Great Britain Friends and Family Railcards

£10 off the regular £30 one year Friends and Family Railcard, online only, unti 24 February 2014.  Use promotional code WEB10.  More information at website.

If you are going to do any family train travel in Great Britain, you absolutely must buy a Friends and Family Railcard.  It will save you loads of money, sometimes even paying for itself on the first trip.

Eligibility

Pretty much anyone can buy a Friends and Family Railcard – you don’t have to be a family.   Heck, you don’t even need to be friends!  Travel that uses the Friends and Family discount must include a child between the ages of 5 and 15, or a child under five for whom you buy a ticket.  (Kids under 5 are usually free.)  You can put two adult names on the railcard, and use it for up to four adults and four children at one time.  It’s really quite generous with regard to who can be part of your friends and family.

The Savings

For starters, you get a substantial discount on your tickets.  Kids fare are 60% off, and adults tickets are 30% off the regular price. These savings add up quickly. For example, my oldest daughter wants me to take her to Edinburgh for the weekend. The regular price for one adult and one child would be £156.00, the Friends and Family Railcard price is £88.45.

In addition, there are various special deals offered through the Friends and Family program.  For example, right now you can get 2-for-1 tickets to the Doctor Who London Tour of Locations or 2-for-1 tickets to the London Eye, just by printing out a voucher from the Friends and Family website and presenting it with your rail tickets at the attraction.

See the London Eye at half price by using the Friends and Family Railcard discount.
See the London Eye at half price by using the Friends and Family Railcard discount.

Other offers included discounted tickets to West End shows, and discounted meals.  The website is the best place to keep track of all the Friends and Family offers.

The Cost

One Friends and Family Railcard costs £30 per year, or £70 for three years.  You can also find promotional codes by doing an internet search on “friends and family railcard promotional code” or checking out websites such as HotUKDeals.  I’ve been really surprised at the great promo codes that pop up, such as £10 off a £30 card.

Where To Purchase

Friends and Family Railcards can be purchased online or at certain rail stations.  If you are travelling from outside the UK, you will find it easier to buy a Railcard at the station.   In theory, you can purchase the card online and have it mailed to you.  If you do this successfully, please let me know.  I am going to try it when my current card expires in May.

DSCN5068

Warning!

You must, must carry the Railcard with you when using tickets purchased with Railcard discount. I found this out the hard way: One trip, we had to purchase an additional £220 in supplemental tickets because I forgot my Railcard. That was one expensive lesson – I’m pretty sure I won’t forget again. Learn from me, folks!

Travel Hack

Sometimes, your travel doesn’t have the eligible child for the whole trip.  Try to think creatively.  For example, I recently took my child to Heathrow Airport by train.  Because I was dropping her off, and travelling back by myself, I wasn’t eligible to use the Railcard discount.  However, if I purchased our “outside” round trip tickets, to get both of us to Heathrow that day and then to get both of us home when she returned, then the discount would be valid.  I could then buy the “inside” tickets, getting just me from Heathrow to home, and from home back to Heathrow, as just a single.

Without a doubt, the Friends and Family Railcard is a good purchase if you intend to do any rail travel with children in Great Britain.  I’m glad I discovered it, and I’m glad I can share it with you.

London Eye photo by Le Turc