Should I buy train tickets from Geneva to Interlaken for 5/20/13 now?

I will be arriving in Geneva Switzerland on 20-May-2013 via EasyJet from Paris. I need a train from Geneva to Interlaken that day. Do these trains sell out quick or should I just wait to buy the tickets when I arrive in Geneva? I can't be delayed going to Interlaken because we have to be there that same day. If I book it online via SBB.com, will that ticket be valid for any trains leaving that day or train specific time only? If my flight is delayed from Paris this could be a problem catching the train I book. Or will my ticket be accepted on the next available train? I just don't want to book now and miss a train.

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2275 posts

I think it would be very unusual that the trains sell out (maybe even unheard of). They show the same price if you travel tomorrow or May 20, 35.5 chf. They run from 8:06 am to 8:06 pm every half hour and at other times earlier or later. The SBB site also says online tickets can only be purchased from 30 days away or less from your departure date, so you can't even but them now. In short, you might as well wait until you arrive in Geneva as there is really no advantage to advance purchase, and they are good only for the day of travel. If one is "sold out" for some strange reason, there will be another one in 30 minutes.

Posted by Nellianne
Lakeland, FL, USA
6 posts

That's great to know thank you so much for your response. I feel at ease now.

Posted by Nellianne
Lakeland, FL, USA
6 posts

Does the train station take MasterCard to purchase the tickets or should I have swiss money instead? Is it wise to have euros exchanged into swiss francs at the Geneva Airport, or should I have this done somewhere else with a better exchange rate? I will be in the Netherlands & Paris before I go to Switzerland. I'm traveling from the USA to the Netherlands but Rick Steves says not to get the money exchanged into euros and francs until I get to Europe. I will be taking a Capital One Mastercard and a Bank of America Visa card but I want to have some cash in case I need it. We arrive in Amsterdam first so maybe that would be the best time to get my cash exchanged into euros & francs, what do you think? We will be traveling for 2-1/2 weeks so I really don't want too much cash in my pocket.

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6716 posts

The agent at the Geneva train station will take your credit card for the tickets. MC will make the conversion. You Capital One card will work better than your BofA card in terms of fees. I'm not aware that BofA has a global partner in Switzerland where you can use your BofA card for no fees. You didn't mention an ATM card. If you have an ATM card and you use a Swiss ATM, you will receive Swiss Francs from the machine and not Euros. Also, it's much, much better to use Swiss Francs where you are going. Yes, many hotels, shops and restaurants will accept Euros but you won't like the conversion rate. They like their Swiss Francs.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2848 posts

Nellianne: To get cash in Europe, use your ATM card at an ATM. This gives the best exchange rate. Don't exchange US cash for local currency except in an emergency (takes time, costs more). You don't need Swiss francs in Amsterdam any more than you need them in the US. So, don't even think about Swiss Francs until you get to Switzerland. Worry about one currency at a time - it's easier and cheaper to get the local currency of each country, in that country, from their ATM's. When you arrive in Amsterdam, there are ATM's in the airport, as well as ALL over town. You then replenish euros as necessary from ATM's in the Netherlands and France. You are right that you shouldn't have too much cash in your pocket at any one time; either put it in a moneybelt (hidden pouch of some kind) or make smaller and more frequent withdrawals (be aware you may be charged per withdrawal). When you leave France, you can spend down your leftover euros by using them to pay your hotel bill (you can put the remainder of the bill on your credit card), or you can save them for future trips, or you can bring them back to the US and sell them to someone else going to Europe. As stated above, even if they are accepted as payment in Switzerland, you do not get a good rate. Once you arrive in Switzerland, you go to a Swiss ATM and get Swiss francs. At the end of the trip, you can use up your Swiss francs at your last hotel, or if you wish, get them changed at the airport to any other hard currency (dollars are of course best if you are not sure where your next trip is, but a friend of mine prefers euros or British pounds, since he knows he will be going to these places). Here's some of Rick's tips about using ATM's in Europe: http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/tips/cash-machine-atm-tips.htm

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2275 posts

Yes they take MC. They will ask if you want transactions in USD of CFH. Take CFH for a slightly better rate.