Do you need a Rail Card at the time of Buying a Discounted Ticket

Willie Bee

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I am thinking about getting a senior railcard but will only be using it for the first time in April.

I would like to buy my ticket in advance but was wondering whether I actually need the card at the time of buying the ticket (online) or would it be OK to get it nearer my date of travel.

Toi get it now just seems a waste of two months

thank you
 
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MarlowDonkey

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I would like to buy my ticket in advance but was wondering whether I actually need the card at the time of buying the ticket (online) or would it be OK to get it nearer my date of travel.
If you buy on-line, no checks are made that you actually have a Railcard when you tick the box. Even on the actual journey, someone obviously over 60 might not be always be asked to show their card.
 

80sGuard

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To confirm what MarlowDonkey said, there are no checks made when buying online. I qualify for a Senior Railcard next month, but purchased two advance singles at the railcard rate, for travel after my 60th birthday, back in January. Bear in mind that the Railcard website has been problematic recently, so you (and I) might have to go to a station to get the Railcard itself.
 

AlbertBeale

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Many thanks 'MarlowDonkey' and '80sGuard' ... you both confirmed what I had hoped was the answer.
Ticket offices have sometimes asked me to show a railcard when buying a railcard-discounted ticket, but often not. If they have asked, and I say I don't have it with me, then they're known to issue the tickets regardless, sometimes. They've seemed unclear as to what the rule might be.

I've never tried to do this with an Advance ticket (as opposed to just buying another sort of ticket in advance for convenience), but logically, if it is for Advance ticket - using a railcard for which you're not yet eligible, or which you don't want to waste eligibility of by buying it before you actually travel - then surely, you ought to be able to do this via any sales route including a ticket office; you shouldn't need to go online to "play the system".
 

LNW-GW Joint

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You only need a railcard when you travel.
Buying on line or at an ATM you are not asked for the card details.

Unlike in Spain where the equivalent railcard (Tarjeta Dorada) is numbered and you have to insert the number into the Renfe web site to get the discounted fare.
 

yorkie

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As others have said, book online and you definitely don't need to have the Railcard at the time of purchase; other advantages to booking online include the ability to books specific seat from a seat selector (for trains that are reservable).
 

80sGuard

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Sorry to bounce this thread, but I applied for my Senior Railcard online on 28 February. I received an email confirming the order at 11:24, with a further email timed at 12:48 to say the card was in the post. Congratulations to the National Railcard people.

Reading the FAQ's there is this under the heading 'Buying Online':

Can I buy tickets at a discounted rate before my Railcard arrives?
A: No. You must carry your Railcard with you on any journey where you have bought discounted tickets with the Railcard. Therefore, if you buy discounted Railcard tickets before you receive your Railcard, you do this at your own risk.
 

jfollows

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Reading the FAQ's there is this under the heading 'Buying Online':

Can I buy tickets at a discounted rate before my Railcard arrives?
A: No. You must carry your Railcard with you on any journey where you have bought discounted tickets with the Railcard. Therefore, if you buy discounted Railcard tickets before you receive your Railcard, you do this at your own risk.
I read this as "No. But yes". It is very badly worded, so bad as to be completely contradictory and therefore meaningless.

I will myself be buying a Senior railcard in 2021 and will have no qualms buying but not using discounted tickets prior to its validity.
 

Starmill

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You cannot buy a railcard to commence before the date on which you become eligible for one, obviously. You also generally cannot buy one more than one month in advance.

This means that there are legitimate situations for saying that you require, for example, an Advance ticket with Senior Railcard discount, for a journey in three months time, but that you cannot show a railcard. The ticket should be sold in such circumstances.

You also cannot renew more than a month in advance, so if you're an existing railcard holder booking three months out with a railcard that expires before you're due to travel, again, the ticket should just be sold.

Easy way for the ticket office to deal with this is to stamp tickets with Conditions Advised.
 

Ianno87

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Sorry to bounce this thread, but I applied for my Senior Railcard online on 28 February. I received an email confirming the order at 11:24, with a further email timed at 12:48 to say the card was in the post. Congratulations to the National Railcard people.

Reading the FAQ's there is this under the heading 'Buying Online':

Can I buy tickets at a discounted rate before my Railcard arrives?
A: No. You must carry your Railcard with you on any journey where you have bought discounted tickets with the Railcard. Therefore, if you buy discounted Railcard tickets before you receive your Railcard, you do this at your own risk.
I read that as "Be aware that your Railcard may not turn up before you require it to travel with". i.e. "my Railcard hasn't arrived yet" isn't a valid excuse.

(The subtext being to order it in plenty of time before requiring it).
 

jfollows

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The FAQs should say one of:

  • No. A valid railcard must be held in order to buy discounted tickets. (Which becomes another of the many unenforceable rules which the railway likes to invent)
  • Yes. A valid railcard needs to be presented alongside the discounted tickets when they are used.
or some variation of that with even better wording! I think the better and more accurate answer is the "yes" one.
 

jfollows

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I read that as "Be aware that your Railcard may not turn up before you require it to travel with". i.e. "my Railcard hasn't arrived yet" isn't a valid excuse.

(The subtext being to order it in plenty of time before requiring it).
Yes, but in which case the FAQ response shouldn't start with the one word sentence "No." should it?
 

jfollows

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Indeed, in the past the answer was effectively "no", in that all tickets were bought at stations and usually with a personal interaction, and when I had a student railcard oh so many years ago I wouldn't have considered trying to buy a ticket, even for future travel, without presenting the railcard (maybe I'd have been able to, but I just didn't even consider it a possibility). Today I always present my two together railcard when I buy a ticket using its discount, but clearly only if buying a ticket from a person at a station, which is not always how I buy tickets today.
 

bb21

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Sorry to bounce this thread, but I applied for my Senior Railcard online on 28 February. I received an email confirming the order at 11:24, with a further email timed at 12:48 to say the card was in the post. Congratulations to the National Railcard people.

Reading the FAQ's there is this under the heading 'Buying Online':

Can I buy tickets at a discounted rate before my Railcard arrives?
A: No. You must carry your Railcard with you on any journey where you have bought discounted tickets with the Railcard. Therefore, if you buy discounted Railcard tickets before you receive your Railcard, you do this at your own risk.
Due to technical issues experienced at the Railcard team, there is a brief out to the operators atm to accept email confirmation plus ID as proof of entitlement to the discounted fare.
 

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swt_passenger

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But you can buy it before you become eligible, so that you receive it in time to use it on your 60th birthday.
The senior card doesn’t show a start date of course. I applied online and my first one was delivered at least a week before I became 60... I wasn’t tempted to try it out early though, because my Network Card was still valid.
 

Ianno87

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The senior card doesn’t show a start date of course. I applied online and my first one was delivered at least a week before I became 60... I wasn’t tempted to try it out early though, because my Network Card was still valid.
Online purchases specifically have a few days added on (to something like 368 days) to cover for postage uncertainty. There is absolutely nothing stated (that I can see) stopping you from starting to use it as soon as you receive it (i.e. more than 365 days before its expiry date).
 

RJ

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A RPI once tried to report me for prosecution on the basis that I didn't show the railcard I had on me when I bought the ticket I was using. I'd purchased the ticket some time before the date of travel.

So always show your railcard as per the T&Cs, you never know when you might come across this situation!
 

MikeWh

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A RPI once tried to report me for prosecution on the basis that I didn't show the railcard I had on me when I bought the ticket I was using. I'd purchased the ticket some time before the date of travel.
What exactly had you done wrong?
 

Intermodal

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I remember when I was younger going to my local Merseyrail station (Spital) to buy an advance ticket for two weeks time. I had forgot to bring my railcard (as after all, I wasn't travelling anywhere) and after much debate the women refused to sell me a ticket. I, of course, accepted her decision completely and respected her doing her job according to the letter of the rules.

I then drove to Bebington station, about a 4 minute drive away, and the bloke there quite happily sold me the ticket.
 

Intermodal

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What exactly had you done wrong?
Section 34 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act is not very well known, but actually specifically covers the act of purchasing a railcard discounted ticket without a railcard. It's a minimum term of 3 years with no maximum. :D
 

MikeWh

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Section 34 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act is not very well known, but actually specifically covers the act of purchasing a railcard discounted ticket without a railcard. It's a minimum term of 3 years with no maximum. :D
You're 29 days early.
 

RJ

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What exactly had you done wrong?
Nothing! Long story short he was unfamiliar with the ticket I was using and took exception to me not agreeing to buy a new SOS. So he tried to withdraw the railcard on the basis it hadn't been signed when it had been. Then said I couldn't possibly have shown that particular railcard when buying the ticket I was using which made it invalid - even though the start date isn't shown on the railcard. The railways never cease to throw up surprises so always do things by the book.

Always show the railcard - I sell tickets for a living and tell customers I really enjoy looking at railcards when they protest at having to show it. Sometimes the railcard has expired or shows a name that isn't theirs. Just because there's an easy workaround (for some) it doesn't mean a rule shouldn't be enforced. I'm a holder of various railcards and always present the relevant one to the ticket seller regardless of when I'm travelling - why is doing this really a problem?
 
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Joe Paxton

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Always show the railcard - I sell tickets for a living and tell customers I really enjoy looking at railcards when they protest at having to show it. Sometimes the railcard has expired or shows a name that isn't theirs. Just because there's an easy workaround (for some) it doesn't mean a rule shouldn't be enforced. I'm a holder of various railcards and always present the relevant one to the ticket seller regardless of when I'm travelling - why is doing this really a problem?
I agree, I can't see the problem with showing the railcard if buying from a ticket counter.

Out of interest, how do you judge if it "shows a name that isn't theirs"? Is this as simple as noting that for example 'Ms Sally Jones' is unlikely to be the bearded gentleman standing before you?
 

RJ

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I agree, I can't see the problem with showing the railcard if buying from a ticket counter.

Out of interest, how do you judge if it "shows a name that isn't theirs"? Is this as simple as noting that for example 'Ms Sally Jones' is unlikely to be the bearded gentleman standing before you?
These days an assumption can't be made based just on the title. Sometimes I discreetly cross check the name on the debit/credit card in their hand with the name on the railcard. Sometimes I know who is who by name and notice when a railcard isn't being used by its rightful owner. I don't necessarily say anything but if someone has been cagey about showing the railcard then flashes it to reveal things that are questionable then it raises reg flags. Flashing with a finger over the date just draws attention to it and prompts scrutiny.
 
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HSP 2

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Out of interest, how do you judge if it "shows a name that isn't theirs"? Is this as simple as noting that for example 'Ms Sally Jones' is unlikely to be the bearded gentleman standing before you?
What would happen if Ms Sally Jones was going through a sex change program, or if it was Mr Sam Jones who likes to dress in ladies clothes and then calls himself Ms. S Jones? It could also work the opposite way around as well.
 

80sGuard

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Picking up on a couple of points raised:

Extra days - my (3 year) railcard shows an expiry date five days after my 63rd birthday, so extra rime is currently being added to online applications.

Use before 60th birthday - you can't use the railcard before your 60th birthday. It's not stated in the Terms & Conditions, but here https://www.senior-railcard.co.uk/using-your-railcard/are-you-eligible/ it states:

You're eligible for a Senior Railcard if you are 60 years old or over.

You can buy one up to two weeks before your 60th birthday if you buy online, but it’ll only be valid from your birthday onwards. If you buy from a station, you’ll have to be 60 or over on the day you do it.

That explicitly rules out any use for travel before you reach 60.

As I live in London, I'm also applying for a 60+ Oyster card. TfL appear to be more relaxed about validity, as here https://tfl.gov.uk/fares/free-and-discounted-travel/60-plus-oyster-photocard?intcmp=54724 it states:

How to use
Once you get your 60+ London Oyster photocard, you can use it straight away.

TfL's Conditions of Carriage don't explicitly exclude travel before your 60th birthday, saying only this:

4.10 60+ London Oyster photocards are available to London residents aged 60 and older and not yet eligible for a Freedom Pass.
If you hold a 60+ London Oyster photocard you can travel free on bus, tram, Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and some National Rail services at all times (see Note A2). You can also travel on most National Rail services in London from 0930 Monday to Friday and anytime on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. You cannot use your 60+ Oyster photocard to travel between West Drayton and Reading.

I've only got 9 days to go, so I'll bide my time before attempting any discounted travel.
 

IanD

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These days an assumption can't be made based just on the title. Sometimes I discreetly cross check the name on the debit/credit card in their hand with the name on the railcard. Sometimes I know who is who by name and notice when a railcard isn't being used by its rightful owner. I don't necessarily say anything but if someone has been cagey about showing the railcard then flashes it to reveal things that are questionable then it raises reg flags. Flashing with a finger over the date just draws attention to it and prompts scrutiny.
You can buy tickets for other people so the name on the railcard is irrelevant anyway.
 

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