The Swiss Railways Half-Fare Card gives 50% discounts on tickets for trains, buses, trams, boats, and cable cars in Switzerland.
The Swiss Half-Fare card is a fantastic savings deal for travelers in Switzerland using public transportation. Bearers can use almost all trains, buses, trams, boats, and cable cars for half the normal ticket fare. The half-fare card quickly pays for itself even if using trains and public transportation only sporadically. The Swiss Half-Fare Card is added to a Swiss Pass and valid for one year and renews automatically if not cancelled. Non-residents may also buy a one-month half-fare card at any Swiss train station for immediate use.
The Swiss Pass
The Swiss Pass is a new transportation and travel card system used in Switzerland. It allows bearers to add all manners of transportation including travel passes for trains, buses, ski passes, and other services onto a single card and manage the accounts online. A new Swiss Pass is CHF30 or free when a half-fare card is bought.
The Swiss Pass can be bought online from Swiss Railways but only if a passport or ID card was issued by Switzerland, France, Italy, Germany, Austria or Liechtenstein. It is also available to non-residents but the physical card is only sent by post to a mailing address.
See the Switzerland transportation map (PDF File) for the area of validity of the Swiss Half-Fare Card. The Half-fare Card is referred to as the Halbtax Abo in German or Demi-Tarif in French – press the ½ button on vending machines to get the discounted tickets.
Save with Swiss Half-Fare Transportation Card
The main advantage of using a Swiss Half-Fare Card is saving 50% on virtually all forms of public transportation in Switzerland – this saving is also applied to many private railway lines, boats, and cable cars. When buying tickets, simply select the ½ fare button, or the child fare, which is usually half the regular ticket price. (For very short journeys or cheap tickets, the savings may be less than 50%.)
The 50% savings apply to any class of travel as the Half-Fare Card is not class bound. Families with children age 6 to 16 can save by using the Junior Card, or Swiss Family Card for international travelers. Children under 6 travel for free.
Further Advantages of Traveling with the Swiss Half-Fare Transportation Card
Bearers of the Swiss Half-Fare Card also enjoy further benefits not available to all travelers. These advantages include:
- Day Travel Passes – only bearers of the Half-Fare Card can buy day tickets (Tageskarte / Carte journalière), which is valid for unlimited travel on the Swiss transportation network. These day travel passes are CHF75 in second class and CHF127 for first class travel. (The cheaper after 9 am card is no longer sold.)
- Day Travel Passes for Children – this offer has been replaced by the cheaper Children’s Co-Travelcard that is available to all travelers.
- Month Rail Pass – it is possible to once a year buy a one-month rail pass (Monatskarte / Carte mensuelle) that is valid for unlimited travel on the Swiss public transportation network. This month rail pass is CHF420 (CHF690 first class) – significantly cheaper than the standard Swiss Travel Pass available to non-residents only.
- Track 7 – young travelers aged 16 to 25 may add track 7 (Gleis 7 / Voie 7) to their Half-Fare Card. Track 7 allows for unlimited free travel (sometimes a small fee must be paid on night buses and trains) on public transportation between 7 pm and 5 am. Track 7 cost CHF129 per year but oddly does not include surcharges for some late night / early morning trains.
- Cross border journeys – bearers of the Swiss Half-Fare Card qualify for discounts of 15% on German and Austrian rail tickets for cross border journeys provided that the tickets are bought inside Switzerland. (Better offers may be found across the borders though.)
- Swiss Museum Pass – receive a CHF20 discount when buying the Swiss Museum Pass, which is valid in over 490 museums in Switzerland.
Buying the Swiss Half-Fare Card for Discounts on Swiss Transportation
The Swiss Half-Fare Card can be bought from any Swiss train station or online through Swiss Railways as part of the Swiss Pass travel card system. Identification and a photo are required. Anyone may buy the Swiss Half-Fare Card – a Swiss address is not required but the Swiss Pass with the half-fare saving will only be delivered through mail. If required, a temporary card is issued that may be used immediately for travel savings.
The Swiss Half-Fare Card is CHF185 per year and automatically renews for the next year if not cancelled at least a month before its expiry date. The previous savings for multiple year cards and the Halbtax with Visa cards are no longer offered.
Children may buy a Half-Fare Card for CHF99 in the year that they turn 16. Children 6 to 16 travel at half price at all times or for free on a Junior Card with parents (or the similar Children’s Co-Travelcard with other adults).
Non-Swiss residents may buy the standard one-year half-fare card for CHF185, or an international Swiss Half-Fare Card valid for a month for CHF120. This card may include for free the Swiss Family Card, which functions as a Junior Card but only if the child’s name is added at time of purchase. The one-month Half Fare travel card can be bought from any Swiss train station – it is issued immediately and no photo is required.
More Tips for Saving on Swiss Transportation:
- Swiss Transportation Savings Deals (include information on dogs and bicycles too!)
- Switzerland Transportation Map (PDF File showing where the discount deals are valid)
- Save with the Junior Card for Families & Children
- International Savings Passes on Swiss Transportation (including information on the Swiss Family Card and international Half-Fare Card)
- Using the Swiss Pass and Swiss Flexi Pass
- The Swiss Card & Transfer Ticket on Public Transportation in Switzerland
- Swiss Railways (online tickets and timetables for all modes of public transportation in Switzerland)
- Buying Swiss Travel Passes from RailEurope or Voyages SNCF (UK).