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 canceled 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!)
- Omio sells train and bus tickets for Switzerland and most of Europe. It is easy to use and often have very good deals for specific trains.
- Swiss Railways English website for timetables and online tickets
- Switzerland Transportation Map (PDF File showing where the discount deals are valid)
- Save with the Swiss Half-Fare Card on Public Transportation
- International Savings Passes on Swiss Transportation (including information on the Swiss Family Card and international Half-Fare Card)
- Families Save with the Cheap Junior Card on Swiss Public Transportation
- Using the Swiss Pass and Swiss Flexi Pass
- The Swiss Card & Transfer Ticket on Public Transportation in Switzerland
- Buying Swiss Travel Passes from RailEurope (USA / Rest of the World) or Voyages SNCF (UK)
- Book holidays by train from Great Rail Journeys (UK)