With the recent announcement of a 3.5% annual increase in rail fares, it's time to get cute if you want to avoid the increases and get cheap rail tickets.
Annual season ticket
For regular commuters an annual rail ticket is a big saver as you can travel for 52 weeks and only get charged for 40 weeks. Try this smart little calculator to find out how much you can save on a season ticket for your daily commute. You can calculate the price for any period not just for annual season tickets.
Don't forget the best time to purchase an annual season ticket is on 31st December, this way you will buy your ticket ahead of the annual ticket increases.
If you travel during peak times there are always plenty of savings to be had on a variety of Railcards. Savings of around a third can me made on most Standard and First Class fares.
Two Together Railcard
Get a third of rail fares when you travel with another named adult. You can get cheap rail tickets by travelling after 9.30 am Monday to Friday or at any time at weekends and public holidays. The Two Together Railcard costs £30 a year for a couple and you can use it as many times as you like during the year. For more information visit www.two-togetherrailcard.co.uk.
If you aged between 16 and 25 or a mature student (26 years or older and in full-time study) you can get a third of most rail fares throughout Great Britain. The 16-25 railcard costs £30 a year or £70 for 3 years.
Family and Friends Railcard
A Family and Friends Railcard can give you a third off most adult fares and 60% off children's fares throughout Great Britain. Railcard discounts are not available on tickets during morning peak period services for journeys solely within the London and South East Network. Cards can be issued in the name of two adults and either adult can use the card to get the discount as long as there is one child over the age of 5 travelling. Family and Friends Railcard cost £30 a year or £70 for 3 years.
If you are 60 or over a Senior Railcard gives you a third off Standard and First Class rail fares throughout Great Britain. Senior Railcard costs £30 a year or £70 year for 3 years.
Buy tickets in advance to get cheap rail tickets
Advance tickets are Single (one-way) tickets offering great value for money on many longer distance journeys. You must book in advance and the number of tickets are limited, tickets are valid only for the date and time selected and are not transferable.
Some of the savings when booking in advance are staggering. A ticket from Edinburgh to London purchased on the day is £125.80 whereas if you bought the same ticket 5 weeks in advance it would cost you £59.50.
This is a method where instead of buying a ticket for the whole of your journey you buy tickets for the constituent parts. Interestingly you don't have to change trains, it is perfectly legal and you can save a significant amount of money. You can use this split ticketing calculator to work out the total cost of your split ticket and then link through to a Raileasy to purchase cheap rail tickets.