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Train Discounts

I am so confused with the posts on discounts, gold cards, and, or senior discounts. We feel the pass is the best deal, but we see no discounts with the pass on this website. We are looking at the Spain/Italy pass with 8 total days for about $1000. We will be 2 weeks in each country. We are landing in Madrid and headed to Seville on the AVE. Please, we know the difference is minor between coach and first class, so no need to comment. The one way first class ticket is $134 each. This is why the pass looks so attractive. We read of 25-40% discounts, but do not see them anywhere. We are not heavily itineraried travelers. We like the availability to stay somewhere an extra day, or leave somewhere early. Do we have to buy the gold card in a Madrid train station and then buy our pass. Any suggestions would be appreciated, other than save a few bucks on coach, wife not interested.

Posted by
1178 posts

Tarjeta Dorada - Gold Card for over 60 years old - 25% to 40% discount, depending on the day To get this discount you both need to show your passport at the information desk in the train station. I think the cost is less than ten euros. You can do this on the date of your journey and you will be immediately eligible and receive the discounted price. This allows complete flexibility in your travels. If you purchase the tickets about 60 days in advance, you might get a more substantial discount, but you are locked into the date and time of the journey. You can use the card for as many trips as you wish while you are in Spain. The trains are well maintained and operated, especially the AVE, highspeed, trains.
Check out this trip advisor article: Madrid: Buying Renfe Tickets Online for more information.

Posted by
2979 posts

There aren't discounted passes for seniors. Not from RailEurope or with a Renfe pass either. But you can get 25% to 50% off with the Tarjeta Dorada. If you want flexibility, that is the way to go. Then for Italy buy tickets in advance on Trenitalia if you want them cheap but non-flexible, or just buy as you go and pay full price.

If you think the pass at $1000 for two looks like a good deal, just remember that each train you take, (unless it is a slowpoke Regionale which may not even have first class) will require seat reservations at extra cost, like 10-20 euros extra per seat. And if your journey requires a change of trains, like say Venice to Florence with a change in bologna! you'll need to pay to reserve both trains.

Posted by
4535 posts

Where are you looking at train prices? You can only get the renfe (Spanish Rail) discounts on their website, which is notoriously difficult to navigate and buy tickets from. The tripadvisor Spain forum has a bookmarked thread on how to navigate and buy tickets on renfe, and it includes a description of the various discounts and what they mean. But even using that, sometimes your credit card just won't go through (or it takes many tries).

And be aware that the discounted prices are limited for each train. Once they are sold out, all you will see are the regular prices. If you are traveling soon, it may be that there are no more discounted tickets available.

Posted by
44 posts

Sasha, the pass includes Italy. The pass is for 8 full days, not 8 trips. We also understand if we are getting close to our limit, we should pay cash for shorter hops and use the monthly pass for the longer trips

Posted by
16893 posts

Unfortunately, Rail Europe's web site can't offer Spain's advance-discount tickets this year, so that's one reason why you had trouble finding them. works better if you want to book Spanish advance rates, or the Renfe site also recently announced it would take PayPal (easier than getting credit card approval).

The Tarjeta Dorada is a pretty sweet deal for seniors to buy there for about €5 per person, then buy discounted point-to-point tickets.

With a Spain-Italy pass, most seat reservations are $10-20 per fast train departure. (First class reservations may be higher if a faster Spanish train provides a meal in first, but they really cut back on that program this year.)

Posted by
44 posts

Laura, more confusion, so the Tajeta Dorada is only a discount for point to point, not passes? So, don't buy a pass? seems like it saves money and has more flexibility. So is one day notice OK with point to point? We would rather buy a pass but it is as clear as mud if senior discounts are available on monthly passes

Posted by
7725 posts

There are limited seats available for pass holders on the fast trains that require reservations as well as reservation costs. The day when rail passes saved a ton and made travel easy are long gone.

Posted by
44 posts

I appreciate the suggestions, but still not clear as to pass, point to point, discounts? Buy in advance, buy in Madrid?

Posted by
44 posts

P.S I went to the Petrabax site and the tickets were more expensive the Europe Rail and no discounts.

Posted by
984 posts

I am sorry I have not the inclination to read all which has gone before.

'I appreciate the suggestions, but still not clear as to pass, point to point, discounts? Buy in advance, buy in Madrid?'
.....but you say,
' We like the availability to stay somewhere an extra day, or leave somewhere early.'
If you are not prepared to commit, in advance, you will not get discounts on p-to-p none refundable tickets and have to put up with the price at the station on the day or do the maths to see if whatever pass is the value against purchases on the day.

'I went to the Petrabax site and the tickets were more expensive the Europe Rail and no discounts.' - Well yes, and as all are resellers they will be more expensive than dealing direct with the national rail company RENFE.

Have you at any time read the guide which was suggested in the first response?

Posted by
11294 posts

You seem to be having trouble understanding what people are posting. So, I'll try to repost it as simply as I can.

There are NO senior discounts on passes. Repeat - NO SENIOR DISCOUNTS ON PASSES. The pass prices you see on Rick Steves website are the prices.

The senior discounts are only on single tickets, once you buy a Tarjeta Dorada.

If you buy a discount ticket in advance, you are committing to a SPECIFIC train. You CANNOT change these tickets once they're bought; that's why they are cheaper.

If you do buy an advance purchase discount ticket, it is cheaper than using the senior discount. But a senior discount ticket doesn't need to be bought so far in advance, so you're not committing to a specific train until you know your travel plans for sure.

If you want flexibility, you should NOT buy advance purchase tickets.

When people say a pass is always a rip-off, they are specifically comparing it to advance purchase tickets. Since you have stated you want flexibility, the price of advance purchase discount tickets is irrelevant for you. Instead, you need to look at the price of a pass, vs. the price of tickets bought in Spain with a Tarjeta Dorada.

If you want more specific advice about which option is best for you, you need to post all the trains you are definitely taking and the ones you may take, so people can help you compare prices. Otherwise, no one can say which option will be best for you.

Posted by
44 posts

"You seem to be having trouble understanding what people are posting" not at all, several people have mentioned getting discounts on passes, but not on line. Easy with the CAPS, N.Y.

Posted by
22986 posts

I refreshed this so you can see the earlier and excellent answers that you have received.

You cannot get a senior discount on a railroad pass. You can only get discount on point to point tickets under certain conditions.