If you’re considering a trip in the UK or going further afield, it’s worth knowing what discounts you may be entitled to if you’re retired. You can save money on rail fares, bus fares and — often — on entry to museums and other attractions as well.
Take the train
Rail companies offer railcards to anyone aged 60 or over with a valid passport or driving licence. A senior railcard costs £30 a year when I updated this in 2016 (or £70 for a three year card, which can only be bought online), and it will give you a third off your rail travel in both standard and first class on many types of ticket.
There are restrictions if you use your card in the London area; you can’t use it during the morning peak period, Monday to Friday (including Bank Holidays) when your journey begins and ends within London and the South East Network. Confusingly, the definition of the ‘peak period’ varies from train company to train company. You can find lots of information on the website Senior-railcard.co.uk or you can call on 08448 714036.
SAVVY TIP: You can also get a discount if you are disabled and receive disability related benefits if you buy a disabled person’s railcard. The card costs £20 for a year and £54 for three years.
Discount on London Underground
If you reach state pension age (if you’re a woman) or you reach the equivalent age (if you’re a man) and you live in Greater London, you can apply for a Freedom Pass via your local council. This gives you free bus, tube and train travel in London, but not during the morning rush hour.
SAVVY TIP: You can work out whether or not you are eligible for the pass by using the Freedom Pass local councils’ website eligibility calculator.
Free travel on local buses
If you’re in England and over state pension age, you can get an older person’s bus pass from your local council. This will give you free off-peak travel on local buses. In Wales, the bus pass scheme gives anyone aged 60 or over free travel on local buses at any time of the day.
SAVVY TIP: The GOV.UK website has information on how to apply for an older person’s bus pass.
If you live in Scotland and are aged 60 or over, you can travel free of charge any time of the day on local and long distance services if you have a National Entitlement Card.
Cheaper fares in Europe
Many European countries have senior citizen discounts. In some countries you’ll have to pay for a special card, such as the Carte Senior or Senior Plus Card in France, which costs €60 and gives you between 25% and 50% off travel with around 40% off first class travel. This card is available for you if you’re aged 60 or over.
In Spain, there’s a Targeta Doroda that costs €6 and is available to anyone aged 60 or over. In other countries, such as Portugal, you’re able to buy a cheaper ticket at the station without a discount card.
European tourist attractions
A number of tourist attractions (such as museums) don’t charge EU citizens aged over 65 or will give you cheaper admission. It’s definitely worth checking if there is free or cut price entry to particular attractions you’d like to see as you could make a substantial saving.
SAVVY TIP: I haven’t been able to find a central source of information that lists which attractions don’t charge and which do. It seems that the majority of museums in Italy offer free admission for senior citizens, but the approach is rather more patchy in France. In Spain, many attractions have a reduction if you’re over 65 but not all seem to offer free admission. Also, if you definitely want to see a certain exhibition, you may be better off booking tickets in advance, and you may have to pay a booking fee.
Saving on your holiday
The price of a holiday soars over the summer when the schools are on their break, so make sure you travel in off peak times. Whether you are putting together your own holiday or booking through a travel agent, it is worth asking if there is a discount available for older travellers. These are tough times for the travel industry and some may be flexible.
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