Buying online: the main advantages
Buying your tickets and passes online saves time, and it often saves money too. Buying online allows you to board your first train straight away, rather than spending time at a ticket office (exceptions apply in rare cases if passes require validation by a railway official). This is especially useful if you arrive in Switzerland by train or plane.
Many passes and tickets bought online can be stored on your cell phone or printed at home. So if your pass somehow gets lost or damaged, you'll still have a digital back-up. This is not the case with regular paper tickets as bought on Swiss railway stations.
Prices offered by online retailers may be lower than the official prices you'd pay in Switzerland. Prices vary per retailer, and also by exchange rates and promotions that may be available. To do a quick check on pass prices, go to our page about that pass (start here). Then click 'Price'. For example: www.myswissalps.com/ swisstravelpass/price. To quickly check ticket prices, please see www.myswissalps.com/timetable.
For more tips, please keep reading.
Availability: online and at staffed stations
Rail passes and tickets can be purchased from various websites. Nearly all passes and tickets are available online. Most, but not all, can be purchased at staffed rail stations too.
If you plan to buy at a rail station, be sure to check the opening hours of the service desk. Take into account that there might be a queue, especially at rail stations of airports and popular towns. Obviously this varies a lot by date, time and location. Also note that in most cases all travelers and their passports must be present when buying passes in Switzerland.
Prices, payment and currency
Swiss rail passes are priced in Swiss francs when you buy them locally or online through the web shop of the Swiss railways. These are the "official" prices.
Rail passes are also offered by various online retailers. Their prices may either be lower or higher than the prices in Switzerland. These retailers often sell to travelers from specific countries, have a helpdesk in the local language and offer local payment methods and payment in the local currency. That's convenient and it can save you money (less banking fees). Retailer prices vary by exchange rates and whether or not they offer additional discounts. All of our rail pass pages have a section listing promotions, so you can quickly check what's available.
Most of the above applies to point to point tickets as well. However, there are a few tickets that vary in price. They are cheaper if purchased well in advance.
Delivery: digital and paper rail products
Many rail passes and nearly all tickets can be printed at home, so there's no shipping fee and the products will be sent by e-mail quickly or almost instantaneously. In some cases, passes are physical documents that need to be shipped to you. However, this does not necessarily mean that you pay for shipping. Shipping is often free, or free from a minimum order amount. Even if shipping is not free, ordering online can still be cheaper than buying in Switzerland. It's important to take the total price into consideration when comparing purchase options.
Print at home
Quite some passes (and tickets) can be printed at home. That means that you don't have to wait for a shipment, nor do you have to visit a staffed ticket office once in Switzerland. You can immediately board your first train. The PDF-document is an excellent backup: you can print your pass again if you damage or lose it. If you buy a paper pass at a train station you will not get a new pass in such cases.
In some cases, train conductors can scan your digital pass directly from your cell phone. We still recommend to carry along a printed version though, in case your battery runs out while traveling.
'Best buy' label and promotions
To make it easier to pick your best point of sale, we have listed the purchase options in the 'Price' section of each pass/ticket page, e.g. at www.myswissalps.com/ swisstravelpass/price (all passes can be found here). The retailers displayed there sell to your country of residence. Your country should be selected automatically, but you can change it if necessary.
We mark the lowest online price as 'best buy'. We show one price for each pass (e.g. the 3-day Swiss Travel Pass price, while there are also 4, 8 and 15-day versions). If applicable and possible, we also take promotions into account. Of course we only show trusted retailers.
What else to consider
While our 'best buy' label helps to make your choice, there's more to consider:
- shipping fees. If there is a shipping fee, it may be waived from a certain order amount.
- booking fees. Some retailers charge a fee per booking, per pass or per traveler.
- banking fees. If you choose a retailer using a currency different from the one in your country, your bank may charge a fee. The final amount spent depends on the exchange rate of the day. This also applies if you buy your pass in Switzerland: even if you pick your own currency at the payment terminal, the exchange rate will not be in your favor. Note: Paypal is a bank as well, and a very expensive one in many cases. We recommend to avoid Paypal if possible.
- pass versions. If you intend to purchase a different pass version (e.g. an 8-day pass instead of the 3-day pass we display), simply click through to the website of the retailer to find the price of that version. A more expensive pass may result in free shipping (if shipping is even required) and more savings if there is a promotion.
Point to point tickets: where and when to buy
Point to point tickets for traveling in Switzerland can be purchased online (this applies to standard tickets and cheaper ones if purchased well in advance), or at rail stations. There are staffed service desks at the larger stations. Check the opening hours in advance. All stations have ticketing machines too.
Regular tickets do not sell out, except, in rare cases, for mountain trains on very popular days. The following products can sell out:
You're advised to order products that can sell out well in advance.
Save money by planning carefully
You may need multiple tickets and/or passes. We recommend to first complete your itinerary. Then pick a pass and buy all tickets, passes and seat reservations (if any) at once.
For example, you may have planned to travel from Paris to Zurich by train, so you buy the ticket online. However, if you later decide that you need a rail pass for your further travels in Switzerland, you could have saved money as part of the Paris to Zurich trip is covered by the pass. Also, buying the ticket and pass at once, from a single website, might be cheaper than two separate orders.