This list of super-cheap train and coach deals will help you cut travel costs to the bone – sometimes to just £1 each way.
We check with companies' press offices that deals are open to all, but policies can change, so check before booking. These are just one-off promos - for top techniques to cut any journey’s cost, see Cheap Trains.
Whether it's a retailer or restaurateur, airline or air-conditioner seller, computer shop or car rental company, there are always two main risks. Either it's a dodgy company, or it's a legit company that has financial problems and goes bust.
The aim of these tips is to help you minimise the risks.
Quite simply, its customers are immediately transformed into creditors. This hits hardest if you've ordered goods or tickets from them, and not had delivery, as then you become one of a line of people trying to get your money back out of the company's assets, and you usually get back much less than you paid in.
Even if you've had delivery, if the company you bought from goes under and there's a problem with the goods, it can mean you've no comeback.
While MoneySavingExpert.com endeavours to check deals are valid, we don't check companies ' finances. Even huge names like MFI and Woolies have folded, so it's very important you use the right strategies to stay protected where possible.
Pay by credit card for something over £100, and Section 75 laws supercharge your consumer rights.
Unlike debit cards, cheques or cash, pay in full or part (even just £1) on a credit card and by law the lender's jointly liable with the retailer.
This means you have exactly the same rights with the card company as you do with the retailer. So if it goes bust, you can simply take your complaints there instead and get money back if there's no delivery.
Yet it's important you ALWAYS REPAY IN FULL each month, so there's no interest cost. See the full Section 75 guide.
Section 75 doesn't apply to purchases under £100, but there's still an option which can help. It isn't a legal protection, just Visa, Mastercard and Amex's rules, but it's a good back-up.
Spend on a Visa, Mastercard or Amex credit card or any debit or charge card. If the goods don't appear, you can try to ask your bank/card provider to reclaim the cash from the seller's bank, so long as you complain within 120 days of realising there’s a problem. See the Chargeback guide for full details.
Bogus websites are often set up to cash in on popular products like Ugg boots and Tiffany necklaces, so be wary if it's an unfamiliar site. And don't think that because it appears on a reputable search engine, that makes it a reputable site - always check.
Most folk know to look for a security padlock on the bottom right of a website, but that doesn't mean the site's legit, just that payment's secure.
To find out who registered the site and when, search the Whois database. Reputable firms should also appear on the Companies House site, the UK Government's official companies register. Be very wary of businesses with just a PO Box or email address.
Study the site's worldwide web ranking on Alexa. Anything in the top 100,000 means it's reasonably big and a good, though not foolproof indication of legitimacy. Do a quick Google search for other shoppers' experiences.
Crucially, ensure your security's up-to-date - free software can be downloaded to your computer in about five minutes. Full details in the Free Antivirus Software guide.
Many people are surprised to learn you've MORE rights buying online (or by telephone/catalogue) due to the Distance Selling Regulations.
These give you a legal right to send most goods back within seven days for a full refund (including outward delivery costs), even if there's no fault. You'll usually need to pay for the return delivery. Read Consumer Rights for a full guide.
However, of course, this is balanced by the fact ordering online automatically means there's a time gap between ordering and delivering - when the company has your money. So if it goes bust during that time, the distance selling rights don't help.
Ultimately, there is always a risk that a company can go bust. If the above routes don't apply, then you have to make a decision about whether you're willing to take the risk of parting with your cash.
Don't be scared of this. Every day we all make transactions based on trust, and this is part of that, but do balance up the amount you're spending against the risk. Don't give large amounts of money to a company you're not sure about.
Go online to Amazon Local* and pay £8 for a £16 RedSpottedHanky voucher to spend on rail tickets. Once you've bought the voucher, you'll be emailed a code to enter online at RedSpottedHanky. Your account will then be credited with £16 within the next 72 hours.
You have to use the credit to book tickets by 30 June 2014 and, as you can book rail tickets up to 12 weeks in advance, you'll be able to travel on journeys up to 22 Sep 2014.
On Mon 10 Mar, Amazon Local told us there were around 10,000 vouchers still available.
There's no minimum spend, so if your journey costs £10, the remaining £6 will be kept in your account.
Can't be used with any other offers or vouchers. Only one voucher per person and per household is allowed. The voucher can't be used via the RedSpottedHanky mobile app.
We're big fans of railcards, so we're super excited about the new Two Together Railcard as it knocks a third off rail fares for any two named adults (aged 16+).
You must be travelling together for the entire journey. The only time you can't use it is between 4.30am and 9.30am on weekday mornings.
The card normally costs £30, but enter the code TOGETHER10 online by Wed 30 Apr and you'll get 10% off, making it £27 for the year. Just a couple of decent-length trips easily covers the cost of the card.
You can have as many of these railcards with different people as you want, so you can couple up with your mum on one and buddy up with your best mate on another. You can also buy the railcard at staffed National Rail stations, though you'll pay the full £30 cost there.
Boost savings even further by splitting tickets
This is a big trick. Instead of buying tickets for the whole journey, bizarrely, buying tickets for its constituent parts separately can slash the price – even though you're travelling on exactly the same train.
Use this in conjunction with your railcard for serious savings. Try it yourself with our new split ticket iPhone app or the split ticket mobile site.
Got kids, are you over 60 or under 25?
If you've kids, the Family and Friends Railcard may be better for you. Under 25? Try the 16-25 Railcard. Or if you're 60+, you'll be eligible for the Senior Railcard.
You may be able to save even more if you've a stash of Tesco points. You can boost their value by swapping points for a railcard (unfortunately, not Two Together just yet). See our Boost Tesco Points guide and for more tricks on train fares, see our Cheap Train Tickets guide.
First class delivery is free. If you're ordering online, an extra week’s validity will be added from the date you order to allow for any delay in postage.
Only one railcard can be used per journey. The two adults must be travelling together for the entire journey.
There's no limit on the number of codes which can be used, so everyone entering the code by Wed 30 Apr will pay £27 for a one year card.
Go via this special Chiltern Railways link to book 25p each way (50p return) tickets for journeys from London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street only (excludes journeys starting from Birmingham).
There are 19,000 return tickets (38,000 singles) available and the offer's valid for Mon - Sat journeys between Mon 10 Mar and Sat 5 Apr (but not Sat 22 Mar), though you need to book by Fri 4 Apr. The majority are off-peak tickets, however there are some peak time tickets available too.
The offer will be appearing in the London Evening Standard but Chiltern Railways says there's no need to pick up the paper to get the 25p train ticket - just go via the link above.
Not valid on journeys starting from Birmingham. Excludes Sat 22 Mar. Valid on standard class tickets only. If the tickets are sold out, the normal rate will be shown. No break of journey is allowed in either direction and no further discounts are allowed.
You can pay £8 for a single ticket from one of two London stations to Stansted Airport when you book online at Stansted Express at least 30 days in advance. It's valid on standard class tickets only and you can travel in either direction. Here's the deal:
As long as you book a valid ticket at least 30 days in advance, you'll pay the prices above (there's no limit to the number of tickets available at this price).
Book over seven days in advance and you’ll pay £12 single, £24 return. Book less than seven days in advance and it’ll cost you a whopping £23.40 for a single, £33.20 return.
You must book by Mon 19 May but you can travel up to six months in advance.
Once you've booked, you can print your ticket or have it sent to your mobile. You can't get it delivered to your home address. It excludes first class travel and railcards. Kids under five travel for free. Stansted Express says there are no booking or credit card fees.
You can get 25% off single or return off-peak tickets for train trips made on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays when you book online at C2C at least two hours in advance.
It's valid on journeys starting within London's Travelcard zones (Fenchurch St, Limehouse, West Ham, Barking, Upminster, Dagenham Dock and Rainham) to Southend Central station. You can't use it for journeys starting from Southend.
What will I pay?
An off-peak Fenchurch Street to Southend Central single ticket usually costs £16.40, but you'll pay £12.30 with this deal. West Ham to Southend Central is normally £14.90 but you'll pay £11.20. For Barking to Southend Central, you'll pay £10.05 instead of £13.40.
C2C says this is a trial offer so there's no official end date. The discount will automatically come off your total and it's only valid on travel after 9.30am.
Pay £10 for an off-peak day return on Southeastern services from London to these Kent towns: Dover, Margate, Folkestone and Deal. You can only get this offer online and the last date to book and travel is Sun 16 Mar.
It's valid on journeys starting and ending in London only after 9am Mon-Fri, and anytime at weekends. Tickets can be collected at the station on the day you travel or you can get them posted first class for free.
Up to four children aged 5-15 can travel for £1 each when travelling alongside an adult with the £10 ticket. You'll need to buy these at a ticket office.
What are the potential savings?
A few of us in the office are excited about this offer as for a tenner, you can go to the Kent coast and spend the day on the beach (just bring a warm coat!), play in the arcades and munch on some traditional fish & chips!
An off-peak day return from London to Margate usually costs £32.90, from London to Deal or Dover it's usually £33.30 and from London to Folkestone it'd usually cost £32.
Southeastern's confirmed there's no limit on the number of £10 tickets available as part of this promotion - as long as you book an eligible journey on the valid dates and times, you'll pay no more than £10.
It can't be used with other offers or with Railcards. Breaks in your journey are not allowed. Excludes journeys starting and ending in Kent.
Pay £10 for a day return on any Saturday or Sunday via South West Trains* for journeys till Sun 16 Mar, including half-term.
It's valid between any two of these 195 destinations (virtually the whole network - marked with a red dot) and can be booked online. Or buy them at ticket machines (from 3pm Fri) or ticket offices at weekends - no need to book in advance. You can even call customer services on 0845 6000 650 (10p/min from a BT landline).
The savings can add up with this offer, as an off peak London Waterloo to Honiton ticket's usually £60.80 when bought on the day of travel, and for London Waterloo to Weymouth, it's usually £61. As long as you book an eligible journey, you'll pay £10.
If you're heading to London, your ticket will get you 2for1 entry to more than 100 attractions.
Online tickets can be collected from vending machines. Can't be used with any other discount, day Travelcards or railcards. Excludes Exeter St Davids to Feniton and Warminster to Bristol Temple Meads. The ticket is valid between two stations so breaks in your journey can't be made.
Important: Engineering works can take place on weekends so check for disruption works to your journey before booking.
If you're over 55, you can pay £19 for a standard class return ticket (or £35 first class - limited routes) between two stations in Scotland via ScotRail, Virgin, CrossCountry and Transpennine Express services.
You can book online at ScotRail, over the phone (08457 55 00 33 2p/min from landlines) or in person at ScotRail run stations (no need to book in advance).
First class tickets are £35 return (subject to availability) and you must book by 6pm the day before travel. It's valid on these routes only: Aberdeen to Inverness, Aberdeen to Edinburgh, Aberdeen to Glasgow, Inverness to Edinburgh and Inverness to Glasgow.
Outbound journeys must be made by Mon 31 Mar though you have up to a month to return. Plus, Senior and Disabled Railcard holders also get an extra £2 off per return.
The savings can be big: an off-peak standard return (both directions) from Aberdeen to Glasgow's usually £58, Aberdeen to Edinburgh it's usually £51.60 (£100.30 first class anytime) and for Inverness to Glasgow, it's usually £55.70 (£100.30 first class anytime).
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 do need to be travelling at the same time.
Both these are absolutely cracking deals so if you’re over 60 and living in London, it's a no-brainer to apply. Even if you only use it for a year before reaching Freedom Pass age, you could save hundreds of pounds if you travel daily.
Other deals can be better value than the railcards but if you're buying them anyway, and don't need any other deals, it's a good conversion. Read more in the Loyalty Points Boosting guide. Also, check the railcard site for restrictions and to ensure you're eligible before exchanging your vouchers.
What discounts do the railcards get you?
16-25: A third off fares if you're over 16 and under 26.
Family & Friends: A third off adult and 60% off child fares, a minimum of one adult and one child, up to four adults and four children (age 5-15) can travel using one card.
Senior: Those 60 and over get a third off rail fares.
Print at home tickets are currently stating the return date as being the same as the outward journey. Gatwick Express has said this is an error and you have up to 30 days to make the return journey.
Found a cheaper deal?
Let us know in the Cheap UK Travel Discussion
Get all this & more in MoneySavingExpert's weekly email full of guides, vouchers and deals
GET THIS FREE WEEKLY EMAIL Full of deals, guides & it's spam free
Find the best online rate for holiday cash with MSE's TravelMoneyMax.
Find the best online rate for your holiday cash with MoneySavingExpert's TravelMoneyMax.