Cheap Tickets and Low Fares with Discounts on German Railways
Deutsche Bahn’s BahnCard allows for huge savings, cheaper tickets, and low fares on train travel in Germany and Europe. Discount fares apply to ICE and EuroCity trains too.
The easiest way to save on Deutsche Bahn trains is by using a BahnCard (Railway Card). The BahnCard must be bought annually, although often shorter “test period” offers are available, and then gives savings every time a train ticket is bought for travel on German Railways trains, and often local trams and buses too. Total savings depend on the card bought – usually 25 or 50%
The BahnCard must be bought prior to traveling. Buy BahnCard online from German Railways (and print out a temporary card) or at major train stations. A passport size photo is required but a temporary card can be issued and is valid immediately.
Save 25% Plus on Train Fares in Germany with BahnCard 25
Of the three BahnCards available, BahnCard 25 is the most common. BahnCard 25 gives 25% discount on normal train fares (Flexpreis, previously referred to as Normalpreise). However, BahnCard 25 may also be combined with other special savings fares (Sparpreise) making it very easy to save 50% or more on train tickets.
Cost and Prices of a German Railways Bahncard 25
The annual standard Deutsche Bahn BahnCard 25 is €62 for second class and €125 for first class travel. BahnCard 25 pays for itself on a single north to south Germany trip.
Deutsche Bahn gives further discounts to many travelers on buying the BahnCard 25 itself too:
- Youths between 6 and 18 years qualify for the Jugend BahnCard 25. It costs only €10.
- Spouses and partners (fairly widely defined – same postal address is important) of a standard Bahncard holder may buy a Partnerkarte (partner card) for €41 in second class and €81 in first class. If a child 6 to 18 years old lives in the same household, the Partnerkarte is only €10. Once purchased, the cards function completely separately.
- Students (up to 26) and seniors (over 60) pay a reduced fare (Ermäßigt) for a Bahncard25 of €41 in second class and €81 in first class.
Cheaper, short term Bahncards are often available as a try-before-you-buy deals. These are commonly around €20 (€40 first class) for a three month period and thus of more interest to foreign visitors than the annual cards. However, the offer is not continuously available and note that it should be cancelled before it automatically extends into an annual card.
Children under 6 always travel for free on Deutsche Bahn trains. Children 7 to 14 usually travel for free when traveling with parents or grandparents but the child’s name must be entered on the ticket of the adult at time of purchase. For some special discount tickets, children cannot accompany parents for free.
Save 50% on German Train Tickets with BahnCard 50
The BahnCard 50 gives 50% discounts on normal train fares (Flexpreise) but only 25% on other discounted prices. It has the same further advantages as the Bahncard 25 and thus works best for travelers covering longer distances on standard fare tickets. Leisure travelers usually save more by combining Sparpreise simply with the Bahncard 25.
- The BahnCard 50 cost €255 for second class and €515 for first class travel.
The BahnCard 50 is available for €127 for second class and €252 for first class to the following:
- The spouse or partner of a full price bearer of a BahnCard 50 with the same residential address,
- Children over 6 but younger than 18,
- Scholars, students, and trainees up to 26, and
- Seniors (60 years plus).
Unlimited Travel on German Trains with the Mobility BahnCard 100
The BahnCard 100 is valid for unlimited travel on German Railways and many local buses for a year. It cost €4090 in second class and €6890 in first class. Numerous further benefits to bearers and family apply.
Save More with RAILPLUS on European Train Tickets
RAILPLUS is automatically included in all BahnCards. Railplus generally gives 25% discount on the foreign portion of a train ticket bought from or to Germany. There are exceptions and occasionally the discounts are even bigger. The BahnCard also gives 25% discount for rail travel within Switzerland and Austria.
Save on German Trains and Buses with BahnCard and City-Ticket
The City-Ticket is automatically included when a BahnCard bearer buys a long-distance train ticket to over 120 participating cities in Germany. The City Ticket covers local transportation in the destination and origin city. Travelers using a City Ticket should use a direct route to / from the station, it is not a limitless local transportation pass. To cover the origin city, the Bahncard holder must already have the long-distance ticket, i.e. bought previously or online.
Non-German residents can save on long train journeys with the German Rail Pass. However, many further savings deals are available to all rail passengers on German Railways trains and may offer bigger savings, especially when traveling off-peak times or on local trains.