Earn money for buying a season ticket and cut the cost with split ticketing. We highlight the best ways to save money.
With increases to rail fares and petrol prices, it can seem that the rising cost of travel is something we all have to bear. But there are ways to fight back. The following tips may help you to save money on both your commute and your leisure travel.
* Don't be scared of a season ticket
According to National Rail, if you are making the same peak-time journey more than three times in a week, a season ticket is likely to offer better value than daily tickets. In most cases by buying an annual ticket you will get three months of travel for free as long as you use the ticket for the whole year.
If you are concerned about the initial outlay, ask your employer if it offers a season ticket loan scheme this would allow you effectively to pay for the ticket monthly out of your pay packet. If your concern is about a possible change of job, be aware that you can cancel your ticket and get a refund as long as there are 12 weeks or more remaining on it. Because you are effectively getting three months for free, you won't get anything back for the last 12 weeks.
* Book in advance
Look for the cheapest tickets 12 weeks in advance. Even if you have missed this deadline, you can still book advance tickets as long as they are available. As late as the night before or even on the way to the station it pays to call up and check. Most advance tickets are available only up to 6pm the day before, but some are available later, so always check. Sign up to thetrainline.com for email alerts when advance tickets for your favourite journey come on sale.
* Check the offers
Train companies frequently run offers so it is worth signing up to emails from your most commonly used train companies and looking out for signs at stations. Third-party ticket-selling sites such as redspottedhanky.com may also be worth signing up for. National Rail also has a list of special offers by train company on its website.
* Get cashback
If you spend a lot of money on transport, you may benefit from cards that give you cashback on your spending. The Santander 123 card gives 3pc cashback on sales at all major petrol stations as well as on London Underground and National Rail. This applies on expenditure of up to £300 a month, so won't cover an annual season ticket, but if you are using a pay-as-you-go Oyster card, for example, you will benefit. The card has a fee of £24 a year, but if you have a 123 current account it is free for the first year.
* Reclaim on delays
If your train is delayed you can get money back. If you have a delay of 30 minutes or more you can reclaim some of the cost of the journey, which usually comes in the shape of travel vouchers that you can use at a later date. You can pick the forms up at the ticket office or download them from the train operator's website. You have 28 days to claim, and you will need to send a used ticket or copy of your season ticket.
Delays of more than two hours should see the whole amount refunded in National Rail vouchers, while delays of 30 to 59 minutes should give you 50pc of the cost of a single ticket or 25pc of return. Be aware that you should be able to exchange these vouchers for cash at a ticket office, however.
* Check split ticketing and other routes
It can be cheaper to buy two separate tickets for two parts of the same journey, and is occasionally cheaper to go to a neighbouring station rather than your nearest one, even if the neighbouring station is further from your destination.
One way to check this is with Martin Lewis's new TicketySplit app , available from MoneySavingExpert.com, which allows you to put in your destination and starting station and checks whether there is a cheaper fare. However, the app will not be able to tell you whether other nearby stations are cheaper you will need to check for yourself using the National Rail website.