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My Swiss Travel Pass Purchase Experience

I just purchased the Swiss Travel Pass (STP) for my 2 week trip. I will arrive in Switzerland on Wednesday. I chose to purchase using my desktop computer using this website:

https://shop.switzerlandtravelcentre.com

This is a site that is partially owned by the SBB, the Swiss train company. I chose to use this site due to reports of easier credit card transactions from the USA. The main SBB site apparently sometimes rejects US credit cards due to an enhanced security measure used by the SBB site.

I had already made the decision that I wanted to splurge and get the 15-day 1st Class STP.

Being from the USA, the above website defaulted me to USD pricing. The USD price is $824. Up in the right corner of the website, it allows you to change the pricing to Swiss francs (CHF). When you do that, the price become 675 CHF. Using online currency conversion tools, 675 CHF currently equals a little more than $757. So using CHF instead of USD to do the purchase would save about $67.

I initiated the process and filled in all the information. When it came time to pay, I was once again presented with an option to pay 675 CHF or in USD. However, this time, the USD that was quoted was only $799. It indicated there was an included 3% fee. Since I was still presented with the choice to pay in CHF or USD. I continued by selecting CHF since I wanted to let my credit card do the currency conversion and not the website.

The site then prompted me for my credit card information. I use a CapitalOne Mastercard, since it has no foreign transaction fees. After entering my credit card info, a CapitalOne window popped up indicating they would send me a text message to confirm my purchase. I got the text message and entered the 6-digit code that the message sent me into the computer to confirm my payment. Seconds later, CapitalOne sent me a text message indicating the transaction had been completed. Then the website confirmed it as well. CapitalOne placed a currency converted charge for $759.01 on my card. This was a little bit more than the online tools showed the conversion rate to be, but very close. And certainly better than paying $799 or $824.

Within a minute or so, I received 2 emails from the website. One indicating that the order was received and being processed. Then the processed order email came thru with 2 links in it.

The first link took me to a generated PDF file from SBB that I downloaded and printed out. It contains all the STP dates and class info as well as a scannable QR code. I printed 2 copies of this to bring with me. I also saved that PDF file to my cloud storage and made sure a copy was downloaded to my Files application on my phone.

The second link was for downloading the pass to my iPhone Wallet app. So I opened this link from my phone email. It generated the pass and had a button to allow me to download it directly to my Wallet app. I did this and now have a scannable QR code in my phone Wallet for quick access. I plan on primarily using this method on trains when I need to show my pass to train personnel. I don't want to have to dig out the paper copy unless needed. The email instructions say this works for Android phones too, but you must be sure to download the Wallet app. The Wallet app is pre-installed on iPhones.

Note: I also have the SBB app installed on my phone and I had previously created an online account with SBB using the email address that I used for purchasing my STP. As of one hour after purchasing the STP, there is no indication in my SBB app that I have the STP. Maybe it will show up at some point. Some people indicate that an STP QR code shows up in the Tickets & Travelcards tab of the SBB app if you purchase the STP using the same email address. However, I suspect that might only be the case if you purchase directly from the SBB main website. I really don't care if it shows up in my SBB app since I have it in my iPhone Wallet app.

Posted by
2713 posts

Thanks for the detailed explanation. This will be very helpful for those unfamiliar with the purchase process.

There is no need to worry about the Pass not being in the SBB app as you have printed copies and QR copies on your phone. As far as I know, when purchasing from the travel center, as I do, there is no way to get the Pass into the SBB app. I haven’t tried to figure it out though as I also always have printed copies and the QR code in my apple wallet.

I prefer using the paper version as I can just set it on the train table along with a copy of my passport (some conductors will ask for ID when using the Pass, so have it ready). You never know when the conductor will come by, and I hate fiddling with my phone to pull up the Pass while they are standing there waiting.

Glad you splurged on the 1st class as it will be less crowded and more room for luggage.

Have a great trip!!! Sept. is a great time to be in Switzerland.

Posted by
10245 posts

Excellent report, Pirate. Very helpful.

It's very smart to have printed copies. Two of us have lost our data connections while in Switzerland.

I had to reinitialize my data and reset bluetooth, data, and internet connections when I got home to France. The other person, who lives in the Netherlands, automatically regained her data when she arrived home in the Netherlands. Note that we both had European phones, not North American phones. But after that snafu, I'll always have paper back up whenever I go to Switzerland.

Posted by
4897 posts

You don't need data access when the STP is in your Apple Wallet.
Another alternative is to take a screen shot of the pass, making sure the QR vide is clearly visible. Screen shots are saved in your photos, and you don't need data to access your photos.
Have an incredible trip in this beautiful country. Thanks for sharing !

Posted by
364 posts

Another option is saving passes to the Dropbox app which you can easily access offline. No data nor wifi needed. We did this with our Half-fare and Berner Oberland passes and it was extremely easy to scan the QR code at cable cars and for the conductor on trains last week.

Posted by
37 posts

I am the original poster. I thought I’d add an update while I’m sitting on the train from Lucerne to Bern. I arrived in Switzerland yesterday with my now active STP in my Apple Wallet. It worked fine for the ride from the Zürich Airport to Lucerne. I explored Old Town Lucerne in the afternoon. Today, the weather is a bit rainy and overcast. Mt. Pilatus is fogged and cloudy, so I won’t likely be going there as I was planning. So I decided to use my STP and take a train to Bern for at least part of the day. It is 1 hour away. I walked to the train station and realized I had left my paper copy of my STP in my hotel. But I wasn’t worried as I had it in my iPhone Wallet. However, when I looked in the app, my pass was missing. It was gone. So I hustled back to my hotel for my paper pass. I still had a copy of a PDF version on the phone, but I was now nervous about it and I had time to get the paper copy.

When I got back to the train station, I looked closer at the Wallet app and noticed clear at the bottom of all my passes, cards, ids, etc. was a link to expired passes. My STP was in that list. It had a button to Unhide it. So I Unhid it and it returned to the main Wallet screen.

It seems that the app doesn’t deal well with a pass that lasts more than one day. In order to verify it still worked from the wallet app, I made sure to use it on my trip to Bern. Sure enough it works fine still. So…. If your pass goes missing from the Wallet app, scroll down and look in the Expired Pass section and unhide it.

And, by the way, I have been asked for my Passport both times I’ve used my pass so far. Some people are showing drivers licenses and they have been fine too.