How to CUT commuter costs

How to CUT commuter costs

Travel costs are really biting into our budget and rail fares are going up by 1% from next year. The government says this is lower than the rate of inflation, but the truth is that season tickets and other fares have actually increased by 25% since 2010.

Let’s put this into context – a couple of years ago someone calculated that commuters would have to spend the first hour of each working day to pay off the cost of their train journey to the office.  So we have some tips on how to cut your commuting costs.

Buy a train season ticket

Season tickets win hands down and can be a good bet even for people who are working 3 or 4 days a week – they can work out cheaper than buying a daily ticket. Season tickets can be for a week, a month or up to a year. According to National Rail, an annual ticket gives you 52 weeks’ travel for the price of 40.

Get a season ticket loan or a 0% credit card

Check if your employers offer an interest-free or low-interest loan for travel costs. You can now have a ticket loan of £10,000, tax-free. In case this is not an option, investigate an interest-free credit card. Remember you need to pay it off during the interest-free period or you could be hit by expensive charges.

Share a ride or join a car pool

It could be that you have no option but to drive to work. Instead of worrying about fuel prices think about sharing a ride. It certainly takes the strain out of driving every day, reduces your costs and you have company on your commute. Carplus has a database of lift-share schemes across the country.

Get on your bike

Maybe you are lucky enough to live relatively close to work – why not take to two wheels? You get a double whammy – healthier finances and a great sense of wellbeing. Don’t own a bike? Ask if your employers have signed up to the government’s Cyclescheme – it allows organisations to provide cycles to staff as a tax-free benefit.  The cost is deducted from your pre-tax salary, so you save at least a fifth on buying a bike.

Zone in

If you are commuting into London, you’ll know the difference in the cost of Tube tickets for different zones. In case you live just outside a zone, why not walk to the next Tube station within the nearer zone and save yourself some money? You’ll get some exercise along the way as well.

Flexible working

It is much cheaper to travel off-peak, so think about whether you could travel outside prime time. Perhaps you could start and leave later. Or maybe you could work from home so you travel on fewer days. In case you’re working from home most of the time, try buying daily tickets to go to the office and find out about railcards that offer discounts. A Network Railcard, for example, gives you 1/3 off most rail fares in the South East.

You may be able to cut costs if you buy break your journey into two parts and a buy a separate ticket for each leg. This, say experts, has to do with fare anomalies, but you need to make sure you know the rules – for example that the train must call at all the stations you buy tickets to or from. This adventurous option is available for walk-on tickets as well as advance booking, but you have to do your homework and keep to the terms and conditions of the train operator.

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Previously on The Euroffice Blog…

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