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Did you know a Railcard can be bought and downloaded immediately?

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I had to book some Gatwick Express tickets over the Summer and realised it made sense to get a new Friends & Family Railcard.  We would recover the cost in one trip and would then have it for the next 12 months for, effectively, free.

If you are planning to take your kids on a train trip this weekend, it is worth noting that Friends & Family Railcards can now be bought and downloaded instantly as can most other Railcards.

This was a lifesaver if you are planning a trip immediately, as you can download the Railcard and then immediately book your tickets.

a Railcard can be bought and downloaded immediately

(Technically, you don’t need to have the railcard when you buy the tickets, only when you travel.  Arguably the smart thing to do is to buy your railcard on the day you travel, since this maximises the amount of time you have to use it before it expires.)

During the purchase process on the Friends & Family Railcard website you have the option of selecting a Plastic or Digital railcard.  If you choose Digital, you are emailed a code after purchase which you type into the Railcard app on your phone.  The Railcard can be added to two phones if necessary.

This allows you to buy a Railcard and buy discounted tickets immediately without having to wait five days for a Plastic card to arrive.

As a reminder, a Friends & Family Railcard gets you 33% off Standard Anytime, Off-Peak and Advance adult fares and 60% off for kids’ fares.  Restrictions apply on times of travel and which trains are included.

First Class travel is not included with ‘Friends & Family’ although other Railcards do allow it.  Gatwick Express, Stansted Express and Heathrow Express services ARE included.  We looked at Railcard deals on Heathrow Express in this article and Railcard deals on Stanted Express (NOT available via their own website) in this article.

The Friends & Family Railcard website here has more details.

Comments (25)

  • Richie says:

    Can you add a Network railcard to your London Oyster card?

    • memesweeper says:

      Yes. Go to a gate line at a tube or overground station and ask a member of staff to do it at the ticket machine.

      • Joe A says:

        No, I believe that’s one of the few railcards you can’t load. You’d have to buy a gold card if you wanted that.

        • MKB says:

          Two Together is another that cannot be added to an Oyster, presumably because they don’t want to pay to change the software to check whether the partner railcard holder is making the same journey as the primary.

          If I’m making a lot of journeys in inner zones, it can be cheaper to get a Z1-6 Travelcard, which you can get a Two Together 34% discount on.

        • aseftel says:

          Correct. You can’t add Network, Family and Friends or Two Together.

      • John says:

        You can’t add a network railcard because it has a minimum fare of £13 on working days and most oyster journeys are less than that. I believe the oyster software doesn’t distinguish between types of railcard

  • Charles Martel says:

    Railcards also offer a discount on most IHG rates too using their corporate code. This can make it worth getting one even if you don’t travel by train.

  • LS says:

    I would also add disabled railcard is also available, and is particularly helpful if you have an elderly relative, who still travels. Look at the list of disabilities, which includes anything that stops you driving (barring alcoholism), and needing hearing aids.

  • Andrew says:

    You can also buy a railcard instantly in person at a ticket office 🙂

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