Buying your train ticket at the best price can sometimes be a headache. Indeed, for an identical journey, prices can vary dramatically and SNCF’s pricing policy remains a difficult mystery to solve. If it is therefore sometimes difficult to understand these differences, certain tips will allow you to find good deals.

Unsurprisingly, the best technique is to buy your train ticket as early as possible. As the website I’m interested in, a train ticket booked two months in advance would save 20% on its price, compared to 13% one month in advance.

Indeed, according to the SNCF, the prices are adjusted according to the filling rate of the train. In other words, the more crowded a train, the more expensive the seats, and vice versa. By reserving your seats as soon as the sale opens, generally 3 or 4 months before the date of the journey, you have every chance of obtaining an advantageous price. Especially since when sales open, the SNCF offers its famous Prem’s tickets. Sold in limited numbers, they offer up to 50% off.

Note that this tip is also valid for people who are not yet sure of leaving or of their departure date. Indeed, with the exception of Ouigo trains, it is possible to cancel your ticket and get a refund. Otherwise, sites like Troc des Trains, Kelbillet or ZePass allow you to resell your train tickets. Regarding Ouigo trains, which offer tickets at unbeatable but non-refundable prices, SNCF launched Ouigoswap last July. This tool allows travelers to resell their ticket at 80% of the price paid.

Conversely, betting on last-minute offers can also be interesting. Indeed, to make sure to fill its trains, the SNCF can sell off the last tickets. However, this trick is more risky, especially during school holidays.

Another tip that can help you save money on your train ticket: flexibility. Trains running at peak times and between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. are generally more expensive because of higher demand. On the other hand, trains leaving very early in the morning or very late in the evening have attractive fares. Similarly, during the holiday period, traveling during the week would make it possible to divide by two, or even by three, the price of train tickets.

Finally, for people who often take the train, especially on the most popular routes and periods, the SNCF offers several discount cards that allow you to make great savings.