Here's how you can travel for free in London for 3 days
If you're a tube user (more commonly known as a "mole person") and enjoy free journeys, today, next Monday and the Monday after that may be your lucky days. And you don't even have to jump over the turnstiles and/or dodge the police.
Yes, you read that right. Today, March 8th and March 15th you could ride the tube for absolutely free. The only problem is you probably have to be incredibly rich in the first place, as you need to have an Apple device that allows Apple Pay, and have to have it hooked up to a MasterCard account.
Fare Free Mondays
MasterCard are offering "Fare Free Mondays" for MasterCard users who also have an Apple device, such as an iPhone or an Apple Watch. All you need to do is tap your device to the Oyster card reader on the way into the tube on any of these three Mondays and your fare will be completely free, no matter where you travel on the tube.
Where else can you get free travel?
As well as the tube, you can travel for free on London buses, trams, DLR, the overground and most of London National Rail Services (ask if you are unsure, but it applies to most rail routes) and the Emirates Air Line cable car (which is really more of a ride than transport).
If I already have a season ticket, will this affect the price?
Unfortunately not. If you already have a season ticket, your ticket price will not be affected by the Fare Free Mondays. Bah.
What if I don't have Apple Pay?
For anyone else not rich enough to have an Apple iWatch and a Mastercard account, below is our guide to getting cheaper train travel.
Like it or not, as a frequent traveller what you have with trains is a relationship.
Not in a weird way. Not like those guys who have sex with their cars. [I once saw a documentary in which two of these "motor enthusiasts" were brought together to discuss their "passion" but it soon became very awkward when halfway through filming one guy "slept with" the other guy's car].
Even the best relationships can be temperamental and require much care and consideration to get the best out of them.
Here are 9 things you can do to keep the cheap tickets coming your way. . .
#1 - When you've found the one, stay loyal.
By joining Red Spotted Hanky you can order your train tickets and get loyalty points each time, which can then be converted into Red Spotted Hanky vouchers to get you money off your next tickets. Usually it's 1 point per £1 you spend, but during promotional periods you can sometimes get 2 points.
There are also other offers that become available from time to time that enable you to earn even more points, and you can see all the latest offers on our Red Spotted Hanky page here.
#2 - They may have hidden depths you never knew about.
If you're buying tickets online, many sites will charge you additional transaction fees.
You can avoid this by using Virgin Trains - it doesn't charge you anything other than the cost of your ticket, and you can book any train journey even if it isn't actually run by Virgin itself.
The Trainline has seasonal offers to get you money off your tickets, so check our Trainline deals page as this may work out cheaper even with the 75p booking fee.
#3 - Invest in your future.
This isn't simply purchasing a ticket a few days or weeks prior to travel. An 'Advance Ticket' is an actual ticket type sold by rail operators in the UK, available a maximum of 12 weeks before the travel date. They tend to be cheaper than standard fares, but 'Advance Tickets' do not come in return journey form.
You can buy two 'Advance' singles instead though, which is often cheaper anyway. These are available to purchase right up until the day of travel but it is very rare that there will still be any left at this time, so book as soon as possible.
#4 - Know what else is on offer.
Train companies will often run marketing campaigns around busy travel times during the year, so for example you can find loads of offers on train tickets in the run-up to Christmas.
Have a quick search on Google, or easier still just check Student Money Saver’s ‘Train Deals’ page which we update with everything from cut price First Class sales to cheap Eurostar tickets.
#5 - You may fight, but what comes next is GREAT.
According to their Passenger Charter, each UK rail operator offers compensation for delayed or cancelled trains. How much and how severe the delay must be to claim varies per company - you can see them all here. To make a claim, you need to write to the rail operator and include details of your journey and include your tickets.
If you travel regularly it may be worth downloading the Train Refunds app, which tracks you regular journeys and allows you to send automatically completed claim forms for delays and cancellations. You can find out how it works at http://trainrefunds.co.uk. Beware of the in-app charges though.
#6 - Act your age, not your shoe size.
If you’re aged 16 to 25 you can get a 16-25 Railcard which reduces fares by a third (except some, e.g. peak-time services). What’s more is that you can usually save at least 10% on the cost of a Railcard, so check Student Money Saver’s Railcard deals page to get the latest discounts.
#7 - When the time is right. . .
Off-peak tickets are cheaper as the trains are less busy, so there is less demand for tickets. By purchasing an ‘Off-peak’ or ‘Super off-peak’ ticket you may be required to travel on a certain train or route, or at a certain time of day.
If you’re flexible with your travel time it is worth looking on your rail operator’s website to see when their off-peak times are. For example, First Great Western’s ticket prices reduce significantly on trains departing after 7pm.
#8 - Sometimes, single is just better.
Sometimes it is actually cheaper to buy two singles rather than one return ticket. If you use Virgintrains.co.uk to book, you will automatically be shown the price for two singles if this is cheaper than a return.
#9 - Breaking up is hard, but it could be just the ticket.
By splitting your journey you don’t necessarily need to get a different train, or more trains, or change your actual journey at all. All you need to do is purchase several tickets that link together to produce the same journey.
There are a few ways to do this easily as it has been realised that this is a handy trick for keeping train costs down. Moneysavingexpert’s Tickety Split desktop app is one way, although it’s worth inputting your journey in more than one ticket splitter, so have a look at https://www.splitticketing.com/ or http://www.splityourticket.co.uk/ as well.