DB tickets - is advance booking no advantage?

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HowardGWR

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I just looked at booking some tickets from (in this case) Erfurt to Leipzig for a return on the same day. Cheapest was €14 non-refundable for specific day and trains on the slow trains (not ICE), but 'open' tickets were very expensive, as they are here. I did so for two months hence, when we will need them. I then had the idea to see what would be the case if I asked for later today for the same journeys. Exactly the same price options were quoted, so it doesn't seem worthwhile booking in advance.

Does this mean that DB doesn't do fancy advance prices, using yield management software, as ATOC and Airlines do?
 
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gordonthemoron

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DB does advance (Sparpreis) tickets on EC, IC & ICE trains. There are no advance fares on DB Regio trains where the fares are controlled by the state government
 

30907

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As far as I can see, there are several recent changes which have benefitted you.

1. On the IC/E front, Sparpreis tickets are now available only a few hours in advance, and 19 Euros in the minimum price. This is a response to coach deregulation.
In addition, the trains now run non stop which will have reduced loadings East of Erfurt.

2. With the opening of the high speed line, services on the classic route have been significantly upgraded, and the new RE service Erfurt-Leipzig is a beneficiary in speed (there was previously a long wait at, I think, Weissenfels, to let the ICEs pass) and comfort.
The market in ex DDR territory is particularly price-sensitive and it's not surprising that people will opt for 23 Euros return on a Thüringen ticket!

3. For single journeys there's a new off peak single ticket called Regio 120 or 120+ which is confined to Thüringen, Sachsen and Sachsen-Anhalt (I'd not seen any reference's to it before). Reason - see above!

Overall, the answer is, you'very chosen lucky (not only in staying in Erfurt...).

Generally on DB the situation is unchanged, and Sparpreis tickets on some routes aren't much of a bargain even when they are first on sale! There are plenty of grumbles on German websites about that.
 
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HowardGWR

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These are very helpful replies. Having taken on board about the bus competition, I just wonder if similar reductions (as I understand they are) are available in the old GDR areas.

I am a DB 'online customer' so I suppose i could do some research on this. What I did note, was the enormous difference in 'advance', (even if only a few hours before) and buying a 'flexi ticket' (like 4 times higher !). Presumably, DB has not awoken to this new situation, as I cannot imagine anyone gratuitously paying for something for which there is no benefit in doing so.
 

30907

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These are very helpful replies. Having taken on board about the bus competition, I just wonder if similar reductions (as I understand they are) are available in the old GDR areas.

If you mean on ICE/IC, the EUR19 starting price is available up to 250km (Erfurt to Leipzig is 120), and I got one from Stuttgart to Waldshut (which is in the old GFR/BRD,) last year at fairly short notice, and there are plenty of others. Within the old GDR/DDR I'm sure there are plenty.

There are also sundry more restrictive IC/E offers which are shorter term and don't allow use of connecting Regional trains (which I think is one of the best things about DB Sparpreis).

If you mean the Regio 120 etc, I don't think they are available anywhere else (as yet?), but in any case a Land Ticket is almost always even better value.
 

Bletchleyite

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DB's fare structure is essentially very similar to the UK one with the exception of train categories, the Bahncard, oddities like the Wochenendticket and the fact that they don't have off peak walk up fares, there being only one walk-up any-train fare somewhere between the two UK fares.
 

HowardGWR

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The only thing that annoys me, as an EU ex-pat, is that I can't use my euro account online, as you have to use a bank card of one that has its head office in Germany, even if you are paying in euros. As mine is Dutch, I will perhaps investigate using the NS International site for German tickets in future.

I know we europhiles are are seen as a strange breed here, but I do wonder how many families, like mine, are now inter-bred and thoroughly 'europeanised', want the euro, want Schengen, and tax harmonisation, etc, etc. Rant over, that feels a bit better. :)
 

HowardGWR

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When did that change? I've bought tickets online from DB using a UK Visa card before on more than one occasion.

Yes but that meant you actually paid in pounds and it was converted to euros (with a hidden cost). If your fare was quoted in pounds, then vice versa, but always a cost. I have a Dutch bank account and if my fare is in euros, i pay in euros. Whilst in Germany shortly, all my hotel bills will be paid in the euros that the costs are specified in.
 

Bletchleyite

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Yes but that meant you actually paid in pounds and it was converted to euros (with a hidden cost). If your fare was quoted in pounds, then vice versa, but always a cost. I have a Dutch bank account and if my fare is in euros, i pay in euros. Whilst in Germany shortly, all my hotel bills will be paid in the euros that the costs are specified in.

Oh, I see, you mean you can't avoid dynamic currency conversion but you can make the transaction? That is annoying; when offered it as an option I *always* decline.
 

sheff1

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Yes but that meant you actually paid in pounds and it was converted to euros (with a hidden cost). If your fare was quoted in pounds, then vice versa, but always a cost.

I am not sure I understand this. I always book DB tickets with a UK Visa card and pay the quoted euro amount. Naturally, my Visa card bill is in £, but the conversion rate from the euro is always better than if I were to wander into a Bureau de Change and seek to change physical currency. What is the "cost" to which you refer ?
 

LNW-GW Joint

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I am not sure I understand this. I always book DB tickets with a UK Visa card and pay the quoted euro amount. Naturally, my Visa card bill is in £, but the conversion rate from the euro is always better than if I were to wander into a Bureau de Change and seek to change physical currency. What is the "cost" to which you refer ?

The 2% or thereabouts your UK Visa/MasterCard charges to put the euro transaction on your account in sterling.
Cheaper than bureau de change maybe, but more than the "free" of euro card holders.
 

Quakkerillo

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I am currently visiting a friend in Germany, and we talked about this yesterday.
Something he said;
If you use a combination of trains (IC/EC/ICE) as well as regional trains (RE/RB), it's often cheaper to buy the IC/EC/ICE tickets as Sparpreis, and then buy separate tickets for the RE/RB at regular price.
An example was Aachen-Stuttgart; total "Sparpreis" was €50, whereas the sparpreis for Köln-Stuttgart was €14, and basic ticket Aachen-Köln €17,50. So it's cheaper to also use split tickets here sometimes.
 

30907

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When did that change? I've bought tickets online from DB using a UK Visa card before on more than one occasion.

I think Howard might be referring to paying by Bank transfer not credit card? - it's standard in Germany.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I am currently visiting a friend in Germany, and we talked about this yesterday.
Something he said;
If you use a combination of trains (IC/EC/ICE) as well as regional trains (RE/RB), it's often cheaper to buy the IC/EC/ICE tickets as Sparpreis, and then buy separate tickets for the RE/RB at regular price.
An example was Aachen-Stuttgart; total "Sparpreis" was €50, whereas the sparpreis for Köln-Stuttgart was €14, and basic ticket Aachen-Köln €17,50. So it's cheaper to also use split tickets here sometimes.

Sounds like one of the special offers I was referring to at that price, but the point about splitting is certainly true.
 

radamfi

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The 2% or thereabouts your UK Visa/MasterCard charges to put the euro transaction on your account in sterling.
Cheaper than bureau de change maybe, but more than the "free" of euro card holders.

Then use a credit/debit card that doesn't levy such charges. If you primarily live in the UK and earn in GBP then it is probably better to use a bank card that doesn't charge foreign exchange fees than opening an Euro account that probably has annual fees to run it. If you need a Euro account for other reasons then fair enough.
 

sheff1

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The 2% or thereabouts your UK Visa/MasterCard charges to put the euro transaction on your account in sterling.
Cheaper than bureau de change maybe, but more than the "free" of euro card holders.

I still don't understand the point being made about a "cost". If I go into a commission-free bureau de change and ask for €120 I will pay £100. If I buy €120 worth of tickets from DB on the same day then, when the transaction appears on my Visa account, I will be billed around £98.50. I am paying less, in pounds, so where is the "cost" or a 2% charge ?
 

radamfi

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I still don't understand the point being made about a "cost". If I go into a commission-free bureau de change and ask for €120 I will pay £100. If I buy €120 worth of tickets from DB on the same day then, when the transaction appears on my Visa account, I will be billed around £98.50. I am paying less, in pounds, so where is the "cost" or a 2% charge ?

Most cards convert the amount into pounds at a rate slightly worse than the "real" exchange rate. That is the charge he is talking about. Some cards don't levy that charge.
 

sheff1

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Most cards convert the amount into pounds at a rate slightly worse than the "real" exchange rate. That is the charge he is talking about. Some cards don't levy that charge.

Ah, thanks for that. So when he says there is "always a cost", there actually isn't ... only if you hold the wrong sort of card :D.
 

radamfi

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commission-free bureau de change

There is no such thing as a "commission-free" bureau de change. They also offer a worse rate than the "real" exchange rate. The difference between their buy and sell rates is called their "spread" and is how they make their money. Places that are not "commission-free" may have a smaller spread and may actually be cheaper in some circumstances, depending on what their commission is.

Most bank cards charge a spread and some charge another fee on top. So it is best to get a card that avoids both types of charge.
 
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Bletchleyite

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I still don't understand the point being made about a "cost". If I go into a commission-free bureau de change and ask for €120 I will pay £100. If I buy €120 worth of tickets from DB on the same day then, when the transaction appears on my Visa account, I will be billed around £98.50. I am paying less, in pounds, so where is the "cost" or a 2% charge ?

"Commission free" just means the commission is hidden in the rate. I personally believe this is wrong - in my view, the rate should be the bank rate, the same in both directions, and any commission paid and itemised separately. My bank now does this, but I do wish the law would require bureaux de change also to do so.
 

sheff1

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Well, at post #17, I thought I understood, but clearly not. All I know is that if I get euros from my 'commission-free' outlet the rate may be, say, 1.20 to a pound. Other outlets will, on the same day, only offer around 1.18 (or even less if you are at the airport) and charge a % commission on top.

I thought the amount used by my bank (say about 1.23/1.24 in this example) was the "real" rate, but it would seem not. Either way, the rate I get on the card is better than anything I have ever seen on the high street, and there are no add on fees, which is why I use the card for the vast majority of my foreign expenditure.

Any advice on getter an even better rate welcome, but we are already way OT.
 
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WestCoast

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If you live in the UK and keen to avoid fees on payments in the euro area (and Switzerland etc) and live/are passing through London or the South East, there is an easy solution. Drop into a branch of Metro Bank with appropriate ID and set up a standard current account. They'll print your card there and than. When I'm making payments in Europe (or online etc), I simply transfer money to that account, there's no fees whatsoever and you get the (usually excellent) MasterCard conversion rate.

There are fee free credit cards as well you can apply for, but I prefer to have a debit card.

I have a German account with the Postbank from my time there but it's dormant as I find the V Pay card doesn't work even in countries where it should (and the bank transfer thing is just a hassle).
 
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HowardGWR

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Just to clear up what I wrote earlier. Due to being an 'ex-pat' who lived in NL for 15 years, I have a Dutch bank account into which, for instance, my Dutch pensions are paid. As a result, wherever I travel in the Euro zone, I can pay my bills in euros and pin to my heart's content. It doesn't matter whether I am in a village in Spain or one in Germany, it's all the same.

So I was disappointed that I could not book online on DB-Bahn as one could only pay in euros if one's bank had its HQ in Germany. A ludicrous restriction, about which I shall complain to DB. Meanwhile, I shall buy tickets locally, as there is clearly no disadvantage, it appears, in doing so, as 'advance' can be the same day, it seems. I don't have a smart phone, but it seems they cater for you, if you have that app.
 

EAD

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I hear you HowardGWR - it annoys me as a EUR account holder in Austria, Germany (and previously Belgium) when you come across a local bank restriction. Still the same applies in the UK e.g. TfL won't accept payment by non UK cards online for regular products as they require a UK registered address (used to drive me nuts when I was in Belgium and using my UK card, but the account address was in Belgium).

Anyhow back on topic. As others have said long-distance trains in Germany have Sparpreis tickets which are tied to a specific train like UK advances. For this route therefore it is from EUR19 for a single for a 44 minute ICE journey, so a return would be EUR38 if both trains are available for EUR19. As you say, a walk up is quite a bit so in this case EUR76 return (but that is fully flexible and allows for refunds etc). More frequent travellers can reduce the cost by 25% or 50% if they have a Bahncard (which is a fixed cost upfront for a year).

Local only trains (RE) take 1h30 and the walk up is EUR24 single. There are a range of regional tickets which are rovers which start from EUR23 and cover this journey, again these are walk up and have off-peak (post 9am) restrictions.

Hope that helps and enjoy.
 
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