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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 Consumer Contracts Regulations.
These give you a legal right to send most goods back within 14 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 cancellation 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.
Railcards can save you a third off train travel if you're eligible - that means if you're spending over £90 a year, even on a one-off trip, it's worth getting one. And until Wed 31 Dec, you can get £5 off selected 3-year railcards (normally £70) when you enter the code 3YEAR online at the Railcard checkout.
This deal is only for the following railcards:
The Disabled Persons and Two Together railcards are not part of this offer.
How good is this deal?
A one year railcard normally costs £30 a year (£90 for three years), so with the 3-year railcard and code you could be saving £25 if you were planning on buying the railcard in 3 lots.
We often see railcard deals that bring railcards down to £27 for a year. But if you consider this deal brings it down to just under £22 a year, even if you used a different code for one year at a time, we suspect you’d be better off using this code for a 3-year railcard.
For more train tricks including how to split tickets to slash costs, see the Cheap Trains guide.
Although £65 seems like a big whack of money, it's seriously worth it. I saved a fortune on trips back to Hull from university. Now I'm living in London I continue to save money by pairing the railcard with my Oyster card. I can get a third off all off-peak tube journeys too.
Budget coach travel provider Megabus* is offering 20,000 'free' one-way tickets on nearly all of its routes in England, Scotland, Wales and Europe for travel between Mon 12 Jan and Thu 12 Feb.
Bookings must be made at least seven days in advance and you can book up to 60 days in advance. It's valid on Mon-Thu trips only and you'll just need to pay a 50p booking fee per transaction, not per ticket. If you book 10 tickets, you'll still only pay 50p. There's no maximum on how many tickets you can buy per transaction.
Megabus covers most of Great Britain and parts of Europe, including Barcelona, Paris, Amsterdam and Luxembourg.
While 20,000 sounds a lot, they can still take some finding and it's mostly a case of trial and error as they're scattered across many routes. Megabus says the tickets are released in tranches on its website every day (except Fri-Sun) until Thu 12 Feb, so if you can't find a 'free' ticket one day, don't give up, as one might appear later in the promo.
Any available tickets will say £0.00. This offer has happened at around the same time for past three years – see what’s been said about past offers in the free ticket finds (and post your finds from this year’s sale). We checked from London and found free tickets to Birmingham, Coventry, Exeter and Worcester.
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.
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 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.
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 and £10. 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.
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. If you're an NUS Extra card holder (cards cost £12 a year) you can get 11% off a 16-25 railcard online.
The railcard usually costs £30 (£26.60ish when you use the code) and it gets you a third off travel for a year. The code is valid on annual memberships only.
For more train tricks including how to split tickets to slash costs see the Cheap Trains guide.
Two offers (one more publicised than the other) get over-60s living in London free or super cheap travel.
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 the 60+ Oyster card for a year before reaching Freedom Pass age, you could save hundreds of pounds if you travel daily.
Free travel with the Freedom Pass includes:
Free travel with the 60+ Oyster card includes the following services:
If you buy almost any train ticket online from First Group rail companies (First Great Western, First Capital Connect, ScotRail, First Transpennine Express or Hull Trains), you'll earn two Nectar points per £1.
For season tickets, it's a tad different. You'll get 50 points for a weekly, 200 points for a monthly and 2,500 points for an annual pass, no matter the cost or distance. One point = 0.5p, so 2,500 points is worth £12.50.
You should never choose where to shop due to loyalty schemes such as this one, but if you've already got a Nectar card and you're planning to travel by rail, here's how to make the most of the points:
1) Compare prices
If you know exactly where and when you want to travel, compare prices via these booking sites and at the First Group rail company which covers your route: First Great Western, First Capital Connect, ScotRail, Transpennine Express or Hull Trains. If it's cheaper via the other booking sites, consider whether it's worth getting the points.
2) Link your Nectar card to your First Group account
Log into your train company account and add your Nectar card number. Then book your journey.
3) When to spend points
Points will be added to your Nectar account within 28 days and you can spend them straight away (though Nectar sometimes runs double exchange events where your points may be worth double so you may want to wait till then). Usually, you need a minimum of 500 points to get a £2.50 voucher to spend at Nectar outlets.
If you've not got a Nectar card, register online at Nectar.com or pick up a registration pack in Sainsbury's or Homebase.
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.
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 less than seven days in advance and it’ll cost you a whopping £23.40 for a single, £33.20 return.
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.
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.
RedSpottedHanky have starting applying £1 booking and 'standard delivery' fees to their fares from Oct 2014.
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.
Before spending, use Martin's Mantras. If you answer 'NO' to any, Don't buy!
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