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Yes, you can use a railcard on Stansted Express

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Is it possible to use a railcard on Stansted Express?

If you are trying to book tickets on the official Stansted Express website here, you would probably think that you can’t. After all, there is no option to add a railcard.

You would be mistaken.

We recently ran an article explaining how to use a railcard to book Heathrow Express tickets. A reader, Sol, dropped me a note about a quirk when booking Stansted Express tickets which I thought was worth sharing.

There is no option to use a railcard on Arguably you would therefore assume that it wasn’t possible, and would shrug your shoulders and pay the full price.

This is what you would pay for a one-way trip for two adults and two children:

How to use a railcard on Stansted Express

The cheapest option, given that there is no ability to use a railcard, is £48.

However, let’s see what happens if we use the website of another train company. I’ve used LNER because many of you will have an American Express cashback offer currently available for anything bought on their site.

Other train company websites DO let you apply a railcard for Stansted Express bookings. Here is the same booking as above but adding a Friends & Family Railcard:

How to use a railcard on Stansted Express

The price drops to £35.10, a saving of £12.90.

It is worth noting that your saving could be far higher. The ticket I am using for comparison, the £48 ‘Advanced Offer Standard Class Single’, is only available online and is heavily restricted with only a handful of tickets available per train. You could end up paying far more. The £35.10 price is for a bog-standard ‘Anytime Single’.

I should say that, tucked away on a standalone page of the Stansted Express website, is this message about railcards. It says that you can use a railcard at a ticket office or on the Greater Anglia website – which is interesting, since Greater Anglia and Stansted Express are effectively the same company. It isn’t explained why railcard functionality is not available on the official Stansted Express website.

Comments (33)

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  • Andrew. says:

    It’s a shame that the ORR, Passenger Focus, even the Mayor of London are happy to turn a blind eye to this behaviour.

    I’m on 10% with LNER through Amex, and currently have a handy 20pts per £1 via Nectar Connect on top.

    Not every Railcard discount is available everywhere though. Scotrail do a Railcard for their elderly customers over 50, but it’s only valid at Scotrail stations for purchasing tickets or via the Scotrail App.

    • Ian says:

      Is someone who is 51 classed as “elderly” these days?

      • Andrew. says:

        It’s a 20% discount, and it includes peak fares.

        You can call me what you like for that.

    • Tim says:

      I think that all tocs are legally obliged (as a a franchise condition) to accept all national railcards. I expect GA will say thay they do because you can use a railcard on the GA website. Still pretty underhand behavour though. And ORR is yet another toothless regulator.

      The Scotrail situation is probably legal because their railcard will not be a national railcard which other franchisees are obliged to accept. Scotrail ia franchised separately by an SNP goveenment who I am sure will not be concerned about things being different either side of the border

  • X2000traveller says:

    As a general point, in principle one can use any rail website to book tickets on any TOC, ie it is not like airlines, so using LNER is fine for most situations. Stansted Express is being a bit sneaky here. Of course all TOCs in England pay their revenue direct to DfT these days, and have their costs directly supported, so it is not that clear why LNER are so keen to get market share in ticket sales.

  • Keith says:

    I remember some yrs ago meeting a work colleague visiting us in London from Sweden. We were chatting about his trip the previous week to Bristol from London and he had been surprised yet delighted when he went to the ticket office at Paddington that he was asked his age and then got a significant discount. The cut-off here was something like 55 and he didn’t even have a railcard!

  • Stuart B says:

    Apologies if already noted above… many of us already use the Trainline website, which allows use of most rail cards. Stuart B

    • Rob says:

      Doesn’t Trainline still charge fees that the TOC websites do not?

      You shouldn’t book there anyway as the TOC sites often have deals others don’t. If you don’t have a Railcard for example the StEx website has Web Only fares which undercut what other train sites offer.

      • John says:

        The funny thing is that several TOC websites are operated by the trainline, with its branding replaced

  • Alex Sm says:

    Network Railcard apparently didn’t work with SEx booking…

  • Alex says:

    There is no such thing as a ‘Stansted Express’ train. It is just a marketing term for a website that sells you tickets to a regular Greater Anglia service between Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport. You can buy a ticket for this same train on the Greater Anglia website, any other train company website, ticket machine or app and apply a railcard discount.

    Now, there is actually a very good use for this Stansted Express website itself if you need to travel to the airport on a weekday morning when railcard discount doesn’t apply. 2 adults + 1 child will cost you 51.75 one way with GA or any other national rail company ticket, however you can get the same ticket for 35-45 GBP via Stansted Express, depending how early in advance you buy.

  • Martin says:

    You can always save a lot of money by buying an open return ticket over two singles. In the Stansted Express is an almost 50% discount.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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