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4 things to consider when buying a travel card in Switzerland

Sandra Sparrowhawk
Sandra Sparrowhawk - [email protected]
4 things to consider when buying a travel card in Switzerland
People stand at the station in Grindelwald, Switzerland, in January 2023. Photo by Luke Tanis on Unsplash

When picking the right travel card in Switzerland there are many factors to consider, from your commuting habits to how often you plan to travel for leisure. Here’s the low-down on what you should keep in mind and the options available.


Travel frequency

If you commute multiple times a week across different fare and transport networks and happen to enjoy frequent weekend getaways, then Switzerland’s most prestige travel card – the GA – is your most cost-effective option by a landslide. This ticket allows you unlimited travel on SBB trains and those of most other railways, as well as on much of the public transport in Switzerland, such as trains, buses, and boats. You can even get 5 francs off on short-term bike rentals at 20 SBB stations.

The GA will set adults aged between 26 and 64 years (women) or 65 years (men) back 6,300 francs (1st class) or 3,860 francs (2nd class) a year. The flip side? If your partner already has a GA, you can benefit from a so-called GA Travelcard for couples (GA Duo) for 4,340 (1st class) or 2,700 (2nd class) – but you better hurry. The GA for adults is set to break the 4,000-franc mark at the end of the year.

Trains in Zurich, Switzerland.
Trains in Zurich, Switzerland. Photo by Christian Meyer-Hentschel on Unsplash

If you don’t consider yourself an avid traveller, however, but still have an itch to discover more of Switzerland on your days off, you can pay for “Sparbillette” - or so-called Supersaver tickets – with SBB CFF FFS and benefit from an up to 70 percent discount on the standard ticket price. Travellers can choose from one-way tickets to day passes but will be limited to a few select routes and times. The trick is to book as early as possible to snag the best deal.

READ ALSO: Five things you didn't know about Switzerland's rail network 

Another solid option for infrequent commuters looking to reduce transport cost is to purchase SBB’s Half Fare Travelcard. The travelcard costs 120 francs per year and gives you an up to 50 percent discount on all travel by train, bus, boat, and most mountain railways. That way you can hop on a train or bus whenever it takes your fancy and save money on those rare (and dreaded) office days.



If you commute two or more times per week on shorter routes, SBB’s Point-to-Point Travelcard is the ideal solution for you. This offer allows unlimited travel on your chosen route and comes with a discount of at least 10 percent on many leisure activities in your travel area. You can also save money by committing to a yearly travel card instead of paying the costlier monthly fee.

For example, if you are travelling between Zurich and Basel on the Point-to-Point Travelcard and want to spend the afternoon exploring the Burgdorf Castle in Lenzburg on your way there, you may do so. In fact, you can interrupt your journey as many times as you wish.

If you like to combine different modes of transport to get from A to B and take your bike with you, remember that in Switzerland you must pay to bring your bike along for the train journey. Luckily, an annual bike pass will only set you back 240 francs per year. 

In any case, it is worth noting that investing in a GA Travelcard will be your most cost-effective option beyond a certain distance.

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


If you’re lucky enough to live a stone’s throw from your place of work or university but enjoy traversing Switzerland’s larger cities for its nightclubs, you may be best served purchasing the seven25 Travelcard. The ticket gives under 25-year-old night owls access to unlimited travel after 7pm (until 5am) in second class and is an ideal way for you to save money on gas while travelling home safely for just 390 francs a year.

A train in Frick, Switzerland.
A train in Frick, Switzerland. Photo by Lukas on Unsplash

Likewise, if you use public transport to scratch your travel itch rather than for commuting to work, investing in a GA may not necessarily make the most financial sense. Instead, you may want to consider the Leisure Travelcard which you can easily combine with the Half Fare Travelcard and use to discover more of your new home in 20 or 30 days per year. The cheapest option for adult adventurers is to travel in second class and pay 900 francs for 20 days or 1,200 francs for 30 days for unlimited transport across Switzerland’s trains, trams, buses, postbuses and boats.

If you are a parent or often travel in the company of children, you may be looking at ways to save money on travel and while most SBB travelcards offer special deals for kiddos, the Junior Travelcard and Children’s Co-Travelcard duo are your best bet if you want to make the most of a family day out. With the Junior Travelcard, children aged 6-16 can travel free of charge throughout Switzerland for a whole year provided they are accompanied by a ticket or travelcard-holding parent.


The Junior travelcard costs 30 francs per child but is free from the third child onwards. The Children’s Co-Travelcard functions much like its Junior counterpart, though you will be required to pay for every child.


Another thing worth keeping in mind when deciding on travel card options is local concessions.

Those living in the canton of Graubünden or predominantly travelling in the area, for instance, may want to consider investing in the Bündner Generalabonnement (BÜGA). Adults in the possession of this season ticket can enjoy unlimited travel throughout the canton (and beyond) for an entire year for 2,800 francs (1st class) and 1,730 (2nd class).


With the warmer months swiftly approaching, you may – like many Swiss – be looking forward to spending some time in Switzerland’s Ticino region. In that case, remember that tourists who stay in the canton overnight in hotels, youth hostels or campsites are entitled to a free Ticino Ticket. With the ticket you can use Ticino’s public transport free of charge or for half the original price - depending on the rote and provider you travel with. Many tickets for travelling via boat are also 20 percent off. You can find similar deals for other Swiss cantons and regions on SBB’s website.

It is generally advisable to drop by your local SBB counter and ask for any regional deals before committing to a monthly or annual travelcard. The railway company also offers personal consultations to ensure you make the most out of your money and time when making travel arrangements.

For more information, check out SBB's website as well as your local providers. 


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