Cheap train tickets: the best booking sites & apps

Earn cashback and save money on rail fares

Train tickets are going to get more expensive with rail fares set to increase on 4 March. Fortunately you can claw some of that back if you use a handful of booking apps and sites which offer things like cashback.

To help, we’ve analysed the likes of Uber, Trainline, LNER and others so you know which will save you the most money – and which ones could actually end up costing you even more.  

The best train booking apps and sites

If you’re booking tickets, don’t just go straight to the train network or another booking site – it’s worth using one of these to bring down the price of your journey.


Yep, it’s not just taxis and takeaways – there are trains too! Thanks to a 10% cashback offer in the app, we’d recommend Uber as the best place to book your train tickets for cheaper, whilst this offer is valid.

  • Cashback: 10% in the form of Uber credits
  • Other savings: collect Avios and use discounted gift cards
  • Split ticketing: yes
  • Fees: none

Uber cashback

You can receive up to 10% of your booking value in the form of Uber credits when you book train tickets through your Uber account. It’ll take 10 days for the credit to be applied.

The credits can be used for Uber Travel, Rides and Eats, though you’ve got to use it within 180 days. Of course this is only of use if you’re going to use the credit. If not, then look at alternative sites.

This offer is currently valid until 31 August 2024, although we are hoping it will be extended. 

Other Uber discounts

You can purchase Uber gift cards from cashback sites like JamDoughnut and HyperJar and earn around 3% cashback. You’ll even find occasional but larger discounts on Uber gift cards at places like Tesco.

You can then use the gift cards to pay for your train tickets on Uber and earn cashback from Uber in return. And that should stack with the 10% cashback to get some hefty savings.

Uber split tickets

If split tickets are available, you’ll see a blue split ticket icon next to the route as well as the amount of money you’ll save.

Uber extras

If you link your British Airways account and Uber account, you can earn 1 Avios point per £1 spent on qualifying journeys. Even if you don’t collect these for flights, if you earn enough you can swap them for Nectar points.

Last summer Uber upped their cashback offer on train tickets to 20% for Uber One members. We’ll keep an eye out to see if this offer returns.

One consideration though is it might be harder to process refunds on delays than going via our other top pick, LNER.

LNER (London North Eastern Railway)

This train company, like all UK train companies, allows you to book journeys on its own and other railway company networks with no fee.

But the main reason to use LNER to book your train journeys is up to 10% cashback from your bank (when the offer is running). And there’s a loyalty scheme on top if you travel on one of its own trains.

  • Cashback: via some banks
  • Other savings: £5 discount on app and 2% credit on LNER tickets
  • Split ticketing: yes
  • Fees: none

LNER cashback

You can expect to find 5 to 10% cashback back on purchasers from LNER with Monzo, Amex, Halifax, Lloyds, Virgin Money and Barclays so check your bank rewards. We’ve seen the best rates with Halifax and Lloyds – but they all come and go.

Another site to check is Airtime Rewards, which is currently giving 8% cashback towards your mobile bill (at the time of writing) – and you can stack this with cashback from a bank card too. Find out more about Airtime Rewards in our review.

You won’t currently find LNER on the main cashback sites.

Other LNER discounts

When you download the app and join LNER Perks, you’ll receive a £5 credit to use on LNER journeys. 

From then on, when you book on the app, you’ll earn a 2% credit on every LNER advance ticket whether you travel on LNER for the whole journey or part of the journey. You can earn these alongside cashback from your bank card to double your discounts.

LNER split tickets

Smart Save is LNER’s version of split ticketing and is only available to purchase on the app. That said, I downloaded the app and tried several routes but did not see any Smart Save prices, nor could I find anywhere on the app to select it as the method to purchase. 

After a little playing around with routes, it might just be that it is an automatic add on, as the prices on dummy journeys I tried were very similar to those on split ticketing sites. 

LNER extras

The LNER app has a ‘Deal Finder’ tool that allows you to find the best prices for a destination. If you are not set on dates or even destination, and have some flexibility, this is a great tool to find a cheap trip away.

Other train booking sites worth considering

There are other offers from alternative booking sites which can usually be beaten by the apps above, but they might be worth a look if you’re struggling to find a deal or prefer to use these options.

Virgin Trains Ticketing

Virgin Trains stopped operating trains in 2019 but they now have a train booking app known as Virgin Trains Ticketing. If you can find a high cashback offer via your bank then combined with points earned, it could be worth a go.

  • Cashback: via cashback sites and occasionally via some banks
  • Other discounts: collect and spend Virgin points
  • Split ticketing: yes
  • Fees: none

Virgin Trains cashback

We’ve seen between 5 and 9% cashback via bank and credit cards including Monzo, Virgin Money and Barclaycard. 

And at the time of writing, you could get 2.4% cashback for new customers via Quidco and 2.55% for new customers via TopCashback.

Other Virgin Trains discounts

With Virgin Trains Ticketing you can earn three Virgin Points per £1 on every journey. When you have 200 points (so a spend of £67), you can use these points for discount on your journeys and the amount of points discount you choose is up to you. Here’s what the points are worth on future bookings:

  • 200 points – £1 discount   
  • 500 points – £2.50 discount   
  • 1,000 points – £5 discount   
  • 2,000 points – £10 discount  
  • 4,000 points – £20 discount  
  • 5,000 points – £25 discount  
  • 8,000 points – £40 discount   
  • 10,000 points – £50 discount   

Virgin Train split tickets

Split tickets are available on the app and if available for your journey, you’ll see a split ticket icon next to the search results for your journey. Virgin Trains Ticketing makes it easy as you can store all your split tickets in the app.

Virgin Trains extras

If you join Virgin Red, you can use the points you earn through other outlets to pay for your train tickets. Alternatively, you can use the points you earn buying train tickets on the Virgin Train Ticketing to spend on other partners on the Virgin Red app.

The most popular train booking site isn’t one you necessarily should be using as your first point of call. Despite some offers, you might be overpaying thanks to fees on most bookings.

  • Cashback: via cashback sites and occasionally via some banks
  • Other discounts: occasional offers on railcards and season tickets
  • Split ticketing: yes, but not always the cheapest
  • Fees: yes – up to £1.75

Trainline cashback

Both Quidco and TopCashback offer limited cashback on Trainline for existing customers (0.5% and 1.05% respectively at the time of writing). Better than nothing, though not by much. 

Where they are worth a look is for new Trainline customers. as you could bag yourself up to 30% cashback on railcards and 5.25% on tickets the first time you book. And if you’re new to either cashback site then make sure you get a welcome offer worth up to £20 on top. 

Keep an eye on your bank cards as some offer additional cashback. We’ve seen 3% via Monzo and 5% via American Express recently – though these rates can often be beaten by similar deals for other booking sites.

If you connect your bank to Cheddar then you’ll also get 1% additional cashback.

Other trainline discounts does offer Railcards at discounted prices throughout the year and when the offer is on, you could grab yourself a money saving railcard for half price. We’ll share all these offers in our train deals page when they happen.

There are also deals from time to time such as money off season tickets. Trainline also offers various Bluelight discounts.

Trainline split tickets

You can get split ticketing via Trainline but it is often beaten on price by other sites that offer this service and therefore, we don’t think it’s a reason to book with Trainline.

Trainline fees

The big reason to not use Trainline as default, is the fees. You’ll pay 80p to £1.75 on the website and 35p to £1.75 on the app. The only exception is same day bookings which are fee free – though the fares themselves are going to be higher the later you leave it.

Trainline extras

You don’t have to buy your tickets from Trainline, but you can make use of their handy price prediction tool, if you’re not sure when to buy your tickets. 

It can tell you when the price of a ticket is likely to rise and how many tickets at a particular price are left.

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This booking site and app offers plenty of discounts to help lower the cost of your rail fares, but they’re usually not as good as the savings on Uber or LNER. However, there’s a welcome offer and occasional railcard deals that are worth taking advantage of.

  • Cashback: limited amounts on all purchases via cashback sites
  • Other discounts: new user discount on app
  • Split ticketing: Yes
  • Fees: Not on their app

TrainPal cashback

Nothing too exciting here: you can get 1.6% and 1.7% cashback from Quidco and TopCashback respectively and at the time of writing, new Trainpal customers could get 5% cashback via TopCashback.

Other TrainPal discounts

New users on the app, get an £11 new user’s gift as well as access to special deals. You can also find referral codes which give you £3 off your first purchase as well as multiple voucher codes online. Plus they also offer a student discount.

TrainPal also offers a paid for membership at £3 a month or £20 for the year, which will get you 3% discount on every UK rail ticket, so if you’re a frequent traveller, it’s worth doing the maths to see if this works for you.

TrainPal split tickets

TrainPal automatically applies split ticketing where available and shows you the amount you save. Tickets are in the form of e-tickets which is great news too as no printing required at the station.

TrainPal fees

TrainPal does not charge fees on their app but be cautious if booking via the website, as you may find a booking fee of 2.5% added on. And for split tickets, they charge 12% of the difference between the original price and the split ticket price with a maximum of £1.99.

TrainPal extras

TrainPal claims to offer easy changes and refunds, and although I’ve not tried this service myself, they do appear to rate highly on Trustpilot reviews for their customer service.

The best cashback site welcome offers

Find out how to get a bonus when you first sign up and spend at all the leading cashback sites

Other rail booking with some discounts

Discounts come and go, but we’ve spotted the following recently, which we think will help get you train tickets for cheaper.

  • offers new customers 5% off their first purchase and they are offering up to 34% discount on railcards at the time of publication.
  • The Omio travel booking site and app has lots of discounts to offer, but be aware of the variable fee they apply at the final stage of payment, as this could counteract any discounts you may have made. Currently there is 5.1% cashback for new customers, and 2.55% for existing customers on TopCashback and Quidco gives 4.8% and 2.4% respectively. Omio also offers 5% off for students and key workers plus there’s a refer a friend scheme, which could earn you £10 off your next purchase.
  • Avanti West Coast has 5% cashback with Virgin Money at the time of writing. And if you join their loyalty scheme, Club Avanti, you’ll get 10% off your first return ticket plus other perks including 10% off food and drink onboard their trains.
  • Northern Trains offers 2% cashback on all purchases on Quidco and 1.7% on TopCashback.
  • TransPennine Express offers 3.4% cashback on advance purchases with Topcashback.
  • The Transport for Wales (TFW) rail booking app, does not charge fees and has the advantage of allowing you to pay in 3 instalments for any journey over £30 when you pay through Paypal. You can also get 0.8% cashback for all bookings on Quidco and 3.5% cashback on TopCashback.

Train ticket sites that charge fees

The following sites all charge booking fees and it’s not always clear to spot until the payment page and even then, blink and you may miss it!  Unless there’s a really good offer which saves you money after these fees, they’re best avoided.

  • MyTrainTicket
  • Omio
  • Rail Europe
  • Railboard
  • Raileasy
  • Sojo
  • Split My Fare
  • Train Hugger
  • Trainline
  • TrainPal (website only)
  • Trainsplit

Which train booking app should you use?

Here at Be Clever With Your Cash, we like Uber, as the 10% back in Uber credits that you get booking train travel on the app is available to everyone. Plus you can stack it with discounted gift cards for even more savings. We have our fingers crossed that this offer continues after 31 August 2024. However, as it’s paid in credit it’s not a great offer if you aren’t likely to book another train, ride or takeaway from the app within six months.

We also recommend LNER since the bank card offers are usually really good, as high as 10% cashback, and you get 2% back on LNER routes. Unfortunately, not everyone’s bank offers the cashback and the promotion isn’t always on. But that said, their app does offer split tickets at a competitive price.

6 thoughts on “Cheap train tickets: the best booking sites & apps

  1. I can’t see any split tickets on Uber, has this been removed? Surely a big downside if so.

  2. If you are booking tickets for short rail journeys, look for apps that don’t charge a fee. I use RedSpottedHanky. I do use Trainline when the cost of the ticket is over £20, but only via Complete Savings website (this gives you a 10% discount, which is much better than Quidco/TopCashback). I know Andy is not a fan of Complete Savings because of its £15 monthly fee, but this is easily recovered – I’ve been using CS for over 5 years and have always recuperated the fee. Not

  3. Thanks for this, very interesting. I’ve never been able to find anything cheaper than Split My Fare. For example, their most expensive return tickets on weekday mornings from Marks Tey to London Liv St are £48.83, whereas the Uber is £55.40. Depends how often you use Uber as to whether the cashback is worth it, but for someone going 3x a week, it currently isn’t.

    1. I have also found Split my fare the best – funny how it is not listed here.

  4. Can you explain what split tickets are?

    1. If you are going from Kidderminster to Paddington a split ticket of Kidderminster to Worcester then another ticket Worcester to Oxford and another Oxford to Paddington is often much cheaper.
      Especially if you start in peak period as only one stage may be in peak.


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