Travel news For Members

Why you don't need to pay full fare when travelling in Switzerland

The Local Switzerland
The Local Switzerland - [email protected]
Why you don't need to pay full fare when travelling in Switzerland
If you travel long-distances, a half-fare card will save you money. Image by Andi Graf from Pixabay

Public transportation is costly in Switzerland and paying full price for train tickets can add up. But there are ways to travel for less money.


Switzerland is known for its widespread, efficient, and (mostly) punctual public transport network, though getting from one point of the country to another is not cheap — especially for those who don’t get any discounts.

This is where the half-fare travelcard from Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) — Halbtax in German, demi-tarif in French, and metà-prezzo in Italian — can make a lot of difference, especially for people who use public transport often.

This is how it works:

This travelcard allows you to travel on all SBB trains, public buses, trams, boats, ferries, as well as most mountain railways. It can be used to purchase a ticket in first or second class.


For adults over the age of 25, this travelcard costs 185 francs a year for the initial purchase, and 165 francs for subsequent annual renewals.

Those between the ages of 16 and 25, pay 120 francs the first year and 100 francs thereafter.

(Children up to the age of six travel for free, and those between six and 16 pay half price).

READ ALSO: OPINION - Trains in Switzerland are excellent - so why are cars still king?

Is it worth it?

The answer to this question depends on how much and how often you use public transport.

If you are a frequent user, your half-fare travelcard "will pay for itself in just a few journeys,” according to SBB. 

"For instance, you will have recovered the cost of the travelcard after just four return journeys in 2nd class from Zurich to Bern or two return journeys in 1st class from Zurich to Bern,” the company added.

However, if you use public transport only occasionally, then it probably doesn’t make sense to purchase this card. For infrequent use of the transport network, or if you only use it for short distances, you may be better off just paying the full fare.

What are some of the other benefits of the Half-Fare travelcard?

You will not only get train, bus, tram, and boat tickets with 50 percent off their full price, but also benefit from a 10-percent discount on various sports and recreational activities.

You can also get a discount on bike hire and car rentals.

This how you can buy this travelcard.

If you already have the card, it will be renewed automatically each year and you will be sent a bill.

First-time users can purchase it online by registering and uploading identity documents and a photo.

You can find more information about the Half-Fare card here

READ MORE: SwissPass: How to pay contactless on public transport in Switzerland


Join the conversation in our comments section below. Share your own views and experience and if you have a question or suggestion for our journalists then email us at [email protected].
Please keep comments civil, constructive and on topic – and make sure to read our terms of use before getting involved.

Please log in to leave a comment.

See Also