Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Why I Love the Family & Friends Railcard

If you are a regular reader to the blog, then you will know just how much my family loves to get out and about, exploring new places, visiting attractions and just generally enjoying time together as a family. It is therefore important to me, that we always look at the best cost effective ways of travelling to places and whilst using the car may be easier for us to use on local trips, we have found that catching the train to places slightly further afield, can be both a cheaper and more stress free option.

I was first introduced to the Family & Friends railcard two years ago, when my daughter won a place on a presenting course in London. It is a 4 hour car journey from my home in North Wales on a good run, not including the time taken to get into the city centre and finding somewhere to park. It was therefore obvious that a 2 hour 5 minute train journey from our nearest main station in Chester, would be the much better and easier option. I checked the price of tickets online and they were coming up quite expensive, not suiting my budget at all, although still cheaper than fuel, tolls and parking. I therefore visited our nearest ticket office to see if there were any deals or offers to help reduce the price.

The lady in the ticket office showed me a leaflet for the family and friends railcard and explained that for a charge of £30 I could save 1/3 off rail fares plus 60% off kids fares. We checked it against the tickets to London and what the ticket price would be and it worked out that with the rail card, our return trip to London would be £50 cheaper. This meant that even after deducting the cost of the railcard, I had already saved myself £20! I therefore signed up there and then at the ticket office and over the next 12 months we used our railcard regularly making some huge savings. We received a reminder when our card was due to expire and I was given the option to renew, which was an easy decision to make.

About the Family and Friends Railcard

The Family and Friends Railcard costs just £30 for a 1 year Railcard, or alternatively you can purchase a three year railcard online for just £70 offering a saving of £20 compared to purchasing three individual yearly cards. It can be used by up to 4 adults and 4 children aged 5 to 15 on each journey and you can have two adults named on one railcard which means either person can use it as long as there is at least one child travelling with them.

It offers fantastic discounts and gets you 1/3 off Standard Anytime, Off-Peak and Advance Fares across the National Rail Network (some exclusions apply), as well as 60% off kids fares. You can also save 1/3 off Anytime Day Travelcards, when purchased as part of your ticket to London from outside London Zones 1-9*, in addition to 1/3 off Off-Peak Day Travelcard Zones 1-6*. One aspect that we have found particularly useful, is the ability to also save a 1/3 off bus travel to and from the station, as well as around town when we purchase a PLUSBUS day ticket along with our train ticket online. We find this a great saving when we visit Manchester and want to venture slightly out of the city centre to places like Salford Quays or The Trafford Centre.

*Minimum fares apply to Anytime Day and Off-Peak Day Travelcards.

Why do I love the Family and Friends Railcard

There are a few reasons why I love the Family and Friends Railcard. The most obvious one is the savings I have made by using ours over the last couple of years. In the last 12 months we have used ours to travel from Chester to Liverpool, Glasgow Prestwick Airport to Glasgow, Shotton to Liverpool, Chester to Manchester, Chester to London, Crewe to London and Shotton to Llandudno. As a family of five, it offers us some fantastic savings and in the last 12 months alone we have saved over £200 off the cost of standard fares.

There is also a handy journey planner to help calculate the savings you can make on your journey when using a Family & Friends Railcard. If you are a regular train user, then this is a great tool to help you see how much you could be saving over the year.

For example if I was to purchase a train ticket for 2 adults and 2 children from Chester to London Euston for the 26th October 2017 at 12:35pm, returning on the 27th October 2017 at 13:40pm, this would cost me £239.90 without a railcard. Using the Family & Friends Railcard the price comes to £136. That is a HUGE SAVING of £103.90! (Price obtained 11:35am 25th October 2017).

In addition to the savings, our children simply love the train experience. The kids are always excited to be travelling by train as it makes the adventure even more fun and they love looking out for things through the large windows and spotting animals or landmarks in the distance. It is also much more relaxing for Mr F and I as parents. There is no worry about a long drive home, getting stuck in traffic, or how many loo stops we will need to make at motorway service stations. We can simply enjoy the experience the same as the children, as well as being able to enjoy a drink or a bite to eat from the comfort of our seats.

Where can you purchase a Family & Friends Railcard?

You can visit your nearest National Rail staffed station to purchase a Railcard in person or alternatively you can visit the website to apply online or obtain further information. The website can be found here: Family & Friends Railcard

Disclaimer: Written in collaboration with the Family and Friends Railcard. Opinions are my own.

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