For those who are lucky enough to be eligible, railcards can be the difference between travelling Great Britain or staying at home. So when the government announced the introduction of a railcard for 26 to 30-year-olds, they were met with applause. But the question many want to know is: is a 26-30 railcard worth it?
The new railcard was officially rolled out across the nation in January. Its journey was a little bumpy. As the Independent reports, the chancellor first promised it in 2017. A pilot programme was set up in Greater Anglia in December of that year, followed by a national sale of 10,000 railcards the following March.
Costing £30 a year, it promises to save you one third off train journeys. Certain tickets are naturally excluded. Off peak and advance fares are eligible for the discount — as are off peak tube and London travelcard journeys. But a £12 minimum fare applies to morning peak times (which is any time before 10 a.m. on weekdays). The railcard also can't be used for season tickets, Eurostar purchases, Caledonian Sleeper trains, or most First Class tickets.
If you hadn't already guessed, it wasn't designed with commuters in mind. But if you're an irregular train person, you may well benefit. According to the railcard site, the card will have paid for itself after just three or four journeys. By the end of the year, the average person could have saved around £125.
The best part about it is that it's not a physical card that you can easily lose. Instead, the government has gone digital. You'll still have to ensure that your card is available on your phone to avoid a penalty charge, but it can easily be switched onto another device if something goes wrong. (And if you do get hit with a railcard-related fine, you're able to claim one cost back a year.)
As the Mirror reports, an initial trial of the 26-30 railcard found that 98 percent of people were satisfied or very satisfied. Some people told the paper it had saved them a considerable sum of money. Philip, a 30-year-old from Liverpool, said it had allowed him to keep his acting career afloat. "It enables me to take journeys to London to auditions and also helps me to do jobs that support my career."
The card can also technically be used until you're 32 if you buy it at the right time. Those born between January 3, 1988 and January 2, 1993 are eligible, but a person can purchase it until the day before they turn 31, allowing them to use the railcard for an extra year.
Figuring out if the £30 annual investment is worth your while will be a personal choice. It all depends on where you live and travel to as well as how often and when you hop on the train. To help make a decision, it may be a good idea to work out your potential savings using the railcard website's calculator.
Bear in mind that it's not just train discounts up for grabs. Being a cardholder also comes with a whole host of other benefits, including 20 percent off Virgin Experience Days, up to 60 percent off theatre tickets, and discounts on certain restaurants and holidays.