Want more miles for less money? You’ve come to the right place! Here’s how to save cash on travel fares, whether you’re pooling around town or touring the UK.
1. Pay now, ride later
A bus pass or train season ticket can earn you serious savings on local transport over the year – but you’ve got to work it for the best pay-off!
• It’s only a saving if you travel enough. Divide the price of a pass by the number of days you reckon you’ll actually use it – don’t forget to allow for illness, vacations or duvet days. If the daily amount is less than what you’d spend on cash fares, it’s a saver!
• Paying up-front can take chunks out of your budget, so set aside some of your next loan instalment or pay packet (or save up for it).
• Keep it safe. Not all companies will replace lost, stolen or damaged passes – check the small print before you stump up.
• Keep it with you: “I left it at home” literally won’t get you anywhere …
Finally, double-check the route before you plump for a long-term pass. You could slash the cost by walking to a stop further along the line, or by taking an alternate route with a different operator or type of transport. It’s worth a look!
2. Time your discounts
With a third off most UK train fares, a 16-25 railcard can be a sweet deal. It costs £30 for a year, is free with some student bank accounts, and could pay for itself in just one long-distance trek.
There’s an extra way to reap the savings, though – time your purchases so you get a 3-year railcard (£70) before your 24th birthday: it means you get to ride the rails for less long after graduation!
• Don’t do trains? The National Express Young Person’s Coachcard gives you discounted fares in the UK and starts from a tenner for the year.
• There’s also 10% off bus and train fares in the UK/Europe with budget carrier Megabus if you’ve got an NUS extra card (£12/yr).
3. Get in early
Advance fares are always cheaper because bus and train operators want to get bums on seats asap:
• Set a calendar reminder (some operators’ websites do alerts) to book 12 weeks in advance, when the cheapest tix go on sale. Heads-up: they go quickly!
• Use the ‘best fare finder’, if the option’s available on the ticket site: if you’re flexible on travel dates you should be able to cherry-pick cheaper deals, even if you miss the 12-week window.
• Always be ready to grab sale seats. Virgin usually run a couple of sales throughout the year – so if you’ve got a wish list of fares and dates on the boil you could snag seats for a couple of quid each way. Sign-up to train company newsletters or scour the press to be the first to know.
4. Recoup the cost of your journey
You don’t need to be a cabbie to get paid for your travels!
• Peer delivery site Nimber matches folk who need stuff delivered with commuters/travellers going the same way. If there’s a trip you’re making anyway, it could be worth a peek – you could make enough to cover the cost of your fare (or a bit extra – you set your own price!)
• If you’re not in a hurry, train delays can be a cash-in. Lots of operators have signed up to Delay Repay, which refunds part of your fare in compo if you’re delayed by 30 minutes (15 minutes with some firms). The longer the delay, the higher the portion refunded. Some operators automatically pay up if you booked through their app, but you can claim from their website or at a counter otherwise.
• If you’ve got a car, pimp it out when you’re not using it. The easy way involves hosting advertisements (try usethatspace.com) but if that’s not for you and your shiny paintwork, look out for peer-to-peer car hire instead. easyCar club acts as a kind broker, hooking up the car-less with car owners looking for extra cash. As with Nimber, you set your own price, and they take care of the insurance.
5. Feel the earn
Need to get around, but need to keep your cash in your wallet more?
• Walk or – for extra smug – run or cycle your route (can save you the cost of a gym membership as well). While you’re at it, take a look at apps like Sweatcoin, which gives discounts and freebies in exchange for logging exercise.
• If you can’t walk, bike or run, can you get a lift? Check notice boards for car sharing. If you’ve got a car, obviously get yours listed and see if you can reclaim some of your petrol costs.
• Don’t assume taxis are off the menu. Some short rides can match bus fares (depending where you live!) plus you can travel in a group to pay less per person.
• If you can’t do any of these, use the other tips on this page to save on public transport instead. Happy travelling!
This is a guest post by Ruth Bushi from Save the Student