Unless you're the kind of person that takes spontaneous train journeys with just hours of prior notice, you should always consider booking your train tickets online in advance. You'll find that you can pick up a ticket significantly cheaper if you do so. Here, we've got the best tips to help you get cheap train tickets online.

How to get cheap train tickets: Book early

Our first tip would be to book as early as you possibly can. It will vary depending on the journey you need to take, but you can sometimes book more than 12 weeks in advance. Try the TheTrainline's ticket alert system to help you find out exactly when the tickets go on sale.

How to get cheap train tickets: Split your journey

You can also try splitting tickets – it's a weird one that you'd think wouldn't work, but sometimes it really does. Instead of buying a ticket for the entire journey, you can buy them in parts to cut costs. It can take some time to figure out what will save you the most money, but as long as the train you're on calls at the stations you purchased tickets for, you're doing absolutely nothing against the rules.

To save time, you can try using online ticket splitting tools like Money Saving Expert's.

You should also check whether buying two singles is cheaper than the entire journey in one, particularly if you're returning on another day.

How to get cheap train tickets: Invest in a railcard

It is well-worth getting a railcard if you travel often, as they can save you a third on every journey you make. Not everyone is eligible for a railcard, but there are options including the Senior Railcard, the 16 to 25 Railcard, the Two Together Railcard and the Family and Friends Railcard. They do tend to have terms and conditions that are important to read before you buy, but you'll soon find that you'll save the £30 you pay for the year. Find out more about railcards by clicking here.

How to get cheap train tickets: Shop around

There are lots of places you can buy train tickets online, and we'd recommend checking two or more to compare prices before you buy. Try these:

Trainline

Red Spotted Hanky

RailEasy

National Rail

How to get cheap train tickets: Rewards apps

This one is a wildcard, but it can save you money in the long run. Rewards apps like Virgin's Virgin Red can lead to exclusive savings. Virgin Red is a loyalty app for Virgin's services that allows you to unlock offers, win prizes and more. Sometimes they'll be train-related, other times they'll be for coffee or a holiday or a day out. But if you do use Virgin trains or any other Virgin services, it's worth downloading to see what offers you can take advantage of.

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