Once upon a time, using public transit when traveling could be a nightmare. What ticket do you need? Are you in the right fare zone (or zones)? How long is the ticket good for? Is it good for one person or is it a group ticket? And that’s all before you even consider how to get from Point A to Point B. Luckily, Germany is eliminating some of the stress with the new 49 Euro Deutschland-Ticket.
Introduced in the spring of 2023, the Deutschland-Ticket offers unlimited travel anywhere in the country using local and regional public transit for only 49 Euros a month. The ticket is available to tourists and non-residents so I decided to try it out on a trip to Munich.
What is the Deutschland-Ticket?
The Deutschland-Ticket, or D-Ticket, is a monthly subscription ticket valid for all local and regional public transit in Germany. It can be used on RB, RE, S-Bahn, U-Bahn, buses, and trams. It can’t be used on the typically quicker long-distance trains (IC, EC, and ICE) or other long-distance services like FlixTrain or FlixBus.
The ticket is a 49 Euro monthly subscription that will automatically renew if not canceled by the 10th day of the prior calendar month. There are two versions of the ticket, one is digital (Handyticket) and one is a physical card with a chip. For tourism, the physical card is less convenient because it has to be mailed to your home.
Pros and Cons of the D-Ticket for Tourists
As a tourist, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration when deciding if the D-Ticket makes sense for your trip.
First, how long will you be in Germany and how often will you be traveling using public transit? If it’s a week or less, you probably won’t be using public transit enough for the D-Ticket.
Next, determine if the cost of the D-Ticket is worth it. Draft a list of potential tickets you would buy on your trip and the cost. For example, if you’re traveling from the airport, those tickets tend to be more expensive and can make the D-Ticket a worthwhile investment.
Deutsche Bahn offers a number of regional tickets intended for day trips or short getaways that are a great way to save money. For example, the Bayern-Ticket offers unlimited public transit travel for up to five people. The price starts at 27 Euro for one person and increases for each additional person. Before purchasing a D-Ticket, it’s worth considering these regional tickets depending on your needs. One of the major differences is that there are time limitations on the regional tickets. The Bayern-Ticket, for example, can only be used on weekdays from 9 a.m. until 3 a.m. the following day and from midnight to 3 a.m. on weekends. If you prefer an earlier start on weekdays, the D-Ticket may make more sense.
Another benefit of the D-Ticket is that eliminates the need to predict what fare zone(s) you may need to purchase. While you might intend to spend your trip in the city center, on a whim you can take public transit out of downtown or even to a neighboring town. With the D-Ticket, you can do that without worry or extra cost.
There are, of course, negatives to the ticket. As with any digital ticket, if your cellphone or mobile device runs out of battery and you can’t present your ticket to an inspector, you will be fined.
It’s also worth noting that the Deutschland-Ticket is a monthly subscription. When you no longer need the ticket, you need to cancel it or you will continue to be charged the monthly 49€ cost. And to add to the complications, you need to know ahead of time when you will no longer need the ticket. Cancelations must be made by the 10th day of the month. (For example, if you only need the ticket through the end of January, you need to cancel by January 10th.)
How to Buy the Deutschland-Ticket
Once you decide that the Deutschland-Ticket is right for you, it is easy to both sign up for the ticket and to cancel it.
You can buy a digital ticket (or Handyticket) from any transit authority in Germany: such as Deutsche Bahn, BVG in Berlin, or MVV in Munich. But because the ticket is national, and not regional, the transit authority from which you buy it is irrelevant to where you will use it. For example, you can buy the ticket from Munich’s MVV and use the ticket in Hamburg.
For international tourists, the problem is that not all transit authorities accept payment with credit cards. Based on my experience, I recommend using Munich‘s MVV app to buy and use the ticket. The app accepts foreign credit card payments and cancellation was simple and easy.
First, download the MVV app onto your mobile device. In the app, create a ticket shop account or log in if you already have one. Then, in the ticket shop, buy the “Deutschland-Ticket (49 Euro-Abo).” Add the rider who will use the ticket and select the month when you want the ticket subscription to start. Then pay for the ticket and you’re ready to ride!
How to Use the Deutschland-Ticket
Once you have your D-Ticket, you’re free to use all applicable local public transit. Really. It’s that easy.
As is standard in Germany, transit tickets and passes are not typically reviewed or scanned before each and every ride. Instead, you may be asked at any time by a ticket inspector (Fahrkartenkontrolleur) to show a valid ticket. It’s also not uncommon for buses in areas that service local attractions to request riders to show a valid ticket upon getting on the bus.
When using the digital version of the ticket, a Wi-Fi connection should not be necessary. The ticket should be saved on your phone. If you need to present the ticket to an inspector, open the app and bring up the ticket. Be sure to have identification, too. Tickets are associated with the name on the ticket and are not transferable.
How to Cancel the Deutschland-Ticket
When you subscribe and buy your Deutschland-Ticket, you will receive several emails, including a confirmation and receipt. Be sure to save the confirmation email which contains a link for canceling the ticket. When you’re ready to cancel the ticket, simply click on the link in the email and follow the instructions. Remember, the ticket must be canceled by the 10th day of the month.
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All photos, as well as opinions, are my own. This post contains affiliate links.