Christmas is a fun filled season but it can also be an expensive time of year. From buying Christmas decorations to present giving, the last thing that you need is to have to contemplate a 2.3% rail fare rise in the New Year! January is already a time where you may be cash strapped and so for those of you that commute via train or take train journeys frequently it will have an impact on your finances. However, there are some steps you can take to soften the blow of the rail fare rise and some top tips on the cheapest way of commuting, as well as on single tickets.
Rail cards reduce rail fare
Could you be eligible for a rail fare discount card? There are many rail cards available for those at different stages in their lives, most of them giving you access to up to a third off tickets. There are discount cards available for couples, young people, students, families, and some also focus on your local regions. Do your research to see what the best deal is for you and consider investing in the discount card. You will be happily surprised as it may only take two or three trips before you have made enough of a saving to justify the rail card purchase.
Book in advance
The easiest solution of all is to book your train tickets in advance. Most tickets become available 12 weeks in advance of the day you want to travel and there are lots of discounted routes available. Availability of some tickets may be limited. So make sure to get yourself on the relevant mailing lists to grab yourself the best deal and avoid pricey rail fare!
Did you know that it is sometimes cheaper to split your tickets when travelling over a longer journey? For example, if you are travelling from Bristol Temple Meads to Coventry, you can split your fare at Birmingham New Street and this may be cheaper than a direct ticket. There are a number of websites that are able to make the split ticket suggestions for you, so you don’t have to do all of the research yourself. Just be aware that some of them may charge commission and so do choose your split ticket provider carefully. If you follow the rules correctly, a split ticket is legal. If in doubt just ask and the conductor will be happy to help.
If you are travelling through London remember a contactless credit or debit card. You can use this instead of having to purchase a day’s travel card or pay for an Oyster card. Using contactless will mean that you are only charged for the amount that you use that day for travelling. When you reach the equivalent spend of a day’s travel card you will stop being charged and the fee is capped. So you will never go over what you expect. In addition to saving money on rail fare, a contactless card also caps the amount you spend on a weekly basis. Therefore you will never go over the amount expected on a weekly travel card either.
Season ticket loans
Did you know you can save hundreds of pounds a year by travelling with a season ticket? It may seem like a daunting prospect paying all of the cash upfront for a season ticket. However, many employers offer season ticket loans which you can pay back monthly through your salary. If your employer doesn’t provide season ticket loans not all is lost! You can consider an initiative like the Commuter Club. This company allows you to enjoy the discount of buying an annual season ticket. But it also enables you to break it down to monthly payments. They don’t just span London, you can get season tickets for National Rail travel now too. You can make quite substantial savings as you get your 12th month free!
If driving is an option consider carpooling with someone. Ask around your friendship group and your work peers to see if someone also travels into work on the same journey as you. Splitting the petrol money may work out cheaper than the train.
Do you know any other ways to save on rail fare? Let us know in the comments!