Let’s be honest: Dutch trains provide a great service, but are not really cheap. The good news is that you can save quite some money if you know how to do it. In this post I reveal you 4 ways to get discounts for train tickets (with NS):
Small list of things to know before reading the rest – NS is the company that manages the train connections between the largest Dutch cities (ns.nl) – OV-chipkaart is a magnetic card that allows you to use most of the Dutch public transport. You can choose between a personal and an anonymous OV-chipkaart. You can find more information in this post. – Peak hours: 6.30-9.00 and 16.00-18.30 (Monday to Friday)
1. Group tickets
When travelling with a group of friends, the best option to get discounts for train tickets is without doubts the group ticket (even if you’re travelling only one way together). You need to be at least 4. When you’re four, a one way group ticket will cost you 32€ (8€ each). Then, for each additional traveler you’ll just have to add 1.50€. The ticket price per person decreases thus with the number of people joining: 8 € (4 people), 6.70€ (5 people), 5.85€ (6 people), 5.21€ (7 people)
CONDITIONS * At least 4 travelers * Tickets must be bought online, together * You must be able to prove your identity upon request, so be sure to have an ID or passport with you * Outside peak hours
How does it work?
Group tickets can be ordered through this link. They must be ordered in advance, all together, filling in the date, the two train stations and personal information (initials and surname) of each traveler. You’ll get an email with the tickets to be downloaded. After that, you can choose to either print them or load them in the NS app.
2. Uitjes (day(s)-trip deals)
The idea behind this ticket is short trip (a day or 2/3) in the Netherlands. Therefore, you get a package including discounts for train tickets and some extra’s for a day trip in the Netherlands. You can find for example train (two ways) + (bus) + entry ticket for a certain museum, or train (two ways) + boat city tour, or train (two ways) + lunch or coffee and a dessert. There are also options for staying overnight, including thus train, hotel (one or two nights), and optionally breakfast.
If you have already an idea of a trip you wish to do, you may find the matching ticket. Otherwise, if you’d like to get inspired you’ll find nice ideas here!
CONDITIONS * Tickets have a validity window * You do not necessarily choose the date of use when you buy the ticket * Tickets must be bought online and activated later * Vouchers for the additional activity must be used the same day you are using the corresponding train ticket * The train ticket can be uploaded on the NS app, but the ticket for the included extra needs to be printed out
How does it work?
From this link, you can select the uitje you desire.
After confirming and paying (with Ideal), you will receive two emails: one with the link to get your train ticket, and another one with the ticket for the extras included in the price (here a voucher for the lunch). Keep in mind that the tickets come via two different emails! When you want to activate it, you can use the proof of purchase you received via email (together with the ticket for the extra that was included in the price), fill in the date of use and print the ticket/load it in the NS app. Do not forget to print also the ticket for the additional activity!
3. Day tickets (dagkaart)
The day tickets allow you to travel on NS trains for a day. The normal ticket costs 53 euro and allows you to travel without limits. Often you can score day tickets from shops (e.g. AH, Kruidvat, Etos, Hema) at very discounted prices (14-20 euro) CONDITIONS * Tickets have a validity window * Normally valid outside peak hours
How does it work?
Also in this case, you’ll have to activate your ticket online. Normally tickets have a code and the shop offering them an official ‘NS page’ to activate them. You just fill in the code, the day you want to travel and your personal information, and then you either print it or load it in the NS app.
4. Season tickets
If you travel (somewhat) regularly, either for pleasure and/or for work, then a season ticket is probably the best option. In practice, you get a subscription (paying a certain amount) that gives you right to travel with discount in the designed moment (e.g. weekdays or weekends, peak hours or not) or trajectory. NS offers a variety of options. In this previous post you’ll find what are the season tickets, how to get them with a step-by-step illustration and how to extend your discount to your travel companions.
NB. All info are updated to October 2019. And the picture is from 2017 so do not worry if your dagkaart looks different nowadays!
Do you know other tricks for getting discounts for train tickets in the Netherlands? Enjoy the ride! Doei! Marta
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