Renfe AVE from Madrid to Seville

I have read that you can only purchase tickets 62 days in advance but I keep looking anyway and understand that there are major problems in booking thru renfe (as per Ricks' definition of Renfe) Today I made attempts on the site and got all of the way to the credit card processing and then got message that my bank rejected. I have contacted my bank and they can see the transactions.
It appeared that several seats on the train were already taken so I kept trying and got all of the way to what looked like the final step where my cc asked for secure confirmation. My question is, is it really my card or is it too early to book. If it is my bank I can get then on the line while I attempt to book and think they can deal with it, but if it is truly too early to book will back off. I am attempting travel on 1 May 13. Help

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
12666 posts

The way I did the math is that today is more than 62 days from May 1. Second, you may want to use a verified VISA card.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
6096 posts

Renfe has as of yesterday upgraded their website and it appears they do indeed sell tickets more than 62 days ahead. Maybe it is now 90 days. I suggest you register your card with Verified by Visa and try again. That is what Renfe is looking for when the say " contacting your bank". I had no trouble buying our tickets several years ago once I did that.

Posted by Pamela
Niagara Falls, New York, United States
31 posts

Hi Jonathan - if you go to Trip Adviser and put in Madrid:Buying Renfe tickets online, there is a very detailed process - good luck! In the end, my time and patience ran out so I called Rail Europe - they are easy to work with, waived all fees and it was quickly said and done. I may have paid a bit more but it was not exorbitant. Happy Trails, Pam

Posted by Jonathan
Irvington, KY, USA
41 posts

Thanks for the idea, Pamela. After messing with Renfe all day, calling my CC company (VISA) repeatedly, and attempting with various cc's including MC, AMEX as well as 2 visa cards, I conceded defeat. Went to the rail europe site and (after clicking the USA option on the top of the screen) got my tickets. Yes, it did cost a little more, but I got to keep a little more hair. BTW, after various conversations with my Chase Visa card they stated they no longer used Verified by Visa. Again, thanks.

Posted by Meredith
2 posts

I just got two tickets very easily but was not able to get bank approval until I used google chrome. I could not do it with my version of Internet explorer.

Posted by Karen
Colorado Springs
326 posts

I hope Google Chrome will work - none of my CC's use the Verified by Visa any longer - they use a different type system. We'll see - otherwise, I wait and use my Tarjeta Dorada after I get there and hope seats aren't an issue (late April - Barcelona - Madrid).

Posted by Kelly
St Petersburg Florida
951 posts

I tried to book online when cheap tickets were available and got the same notification as you did: contact your bank. I did. They could not figure out why I had such a hard time purchasing tickets. Capital one figured that it was a problem on Spain's end. Capital One even suggested that I verify my credit card; I did and it was rejected. Capital One could not figure that our either. I ended up taking Lola's advice from Seatle to book using a second party website, that gave me the same ticket discount, without any rejection. I do not remember what website I used, but will check in later when I have time to research.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
6096 posts

The "second party" website Kelly mentioned is likely Petrabax, the Spanish travel agency. They are an official agent for Renfe tickets. RailEurope is too, and in the past they have also offered the discounts on the same trains as Renfe. A couple of days ago I checked, and RE was not matching the Proma fares or other discounts. But Petrabax does, as confirmed by another person who bought from them yesterday after experiencing problems with Renfe.

Posted by Miguel
Pembroke Pines, FL, USA
264 posts

Jonathan, can't you just buy them when you get to the station? I've never bought a ticket for any train in the EU ahead of time. I get there and I buy it, look at the board to see when it arrives and leaves, what track it's on, board and leave. IE; if you get to the station and you missed buying the ticket for the train there at the time "don't worry about it", buy the tickets for the next train. No hassle or stress running to get a train. Madrid to Seville is a major route, so I'm sure there are plenty of trains every hour. I love winging it. Don't forget May 1, is their Labor Day and things in Madrid could be closed.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
4721 posts

Miguel: There are three major reasons to buy tickets in advance: 1. Some trains do indeed sell out (the London to Paris Eurostar has been mentioned on this board). 2. Even on major routes, there are not necessarily "plenty of trains every hour." Looking at the Bahn website for February 26 (chosen at random), I see that there are through trains (no changes) between Madrid and Seville at 07:30, 08:30, 09:00, 13:00, 14:00, 16:05, 17:00, 18:00, and 21:30. Nine trains per day means that you will probably get on one of them, but could have to wait a while (note particularly that 9 AM to 1 PM gap). But from Rome to Florence, there are something like 40 fast trains a day, so there's no problem getting one. 3. The fast trains in Europe now use "dynamic pricing," meaning that they are much cheaper bought in advance as non-refundable and non-exchangeable, and get much more expensive closer to the day of travel and/or if you want a flexible ticket. This is certainly true of the AVE that Jonathan wants to take. Of course, other trains are the same price whenever the ticket is purchased. As long as one is aware of these issues, one can indeed "wing it." But it does pay to do research before hand. I like to price a ticket for tomorrow and a ticket for my intended day of travel, to see what the price difference will be (if any). I also like to look at the schedule, so that even if I'm not buying in advance, I have some knowledge of the options or potential problems (many routes have gaps at some point in the day, and Murphy's law dictates that the gap will fall just when I want to take that train).

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
6096 posts

Here is the reason why one might like to buy Renfe tickets in advance: The regular fare on the AVE from madrid to Sevilla is 75,70 euro. That is what you would pay at the station if you buy a ticket for the next raain (unless you have a Tarjeta Dorada or other type of discount). The Promo fare for advance purchase is 22,65 euros. So you save 53 euros on each ticketfor that one. The difference is even greater if you are traveling Madrid to Barcelona. I hope Jonathan got a reasonable price on his tickets from RailEurope. I haven't seen them match the discount fares since the fare straucture change, like they used to. The lowest fare I see for the Madrid to Seville run, looking in May when I know there are discount fares available, is $127 (instead of 22,64 euro Renfe charges for the same train that day).