NS offers a variety of subscriptions that allow you to travel with discounts (or completely for free) under some conditions. Shortly: you pay a certain amount monthly/yearly (abonnementkosten), and get a corresponding discount on certain days and times. Of course, on top of that you still have to pay (part of) the journey (reiskosten) unless the trajectory at that time is included in the contract.
Beside the traditional season tickets, that are subscriptions for one year, NS has recently introduced the Flex abonnementen. They come with slightly different prices and conditions.
Small list of things to know before reading the rest – NS is the company that manages the trein connections between the largest Dutch cities – OV-chipkaart is a magnetic card that allows you to use most of the Dutch public transport. Personal OV-chipkaart is an OV-chipkaart that is linked to you as a person, and can thus be used solely by yourself with the advantage of some additional services. (A full post about this is coming!) – Peak hours: 6.30-9.00 and 16.00-18.30 (Monday to Friday)
Traditional season tickets
Here below you can find an overview of the deals you can have with NS in the traditional contract form
completely free during weekends, outside and within peak hours
CONDITIONS * These prices are intended for contracts of the duration of one year. Within the first year you can’t resign, but you can step into another type of contract. After one year you can cancel the subscription monthly. * The time of check-in is the one deciding whether you travel with or without discount (i.e. outside or inside the peak hours, for the tickets that are exclusive) * All prices are intended for second class travels INCLUDED EXTRA’S * You can extend your 40% discount to three travel companions * You get a free personal OV-chipkaart * You get up to three Kids Free season tickets (you’ll just need to buy them an OV-chipkaart) included in the price for kids 4-11 years old * Other extra’s can be added when placing the order (e.g. discount on international trains, traveling on IC treins without paying extra)
Flex season tickets
Beside these traditional contracts, nowadays are available also the NS Flex contracts. Essentially, by paying a higher price per month you are given the flexibility to end your contract monthly and you can travel without credit on your OV-chipkaart.
completely free at weekends, outside and within peak hours
CONDITIONS * These contracts can be stopped and changed to other contracts monthly * There are 10 euros of administration costs for contracts that cost less than 5 euro per month. * After the first month you can change contract for free * You do not need a certain amount on the OV-chipkaart to travel – the payment is handled monthly via direct debit (automatische incasso) * All prices are intended for second class travels * The time of check-in is the one deciding whether you travel with or without discount (i.e. outside or inside the peak hours, for the tickets that are exclusive) INCLUDED EXTRA’S * You can extend your 40% discount to three travel companions
Traditional or Flex season ticket?
As the name says, Flex season tickets offer you a greater flexibility
you can travel without credit on your OV-chipkaart. Payment is handled via direct debit,
you can stop the deal monthly,
you can also switch from one type of contract to another contract monthly.
Then, why would you still choose for a traditional contract?
the price per month is a little lower,
the advantages are in some case greater (e.g. NS Weekend Vrij also gives you 40% discount outside peak hours, while you’ll have to pay 3 euros extra to get the same discounts with NS Weekend Vrij Flex),
there are additional benefits (e.g. get Kids Vrij included in the costs).
For the type of train user I am, the Flex contracts seem to be more advantageous: I can set up something for the months I (plan to) travel, and reset it to NS Flex Basis for the rest of the year, probably saving money (compared to the price I would pay for the whole year). Another advantage is given by the fact that you can try a different deal for a month. Imagine you have a season ticket but you are considering a more expensive one. With the Flex contracts, you are given the opportunity to try the more expensive one for a month and then judge whether you prefer to stay on your old contract and save money, or get the advantages linked with the higher costs. In the end, which options is optimal for you depends on how much you (plan to) travel and your preferences.
How to get it
Season tickets are coupled with/loaded on a personal OV-chipkaart, and can be ordered online. This can be done both in the case you already have a personal OV-chipkaart and in the case you don’t. First choose one of the season tickets above, and then follow the steps in the next paragraphs.
If you already have a personal OV-chipkaart
If you already have a personal OV-chipkaart, you can order the season ticket online as illustrated below
Then check the data, proceed with payment and you’re set! You just need to ‘pick up’ your order at the machines at train stations as illustrated below
If you had an order, then it will appear on the screen, and you’ll just have to synchronize your OV-chipkaart by holding it on the card reader at the bottom right of the NS Ticket machine.
If you do NOT have a personal OV-chipkaart
If you don’t have an OV-chipkaart yet, or the one you have is not personal, you can order the season ticket and get a free personal OV-chipkaart with it, delivered at home within ten days.
Finally check your order and choose for additional options (the same as step 6), pay and you’re set. Since you’ve chosen you’d like to receive a new OV-chipkaart, you will get it delivered at home.
How to extend the discount to (up to) three travel companions
Many season tickets give the right to extend the 40% discount to your travel companions. In practice, they will have to get the discount on their own OV-chipkaart, or get a special ticket every time they travel with you. Here below you’ll find explained how your travel companions can travel with discount, either that they have an OV-chipkaart (non necessarily personal) and that they don’t.
If they have an OV-chipkaart
NB Also a non-personal OV-chipkaart here.
Hold the OV-chipkaart of your travel companion in front of the card reader the pink logo at the right side of the ticket machine.
Choose between first and second class (it must be the same as the class of the person having the season ticket)
Choose the day of validity: today (vandaag geldig) or tomorrow (morgen geldig)
Select 1x (one way) or 2x (retour). With the second option, you’ll be able to travel with discount also on the way back without repeating the procedure (the discount will be visible when you login), but keep in mind that you have to travel with the person holding the season ticket!
Optionally add some additional credit (you’ll need at least 10 euros to be able to check in)
Click on Akkoord
Repeat 1 (hold the OV-chipkaart in front of the card reader)
Checking in outside the peak hours you’ll travel with a 40% discount
If they DON’T have an OV-chipkaart
In case the people travelling with you don’t have an OV-chipkaart, you can still extend the discount by buying their ticket online before departure. Tickets can be printed or loaded on the NS app. Use this link for it!
Do you have an abonnement yet? Is it a flex one yet? Doei! Marta
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