Swiss Flexi-Pass, Buy Here or There?

My hubby and I will be purchasing the 5-day Swiss Flexi-Pass for our trip in July. Should I purchase them from the U.S. in advance or wait until we arrive at the Basel train station (after our flight)? If we purchase there, can we buy with our credit card? If we pay in cash, must it be in Swiss Francs? Thanks for the input...I want to make sure we have enough local if we decide to purchase them there in cash. One last question: Can I pick up the Swiss Family Card there or must I get that here? (We have 3 children.) Thanks a bunch!

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

You can use a credit card to buy the passes in Switzerland, but why not buy them here? It will save you time and money. The Saver price for each 5- day Flexi Passon this website is $333. If you buy it in Switzerland, the prices 309 CHF ( about $339) PLUS whatever foreign transaction fee your credit charges. If you buy iron this website, you get free shipping, the Family Card, and a 20% off coupon touse in the Travel Store, which is great if you need any luggage or travel accessories.

Posted by Pam
SF Bay Area, CA, USA
77 posts

Thanks, Lola, that is exactly the response I was looking for. I didn't realize it cost more to purchase there, so I will purchase them via the RS website as you suggest.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

It only costs more there if the currency exchange works out that way. And actually I misstated the converted price. I used $1.10 for the Swiss franc,,which is what it has been for a while. But I checked just now and the franc is down to $1.058 or so. So that 309 CHF pass comes out to $327, not $339. But that could change any day, and could well be back up to $1.10 by the time you arrive in Switzerland. And you still have to add the foreign transaction fee for every purchase in Swiss francs. That won't apply if you buy the passes here in dollars. We have made four trips to Switzerland so far, and I always buy the passes here before we go. Then we don't have to spend time fooling with it what you get there, although you still have to stop at the agent window to get them validated before the first time you use them. If you are flying in to Zurich and just taking the train to Zurich for your first stop, don't use up a " pass day" for that, as it is an expensive trip. But make sure you buy tickets before boarding the train,mas there are stiff fines for riding without a ticket. Ask the agent if the FamilynCard will give free passage for your children if you are traveling with tickets rather than the pass. I believe it should count, but maybe not until the passes have actually been activated.

Posted by Pam
SF Bay Area, CA, USA
77 posts

Lola, you are a wealth of knowledge! We are flying from Rome to Basel and heading straight to Interlaken for 4 nights and we're planning take the mountain lifts and hike around for the full 3 days we are there. After that we are planning to take the train from Switzerland to Paris. I thought we would need a 5-day Swiss Flexi-Pass, but maybe a 4-day Flexi-Pass is better and we should just purchase tickets on our last day out? Also, do you know which is the fastest way (TGV) to Paris? I think it's Basel based on my research. Thanks for all your help!

Posted by Larry
Elk Grove, CA, USA
6718 posts

Children under 16 can ride free with the Swiss family card as long as they are with one parent or grandparent with any vaild Swiss train ticket for that run. It doesn't have to be a Swiss pass or card.

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

Pam, for staying in Interlakennand riding lifts to hike, you should consider the 3-day Flex Pass. The discount on lifts like the Schilthorn, Allmendhubel, Mannlichen, etc.,is 50% regardless whether you are using a " pass day" or not, because a Flex pass offers a 50% discount on "off days". That is, between the first and last day of use, it operates as a Half Fare card. So you would use Day 1 and Day3 of the pass days to travel,to and from Basel, use Day2 on the pass for your longest travel day ( maybe going over to Grindelwald to ride the First gondola and ride TrottiBikes or hike to the Bachalpsee, or another longer travel day, maybe a boat trip on the lake). The lifts and trains will be 50% off on you other two days at Interlaken ( except for the Jungfraujoch train,, which is only 25% off even on a Pass Day). For travel to Paris, look on SBB for discount tickets 2 to 3 months in advance. The website will take into account your Flex Pass: under Swiss Pass options choose "GA Switzerland" which means General Abonnement or full price reduction. Then it should offer two prices, a regular price and a Special Offer price which is much less for the TGV portion from Basel to Paris. (And yes, that is the fastest route to Paris from Interlaken).

Posted by Pam
SF Bay Area, CA, USA
77 posts

Lola,
I'm on the SBB site right now. There are several options for reductions and I think I need to choose the one "GA 2.cl 1 year/GA subscription" is that correct? For my kids, do I select any reductions? Do you know the advantages to book tickets via the SBB site versus the TGV site? Thanks for all your help!

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
5444 posts

Yes, you would choose "GA 2.cl 1 year/GA subscription". That gives you the Swiss portion for free with your pass. You will need tickets for the children too (use the -down menu to add them and put in their ages). They travel for free on the Family Card so you would use the same choice for their tickets. But do compare to the price on TGV for the Basel to Paris section. It may be less, will certainly bbe simpler, and you can still use the last day on your Flex Pass/Family Cards to go from Interlaken to Basel. Now, are you really staying in Interlaken? Did you consider Lauterbrunnen, or Wengen, or Mürren? Interlaken is not "in" the mountains. Lauterbrunnen is only a 25-minute train ride away, but it is a different world-a valley that looks a lot like Yosemite, with cliffs and waterfalls. WEngen and Mürren are perched up above the valley on either side, with gorgeous views and hiking right from our door.

Posted by Pam
SF Bay Area, CA, USA
77 posts

We are on a tight budget, and we wanted to stay up in the mountains but I couldn't find a reasonably-priced option. We prefer apartments with kitchen and laundry facilities. We found one in Wilderswil on vrbo with great reviews for about $200/night for the 5 of us. My kids are 13, 11, and 10. If you know of another option for us up in the mountains, I will check it out! Thanks!

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8756 posts

See if Denise at Chalet Fontana in Muerren can help you. She has 2 very reasonably prices apartments which fit the bill. The older apartment comes with breakfast at the guesthouse and tons of really good walking information in the living room of the main guesthouse. Denise is a font of knowledge (and a pretty good runner). Look out the windows and touch the mountains just across the valley!!!