Swiss Pass vs Half Fare Card

May 1st, 2014, 09:32 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 106
Swiss Pass vs Half Fare Card

I am finding it very hard to choose between these two passes for my wife and myself. Based on my calculations, it seems the half fare card would be a slightly better value. However, is it correct that with the Swiss Pass we can proceed right to the train each time we travel? For the half fare card, we would need to buy tickets separately for every trip? Are these both correct? If so, the convenience of just being able to hop on and off the trains might be worth the difference in price for me. Can anyone clarify this?
mjknycmjk is offline  
May 1st, 2014, 09:37 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Hi mjknymjk,

Yes, you have summarized the differences very well. Yes, with a SP, you just jump on the train.

It only takes about 30 seconds to buy tickets, though. I rarely use the counters any more and just use the ticket machines, which are everywhere in the stations. And the ticket machines have English buttons.

Some other advantages of the SP are the entrances to some museums, if that's of interest to you.

For me, the convenience of just hopping on/off a train was not a selling point -- I guess I'm just not that much in a hurry or whatever --

Have fun as you plan!

swandav2000 is offline  
May 2nd, 2014, 04:03 AM
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If at all close in price chose the Swiss Pass as you may use it more than you think and you do not have to think - 'is this worth it to me' - like on a whim in Lucerne or Interlaken hopping on a lake boat - fully covered by the pass or going into some museum you do not think you'd want to pay $20 or so to get in (Swiss Passes valid at 470 Swiss museums and sites - like the popular Ballenberg Open-Air Museum in the Interlaken area - $25 p.p. to enter.

And passes are also valid on city buses and trams, etc.

If going to Alpine areas and the weather turns funky you can day trip to some nearby city - better in poor weather than trekking around the hills, etc.

Half-Fare Cards are perfect for folks who know exactly what they will be doing and will be saving enough money - not just a little - and you can just hop on and off any train, lake boat, bus, etc. Just flash the pass when the conductor comes by.

I have had dozens of Swiss Passes and always used them more than I thought - consecutive-day passes are the best deal if traveling every day - even if just from a base like Wengen or Murren or Grindelwald, etc - the pass covers travel to those popular hill towns in full.

If thinking Half-Fare Card also look at the Swiss Card which also gives half-off everything that moves in Switzerland but also gives you a free ticket from any border station or airport to any one place in Switzerland and then a ticket back to any border station or airport - need not be the same border station or airport. Several folks here have found that the Swiss Card was a better deal for them than the Half-Fare Card - with exact same 50% off everything the Half-Fare Card covers.

For lots of great info on Swiss trains, passes, etc I always spotlight these IMO fine sites:; and - I've bought passes from Byron at the latter for years - he is one expert you can talk to on the phone and get answers even if you are not buying a pass IME; and

and to me the convenience of just hopping on a train - if the costs are close between pass and card - is worth a lot - often I've just hopped on an about to depart train - IME it may take more than 30 seconds to get to the front of ticket windows or for folks not familiar with the machines a bit longer too.
PalenQ is offline  
May 2nd, 2014, 12:10 PM
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Check Swiss Pass prices for sale in the U S as well as Europe - often IME of checking for several years the exact same pass may be cheaper - sometimes significantly so in the U S for sosme weird reason - not always the case but compare if comparing a pass to the half-fare card - plus check your credit card charges for foreign transactions - add the 3% or less into the calculations.
PalenQ is offline  
May 2nd, 2014, 02:34 PM
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One major difference between the Half-Fare things and the Swiss Pass is that if going to the Jungfraujoch summit in the Interlaken area you will only get 25% off with a Swiss Pass beyond Grindelwald and Wengen - passes cover travel to those destinations in full but above only 25% off - and the rest of the route have about the steepest fares in the world!

Half-Price Card I believe, but not sure, gets 50% off the whole thing (Swiss Cards too I believe but not sure).
PalenQ is offline  
May 3rd, 2014, 07:36 AM
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To see if a Half-Fare Card is better than a Swiss Card simply take the price difference and then get a price for the two train-bus trips you will take when entering Switzerland to where you want to go and then from your last place in Switzerland out to some border or airport and add them to the cost of a Half-Fare Card - some here have savings using the Swiss Card so why pay more for less - obviously it depends on where you are landing or entering Switzerland and where you first and final bases are.

Landing in Geneva and going to say Wengen and back then the Swiss Card is probably cheaper than the Half-Fare Card or from When to the Austrian or Italian borders.

Again Swiss Cards offer exactly the same benefits as a Half-Fare Cared plus the two train-bus-whatever conveyance journeys to begin and end your trip with.

This is why anyone blanketly recommends the Half-Fare Card they should also mention the Swiss Card which could give everything the Half-Fare Card does but more. Why pay more for less? - even if just a few francs?
PalenQ is offline  
May 3rd, 2014, 07:48 AM
Join Date: Oct 2010
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Sometimes it's better to talk to a live person when buying a train ticket in the BO.

You wouldn't believe all the people who get on the wrong train.

When you buy your ticket at the window you can get the track # and time the next train leaves.

Good hotels in Wengen, Murren, and Lauterbrunnen usually have train schedules posted in their lobbies.

I always save more--like $200-when using the Half-Fare Card in the BO.

You have to do the math.

I always buy a 2nd-class ticket, too.

Pepper_von_snoot is online now  
May 3rd, 2014, 09:26 AM
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when using the Half-Fare Card in the BO.>

Do you ever p[rice out a Swiss Card to see if it is better than the Half-Fare Card as I discuss above?
PalenQ is offline  
May 3rd, 2014, 02:25 PM
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Swiss Card costs $229 p.p. 2nd class in U.S. or 199 CHF francs in Switzerland (= about $232 plus any foreign transcations fees your credit card imposes - with many 3%)

Half-Fare Card costs CHF 120 (about $140 plus any transaction fees)

So $229-140 = 89 CHF - so if the cost of the two 100% covered trips the Swiss Card gives you is over 89 CHF total that would be the savings over a Half-Fare Card - and you travewl carte blanche - on any train over the most direct route with stop-offs during that day I believe included.

So do the maths and see which is better - if either is better than a Swiss Pass for you.

Half-Fare and Swiss cards are best for folks going to one location and not traveling around out of the area much, using local trains and lifts, etc. For folks traveling around Switzerland the Swiss Pass is often the best deal.
PalenQ is offline  
May 4th, 2014, 07:37 AM
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According to - Swiss Federal Railways site it costs one-way Geneva Airport to Wengen 85 CHF full fare each way so you can see the Swiss Card can same some scenarios a lot lot of money over the Half-Fare Card which is often blindly recommended here as the 'way to go' with mentioning that the Swiss Card could give everything too and more for significant savings.
PalenQ is offline  
May 5th, 2014, 12:34 PM
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I always save more--like $200-when using the Half-Fare Card in the BO>

You would probably save a lot more then if traveling that much in the BO with a Jungfraubahn Pass or Berner Oberland Pass???
PalenQ is offline  

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