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Swiss Travel Pass verses Half Fare Travel Card

We will be traveling in Switzerland this May for 8 days. Using the Half Fare card will be $250 less than purchasing the Swiss Travel Pass. We arrived at this difference after looking up each fare we would be using and comparing. I realize the convenience of using the Travel Pass but would like to save the $250. We will be taking some day trips with multiple stops. Are you able to buy your tickets use the Half Fare card for all of the transfers at your starting point?
Example, we are going from Montreux to Lauterbrunnen. We want to take the Golden Pass line from Montruex to Zweisimmen, then onto Interlaken and then Lauterbrunnen. If it is easy to purchase tickets for multiple segments easily, the Half Fare card is our best bet. We will make seat reservations for the Golden Pass segment in advance.
Thanks for your help in advance!

Posted by
732 posts

I can't answer all your questions, but there are many experienced folks here. However, please note that the fares you looked up were most likely already the half-fare price, as it is assumed that most travelers in Switzerland have some type of pass.
Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
11683 posts

You buy the entire journey ( e.g. Montreux to Lauterbrunnen) in one purchase and get a ticket that covers all the segments on the selected route.

On some routes there are Saver tickets available online 30 dYs or less in advance, it I don't know if you can use a Half Fare card on those. Someone else ( like Sam) will know.

Posted by
6441 posts

You get an extra 50% off Super Saver Ticket using a Half Fare Card.
But Super Saver Tickets are non refundable only good for a train departing at a set time on a specific route. For example if you buy a super saver ticket Zurich to Bern for a train departing at 9:00 it can only be used for that specific train and time

Posted by
613 posts

I bought the half fare card for my Best of Switzerland tour that included a couple extra days in Lucerne at the start and a day in Zurich at the end. I think it paid off, but it was close. A big unknown when you buy any ticket in advance is the weather, especially for the Jungfrau and the Schilthorn. The peaks were socked in on the one full day we were in Murren so I didn't go up to either. If I had, I think the half fare card would have paid off more.

Posted by
1653 posts

The easiest way to purchase tickets if you have a smartphone is the SBB app, the app of the Swiss railways. Enter your details, check the half fare card box, buy in a few seconds and show the tickets on the phone to the conductor on the train. For specific routings there's a 'via' option : for Montreux to Lauterbrunnen you'll put in 'via Zweisimmen' and this will let you buy tickets for the full route in one go.

You'll still need to use the MOB website for the seat reservation. The MOB is the private operator of the Golden Pass section.

Posted by
5 posts

Thanks for all of your comments. I did realize that the ticket rises in the SBB site are the half fare but we are looking at $633 for an 8 day 1st class pass. The Half Fare pass at $120 will be a better fit. I used the website MySwissApls.com that has a spreadsheet you can download to compare the fares. Very helpful website as it this one!
Last question.. when you are purchasing tickets via the SBB app, are you limited to a certain train/time or is the ticket good for any train that day or even longer? We have 3 days traveling with luggage and it would be convenient to prepay for those tickets the day before.
Thanks!

Posted by
865 posts

Popping in to say that there is no reason to buy a first class ticket in Switzerland. The second class compartments are sparkling clean and amazing.

Posted by
5 posts

Good point about second class tickets. The only part we might want 1st class would-be on the Golden Pass sections. I wonder if you buy a second class Travel Pass can you upgrade to 1st for some of the segments?
Thanks !

Posted by
11683 posts

Aren't you getting the Half Fare Card? It is a discount card, not a "pass" and it works for both First and Second class tickets.

Posted by
5 posts

I would prefer to get The Swiss Travel Pass because it is easier to use. No tickets to buy. So getting a 2nd class Travel Pass might be close in total cost compared to the Half Fare card and the cost of 1/2 fare tickets.
I would still like to upgrade to 1st class for the Golden Pass portion from Montreux.
Thanks !

Posted by
8715 posts

Buying tickets in Switzerland is about as difficult as using a vending machine. Or if on the app, it only takes a couple of minutes.

As for traveling first class, i did it from Bern to Geneva last year. Two deck train. The upstairs was about half full. I had the downstairs part all to myself. I could move side to side depending on which side had the best scenery. It was the most relaxing train trip I had ever taken.

I also took the Golden Pass in first class and it was less crowded than the rest of the train.

I used the half fare card everywhere. You will have to show it to the conductor when she checks tickets.

But if you want to buy the rail pass, go ahead. It's your trip and your money.

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you for all of the responses. We have decided to buy a 2nd class Travel Pass and upgrade on a few long train trips.
We will start our trip in Paris and will take the TGV-Lyria train to Lausanne to start the Swiss portion of our trip.
Less than 3 months until we head to Paris!

Posted by
24 posts

Just a note - if you know your heavy travel days, you might look at buying Saver Day Passes in conjunction with your Half Fare Cards. That will most likely be cheaper than buying the point to point tickets with it. It was for us anyway.