I’m a commuter who takes a train into work every day, and it’s the worst. I rarely get a seat and tend to end up with my face in some blokes armpit.
I wouldn’t mind if it was free (though I’d definitely still complain!) – but my monthly train ticket costs me an arm and a leg!
There are ways to cut the price of train travel, with my favourite site being Traintickets.com, which finds you the cheapest tickets available using the Split Ticketing hack. But today I’m going to talk you through a different one – the Gold Card trick.
The Gold Card trick
I’ve been writing about money tricks for pushing eight years now and have heard them all, especially when it comes to train travel – until last night.
I know you all think I’m cool and down with the kids (*cough*), but was watching YouTube.
Logan Paul? No. Shane Dawson? Oh, no-no-no. I was watching Geoff Marshall who makes videos about trains.
In this video, he talks about a trick his mate Alex came up with (he’s a train ticket guru apparently!) and I thought it was bloody genius, so wanted to share with you all.
What is an Annual Gold Card?
Right, if you buy an Annual Season Ticket or Annual Travelcard in the South of England, you may be entitled to a Gold card which gets you – 1/3 off:
- Standard and first-class anytime and off-peak tickets for the cardholder and up to three adults travelling with them
- Off-peak day travelcard zones 1-6
- Oyster off-peak pay as you go single fares
- Anytime Day Travelcards when bought as part of your ticket to London from outside London Zones 1-9
- PlusBus Day tickets in the Network Railcard area.
There’s a load more information on discounts on the National Rail website, so take a look.
Long story short – it’s good.
How you get a Gold Card – cheap
If you were to buy an Annual ticket between the stations of Litchfield (Trent valley to City), you could get a Gold Card.
Because the distance is only a couple of minutes apart, it’s a pretty cheap annual ticket – coming in at £160ish.
You don’t actually have to live anywhere near Litchfield by the way – it just means it’s the cheapest Gold Card you can buy.
Can you find an even cheaper journey? Please do let me know in the comments.
Is the Gold Card worth it?
Doing the maths is important here to make sure you’re actually getting a bargain.
Alex in the video paid £165 for his Gold Card (in Oct 2018). Though someone in the comments found a Gold card for £140 between Exeter Central and Exeter St. David’s.
You need to remember that travel is off-peak, so if you *have* to commute during peak times, you may not benefit from this trick.
Here’s what Geoff said:
So; the ‘break even’ point to make this trick work is £480 per annum. If you spend more than £480 on off-peak rail fares or Oyster over twelve months then it’s worth you getting a Gold Card.
Roughly speaking, if you spend over £10 a week on off-peak TfL Travel or rail travel in London and the SE, it’s worth doing – because 48 weeks multiplied by £10 = £480.
NOTE – You have to ask at the ticket office to have the TFL/Oyster discount applied, it is not applied automatically. It only works for Oyster, and not Contactless…
To get a Gold Card, just go to your local (staffed) station and fill in a form there. Remember, you could theoretically buy it in Cardiff, even though you want the Gold Card to work between Litchfield or Exeter stations.
What if a Gold Card doesn’t add up for me?
If you don’t travel off-peak enough to break that £480 number, don’t forget there are other railcards you can buy.
- 16-25 Railcard
- Senior Railcard
- Two Together Railcard
- Disabled Persons Railcard
- 26 – 30 Railcard
- Family & Friends Railcard
- Network Railcard
- 16 – 17 Saver
Hopefully this will help some of you out because train travel is horrendously expensive. Be sure to do your maths and think about how often you will travel, so you don’t waste any money.
Let me know what you think about the Gold Card trick!