? Say hello to GroupSave Discount!

GroupSave Discount is automatically applied when you’re booking for three or more adults, and gives you 1/3 off Off-Peak tickets. So you’ll need to be travelling with at least two other people outside of peak hours.

Be less than 5 years old

Children aged 0 to 4 don’t need to buy a train ticket, unless they need a reserved seat.

Children aged 5 to 15 get 50% off most journeys. But if you look like you could be over 16, you may be asked for some kind of ID.

Travel Off-Peak

Off-Peak and Super Off-Peak tickets are cheaper than Peak tickets, which you can take advantage of if you don’t need to travel during the busiest weekday hours.

The rules that govern when is and isn’t Off-Peak/Super Off-Peak could charitably be called byzantine, but in general, on Monday to Fridays, Off-Peak starts after 09:30 in cities & big towns and after 09:00 everywhere else. Weekends and bank holidays are always Off-Peak or Super Off-Peak.

It’s worth checking the restrictions on your ticket, though, as they will give more detail for precisely which days and services the ticket is valid for.

Buy Split Tickets

Split Tickets take advantage of anomalies in the system to offer you a combination of tickets, where you would normally have just one ticket, but at a much lower price.

It’s done by splitting regular train tickets at calling points along the journey. But you stay on the same train as normal; there is no requirement to alight and re-board. And Railboard does all the hard work finding them for you.

Just make sure the “Include Split Tickets” checkbox is turned on, then look for the Split Tickets icon in the results.

Avoid booking fees

Many apps charge a booking fee, the prices of which can vary. You can absolutely avoid paying that by buying your tickets on an app that doesn’t charge booking fees.

Railboard never charges a booking fee.

Claim Delay Repay when you can

And last but not least, be like a hawk about claiming compensation you’re entitled to if your train was delayed or cancelled.

Delay Repay is the name of the national scheme used by train operating companies to compensate passengers for delays and cancellations. If your train was cancelled or more than 15 minutes late to arrive at your destination, then you could be in the money.

You claim Delay Repay compensation from the train company whose service was delayed. MoneySavingExpert has an excellent guide on how to do so.

Updated on 4 November 2023
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