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Swiss Travel Pass (plan 1) vs Swiss Transfer Ticket w/Half Fare Card Combi (plan 2)

We are an 80 year old couple arriving ZRH late Sept. and continuing directly to Murren for 3 days of Alpine vistas. Thanks to Rick's details and with help from SBB website, we've made a fairly accurate spread sheet for our transit expenses (including all anticipated sightseeing trips) while in Switzerland. Plan 1 will cost us about $100. more per person than plan 2. Questions: Are there any distinct advantages why we should use plan 1 at $200. extra cost vs plan 2? Are there any distinct disadvantages to plan 2 in order to save $200.?
Are both plans' ticketing available at ZRH train station ticket counter staffed by personnel? (Afraid to ticket from machine!)
Besides expected more roomy seats, what are some differences between first and second class train travel? Do they recline more? Do they have foot rests? Larger windows? More space for carry-ons? Anything else to help decide what class ticket to buy?
Credit Suisse MAY have staffed branch bank at ZRH according to airport directory. Will it be open on Sunday, Sept. 25? If open, are we better off getting CHFs inside the bank OR will we get the the same exchange rate from a Credit Suisse ATM?
Thank you Forum Readers for helping with these queries. Barb and Dick

Posted by
7205 posts

Plan 1 Swiss Travel Passes are the primo travel pass within Switzerland. You simply hop on/off any train any time and get off anywhere you like - therefore it costs more for all of that added convenience. Plan 2 with the HFC will require you to stop at the station (or ticket kiosk) and purchase tickets for each trip you take. Each of those tickets will be 1/2 price because you'll have the HFC. But since you have to buy tickets every time you want to travel then it's not as convenient and therefore a bit cheaper.

1) Added Convenience = higher price
2) Bit more work to buy tickets for each trip = lower price.

Buying tickets for each trip is not a big deal at all. You have to decide what's best for you.

Posted by
2818 posts

Train seats do not re line, so there is no difference between first and second class in that respect. First class is quieter and less crowded---on a train with no reserved seats, that can make a difference.

Posted by
8 posts

As a senior myself I purchased plan 1 for the extra amount. Not having to stop at a ticket counter each time to buy a ticket was worth the convenience. Also, you will get on all buses, trams and most cable cars with this pass. You will also get into most museums with the pass for no additional cost. I purchased our plans here and when we arrived in Zurich we went to the ticket counter in basement train station of the airport to activate with the agent. Above Murren you may need to pay 1/2 of the fare to go higher up the mountain. This is easily done.

You don't need 1st class seating. 2nd class is very nice. Although the handling of luggage will be easier in 1st class.

Just go the ATM if the bank is closed and when prompted to convert transaction in US dollars or to remain in Swiss currency, keep the transaction in Swiss currency. You will avoid an additional currency charge this way.

You are traveling to some beautiful country. I really hope this helps you fully enjoy your time.

Posted by
111 posts

Hello,

I debated this same issue for a long time before our trip. I ended up choosing the Swiss Travel Pass and was very happy with the decision. I bought the passes from home a few weeks before travel. The convenience was great and allowed us to do some excursions we might have opted out of if we'd had to pay at the time.

I'm still dreaming of the sound of cowbells from the Alps - enjoy!!!

Posted by
16499 posts

People are happy with the Swiss Travel Pass afterward because they have nothing to compare it with. They spent the money and they were happy. But is a bit of convenience worth $100 per/p? You decide.
As far as 1st class vs 2nd class. the longest you will sit on a train will be 1 hour between Zurich airport and Bern, where you will change to a train to Interlaken Ost. A bit more room for 85 CHF per/p? Again, you decide. I'd save for other things in Switzerland, all of which are absurdly expensive. But all of the world's kleptocrats seem to want hold their assets in Swiss Francs and own property in Switzerland. So the Swiss National Bank is powerless to hold them back.

Posted by
7205 posts

It used to be the case that there were fewer people in 1st class than in 2nd so not only were the 1st class seats larger there were more of them. This past June the 1st class cars were about as full as the 2nd class on the trains we rode.

Posted by
4 posts

Many thanks for your comments. One thing stated both by Tim and James has me confused. From their comments, I interpret we must buy a separate ticket for each segment of our journey from ZRH to Murren even if we buy a Swiss Transfer Ticket. By definition, "ticket" being singular led me to assume we purchase ONE TICKET at ZRH to cover our entire journey to Murren. SBB sets forth specific schedules, train numbers, all transfers and modes of transport for this trip and I thought the "ticket" would be issued at ZRH for the entire journey. If we must buy separate tickets at a station for the next segment, it would be impossible for us to follow the SBB timetable since there wouldn't be enough time to make connections. If you can, PLEASE CLARIFY the conditions for the Swiss Transfer TICKET. (The Travel Pass is certainly superior if in fact the Transfer Ticket is NOT for an entire trip.) As for the Half-Fare Card, it will be used for sightseeing to/from Murren. Also, it seems 2nd class is adequate for our short trips.
Barb and Dick

Posted by
5697 posts

I'm guessing you also checked the cost of individual point-to-point tickets. For our upcoming trip (enter at Lausanne, directly to Murren, hikes and Schilthorn trip, return to Lausanne) I calculate that there's very little difference between point-to-point (with and without half fare card), transfer ticket and transfer+half fare. Obviously, if we were planning to do the Jungfrau the half-fare card would be a no-brainer addition, but I'll leave that to younger under-65's.

Posted by
16499 posts

I interpret we must buy a separate ticket for each segment of our journey from ZRH to Murren even if we buy a Swiss Transfer Ticket.

No, you don't need multiple tickets. Follow the instructions as stated, among them:

Please sign your ticket before beginning your journey and present it to the conductor together with your passport or identity card.

Read all of the details at:
http://www.sbb.ch/en/leisure-holidays/holidays--short-breaks-in-switzerland/swisstravelsystem/swiss-transfer.html

Also, you must purchase the Transfer Ticket before you enter Switzerland. That is not the case for the Swiss Travel Pass or the 30-day Half Fare Card, which can be bought at the railway station when you arrive.

You can use any bank-owned ATM and get the same exchange rate. But your bank may have a relationship with Credit Suisse that waves YOUR bank's out-of-network usage fee. Decline any offer to do the transaction in USD. It will be cheaper to do the transaction in CHF and let the banks decide the exchange rate. After all, CHF will be the currency that comes out of the ATM. You will only know the exact exchange rate when you check your bank on-line or when you get your statement, but it will be better than if you do it in USD. This is a recent little way for the bank to make extra money from you called Dynamic Currency Exchange, or DCE. Again. do not accept it.

Posted by
2239 posts

My husband and I are making a similar trip in September -- arriving from Italy, staying four nights in Murren, then traveling to Paris on day 5. I made a spreadsheet with all the options including the Berner Oberland Pass. Buying the Half Fare Card was slightly cheaper than individual tickets. If we decide to go to the Schilthorn (doubtful because we were there two years ago) or the Jungfraujoch (doubtful due to the time and expense to get there), the Half Fare Card will save a significant amount of money.

Like you, I found the 4-day Swiss Pass would cost about $100 more per person than the Half Fare Card. I debated about getting it anyway because of the convenience of not having to buy tickets for four days. But then I realized that on the three full days we would be in Murren we would be going above Murren or Wengen to hike, which means we would still have to buy tickets since the Swiss Pass is not good for transportation above those two villages (though you do get a discount on the tickets). It just seemed stupid to pay an extra $100 each for a slight convenience.

I ended up getting the Swiss Transfer Ticket and Half Fare Card. The Transfer Ticket covers our transportation from Italy to Murren and from Murren to Paris -- just the Switzerland portions of those journeys-- so we don't have to buy tickets those days. For our three days in Murren, we will use the Half Fare Card, which will save us a little bit (or a lot if we end up going to the Schilthorn or Jungfraujoch).

On our trip two years ago, we found the Swiss Pass was great, but we were there longer and visited cities with museums and local transportation, so it paid off. When we were in Murren and had to buy tickets to go to the Schilthorn or to take the funicular, we found it was quick and easy. As someone else noted, you'll find better uses for that extra $100 in Switzerland.

Also, second class is totally fine.