16 Sep How to Save Money when Purchasing Norway Train Tickets
I want to share with you how we saved $300 on train tickets when traveling through Norway. I did run into some major issues when trying to purchase train tickets on the Norwegian railway site, NSB.com, but for the savings, it was worth the hassle. Hopefully my story can help you find cheaper train tickets for Norway; it can also be applied to other destinations as well. When purchasing train tickets, the best prices are typically found directly on the train companies website and not on a third party site, unless you are buying an Eurail pass or something similar. If you opt for the Eurail pass, you can travel an unlimited amount within a certain time period through specific regions, which can make buying the pass worth your money depending on your circumstances. But, they are not cheap, so a pass will only make sense if you are traveling frequently within a certain region.
Time and time again, I have searched for train tickets on Eurail or Rail Europe and have been able to find better prices elsewhere, the catch is that it isn’t always convenient to buy tickets from other sources. For example, we were taking a train journey from Oslo to Flåm and back again, and tickets for two people were about $650. I don’t know about you, but I am not willing to spend that much on train tickets for a 2 day journey. I knew there had to be another option, so I started my search.
After finding the appropriate website to look for Norwegian train tickets, I hopped over to one of my favorite sites for train travel, seat61.com, where are helpful tips to buying affordable train tickets in countries around the world. Some countries will try to direct you to other sites if you are from the USA and you will then have a higher final cost. For example, the French website, Voyages-SNCF.com kept trying to direct me to Rail Europe where my tickets were almost twice the price. I had so many issues, I eventually just gave in and purchased the tickets in French, thankfully my college French classes and google translate came to the rescue!
Anyways, back to Norway. Everything was going well, I was able to read NSB in English and ticket prices were down to $165 pp vs $325 pp on Rail Europe. We decided to make the journey and went ahead to purchase the tickets. This is where I ran into issues. If you are looking to use a credit card from the United States, you will not be able to purchase train tickets from the website. My card was declined numerous times–I couldn’t figure out the problem because my bank said everything was fine on their end. Finally, I found a glimmer of hope when after hours of searching online (I can be a tad determined sometimes), I read that the Norwegian train website will not accept credit cards from the United States due to issues with fraud, but you may be able to purchase over the phone.
So, that being said, I decided to try calling NSB to order tickets over the phone. The agent was nice, but a little impatient–I fed her the information and she confirmed that I had read correctly–they will not authorize transactions initiated with a US credit card. She made my reservation and said she would email me a special link to pay for my purchase. All was well in the world, or so I thought. The special link never came. I didn’t know how long to wait, so I tried calling the next morning. This time, the agent was way more helpful and she informed me that the link she sends will only be active until the end of their work day, so due to the time difference, that meant I basically had to make the purchase within the hour. I waited on the phone with the agent to make sure I received my link for payment and thankfully, this time I received it. From there on out it was just like making any other purchase online. Please note, though, be aware of your international calling rates and the amount of time you spend on the phone–I spent about $15 on the calls, but it could cost more or less depending on your phone plan. It was a hassle trying to get the cheaper tickets, but definitely worth a $300 savings. Now, next time I need to purchase a train ticket in Norway, it will be super easy, and I hope it will be for you too!
How do you purchase your train tickets? Do you have any tricks?