10 ways to cut the cost of your rail fare
Train fares remain high and are set to rise above the rate of inflation again at the start of 2012 - however, in most cases, there are cheaper options to choose from. Here are 10 ways you can cut the cost of train tickets.
1 Book early
You can book cheaper tickets online up to 12 weeks before you travel. Even booking the day before your journey, up to 6pm, will cut the cost of your fare, compared with buying a ticket on the day.
2 Season tickets
You don't have to buy a yearly ticket: monthly tickets are available and can be cheaper depending on your circumstances.
3 Look around
Booking fees vary across websites. New site redspottedhanky.com has no booking or credit card fees.
4 Be flexible if you can
Trains that run during peak hours will always cost more. To save money, change your schedule, if you can.
5 Get a railcard
Railcards are available from £26 and offer a third off journeys for a year. Go to railcard.co.uk to find out if you're eligible for one.
6 Two singles?
A return isn't always cheaper - when booking online view the available single tickets first.
7 Split ticketing
Don't buy one ticket for a long-distance journey as train companies often charge a flat fare. Break down the journey into multiple smaller ones.
First Capital Connect allows you to buy 10 single tickets, for peak and off-peak travel, which last for three months. Most of the bigger train companies offer their own versions of this deal.
Megatrain (megatrain.com) sells online tickets for hundreds of single journeys across England and Scotland. Tickets are released 45 days before sale.
Coach travel offers great value for money, although travelling times will be longer. National Express and Megabus fares start at £1 to selected cities.
Did you know...
Pregnant mothers in full-time employment can get a free upgrade to first class. Rules vary depending on the train line.
An increase in the general level of prices that persists over a period of time. The inflation rate is a measure of the average change over a period, usually 12 months. If inflation is up 4%, this means the price of products and services is 4% higher than a year earlier, requiring we spend and extra 4% to buy the same things we bought 12 months ago and that any savings and investments must generate 4% (after any taxes) to keep pace with inflation. Since 2003, the Bank of England has used the consumer prices index (CPI) as its official measure of inflation (see also retail prices index).
Used by the holder to buy goods and services, credit cards also have a monthly or annual spending limit, which may be raised or lowered depending on the creditworthiness of the cardholder. But unlike charge cards, borrowers aren’t forced to pay the balance off in full every month and, as long as they make a stated minimum payment, can carry a balance from one month to the next, generating compound interest. As the issuing company is effectively giving you a short-term loan, most credit cards have variable and relatively high interest rates. Allowing the interest to compound for too long may result in dire financial straits.