When you stay several months in Germany and want to travel long distances by train frequently, a BahnCard can help you to save money.
There are three types of BahnCards that come as a yearly subscription, BahnCard 100, BahnCard 50 and BahnCard 25. The numbers stand for the percentage of savings you will get for a train ticket. Of course, the more you save, the pricier is the card.
On this page I give you an overview of the different BahnCards and add frequently asked questions to help you make the best decision. Please read all information carefully to find the best options for your needs.
As a general rule, BahnCards are useful for long distance train travel. Some local tariff & transport associations and private bus companies give also a discount when you have a BahnCard. To list them all and explain the details would get slightly out of hand. Just ask every time you purchase a ticket if you get a reduced tariff with your BahnCard.
It is probably not worth the hassle to buy a BahnCard for only one long train journey, let's say from Berlin to Munich. But when you plan a few train journeys during your stay in Germany, a card is certainly worth the money.
You can order the Bahncard 25 and Bahncard 50 online, and print out a temporary card so you can travel on the discount immediately. The final card will be shipped to your home address, or any address in Germany when you are already here.
However, printing a provisional card is not possible for reduced and partner cards.
You need to prove your eligibility for a reduced card. You can upload copies of the documents (passport, student ID, birth certificate or copy of the family register) when you order the BahnCard online, or send them by mail. You can also order the card at Deutsche Bahn authorised travel agencies and rail centres. In any case, it will take about 10 days to process your application and send the physical card to you.
Use the link for more info and online booking (Affiliate Link).
Bahncards are not transferable! When you order the Bahncard 50 you need to upload a photo for the card.
The Bahncard 25 goes without photo, but you need to prove your identity with a passport or identity card that has your name, date of birth and photo on it.
Click for BahnCard 50
BahnCard owner can order a free bahn.bonus card to collect points for each train ticket they purchase. Don't forget to state that you are collecting bonus points when you buy a ticket. The points are valid for three years, and you can choose from a wide variety of gifts and services from the bonus catalog.
With the BahnCard you can save 25 % on train fares to many European countries for cross-border travels (RailPlus). Please note: The discount is only applicable for the journey from Germany to some destinations of the participating countries, and back to Germany.
The BahnCard is not valid for further travels in a foreign country. Participating countries include Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Switzerland and a few others.
When you buy your train ticket don't forget to state that you own a BahnCard. Always order the ticket for your final destination (street, suburb, airport) within a city. You might be eligible for a City ticket at the end of your long-distance journey (150 cities offer this service). This means your train ticket is valid on U-Bahnen and buses to reach your final destination. When the City ticket is available it will be stated on your train ticket.
Only you can decide what is the best option, it depends on your itinerary. A German Rail Pass offers from 3 to 10 travel days within one month. With this pass you don't need any train tickets at all (only seat reservation). However, when you stay longer in Germany, or plan more than 10 long-distance train trips, a BahnCard is the better option.
It is not always possible to include ALL information within an article. Traveller's intineraries and circumstances vary a lot. Sometimes you just need to do your own research to find the best option for your personal needs.
These questions and answers provide more helpful information for you. Check them out!
From the questions I received there seems to be some confusion about how to claim the discount, identification & the use of your card. So here is a guide with the most important facts you should know.
Q: When I ordered BahnCard 25, I did not have options to upload photo. I received preliminary card. To which mail address I need to send photo, in order to get original bahncard via post?
A: You don't need a photo for the Bahncard 25. The final card should be sent to the address you gave during the order process. But as Bahncards can only be used by the person whose name is on the card, you need to have your passport or IDcard with you when you travel with a discounted Bahncard ticket.
When you purchase the BahnCard 50 uploading a photo is required.
Q: I just bought 2 Probe card for my wife and myself.
Do I need to log as myself ot buy my ticket and then as her to buy her ticket or I can purchase both tickets when logged as myself? I do not quite understand the purpose of being logged in.
Also, I noticed that when I select 2 travellers for the Garmisch-Munich train of 8:07am, I can either pick the Saving Fare or Regular Fare Tickets. However, when I click on purchase Saving Fare tickets, I get to the webpage saying that the Saving Fare Tickets are Bayern-Tickets and cannot be used before 9am weekdays...but my train is at 8:07am...is it me that do not understand and the website should not offer me those Saving Fare Tickets?
A: When you are logged into your DB account you can buy tickets for your wife as well. Best thing is when you select 2 passengers, and select Bahncard for both travellers in advance. In this case you always get to see the total price for 2 travellers.
The purpose of being logged in is that they store some of your data and you don't need to type it again and again. Also, it says on the DB website that you can't purchase tickets for others when you are not logged in.
You are right, it must be a mistake that you can pick the Saving Fare (Bayernticket) for the 8 o'clock train. I just searched for a train from Garmisch to Munich in the morning, and I didn't see this option.
The distance for this journey is not served by long distance trains like the ICE. There is only a regional train running between Garmisch and Munich, that's why they offered the Länderticket (Bayernticket) as saver fare.
Q: Thanks for the info. I have checked again and only get the (Bayernticket) Savings fares if I select tickets for 2 adults (for Garmisch-Munich train). If I enter only 1 adult, I will not get the (Bayernticket) Savings Fares. So do you get discount if you buy more than 1 ticket at a time?
A: Generally, you also get saving fares (if availabe) when you purchase one ticket. However, there are no saving fares for local trains, like the one from Garmisch to Munich.
Saving fares are only available for long distance trains, like ICE / IC etc. There is usually a limited number of saving fares for long-distance trains, and they vary from train to train. So you might get different saving fares for trains on the same route. It depends on how popular a route is and the time of the day. Also, you get better saving fare offers the earlier you purchase a ticket. You can buy tickets up to 90 days in advance.
Back to the Garmisch to Munich train. The price for 1 ticket is cheaper than the Bayernticket, that's why it is not offered when you select 1 person. Of course, you get the discount from the Bahncard, so do not forget to select the Bahncard option. When you purchase 2 tickets, the price for the Bayernticket is less expensive than the 2 tickets, that's why they offer it for trains later than 9am.
When you buy a Bayernticket, you won't get additional Bahncard discount. However, when you purchase long-distance tickets for ICE trains, you get extra Bahncard discount on top of available saving fares.
Q: I really hate Deutsche Bahn... they renewed by subscription from Probebahncard to the one year one Bahncard 25. And now they ask me to pay 64 Euros. I don't travel often so it sucks that I still have to pay for it. Can I still cancel the subscription? I have received the Bahncard but havent used it. The validity started a month back..
If its not possible to cancel it, can you tell me how to save 25% off on Sparpreis, because I think you get 25% off only on Standard Preis and not on Sparpreis!
A: Sorry to hear that you missed to cancel the subscription in time.
I am afraid there is not much you can do about it. DB clearly says on their website that the Probebahncard turns into an annual subscription when you don't cancel it.
With a Bahncard 25 you definitely get 25% off on Sparpreis as well for long distance trains. Sparpreis is not offered for regional trains, and you need to purchase the ticket at least 3 days in advance.
When you are on the DB website there is a box below the section where you enter your destination and time of travel. It says "passenger", the default setting is 1 adult, no reduction. Click on "change", and there you can select the Bahncard 25.
Reminder for everyone! BahnCard subscriptions renew automatically for one year unless you cancel at least 6 weeks in advance.
Q: I was wondering if you could help me find out, whether I can use my Probe BahnCard to buy online tickets for my parents who will be travelling without me.
A: The answer is definitely NO. It doesn't matter if it is a ProbeBahnCard or a regular one.
Occasionally Deutsche Bahn has additional offers like the ProbeBahncard 25 ( sample card for 4 months) or Bahncard 1+4 (with this card you can buy tickets for 4 friends for a limited time).
These cards are often only available from the German DB website, not on DB's international websites.
One reader reported that the country box was set to Germany when he ordered the ProbeBahncard. So you might need a Germany address (hotel) when you order.
Important: Be aware that these cards turn into an annual subscription if you don't cancel them 6 weeks before their validity ends.
Some readers were confused when they received the below email from Deutsche Bahn after they ordered a BahnCard 25 or bahn.bonus card. As both cards don't come with a photo, it seems that the email is an automated response sent for all orders.
"We confirm receipt of your order for a BahnCard. Thank you for your order. Your order is being processed under order number xxxx. Your BahnCard will be sent to you by post within 9 days of receipt of all required documents (eg. photograph, proof of eligibility for reduced-rate cards or additional cards).
Please state your name, date of birth and the order number of your online order with all enquiries. "
Q: I bought the bahncard25(with railplus).
1. While booking they are asking for bahncard number. The whole card is printed in German and can't find the number.
2. If I book the standard fare tickets and I miss the train given in the ticket, how can I board in another one. Please help.
A:1. The card number is below your name, it usually begins with 7081.
2. If you buy a standard fare ticket you can use it for a later train as well. When booking you just need to pick a train for the route to calculate the price, but with a standard ticket you are not bound to that train. It is the Sparpreis (saver fare) ticket that is only valid for the train booked.
Q: You have been really helpful in answering so many questions. Really appreciated!!
I got few questions here.
1. I am a student from Hong Kong and will be going on exchange in Germany in the coming spring semester. I am considering to buy a Bahncard 25. Am I eligiable for a reduced price of $41? (I am still under 25).
2. If yes, can I apply the card online right now? (So that i can use the card immediately after my arrival.) Will they send the card to Hong Kong? At this stage, I only have the acceptance letter from the University. But do not have student card yet. Is there any agency that they authorize to sell the card in Hong Kong?
3. I am quite confused about the city-ticket arrangement. For instance, if I travel from Frankfurt to Berlin using the ICE, is that I can have unlimited travel (with the city transport) inside Berlin? Or only one journey from the train station to city centre?
Lots of questions here. Look forward to your reply :) Thanks so much in advance!!!!
A: I really don't know if the acceptance letter is valid to apply for a reduced BahnCard. You better contact a DB agency to check which papers you need. Usually a student's ID card is required.
There is one in Hong Kong listed on the DB website.
Travel Asia (HK) Limited
29E，Tower A, Billion Center
1 Wang kwong Road, Kowloon Bay, Hongkong
Tel.: +85 227 21 02 22, Fax: +85 227 21 17 77
As for the city ticket, this would be only valid once on your onward journey to your final destination in Berlin, if the destination is within the city ticket zone.
When you live in Berlin I am sure the people at the University can give you advice how to get a reduced monthly ticket for local public transport within Berlin.
The local transport authorities are usually independent from the DB, and the conditions vary between the authorities in Germany, eg what the costs for students are. I am not sure if the BahnCard would save you money here, or can be used at all.
So unless you plan to do some longer train journeys to visit other places in Germany, I would check if it is useful to buy a BahnCard.
If you decide against the BahnCard, you can purchase the ICE ticket from Frankfurt to Berlin in advance (maximal 90 days) to get a good saver fare.
Q: I am an international student studying in UK. I would like to ask will I be eligible to purchase the Bahncard? Will it be delivered to the UK address? Will I be even eligible to buy the reduced Bahncard as I am under 26?
A: I am pretty sure the BahnCard can be delivered to an UK address.
You can apply for a reduced BahnCard online, but you cannot print a provisional card.
As proof of eligibility for a reduced card you need to send a copy of your students ID card and a copy of your passport (the page that shows your photo and age). You can upload these documents during the booking process. The final Bahncard will be sent to your address.