Renfe: What does the "Estrella" mean in regards to the fare?
I have been playing around on the Spanish Renfe Train website.
I am looking at a Preferente (first class) fare that besides the 111EU fare there is a 68EU "Estrella" fare that I can check....is this a "special" or a specifically targeted fare that I should not use?
The payment really becomes a problem as stated. I have trouble even using my spanish cards but that is more of a security problem with my bank, santander. American cards are useless and even after being asked all the way to the 3 digit security code per phone, the 20% round trip purchase was denied and the agent said American cards never work.
Finding the discounts has actually become easier as you can now book a round trip checking 2 estrellas or 2 web fares. Before they were only available as one way fares. It as just as well to buy them as one-ways though as only one discount is allowed and they are not combinable.
I am in a city that is not served by rail in Spain and therefore have no station to purchase tickets and have moved to purchasing them via a travel agent. I use Corte Ingles. I would imagine that tickets could be issued by some agents by phone, with same card and ID necessary at pick-up. Corte Ingles adds 8% service charge to the total fare. They have access to only the estrella fares as the web fares are only at Renfe site.
I have also learned a trick with the round-trip, any ticket combined with any other on the same route qualifies for a round trip fare. The same credit card must be used. That means for full flexability and still get the 20% discount by paying full fare for the one-way, then whenever you want to return within a 60 day period, the fare for the second one-way is reduced by 20% of the first one-way as well as 20% of the second one-way.
Another fact to remember is that Renfe has an on-time gaurantee. 16 to 30 minutes gives 50% cash back and 30 minutes + gives 100% refund in cash. You have to go to counter on the trains late arrival.