Finally – the new Deutschlandticket (Germany Ticket) is almost here! Starting May 1st, 2023 travellers will be able to use most trains (other than the fast long-distance trains), buses, trams, subways, commuter trains etc. in Germany for one flat fee of €49 per month!
Read on to learn all we know about this so far and to see if the Deutschlandticket would be right for you!
What is the Deutschlandticket?
The Deutschlandticket (German for Germany Ticket) is the successor of the €9 ticket (yeah, it got a lot more expensive) that was offered last summer.
The 9-Euro-Ticket was hugely successful – too successful to be truthful. It was so popular that trains were full to the point where the police had to evacuate some trains and basically train stations were a madhouse.
The new Deutschlandticket (which will cost €49 at this point) is supposed to provide the same benefits – cheaper use of public transportation to both offset the impact of the current high inflation rate on cost of living and to foster more interest in sustainable transportation.
However, as it isn’t quite as inexpensive it should hopefully not lead to complete pandemonium this time!
The basic principle is fairly simple: For one flat fee you will get a ticket that will allow you to use almost all trains, buses, subways etc. in Germany other than the really fast trains (IC, EC, ICE). There are some other exceptions but they are fairly minor.
How does the Germany Ticket work?
The Deutschlandticket will be offered as a subscription only. Similar to Netflix it can be cancelled at the end of each month though (so it will work even if you only need it for a shorter time as long as you don’t forget to cancel on time).
The Germany Ticket will for the most part be offered as a digital ticket. You can order it online, download it on your phone, and just show it when the conductor asks for it.
Deutschlandticket – The Good
It will likely save you money
The Deutschlandticket can save you a lot of money and will probably be useful for anyone planning to use public transportation in Germany.
Even if you just plan to use buses/subways/trams for three or four days while visiting a larger city, like Berlin and Munich, it should be cheaper than other options.
If you are planning to spend more time travelling and want to explore a bit farther afield (e.g. a trip to the mountains or to Neuschwanstein from Munich) it will save you even more money.
It should be easy – no need to buy tickets constantly
Once you are set up with the Deutschlandticket, you can just hop on any of the included modes of transportation. There will be no need to figure out how much a specific trip costs, no danger of buying the wrong ticket, no need to use one of the ticket vending machines etc.
With the Deutschlandticket you are all set!
Deutschlandticket – The Bad
Well, “Bad” is maybe overstating it a bit but here are some minor (compared to the potential savings) caveats you should be aware of:
The Deutschlandticket is only available as a subscription
I have no idea why, but at this time, the Deutschlandticket is only offered as a subscription, similar to Netflix.
This means that if you only need it when on vacation (or if you do live in Germany but don’t want it every month), you have to make sure to cancel your subscription on time. It seems that you have to cancel by the 10th of the month if you do not want to pay for the next month.
I highly recommend you cancel your subscription right after ordering it (maybe give it a day or two) so you don’t forget (yep, I do always forget to cancel my subscriptions, paying long after I have any interest in them). This is especially important as €49 may be a low price for what you get but it certainly is not cheap if you won’t be able to use it.
The Germany Ticket is for one person only
In contrast to most other tickets in Germany the Deutschlandticket will not allow you to take kids/bikes/dogs with you for free.
Children under six are free but they will need their own ticket (no reduced price so also €49) once they turn six. In contrast, children under 16 are free when travelling with an adult on long-distance trains with a regular ticket.
Even worse, there is no similar ticket offered for dogs or bikes. You will have to buy a traditional ticket for the specific ride you are planning on.
The Deutschlandticket is based on the month
The Germany ticket will always be valid for one calendar month, e.g. May or August. So if your trip runs for example from May 29 to June 2 you would need two months worth of ticket (a total of €98).
This may still be worth it if you are planning a lot of train trips etc. but your savings will of course be lower and it may even be cheaper to use regular tickets instead.
Faster long-distance trains are excluded
As stated above, the Deutschlandticket will be valid on most trains/buses/subways etc. but you may not use it on long distance trains. These are mainly the faster IC/EC/ICE trains connecting larger cities with few stops in between.
It is possible to cover long distances while avoiding these excluded trains but it may not be pleasant:
For example, a train trip from Munich to Berlin using ICE will take about 4.5 to 5 hours and require one train change.
If you want to cover the same distance with the Deutschlandticket it will take somewhere between 9 and 11 hours and require three to five train changes!
However, if you have the time you could break up the journey to discover more of Germany on the way and the Deutschlandticket may be a good option after all!
The Germany Ticket is available in second class only
The Germany Ticket is only available for travelling second class. This isn’t really that problematic as most of the local trains do not even offer any first class compartments. Still, it is something to be aware of and to consider when trying to decide whether the Germany Ticket would be right for you.
Deutschlandticket – The Ugly
Even though there are quite a number of “bad” aspects described above, most of them are either minor (e.g. no first class ticket available) or easily conquered (just cancel early enough).
However, there is one major hurdle at this point for travellers from overseas (or anyone outside Germany for that matter): You may not be able to buy the Deutschlandticket!
Only available with a German (or possibly EU) bank account
There is no restriction against buying it from overseas per se, but at this point the only payment method accepted is direct withdrawal from a bank account.
I believe (but do not know for sure) this should possibly work if you live within the EU but doubt it will work if you live anywhere else.
So is all lost?
You may be wondering why I even write about the Deutschlandticket if it isn’t an option for travellers. I know I hate reading all about some great deal/offer/option only to find out that I am not even eligible for it.
But I hope (and think) this is only a short-term hurdle. Even though they have been working on this 49 Euro Ticket ever since the 9 Eurot Ticket ended, a lot of aspects are still in flux.
There are constant changes and the ticket and all its conditions is evolving. I think it is quite likely that they will soon offer alternate payment methods (e.g. credit cards or PayPal) which would make it accessible for everyone.
The Deutsche Bahn does accept other payment methods for regular tickets so it all hinges on that subscription model – though Netflix has no problem using my PayPal for my subscription so you think the Deutsche Bahn should be able to figure it out as well.
And even if I am wrong and the official website does not change – highly likely someone will offer a service in which they acquire tickets and resell them (hopefully with only a low fee added on).
All that is to say – yes, at this point the Deutschlandticket may not be an option for visitors but it should be soon. And you may be sure that I will update this page or write a new post as soon as I find out about a work-around!
Is the Deutschlandticket right for you?
In general, the Deutschlandticket should be a good choice if:
- You will use public transportation for more than just a day or two
- You plan on exploring larger cities by public transportation
- You want to make shorter excursions in the countryside
- You have several days to cover longer distances and don’t mind making some stops on your way
- You want to remain flexible and not be tied to a specific train
The Deutschlandticket may not be ideal if:
- Your trip is split over two months
- You want to cover longer distances without wasting any time
- You are travelling with children between six and 14 years of age (as they may be free with a regular ticket)
What can I see with the Deutschlandticket?
The possibilities are pretty much endless but to get you started with some ideas I have written a blog post with my top three itineraries with the Deutschlandticket during your trip to Germany (once it is widely available).