I just was able to book my Swiss Rail Tickets using a brand new American Express Card - it was the only thing which worked!
I attempted the purchase at different times and dates - including business hours in Switzerland.
After trying numerous credit and debit cards from Visa & Master Card, I came to the conclusion that it was Swiss Rail which was rejecting the charges. The credit card companies confirmed there was no block on my account, I had sufficient credit available, and that they'd never received the inquiry from Swiss Rail.
Tried calling Swiss Rail on my international calling SIM card, and also on Skype - calls were rejected.
I saw that American Express was an option, so went down to a local CVS and filled an American Express debit card with $500 cash ... alas, that didn't work.
Went to the American Express web site, selected a card which didn't have an annual charge, and was approved earlier in the week. The card just came in, and after jumping through some flaming hoops, was able to book travel ... and got the super saver rates too!
So ... if you're unable to use your Visa or Master Card to purchase Swiss Rail tickets ... use your American Express or immediately apply for the least expensive card.
FROM SWISS RAIL
It is not possible to use your payment card for bookings on SBB.ch. We recommend that you use a different payment card or that you purchase your tickets at your nearest railway station ticket office.
We cannot determine the reason why your credit card was declined. It can happen that we reject credit card transactions for reasons of security. This action is primarily intended to protect the card holder.
If you received notice that your credit card was declined you must call your credit card company directly.
If you want to order your tickets by phone over the Rail Service, the number for foreign countries is +41 512 257 800 .
You have also other possibilitys to purchased tickets.
- for journeys within Switzerland: purchase the ticket using our app SBB Mobile for your smartphone (www.sbb.ch/en/mobile)
- purchase the tickets at a SBB railway station in Switzerland