Are Railcards Really Worth It?
As LoanBird compares loans to help customers get a better deal, we often see applications for general expenses, which can cover transport or travel. Transport can cost an absolute fortune, especially if you need to use it every day.
Railcards have long existed, but whether or not they are worth buying has long been questioned. After all, spending £30 upfront for a few potential discounts seems a little extreme.
So, are railcards really worth it – and can they save you tons of money across the months to come?
Is a Railcard in the UK Worth It?
Generally speaking, yes, railcards can absolutely be worth it – however, they are only valuable to people who frequently use trains. That is to say, if you take the train at least two or three times a year, it can be worth getting a railcard – and if you use it even more, the savings continue to stack up!
A generic railcard costs about £30 a year and offers big discounts for various tickets, sometimes up to half price off of your usual travel! Paying upfront effectively slices down your daily commute, giving you more money to spend elsewhere.
That being said, if you rarely use the train or only ever use it during peak times (i.e., on a weekday before 10 in the morning), it might not be worth you splashing the cash on a card – the savings just won’t appear.
On the other hand, you could look at getting a season ticket to save yourself some money on the fares without spending as much. It’s worth taking a look at sites such as National Rail for more information.
What Value Does Each Railcard Offer?
To get a railcard, you must be eligible in one of the following categories. Depending on your category, your potential discount will vary – so it’s worth taking a close look at what you could be entitled to!
The 16-17 railcard offers up to 50% discount, which is far higher than most cards! What’s more, there are hardly any restrictions on the card. It’s great for students who need to travel a lot for sixth-form college or similar.
So, as long as you are 16 or 17 years of age, you are eligible for the card. You can get it online or at your local station, providing you’re able to fill out a quick form and supply a passport photo.
The Disabled Person’s Railcard
This money-saving railcard is another great option for those who meet the criteria for access. They can give you up to a third off of your train tickets, and, unlike other railcards, they can be used at any time of the day.
You can also use this railcard to get the same discount for someone travelling with you! What’s more, you can also use the disabled person’s railcard on first-class tickets!
The 16-25 Railcard
If you’re aged between 16 and 25 and don’t have any kids, then the next best deal for you is the 16-25 railcard. This card can give you up to one-third off of most fares.
However, it is essential to note that there is a minimum ticket charge during most of the year. You would have to pay about £12 for a normal ticket before 9:30 am. This railcard will also provide discounts for advanced first-class tickets. It’s a good saving point if you have to commute a lot for work or university.
The 25-30 Railcard
The 25-30 railcard works much in the same way as the one above, giving you the same third off of train tickets. Again, this railcard tends to benefit young professionals and students the most.
The Veteran Railcard
You can get a veteran railcard if you are an Armed Forces veteran and meet the application criteria. It works very similarly to the 16-25 railcard, in that you’ll grab a third off fares.
However, you will need to prove your eligibility. There are multiple ways to do so, either through National Rail, or at your local station.
Senior Citizen’s Railcard
The senior railcard gives the same third off of tickets as the cards mentioned above. As long as you are provably over the age of 60, you can apply for the card online. You can also use the senior railcard for discounts on first-class seats!
Family and Friends
The family and friends railcard is great for big families who often use the train. Two adults in total can be named as cardholders, and they can travel separately. However, they must be travelling with at least one child between the ages of five and fifteen.
This railcard offers you up to a third off of tickets for up to a maximum of four adults and 60% off of tickets for up to four kids (between the ages of five and fifteen).
How to Save on Railcards
If you happen to use the train frequently every year, and you know that you’ll be using it for the next few years, it’s worth buying a railcard for three years. Certain railcards (such as the 16-25, the 25-30, the family and friends, and the senior ones) allow you to pay £70 upfront for a three-year-long card.
This could save you an extra £20, which is definitely worth it!
Our Conclusion on Railcards
Upfront railcards can be a great way to save money as long as you use them regularly. There’s absolutely no point in paying extra for something that you will not get the use out of.
However, if you use the train for work, school, or leisure, then this kind of card can save you a fortune.
Remember to subscribe to the right category, and consider upcoming birthdays, too! For example, if you’re about to turn 26, there’s no point in subscribing to a 16-25 card. It’s definitely best to wait it out until your birthday and get the card from there.
Thankfully, nowadays, everything is accessible online, from quick loan applications to purchasing your railcard as you’re on the way to the station. So, you don’t have to worry about getting the card at a train station anymore. Simply apply online and download your railcard onto your phone. That way, you can have it with you wherever you go.
Do remember that some railcard terms may change – so keep a close eye on what’s out there!