If you’re planning to travel in Spain by train, you’ll find AVE and long-distance routes follow the same fare structure. Here, we take you through the types of fares so you understand the options when booking a train ticket. Do also check out our blog post on the difference between Preferente and Turista, the two main classes of tickets.
In terms of fares, there are three main fare levels: Flexible, Promo+ and Promo. And both ticket classes are available on all three fare levels. Further down, we explain these in more detail as well as a couple of other fare options.
Here’s a screenshot from Renfe’s website. When looking at an individual journey, you’ll see there are two dropdown buttons: one for Class and another for Fare. After selecting the Class, you’ll see the Fare options.
Flexible tickets are full-price fares that are available up to and including the day of travel (if there are any seats left, of course). They also allow you to choose your seat. And as the name suggests, these are the most flexible tickets. They allow ticket holders to make a change free of charge – however, do note that if the new ticket is more expensive, you will have to pay the difference. And if the new ticket is actually cheaper, 15% of your original ticket will be reimbursed to you. You can also get a refund on a ticket minus a 5% charge. So, if you’re not certain of your plans, a flexible fare may suit you best. This is the case whether you’re buying a Flexible fare for a Preferente seat or Turista seat.
And if you have a Flexible Preferente ticket, you can enjoy the additional benefits of free parking at the train station as well as access to Renfe’s Sala Clubs.
The level down from Flexible is Promo+. These tickets are cheaper fares that are available if you buy your journey in advance. Ticket prices are discounted up to 65% depending on the train and how far in advance you’re buying it. Promo+ tickets also allow changes to the ticket minus a 20% charge. And as with the Flexible tickets, if the new ticket is more expensive, you’ll have to pay the difference. You can also get a refund on your ticket but there’s a cancellation fee of 30%. With a Promo+ ticket, you won’t be able to choose your own seat. And even if you’ve got a Promo+ Preferente ticket, you’ll still be able to use the Sala Clubs, which are generally reserved for Preferente customers. However, it doesn’t include free parking at the train station.
These are some of the cheapest tickets you can find. Only available in advance, ticket prices are discounted up to 70% depending on the train and how far in advance you’re buying it. Promo tickets are also the most restrictive so you won’t be able to make a change or get a refund.
As with Promo+ tickets, you can’t choose your own seat. And if you’re buying a Promo Preferente ticket, you also won’t get the additional benefits of a free parking at the station or access to the Sala Clubs.
Round trip discounts: Ida y Vuelta
When booking a ticket on Renfe’s website, if you are doing a round trip, an additional fare option is ‘Ida y Vuelta’ (which means a return trip). This is available on all classes of tickets and gives passengers a 20% discount on the fare. Changes to these tickets can be made free of charge but have to be the same route. If the new ticket is more expensive, you’ll have to pay the additional amount. And if it’s less, you’ll be reimbursed 15%. You can also cancel one or both journeys. If you’re cancelling one journey, there is a 40% fee. If you’re cancelling both journeys, there’s a 15% fee.
Renfe’s website also allows you to choose an Ida y Vuelta fare even if your two journeys are on a different class. For instance, you could choose Preferente on the outward journey and Turista on the return journey.
Group tickets: Mesa fares
If you’re travelling with other people, you may also be able to get a discounted fare called ‘Mesa’. It’s Spanish for table and refers to the tickets only being valid for a group of four seats facing each other. Usually there’s a table in between but, actually, the Mesa fare is also available for a group of four seats facing each other even if there isn’t a table in the middle. You can buy them in advance of your journey. You can actually buy a Mesa fare just for one person but you’ll still be charged for the discounted fare for four people. If you did want to buy four seats for less than four people, you’ll still need to fill out passenger details for four people. However, you can repeat the details of a passenger that is travelling.
Compared to buying single full-priced tickets, a Mesa fare is discounted up to 60% depending on the type of train and how far in advance it’s being bought. Ticket changes aren’t allowed and there’s a 50% fee if you want a refund.