Although many Berliners might not agree, Berlin’s S-Bahn and U-Bahn system is fairly cheap – especially if you know some special fares. So let’s look into them!

BVG Berlin Bus Stop
A Berlin bus stop. The “B” on the right side tells you in which fare zone your are.

Before you continue reading: Are you or will you be a student of a public university? If yes, you can stop reading here. πŸ™‚ Because as a Berlin (or Potsdam) student, you automatically receive the Semesterticket, a fairly cheap transit pass for Berlin and its surroundings, even incl. free bicycle carriage.

Background

To all the others of you, first some background: Berlin’s public transport is mainly operated by 2 companies

  • the S-Bahn-BerlinΒ / Deutsche Bahn, operating the S-Bahn and regional trains
  • the BVG, operating the U-Bahn, trams, busses – and even ferries.

But all of them can be used with the same tariff, so it doesn’t matter if you buy your ticket at a S-Bahn station, a BVG machine or the bus driver. Only when you were caught riding without a ticket and have to go paying your fine, you need to make sure to go to the right company. πŸ˜‰

But to make sure this never happens, here are some tariff basics.

Basics

Berlin and it’s surroundings is divided into 3 zones:

  • Zone A: Everything inside the Ring and the Ring itself.
  • Zone B: Everything outside the Ring – but inside Berlin.
  • Zone C: Berlin’s surroundings, up to around 15 km. And the whole of Potsdam.

To know inΒ which zone a station or bus stop is in, just look at itsΒ sign, as in the photo above: In the lower right corner, you see the letter A, B or C. Or take a look at the usual map.

The are no single tickets only for one zone, they always include at least two zones:

  • AB
  • BC
  • ABC

So most likely, you will need a ticket for AB. But which is a cheap one? Let’s look at some monthly passes.

Tip 1: Get the 10-a.m.-ticket – and save 27%

This is a monthly pass that you can’t use during 3 and 10 a.m. on labour days. During all other times, including weekends, it works like a normal monthly pass – just that it’s 27% cheaper: Instead of 81 €, you pay only 59 € (AB zones).

The 10-a.m.-ticket (10-Uhr-Karte) is a great option if your job starts later, you work from home, don’t work at all… – or you’re riding before 10 a.m. less than 7 times per month (as 8 or more single trip tickets of 2.70 € will outweigh your saving).

Tip 2: Get a yearly ticket – and save up to 25%

Are you staying in Berlin for longer? Then you might consider buying a yearly ticket, maybe even in advance.

There are two options:

  • you buy a yearly subscription and pay monthly (automatically from your bank account)
  • you buy a yearly ticket and pay the full price at once

Let’s look at the math how this plays out:

regular (full-time) ticket (zones AB)actual pricecalculated price per month… per yearsaving
monthly ticket81.00 €81.00 €972 €––
yearly ticket, paid per month63.42 €63.42 €761 €211 €21%
yearly ticket, paid at once728.00 €60.66 €728 €244 €25%
10-a.m.-ticket (zones AB)actual pricecalculated price per month… per yearsaving
monthly ticket59.00 €59.00 €709 €––
yearly ticket, paid per month45.58 €45.58 €547 €162 €23%
yearly ticket, paid at once531.00 €44.25 €531 €178 €25%

As you see: By committingΒ for a whole year and even paying in advance, we can make up to 25% per year. What bank has such interest rates nowadays! πŸ™‚

And note: you are also saving if you are not using the ticket the whole year but only 10 months, since 10 monthly tickets are already more expensive than a yearly ticket.

Tip 3: Get an apprentice ticket

This one works only if you are going to school, doing an internship or an “Ausbildung”: Then you can get a Azubi/SchΓΌlerticket, a discounted monthly pass.

It costs roughly the same as the 10-a.m.-ticket – but it is valid full-time.

To get such a ticket, you first need to go to a S-Bahn or BVG counter and show some evidence, e.g. a contract of your internship – and bring a photo. If they accept your evidence, they give you a customer card (Kundenkarte) with your photo on it. Then you can buy the actual monthly ticket at any vending machine or place. Don’t forget to write your customer number from the Kundenkarte on your monthly ticket, otherwise it won’t be valid.

Extra features: dogs, co-travellers, passing to others

Worth mentioning are some extra features of the monthly/yearly passes.

Featureregular (full-time) ticket10-a.m.-ticketapprentice ticket
Pass the ticket to someone else (when you are not using it)βœ“βœ“β€“
Take a dog with you on the ticketβœ“βœ“β€“
On weekends and on labour days from 8 p.m. until 3 a.m. of the next day, take an extra adult and up to 3 children (aged <14) on the ticketβœ“β€“β€“
Free bicycle carriageβ€“β€“βœ“

Summary: From 2.70 down to 1.48 €

As you see, we can save a lot: Instead of paying effectively 2.70 € per day for a regular monthly ticket, we can pay only 1.48 € with a 10-a.m.-ticket bought for a whole year. This is almost 50% less, just by combining Tip 1 and 2.

And in case you need more info: Simply call the S-Bahn BerlinΒ or go to any customer center (Kundenzentrum), they also speak English.

Have you found these tips useful? Then like and share this article. πŸ™‚ Or tell us more tips in the comments!

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