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10 Railcards you can get in the UK to save money on Travel
The rail network in the UK is one of the most extensive in Europe. There are over 17,500 km of rail lines with around 1,500 trains a day and some 2,500 stations. As the third most popular form of travel in the UK, a total of 388 million rail passenger journeys were made in 2020/21. This is equivalent to 22.3% of 1,739 million journeys made between 2019 to 2020.
Travelling by train in the UK is not cheap. In fact, rail fares cost commuters up to 14% of their income. Some season tickets cost six times compared to those in Europe. For example, train commuters into London pay an average of £387 a month while those in Rome or Paris pay £61 a month.
The good news is you can cut the cost of your train ticket and save money with railcards. If you’re aged 16, 17 and over, you can save up to 50% on your rail travel with railcards. You can use the railcard to travel to work, college, school or for leisure for days out with your friends.
Railcards do not just save you money on travel. They also save you money with the provider’s partners. For example, you can get discounts when you visit or stay in hotels, museums, theme parks and more. Want to know the types of railcards available in the UK? Keep reading!
1. Network Railcard
Buy a Network Railcard and enjoy 1/3 off rail travel. The Network Railcard is a discount railcard.
Anyone above 16 years can get a Network Railcard. The railcard is usually valid for 12 months and costs £30. With a Network Railcard, you can travel with up to three adults with you. They too get to enjoy up to 1/3 off their rail fare. Plus, the Network Railcard allows you to take up to four children aged 5 to 15 years and save 60% on child fare.
Please note, there are area and time restrictions.
2. Senior Railcard
With a Senior Railcard, you can save an average of £98 every year for everyone aged 60 and over. It gives you a 1/3 off the advance, off-peak, standard, and first-class Anytime fares. As such, you can save money on visits to the grandkids, on weekends by the beach and trips into town.
Like the Network Railcard, the Senior Railcard costs £30 for one year or £70 for three years. The railcard typically pays for itself within 3 journeys. If you plan on doing a lot of travelling over the next three years, get the 3-year railcard. It will save you £20 on the price of three 1 year railcards.
To be eligible for the Senior Railcard, you must meet the following requirements.
- Be 60 years old or over
- Have a valid passport number
- Have a valid UK driving license
You can buy the Senior Railcard online one up to two weeks before your 60th birthday. But the railcard will be valid from your birthday onwards. If you buy at the station, you cannot buy the railcard in advance. To buy online, head to the Senior Railcard site, click ‘Buy Now.’ You only need your credit card or debit card.
3. Two Together Railcard
Get your Two Together railcard and get 1/3 off rail travel. Commuters with the Two Together Railcard can save an average of £98 per year. The Two Together Railcard is for you and the person you travel with most. For example, it can be you and your fiancé/fiancée or husband/wife.
The railcard is not just for couples. You can get one with a family member or best friend. Together, you get to save on everyday journeys, exciting weekend breaks and fun day trips as many times as you like.
The Two Together Railcard costs £30, but you only pay £15 each. This card applies to most adult fares across Great Britain. In fact, the only time you cannot use the railcard is morning peak times. To buy the Two Together Railcard, you must be 16 years or over.
Head over to the Two Together Railcard website, click ‘Buy Now’ and complete the order. You will receive your card within 5 working days. Alternatively, you can buy the railcard at a station.
4. Family and Friends Railcard
With the Family and Friends Railcard, not only do you get 1/3 off travel for adults. But 60% off for kids. Basically, the railcard saves you £114 every year. The Family and Friends Railcard allows up to 4 adults to travel together with up to 4 kids. The children must be 5 to 15 years old.
You can also have two adults named on one card. As such, when one cardholder is not using it, the other can. With the Family and Friends Railcard, you get to save on weekend trips to the beach, to see the grandparents or visit theme parks.
The Family and Friends Railcard costs £30 for 1 year or £70 for 3 years. If travelling with children under 5, it’s free. Each adult can travel with up to two under 5s. But if there is only one under 5 in the group, you must buy a child ticket to be eligible for the railcard’s discount. Once your kid turns 16 before your first Family and Friends Railcard expires, he can travel at the discounted child fare.
If you and your family will be doing a lot of travelling over the next three years, we recommend buying a 3 year Family and Friends Railcard.
5. Regional Railcards
There are regional railcards that offer discounts if travelling by rail within a specific region. For example, the Cambrian Railcard allows you to enjoy discounted rail travel on the Cambrian Lines. Like the National Railcard, it offers at least 1/3 off individual standard class rail fares on the Cambrian Lines. This railcard costs £12.50 for one year.
Other Regional Railcards include:
- Dales Railcard
- Devon & Cornwall Railcard
- Esk Valley Railcard
- Thameslink and Great Northern Student 16/18 Connect Card
- Heart of Wales Line Railcard
- Highland Railcard
- Network Railcard
- Pembrokeshire Railcard
- Valleys Senior Railcard
These Regional Railcards are all managed by the National Rail.
6. Disabled Persons Railcard
Save an average of £115 a year on train travel with the Disabled Persons Railcard. For just £20 for 1 year or £54 for 3 years, you can save 1/3 off rail travel for you and your friends. This railcard is different from others as there are no time restrictions. As such, you can use it any time of day.
To be eligible, you must:
- Have a visual impairment
- Have epilepsy
- Have a hearing impairment
- Receive War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement
- Receive Attendance Allowance
- Buy or lease a vehicle through the Motability scheme
- Receive Personal Independence Payments
- Receive Disability Living Allowance
- Receive War or Service Disablement Pension
If any of the conditions above apply to you, provide one of the following:
- A copy of your award letter
- A copy of the leasing agreement
- A copy of your Exemption Certification for epilepsy medication
- A copy of the front page of your NHS battery book
- A copy of your Certificate of Visual Impairment (CVI)
To get your Disabled Persons Railcard, head to the Disabled Persons Railcard website and click ‘Buy Now.’
7. HMS Forces Railcard
For £21, you can save 1/3 off rail travel for a whole year with the HMS Forces Railcard. To be eligible, you must be a member of the Regular Forces or Volunteer Reserves. If you’re a spouse or civil partner of a Regular Forces or Volunteer Reserves member, you’re eligible too.
You can use the HMS Forces Railcard for short and long trips. Better still, use it anytime on weekends, during the week and public holidays. It does have a time restriction. You must travel before 10 AM Monday to Friday except July and August to enjoy the discount.
There are also exceptions with ticket types. For more details see ticket types. Remember, you can use the HMS Forces Railcard for leisure travel only. No work, education, place of duty or home commute.
8. 26-30 Railcard
Introduced in 2019, the 26-30 Railcard is for everyone aged 26 to 30 years. For just £30 a year, the railcard can save you £251. The 26-30 Railcard is the first-only digital railcard. Available to buy online, you can also download it on your smartphone via the Railcard app.
Once you download the railcard, start saving and travelling straight away. If your smartphone gets lost or runs out of battery, swap the railcard to another smartphone. Like the majority of railcards, the 26-30 Railcard also goes for £30 a year. Within a couple of trips, it will have paid itself.
9. 16-25 Railcard
If you’re aged 16 to 25 years, there is every reason to be happy. The 16-25 Railcard enables you to enjoy 1/3 off rail fares or £189 per year. This means you can save money on travels to weekend festivals, days out to the coast and trips into town.
The 16-25 Railcard goes for £30 for 1 year and £70 for 3 years. There are no limits to the number of times you can use the 16-25 Railcard.
To be eligible for the 16-25 Railcard as a mature student, you need:
- To have an NUS card or University photocard
- To have the mature student section of the 16-25 Railcard application form completed by your university
- To be attending a recognized university or college for over 15 hours a week
You also need to have:
- A valid debit or credit card
- A valid UK driving license
- A valid international passport
- Digital passport-style photo
To fill out the mature student application form, download the form, fill it, then upload it. Allow for up to 5 working days for your railcard application to be approved.
10. 16-17 Saver Railcard
Buy the 16-17 Saver Railcard and save on most tickets, even advanced tickets. For just £30 a year, you can get 50% off most rail fares. When you apply for the 16-17 Saver Railcard, you’ll need:
- A valid UK driving license
- A national ID card
- A passport
- A good quality digital passport-style photo of you
- A debit card or credit card
If you don’t have any of the documents above, upload a scan of your birth certificate or a Government approved Pass. Please note, using these documents as a form of ID in your application will prolong the process.