I live in London so rely on getting a train every single day to get about. I’ve dreamed of riding a bike into work while getting squished by a stranger in a boiling hot train, but I don’t look good in lycra and I would definitely end up getting myself killed.
So there we are, I’m sticking to the train. As you can imagine, hearing the announcement that season ticket prices are to rise by 3.6% on the 2nd January 2018 (ouch!), meant I was not pleased. I’m going to say it – I *almost* wouldn’t mind if the trains were actually good, but nope – hundreds of pounds for delays, sticky seats and smelly toilets.
There’s nothing I can do about the price rise (sure, I’ve got clout, but not that much clout), but me being me, I’ve got a few cheeky hacks to get around the price hike. And I’m not alone! According to Sainsbury’s Bank who conducted some research, 67% of people aren’t going to take it lying down and are going to take steps to offset the hike.
Get a railcard
So steps eh? What can you do? The first
You have the 16-25 Railcard (I’m too old), this Millenial railcard that’s the Government is introducing (still too old) and the senior railcard (not old enough).
Check out the full list of railcards – it’s always worth seeing if any fit you, including regional ones. Don’t
Find a cheaper ticket
Ok, so if you can’t avoid the 3.6% hike, maybe you could save yourself that on cheaper tickets. You could easily think you’re getting the cheapest ticket by booking in advance/staying off peak etc – you know, the usual money-saving tips people give… but… there’s potentially a better way.
Split ticketing is a cheeky (and totally legitimate) way to save potentially hundreds of pounds. Let’s say you’re travelling from London to Swansea. One way, direct, it might cost you £50. BUT buy a ticket from London to Bristol, then Bristol to Swansea, all totted up, it may only cost you £30.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to spend ages typing in a million destinations/times to get a discount – there are tools you can use which do all the hard work for you. Oh, and don’t worry, you don’t have to actually get off the train or anything.
Buy your season ticket before the end of the year
So here’s the biggie which everyone can pretty much do. If your annual ticket expires before the end of the year then you can buy a new one at the current price to avoid the increase. Even if it expires a couple of weeks into the New Year then it may be worth checking whether buying a new one before December 31 will save you money.
Seems like a faff? Not sure if it’s worth it? Then 100% try out Sainsbury’s Bank’s free online ‘train-flation’ digital tool which will allow you to see what your train ticket will cost next year, and it estimates how much your fare has increased over the past 10 years,
Ok, decided it is worth buying before the end of the year (good shout)? There are two ways to do this really.
If you work in a place that offers you a season ticket loan, that’s the cheapest way to do it as you get an interest free loan which comes out of your paycheck every month and you also offset tax. BUT, if you have to leave work before paying off the full amount of the loan, you’re going to have to deal with a lump sum payment which could be pretty nasty.
If you’re someone who doesn’t want to take that risk (or doesn’t think they will be in the same place for a year), or simply doesn’t work in a place that offers the loan – you can be one of the 33% of the people Sainsbury’s Bank found out will be getting a 0% credit card to cover the annual ticket before next year. Clever little money hack right?
Hey look, a 0% credit card to get a discount will work beautifully for most people, but if you’re someone who doesn’t think they would be able to pay back the whole amount within the year (meaning the interest rate will jump up), then this isn’t for you.
Ideally, you take the amount the train ticket costs, then split it between 12 months and just pay off the credit card month by month, rather than just waiting for the lump sum.
Oh, and with a 0% credit card, not only are you saving with the price of the ticket – but you can also take advantage of those offers to get you to sign up, such as loyalty points and freebies. So a double win!
So what do we all think about the price hike? How do you plan on getting around the increase? Let me know in the comments.