How To Get Cheap Train & Coach Tickets

Bag bargain and cut the cost of travel tickets with the latest offers and promotions

This list of cheap train and coach deals will put you on the right track to cut your travel costs – sometimes to just £1 each way.

We check with companies that deals are open to all and if there are any restrictions, but policies can change, so check before booking. These are generally just limited-time promos – for top techniques to save on any journey, see our Cheap Train Tickets guide.

10% off one-year Railcards code*

We often see individual railcards discounted, but this 10% off code includes all four of the big national railcards. These cards get you one-third off most rail fares and are normally £30, but until 11.59pm on Wed 11 Jan, enter the code JANMS17 online at National Railcards* and you’ll pay just £27.

That means if you spend over £82 on eligible train fares in a year (on most trains, see restrictions below), even if it’s on one journey, then it’s worth getting one as the savings beat the cost of the card.

Which railcards are available?

  • 16-25 Railcard* – This is for 16 to 25-year-olds or a mature student aged 26 or over in full-time education.
  • Family & Friends Railcard* – Up to two adults can be named on the card, then as long as one of you is travelling, up to four adults get a third off, providing there is at least one child (and up to four) travelling with you – kids then get 60% off.
  • Two Together Railcard* – Two of you get a joint card, with both your photos on it (you’ll need to upload these when you order the card). You must travel together but you can have more than one card, eg, one with your spouse and one with a friend you go to football with.
  • Senior Railcard* – If you’re 60 or over then you can get this card.

Are there any restrictions?

Some railcards will only give one-third off on off-peak trains. Here are the important restrictions to be aware of:

  • If you use a 16-25 Railcard before 10am Mon-Fri, there’s a minimum fare of £12 (except in Jul/Aug and public holidays).
  • The Two Together card cannot be used on trains that depart before 9.30am weekdays, except public holidays. The same applies to the Family & Friends and Senior Railcards for journeys wholly within the London and South East Network Railcard area (see map) – outside this area there is no time restriction.

Terms and conditions vary per railcard, so make sure you check before buying. You can only get this offer online and not at railway stations.

It’s worth noting, that you can get a three-year railcard for £70 (excl Two Together), so if you can afford it, then even with the 10% discount on a one-year railcard, it’s cheaper in the long run to buy a three-year one if you’ll use it (and if you’ll still be eligible).

Have a Tesco Clubcard? You could save 50%

If you have a Tesco Clubcard with enough points, you could use your Clubcard vouchers to get a one-year railcard for £15 in vouchers. See National Railcards for £15 in Tesco points.

NUS Extra cardholders can get 12% off

If you’re a student with an NUS Extra card, you can get 12% off a 16-25 Railcard online. You can’t combine this offer with the 10% off code above.

For more train tricks including how to split tickets to slash costs, see our Cheap Train Tickets guide.

Although railcards are sent via First Class post, you’re best allowing up to five working days for delivery. Railcards are not valid in Northern Ireland.

The code can’t be used to buy a Disabled Persons Railcard or Network Railcard.

National Express 40% off code for £2*Via Groupon. Travel Jan-Mar on most UK routes

If you’re looking to travel by coach in the new year, you can buy a code for £2 from Groupon* that gets 40% off most UK routes with National Express*. If your journey is going to cost more than £5 (before any discount and before the £1 booking fee), using the code could save you money – unless you can find a ‘funfare’ for cheaper (see ‘how to book’ below).

You can use the discount on standard fares (single or return, not ‘funfares’) for travel until Fri 31 Mar, excluding Fri 10 Feb to Mon 20 Feb (half-term holiday). It’s valid on all seats on all UK journeys except airport routes, festival and events packages, those operated by third parties and Eurolines.

You’ll need to book at least three days before travel and before Tue 28 Feb, or sooner if all codes are snapped up. As of Tue 3 Jan, there were 37,000 codes left.

How do I book it?

  • Check the cost of a standard ticket on National Express, then see if an online advance ‘funfare’ is available as this starts from £5 and could be better for you (once you’ve selected your coach you’ll see which type of fares are available). Also check the price on Megabus UK.
  • If the standard National Express fare is cheapest and £5+, go to Groupon and pay £2 for your code and PIN.
  • Then book through this National Express* link and enter your code and PIN. Booking fee’s £1 after discount and you’ll need to print your tickets.
  • Coach tickets are non-refundable, but if you can’t find a journey you want after you’ve bought a code, you can get a £2 refund through Groupon within 14 days.

Each Groupon code is for one person and you can get a maximum of four codes per transaction.

See all deals : National Express (1 deal)

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Eurostar £52 rtn Paris, Lille, Calais or Brussels50,000 returns. Travel 9 Jan-27 Mar (some exclusions)

1 day left

Book online at Eurostar by 11.59pm on Mon 9 Jan, and you could get your hands on £52 return train tickets to Paris, Lille, Calais or Brussels from London St Pancras, Ebbsfleet International or Ashford International.

You can travel from Mon 9 Jan until Mon 27 Mar, excluding some weekends in February and March (see ‘more info’ for full exclusions).

Return prices normally range from £58 to £319 – although £58 return seats are very limited and usually need to be booked well in advance and mostly off-peak. The normal price for a kid’s return is £56 (under-4s travel free), so it’ll be cheaper to book a ticket for a child using this offer too.

You’ll need to buy outbound and inbound singles

Tickets are sold as £26 singles, but you must book an outbound AND inbound ticket to take advantage of this offer, so you won’t get a cheap fare if you’re only travelling one way. Search online at Eurostar for your desired dates and if you’re lucky, you’ll find £26 singles for both legs of your journey.

What services are cheap tickets available on?

Eurostar says the £26 seats are randomly spread across all included dates, but there is limited availability on Monday mornings, Fridays, Saturday afternoons and Sundays. There are 58,000 £26 one-way seats on the Paris route and 42,000 £26 one-way seats in total on the Brussels, Calais and Lille routes.

You can see which trains have £26 fares once you’ve chosen your dates (see image). It could be a bit of pot luck with the dates and times you want, so you’ll have more chance of bagging a cheap fare if you’re flexible on when you travel.

If you’re planning to get away at the start of this year, now’s a good time to jump on board, but full steam ahead as these are bound to go quickly. It’s worth noting that you can’t get these discounted fares on the Eurostar app or mobile site, so you’ll need to book via the full site.

2for1 entry to museums and galleries with tickets

Your Eurostar tickets also get you 2for1 entry to a range of top museums and galleries including Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Bozar in Brussels, and Le Palais des Beaux-Arts in Lille, all by simply showing your Eurostar tickets at entry.

 

There’s a £3 credit card fee per transaction but using a debit card’s free. Max nine people per booking. This deal can’t be used with any other offers.

Excluded dates:

3-5 Feb, 10-12 Feb, 17-19 Feb and 17-19 Mar

You can collect tickets from a Eurostar terminal or print them at home by clicking the ‘print-at-home’ tab during the booking process. You must check in at least 30 minutes before your departure.

Children aged under four years old travel for free, but they’ll have to sit on your lap.

‘Free’ Megabus one-way tickets (50p fee)*Great Britain services from 9 Jan-9 Feb. Tickets released daily

Budget coach travel provider Megabus* is offering 1,000s of ‘free’ one-way tickets on 90+ routes across England, Scotland and Wales for travel between Mon 9 Jan and Thu 9 Feb. You’ll just need to pay a 50p booking fee per transaction, not per ticket.

Megabus says there are ‘free’ seats randomly spread across all of its services (excluding journeys between Oxford and Cambridge and between Hull and Leeds), seven days a week, so it will involve a bit of trial and error to find the ‘free’ fares.

How to find the ‘free’ seats

Tickets are released 60 days before travel (regardless if you’re booking or travelling on a weekend). As the ‘free’ tickets on popular routes are likely to be snapped up within hours of release, you’ll have to be quick off the mark and be flexible on times and dates to bag a ‘free’ fare.

After you’ve selected your route and travel dates, any coach with ‘free’ tickets available will show the price as ‘£0.00’ (see image). For return trips, Megabus tickets are booked as two singles – if you’re lucky, you could find a ‘free’ seat for both legs of your journey.

While 20,000 free tickets were originally included in the promotion, there were 8,000 remaining as of Tue 6 Dec. It sounds like a lot, but they can still take some finding as services will have a different number of ‘free’ seats available. Megabus says the tickets are released in batches of at least 550 every day, so if you can’t find a ‘free’ ticket one day, don’t give up, as one might appear later in the promo.

When we checked a few routes on Mon 28 Nov, we found these ‘free’ fares:

  • London Victoria to Bristol, departing at 10am on Thu 11 Jan
  • Cardiff to Birmingham, departing at 6.35am on Tue 24 Jan
  • Newcastle to Edinburgh, departing at 4pm on Fri 27 Jan

If you can’t find any ‘free’ seats, most routes start from £1, plus the 50p booking fee, but can cost a lot more depending on the route and when you’re booking.

This offer only applies to Megabus journeys and is not applicable for some Stagecoach operated services including Oxford Tube, Citylink, megabusplus, megatrain and megabusgold.

 

Southeastern £1 kids’ off-peak ticketsOngoing offer. Book online/from ticket office with adult ticket

Up to four kids (aged five to 15) can travel for £1 each return off-peak on Southeastern trains when accompanied by one adult.

Tickets can be booked in advance or on the day online or from ticket offices (not machines) and the child’s fare will be automatically discounted. It’s valid on open and day returns on mainline and high speed services, but not on journeys wholly within London.

To book a £1 kids’ ticket:

  • Child ticket must be booked at the same time as an adult with an off-peak, super off-peak or season ticket
  • Valid all weekend and bank holidays
  • Valid on journeys starting after 9.30am Mon-Fri, but trains into London must arrive after 10am

Railcard discounts can be used for the adult ticket, but not the £1 kids’ tickets. See the full T&Cs.

To find more ways to get cheap train fares, see our Tickety Split tool and our Cheap train tickets guide.

 

Southern train tickets from £5Buy an advance fare online until 6pm the night before travel

 

Buy an advance ticket to travel with Southern Railway for less than £10 each way. Southern has released over a million tickets priced at £5, £8.50 and £12. What makes the offer even better is that it can be used with railcards, so a journey from London to Southampton could cost as little as £7 return.

You can book tickets from 12 weeks in advance, up to 6pm the night before you travel. Tickets are released each week, so booking in advance gives you more of a chance to find the £5 seats.

You’ll need to register with Southern before buying tickets online and tickets can be collected two hours later at your chosen station. Offer excludes Gatwick Express services and the Oxted, Metro and Redhill routes. See the route map here.

 

12% off 16-25 railcards with NUS Extra

Railcard gets you a third off train travel

If you’re an NUS Extra card holder (cards cost £12 a year), you can get 12% off a 16-25 railcard online (norm £30).

Log in via the specific link above to get your unique promotional code and as the terms and conditions state, enter the code at the checkout on the 16-25 Railcard* website.

Railcards can save you a third off train travel if you’re eligible – that means if you’re spending over £90, even on a one-off trip, it’s worth getting one.

For more train tricks including how to split tickets to slash costs see the Cheap Trains guide.

 

Free/cheap Tube, bus & DLR travel for over 60s

You must live in London

Two offers (one more publicised than the other) get over-60s living in London free or super cheap travel.

  • Freedom Pass. FREE travel on London’s public transport. If you live in London and are the right age, the Freedom Pass gives you free travel on London’s public transport, including the Tube, buses, National Rail, DLR and Overground.
  • It’s hard to state a definitive age for who’s eligible – so use the Freedom Pass Calculator then apply online or go to your local Post Office.
  • All other over-60s. Pay £20 for nearly unlimited travel on Tube, buses and more. To fill the gap if you can’t get the Freedom Pass, the 60+ Oyster card gives you free travel most of the time on London’s public transport, including National Rail. When you turn 60, pay a one-off admin fee of £20 and get a card which lasts until you’re eligible for a Freedom Pass.

Forumite cwc1899 posted: “My husband who recently turned 60 has to get two buses each way to work, at a cost of £4.40 per day/ £22 per week/ £1,144 per year. This will save my husband a minimum of £1,124 per year and more as he can use it at any time.” Add your 60+ travel saving to the Cheap UK Travel Deals discussion thread.

 

Chiltern Railways four travel when two pay

Book online, at the ticket office or over the phone

Up to four adults can travel on a Groupsave ticket via Chiltern Railways but only two adults need to pay. It’s only valid on off-peak returns (after 9.30am Mon-Fri) and off-peak day Travelcards.

What’s more, in addition to the four adults, up to four children aged 15 and under can travel for £1 each and under-5s go free.

 

This is an ongoing offer which can be booked online (you’ll see the letter ‘G’ for the group booking), at your nearest station’s ticket office or by calling 08456 005 165.

 

There’s no need to book in advance but you all need to be travelling at the same time.

 

Greater Anglia 50% off for second passenger

Buy online or at ticket offices. Must travel together

When two adults travel together on the Greater Anglia network on a Saturday, Sunday or bank holiday, the second passenger gets 50% off their ticket cost. So split it between you and you can each save 25%.

 

You can get the offer online or by quoting the ‘Duo tickets’ offer at ticket offices.

 

It’s valid on super off-peak day returns only, on the Greater Anglia route south of Manningtree/Harwich and the Cambridge to London routes. London to Stansted Airport is also included. See the Greater Anglia route map.

 

Northern Rail 50% off for second passenger

Buy online, from ticket offices or on-train conductor

When two adults take a return journey on selected off-peak routes, the second passenger gets 50% off.

 

So, split it between people and you can each save 25%. You can get this Northern Rail offer online or by quoting ‘Duo’ at ticket offices or to the on-train conductor.

 

It’s valid on an anytime day return or an off-peak day return ticket on the Northern Rail network, but see below for some exclusions.

 

Gatwick Express 35% off for 2 passengers*

Special link gets 35% off anytime return ticket

If you go via the Gatwick Express Web Duo* page you can get 35% off an anytime return ticket when two passengers travel together from London Victoria to Gatwick Airport.

 

With an anytime return ticket, your return journey must be within a month of your outbound journey. These tickets usually cost £34.90 each, so you’re getting them both for a total of £44.70 (usually £69.80).

 

RedSpottedHanky train tickets via Clubcard*

Covert £5 worth of points to £10 worth of train tickets

£5 = £10

By converting Tesco Clubcard points into Tesco Rewards*, every £5 is worth £10 on rail site RedSpottedHanky. Be sure to check for individual operators’ sales, as RedSpottedHanky’s system doesn’t usually factor in sale prices.

 

National Railcards £15 in Tesco points*

Get 50% off annual railcards by converting Clubcard points

£15 = £30

Get a 16-25, Family & Friends, Senior or Two Together railcard via Tesco Rewards* for £15 in Tesco Clubcard points instead of the usual £30. You’ll be sent a code that can be used on the Railcard* site.

 

What discounts do the railcards get you?

 

16-25: A third off fares if you’re aged 16 and over and under 26.

Family & Friends: A third off adult and 60% off child fares, a minimum of one adult and one child, and a maximum of up to four adults and four children (age 5-15) can travel using one card.

Senior: Those aged 60 and over get a third off rail fares.

Two Together: A third off rail fares for two named adults when they travel together.

 

Southern £18ish unlimited day travel

Buy online and hop on & off the entire network for the day

Unltd off-peak

If you buy a £17.90 Southern Railway DaySave ticket online you’ll get unlimited off-peak travel across the entire network.

 

You’ll need to register with Southern before buying tickets and you must buy at least three days in advance of travel (collect tickets at station) or five days in advance (tickets will be posted).

 

If there are three or four of you travelling together, you can get the DaySave ticket for £35.80 in total.

First TransPennine 50% off with 16-25 Railcard

Valid on advanced non-refundable fares

Ongoing

Anyone with a 16-25 Railcard can get 50% off advanced fares when they book through the TransPennine Express website before 6pm the day prior to travel.

 

This beats the usual 34% discount, however it’s worth noting tickets are non-refundable.

 

If you download the app you can get the discount by using the code TPESTUDENT.

 

East Coast 25% off tickets for groups

Online only

Groups of 3-9

If you book online via this East Coast link you’ll get 25% off advance standard and first class tickets for groups of three to nine people.

 

Gatwick Express 10% off returns*

Online offer for adult and child tickets

Ldn-Gatwick

Book online at Gatwick Express* for “anytime” and “day” returns on the non-stop London Victoria-Gatwick Airport route. The discount will be applied automatically. See full T&Cs

 

You can book for travel up to 12 weeks in advance and your ticket can be sent via email and/or to your mobile (though not if you’re returning the same day). There’s no booking fee.

 

We’ve heard print at home tickets sometimes state the return date as being the same as the outward journey. Gatwick Express has said your outward and return journeys must be within one calendar month of the date on your ticket.

 

Gatwick Express 10% off singles*

Online offer for adult and child tickets

Ldn-Gatwick

If you book online at Gatwick Express* for the non-stop London Victoria-Gatwick Airport route you can get 10% off. The discount will be applied automatically. You can book for travel up to three months in advance and your ticket can be sent via email and/or to your mobile. There’s no booking fee.

 

10% off CrossCountry trains

Available for student & apprentice NUS Extra holders

Advance tickets

Students and apprentices who have an NUS Extra card can get an extra 10% off selected CrossCountry advance tickets (the applicable tickets will show up in green in a search).

 

What’s more, this offer is valid with the 16-25 railcard discount.

 

Megabus £2.50 advance returns*

Incl coach, train & both. Ongoing offer. Limited avail

 

If you go online to Megabus*, if you get lucky, you can book rail and coach travel across the UK and Europe from £1 each way (plus 50p booking fee, so from £2.50 return). We’ve spotted cheap fares for travel up to February 2017 on some routes – it’s worth checking back regularly.

It offers cheap tickets on coaches (Megabus), trains (Megatrain) and a combination of the two (Megaplusbus).

These £1 fares sell out quickly, so try to book months in advance where possible, be flexible with your dates and be prepared to travel at unsociable hours. Even if you miss out on £1 deals, we found many £10 and under singles which aren’t bad. See the Megabus route map.

Example £1 each way fares

When we checked on Mon 12 Dec, £1 single tickets were available on routes from:

Megabus:

Manchester to London, departs 7.30am on Thu 9 Feb.

Birmingham to Bristol, departs 9.05am on Mon 6 Feb.

Newcastle to Edinburgh, departs 4pm on Thu 9 Feb.

 

How to book them

The sub-£10 deals, if available, should appear as normal. Simply choose where you’re travelling from and to and select “all” under “travelling by” to show results for both bus and train.

Megabus has told us tickets are released for destinations in waves, usually about a month and a half before travel date, so keep checking back for later tickets if they’re not available on your chosen route yet.

Looking to book for Christmas and New Year?

 

£1 fares are very limited during the festive period, but we’ve still spotted some cheap return tickets for travelling to see friends or family during the holidays including:

£8.50 rtn Birmingham to Bristol, departs 5.40pm on Sat 24 Dec, returning 9.35pm on Wed 28 Dec.

£11 rtn London to Manchester, departs 5.30pm on Wed 28 Dec, returning 1.15pm on Sat 31 Dec.

 

Plusbus bus & tram travel from £2 per day

Unlimited travel in 290 towns/cities. Extra 1/3 off with railcard

Eng, Scot, Wales

If you’re travelling by train in England, Scotland or Wales, Plusbus gives you unlimited day travel by bus or tram in the town or city you’re travelling to. Plusbus day tickets for over 290 locations can be bought from £2 (most are between £2.50 and £4) if you buy online from one of the rail firms listed on the Plusbus site or at the station.

 

You can buy Plusbus tickets for the start of your journey or the end of it, or both. See the Plusbus route map for a full list of where you can use the cheap tickets.

Railcard holders can get an extra third off their day fare. Some restrictions apply, check ‘more info’ for the details.

 

Earn/spend loyalty points on Arriva buses

For routes outside of London. Valid on season tickets only

Book any time

You can now earn loyalty points when you buy Arriva bus season tickets or Smartrider smart cards via loyalty points scheme MyIce. You’ll earn 3 Ice points for every £2 you spend. Each Ice point is worth 1p, which can be spent on further season tickets.

 

The season tickets and smartcards are sent out by post or can be collected from electronic ticket machines. Postage cost depends on method chosen.

 

Oxford Tube to London from £18 return

Incl Hillingdon, Shep Bush, N’ing Hill, Marble Arch & Victoria

Oxford-Ldn

Get single adult coach tickets between London and Oxford for £15 (£18rtn), single student and over-60s tickets for £11 (£14 rtn) or under-16s for £7.50 (£9rtns) on the Oxford Tube Coach service. Pickups and drops-offs are from London, Hillingdon, Lewknor and Oxford.

 

You can buy tickets and passes for a month in advance from the driver and the service’s full range of tickets can be bought on the Oxford Tube website, by phone or from the Gloucester Green travel shop.

 

Double Clubcard points on Megabus*

Swap points for double rewards. All routes included

Book any time

Grab Megabus tickets using Tesco Clubcard vouchers*. Every £5 in vouchers gets you £10 worth of rewards, in the form of four £2.50 token codes. Valid on all routes, including trips to Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Boulogne and Megatrain routes. There’s a 50p booking fee payable by card.

 

Easybus airport travel from £2 return

Incl Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton to London

Airport shuttle

Cheap bus operator Easybus offers journeys from central and west London to Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton airports from £2 return.

 

You don’t have to be flying to use the service, to book, just visit the Easybus website or buy at the departure point.

 

Liverpool Airport to Manchester for £12 rtn*

Routes incl Liverpool John Lennon Airport – Man city centre

Airport shuttle

Low-cost city shuttle bus company Terravision* offers fares between Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Manchester city centre for £8 one way or £12 return. To book, just visit the Terravision* website.

 

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