Bahncard Questions

Old Nov 5, 14, 10:46 am
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Bahncard Questions

I was considering getting a Bahncard because I am planning to visit my sister a couple of times in the next year in Germany. I have a couple of questions before I do so.

1. Can I buy multiple tickets and receive the discount? For example can I buy two tickets and receive 25% off of both?

2. This relates more to bahn.bonus. If I buy all of the tickets will I reap all of the rewards or is like a frequent flyer program in that each person is credited?

3. Can I cross book? If I buy a first class Bahncard will I receive 25% off for 2nd class bookings?

4. I read in the thread below about a "trial upgrade". Does that still exist? I might be interested in a first trip or two.

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/europ...rt-thread.html

5. Do all tickets booked require at least one DB segment? Can I save on AVE or TGV trains as well or must I depart from Germany?

6. Am I interpreting the following correctly that if I sign up for Bahn.bonus I will receive a 10 EUR voucher?

http://www.bahn.de/p/view/bahncard/b...bcardinfo_LZ01

7. How does "elite status" work? I remember seeing something about 2.000 EUR spend.

8. Is it difficult to redeem bahn.bonus points?

While we're at it does anyone a have a good link to info and/or trip reports regarding the 1st lounges?

Sorry for the deluge of questions.
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Old Nov 5, 14, 3:17 pm
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Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
1. Can I buy multiple tickets and receive the discount? For example can I buy two tickets and receive 25% off of both?
Well, this depends on the type of ticket you purchase. As far as I know (not 100% sure as I usually buy Sparpreis tickets when travelling on my BC25), you'll only receive a discount for the person holding the BC when purchasing full-fare tickets, but you'll receive a discount for both when purchasing a discounted ("Sparpreis") ticket (as long as you purchase one ticket for both travellers). You cannot buy a ticket for someone else using your BC discount.

Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
2. This relates more to bahn.bonus. If I buy all of the tickets will I reap all of the rewards or is like a frequent flyer program in that each person is credited?
Unlike FFPs, the person who buys the ticket will get all the credits. This also applies when purchasing tickets for two or more people where not all of them hold a BC. Per 1 EUR ticket price you'll receive 1 award point and 1 status point. It's impossible to split credits between two bahn.bonus accounts when travelling on a single ticket.

Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
3. Can I cross book? If I buy a first class Bahncard will I receive 25% off for 2nd class bookings?
Yes. But not the other way round.

Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
4. I read in the thread below about a "trial upgrade". Does that still exist? I might be interested in a first trip or two.

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/europ...rt-thread.html
Those "trial upgrades" are random promos which have been quite frequent in recent years, but I haven't had an invitation for some time. However, you should know that the "trial upgrade" will NOT upgrade your tickets to first class, but only the BC discount. So, if you happen to sneak such an upgrade voucher, your BC 2nd class will also grant discount on 1st class tickets, but you'll still have to buy a 1st class ticket.

Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
5. Do all tickets booked require at least one DB segment? Can I save on AVE or TGV trains as well or must I depart from Germany?
They don't require a DB segment, but yes, in order to profit from international discount ("RailPlus"), your journey needs to start in Germany. Not sure whether third-country cross-border segments (e.g. Austria-Switzerland) will also be eligible for RailPlus discount from a DB BahnCard.

Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
6. Am I interpreting the following correctly that if I sign up for Bahn.bonus I will receive a 10 EUR voucher?

http://www.bahn.de/p/view/bahncard/b...bcardinfo_LZ01
This only applies to the bahn.bonus card which is NOT a BahnCard (so no discounts) but allows non-BC holders to participate in the bahn.bonus loyalty scheme.

Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
7. How does "elite status" work? I remember seeing something about 2.000 EUR spend.
Correct. You'll receive elite status as soon as you have spent 2'000 EUR spent in a rolling one-year period. You'll receive a silver BahnCard for replacement, and as long as you'll keep this spending limit, all subsequently issued BahnCards will be status cards.

Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
8. Is it difficult to redeem bahn.bonus points?
Not at all. While I don't know about the restricted fares (I'd suspect they'll only be available when there's a Sparpreis available), full-fare awards (such as the 1st class free ride for 3'000 points) don't really have to be "redeemed" in a way FFPs require it - you'll simply receive a voucher which you'll present to the conductor instead of a ticket. There's no such thing as "award space" on DB, award and upgrade vouchers will work on any train, at any time.

Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
While we're at it does anyone a have a good link to info and/or trip reports regarding the 1st lounges?
Hm, the lounges aren't really noteworthy.. in the usual bahn.comfort lounges (found at many major train stations), you'll just receive free soft drinks and coffee (self-service), in the dedicated 1st class lounges (Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Frankfurt Central, Munich) you'll additinally receive small snacks and alcoholic drinks (beer, wine) served by waiters. Nothing to write home about, and nothing compared to even the most basic airline lounge.
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Old Nov 5, 14, 3:20 pm
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Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
I was considering getting a Bahncard because I am planning to visit my sister a couple of times in the next year in Germany.
NB: I've used links to the English version of the DB site where possible, but where English pages don't exist, I've linked to the German (Google Translate is your friend )

What kind of BahnCard (ie: 25 or 50, 2nd or 1st class) are you planning to get? The 2nd class BahnCard25 costs €62, so if you're going to spend more than about €250/year on DB tickets, it will pay for itself. Note that the BahnCard25 gets discounts on SparPreis and EuropaSpezial tickets, but the BahnCard50 does not. So, if you're going to travel primarily on these fares, you may find the BahnCard25 is a better option than the BahnCard50. If you're going to travel primarily on normalpreis fares within Germany, then the BahnCard50 is better (if your overall spend is high enough). Note that neither card gets discounts on Länder-Tickets or similar.

Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
1. Can I buy multiple tickets and receive the discount? For example can I buy two tickets and receive 25% off of both?
I'm not quite sure what you mean. You can use the BahnCard for as many tickets for yourself as you want. However, the discount is not transferable - so you can't get discounts off tickets for other people (although you can get a partner BahnCard for a spouse or similar, for a discounted price). When you present a BahnCard-discounted ticket to a conductor when travelling, you are supposed to show the BahnCard as well, to demonstrate you are entitled to the discount.

Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
2. This relates more to bahn.bonus. If I buy all of the tickets will I reap all of the rewards or is like a frequent flyer program in that each person is credited?
I think you can choose who to credit the bahn.bonus points to (ie: unlike most/all airline FFPs, it doesn't have to be credited to the individual traveller).

Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
3. Can I cross book? If I buy a first class Bahncard will I receive 25% off for 2nd class bookings?
No direct experience of this - but if you do a dummy booking for a 2nd class ticket with a 1st class BahnCard, it shows the discount (but not the other way round, for a 1st class ticket with a 2nd class BahnCard, of course...)

Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
4. I read in the thread below about a "trial upgrade". Does that still exist? I might be interested in a first trip or two.
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/europ...rt-thread.html
Are you referring to the post about the 'SchnupperBahnCard'? AFAIK, these are cards which are sent out 'at random'* to 2nd class BahnCard holders, allowing their 2nd class BahnCard to function as a 1st class one for a limited period of time - presumably in the hope of enticing the holder into traveling 1st class once, and then getting hooked on 1st class travel. I don't think you can choose when you get one - it (might) just get sent to you at some point.

Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
5. Do all tickets booked require at least one DB segment? Can I save on AVE or TGV trains as well or must I depart from Germany?
For the discount, or for earning bahn.bonus points?
The regular BahnCard discount only applies to DB tickets. However, I think all BahnCards come with 'RailPlus', which gives a 25% discount on cross-border travel between any two (or more) of a number of European countries (but not including France or Spain...) Awareness of this discount among ticket sellers is sometimes somewhat limited, but I've used it successfully for a number of trips entirely outside of Germany.

For earning bahn.bonus, you only get points for tickets purchased from DB. (So, I think a Europa-Spezial ticket booked from DB for the TGV from, say, Munich to Paris would earn points - but a TGV ticket purchased from SNCF would not).

Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
6. Am I interpreting the following correctly that if I sign up for Bahn.bonus I will receive a 10 EUR voucher?http://www.bahn.de/p/view/bahncard/b...bcardinfo_LZ01
I think so, yes - but as I understand it, the separate bahn.bonus card is only for people who want to collect bahn.bonus points, but don't want a BahnCard (although I am really not sure how many people would travel enough for it to be worth collecting points - but not enough to benefit from a BahnCard - unless perhaps they travelled solely on Länder-Tickets...) So, if you get a BahnCard, you don't need bahn.bonus card (and if you did get one, you'd presumably have 2 separate collection accounts...)

Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
7. How does "elite status" work? I remember seeing something about 2.000 EUR spend.
Yes, €2,000/year spend gets you 'bahn.comfort' status. I think the main benefits are:
- Lounge access
- Access to bahn.comfort reserved seats on long-distance trains (ie: there are seats set aside for bahn.comfort holders who haven't made a specific reservation; although these seats are marked, it seems other pax often don't understand what it means, and sit in them anyway - but if your German is good enough, you can ask them to move...)
- Access to 1st ticket counters
- bahn.comfort customer service number (for tickets, reservations, etc)

Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
8. Is it difficult to redeem bahn.bonus points?
Depends what you want to redeem them for. Some of the items have unlimited availability, while others are linked to the 'normal' yield management system, and so availability may be limited (labelled as 'nach Verfügbarkeit' on this page).

Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
While we're at it does anyone a have a good link to info and/or trip reports regarding the 1st lounges?
See DB's lounge page for a list of lounge locations and basic info. All lounges have comfortable seats, power-sockets, free wifi, and complementary soft drinks (tea, coffee, Coke, lemonade, etc) - but no food. Some lounges have special 1st class zones, which are only for 1st class ticket holders, and in which drinks and light snacks (eg: croissant for breakfast) are served at your seat. Watch the opening times - if you've got a very late train (eg: CityNightLine sleeper), the lounge may be closed before your train departs.

Thanks to RailTeam, a bahn.comfort status card will also get you into SNCF, Thalys, Eurostar, NS and ÖBB lounges, if you are travelling on an international ticket. (And I think also SBB lounges, although it's not explicitly mentioned on the RailTeam site).

* ie: presumably not actually randomly, but according to a precise but unpublished algorithm...
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Old Nov 5, 14, 3:42 pm
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Seems Bruce80 beat me to replying... Nevermind, it seems we broadly agree on most points...

Originally Posted by bruce80 View Post
Well, this depends on the type of ticket you purchase. As far as I know (not 100% sure as I usually buy Sparpreis tickets when travelling on my BC25), you'll only receive a discount for the person holding the BC when purchasing full-fare tickets, but you'll receive a discount for both when purchasing a discounted ("Sparpreis") ticket (as long as you purchase one ticket for both travellers).
Interesting... My understanding of the SparPreis tickets was not that the BahnCard discount got applied to additional pax, but that the price of a SparPreis ticket for a single pax is 'from €29', and up to 4 additional pax can be included for 'from €20':

Originally Posted by DB SparPreis - Terms of the Offer
Accompanying persons Up to 4 persons from EUR 20.00 supplement each.
So, for a journey priced at €29 for one person, two people booked together would pay €49 (€29+€20) not €58 (€29+€29). This could easily 'look like' a BC25 discount, but is not. If the first pax has a BC25, they get the discount, and I think if additional pax have BC25s, their incremental prices get discounted as well. However, I haven't played around with bahn.de booking engine in detail to test all of this...

Originally Posted by bruce80 View Post
They don't require a DB segment, but yes, in order to profit from international discount ("RailPlus"), your journey needs to start in Germany. Not sure whether third-country cross-border segments (e.g. Austria-Switzerland) will also be eligible for RailPlus discount from a DB BahnCard.
The RailPlus wording on websites is often a bit unclear, but IME, I have got the RailPlus discount for third-country cross-border segments (as long as a) the two countries are on the RailPlus list, and b) the ticket seller is aware of the RailPlus T&Cs...) However, websites such as b-europe.com and nsinternational.nl (and the respective conductors) now recognise it without problem. IIRC, there is a separate (but in practice, the same) arrangement between DB/SBB/ÖBB that gets BC holders a 25% discount on cross-border travel between those countries, and that also seems to be upheld with no problem.

EDIT: Just remembered that I've asked for, and failed to get, a RailPlus discount for travel between Czech Republic and Slovakia (even though both countries are on the RailPlus list, and at least CD offer RailPlus cards themselves). However, I am not sure if the problem was due simply to translation problems, or the particular ticket type not being eligible for discount - or due to the BC25/RailPlus not being accepted.

Last edited by KQ321; Nov 5, 14 at 4:02 pm
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Old Nov 5, 14, 4:28 pm
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Originally Posted by KQ321 View Post
Interesting... My understanding of the SparPreis tickets was not that the BahnCard discount got applied to additional pax, but that the price of a SparPreis ticket for a single pax is 'from €29', and up to 4 additional pax can be included for 'from €20':

So, for a journey priced at €29 for one person, two people booked together would pay €49 (€29+€20) not €58 (€29+€29). This could easily 'look like' a BC25 discount, but is not. If the first pax has a BC25, they get the discount, and I think if additional pax have BC25s, their incremental prices get discounted as well. However, I haven't played around with bahn.de booking engine in detail to test all of this...
Yep, but in my understanding, you'll receive the 25% discount on the total ticket price, including the supplement for additional pax. As I said, I'm not entirely sure about it, but it most certainly only applies to Sparpreis. The entire thing was much clearer back in the times of Sparpreis 25/50 where you'd definitely have received the discount for everybody travelling on the same ticket.
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Old Nov 5, 14, 11:32 pm
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Vielen dank fuer Ihre Hilfe!

Two more questions:

If I get just a bahn.bonus card now and decide to get a bahncard later on can the accounts be merged?

This one is OT but is the Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt worth visiting?
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Old Nov 6, 14, 2:43 am
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A couple of recent data points. If you travel with another person, you can receive the points for their ticket as well. At the ticket machines you have to do the purchase in one transaction, being careful not to apply the Bahncard discount to the 2nd person if they haven't got one.

I recently booked a 1st class Sparpreis for another person, for €39, and got the points on my Bahncard 25 account. I did it online, through my Bahncard account, and there was no discount applied to the 1st class Sparpreis. So, I conclude that I can get points for 1st class tickets using my BC25, but there is no discount. The other person (if you're absent) does need to show something as evidence along with the ticket, usually the credit card used for purchase, but in this case it was a German identity card (passports are not accepted).

Last edited by Concerto; Nov 6, 14 at 2:44 am Reason: missing info
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Old Nov 6, 14, 2:53 am
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Originally Posted by Concerto View Post
A couple of recent data points. If you travel with another person, you can receive the points for their ticket as well. At the ticket machines you have to do the purchase in one transaction, being careful not to apply the Bahncard discount to the 2nd person if they haven't got one.
You should also mention that you'd have to select "bahn.bonus card" as the option to collect points (otherwise, they won't even ask you about collecting points). Just provide your BC number (or insert the BC into the ticket machine) and you'll receive the points. I can confirm that this procedure will actually work.

Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
If I get just a bahn.bonus card now and decide to get a bahncard later on can the accounts be merged?
Yes, the bahn.bonus accounts aren't tied to a specific card number, but to a customer account. I hold two BahnCards (50 for 2nd, 25 for 1st) and points collected on each one do show up in my personal account. You may even collect points using your bahn.bonus card when purchasing tickets with BC discount, or collect points on a 2nd class BC when you buy a 1st class ticket with a BC 1st discount. They don't seem to run any consistency checks.
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Old Nov 6, 14, 5:39 pm
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Apologies for a couple of slightly OT comments...

Originally Posted by bruce80 View Post
Yep, but in my understanding, you'll receive the 25% discount on the total ticket price, including the supplement for additional pax. As I said, I'm not entirely sure about it, but it most certainly only applies to Sparpreis.
Hmm. This doesn't seem to be the case in the bahn.de booking engine currently...

Looking at prices for (the same) randomly selected train from Frankfurt to Munich, for a 2nd class SparPreis ticket:
- 1 pax (no BC) is €49
- 2 pax (no BC) is €89, so €49 for the first pax, and a €40 supplement for the second
- 2 pax (1 BC25, 1 no BC) is €76.75, so €36.75 for the first (75% of €49) and the full €40 supplement for the second
- 2 pax (2 BC25) is €66.75, so €36.75 for the first (75% of €49) and €30 (75% of €40) supplement for the second

So, it doesn't seem that the BahnCard discount currently applies to anyone other than the actual holder. However, I have rarely, if ever, booked tickets for groups where 1 pax had a BahnCard and others didn't, so I've no idea how long this has been the case.

Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
This one is OT but is the Nuremberg Christkindlmarkt worth visiting?
IMO, German Christmas markets are definitely worth visiting. So, if you're going to be in Nuremberg at the right time, then go. However, I can't comment on whether it is better to visit Nuremberg rather than any others which might be on/near your itinerary.
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Old Nov 12, 14, 12:58 pm
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One thing to keep in mind is that if you sign up for a BahnCard you'll automatically be enrolled in auto-renewal.

To cancel you'll need to write a letter (in German) stating you wish to cancel. I got dinged by this because I signed up for a trial BahnCard and forgot to cancel and was renewed for one year.

What I'd do is write the letter before you go to Germany and hand the letter over in the ticket office before your first trip.

Cancellations are for the auto-renew and not the term of the card.
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Old Nov 12, 14, 10:53 pm
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After taking a hard look at the schedule of events, I think I'm going to hold off on the bahncard for the time being because my sister turned me onto the bus and also told me that I'd have to buy her train tickets.

On a train related note, I want to try and get down to CGN to check out the 31. Internationale Ausstellung für Modellbahn und -zubehör.

Thanks again for all the input.
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Old Nov 15, 14, 6:03 am
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Originally Posted by WaxComb View Post
One thing to keep in mind is that if you sign up for a BahnCard you'll automatically be enrolled in auto-renewal.

To cancel you'll need to write a letter (in German) stating you wish to cancel. I got dinged by this because I signed up for a trial BahnCard and forgot to cancel and was renewed for one year.

What I'd do is write the letter before you go to Germany and hand the letter over in the ticket office before your first trip.

Cancellations are for the auto-renew and not the term of the card.
I absolutely agree, you've got to watch out for this because it is not so obvious. I am sure there are a number of us who would be prepared to help out with a stock cancellation letter, I certainly have a couple of models that could be used.

In my case, I upgraded to a Bahncard 25 First (which permits reductions in both first and second class). But because I was not using it enough (I tend to use second for all but the longest trips) I decided to downgrade. It is not easy to downgrade. What you have to do is cancel the Bahncard 25 First, according to the deadline, and buy a new ordinary Bahncard 25 (second). That way your points do not expire and everything continues as planned. But I kind of messed up and ended up with both a Bahncard 25 First and a normal Bahncard 25.

Now, this is a totally possible scenario, and there are a number of old hands here who have both cards and use them for different purposes. There is nothing against having two cards if you need them.

Originally Posted by saltytheseagull View Post
After taking a hard look at the schedule of events, I think I'm going to hold off on the bahncard for the time being because my sister turned me onto the bus and also told me that I'd have to buy her train tickets.

On a train related note, I want to try and get down to CGN to check out the 31. Internationale Ausstellung für Modellbahn und -zubehör.

Thanks again for all the input.
Remember, if you don't get the Bahncard you are still entitled to buy Sparpreis tickets in either class, and there are some pretty good deals going even without the Bahncard reduction(I recently bought Hannover to Oberhausen for EUR39 in First for someone). I feel that the best range of options can be found at the Ticket Automaten at the railway stations. If you have a bit of time and fiddle about with them you can find some pretty good deals. As usual, advance planning secures the best deals.

Last edited by Concerto; Nov 15, 14 at 6:05 am Reason: typos and missing info
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Old Nov 15, 14, 3:34 pm
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Originally Posted by Concerto View Post
I absolutely agree, you've got to watch out for this because it is not so obvious. I am sure there are a number of us who would be prepared to help out with a stock cancellation letter, I certainly have a couple of models that could be used.

In my case, I upgraded to a Bahncard 25 First (which permits reductions in both first and second class). But because I was not using it enough (I tend to use second for all but the longest trips) I decided to downgrade. It is not easy to downgrade. What you have to do is cancel the Bahncard 25 First, according to the deadline, and buy a new ordinary Bahncard 25 (second). That way your points do not expire and everything continues as planned. But I kind of messed up and ended up with both a Bahncard 25 First and a normal Bahncard 25.

Now, this is a totally possible scenario, and there are a number of old hands here who have both cards and use them for different purposes. There is nothing against having two cards if you need them.


I think I'm going to buy the Einsteiger Bahncard and plan to cancel it, so I would be very grateful for a model cancellation letter (lest Google translate furnish an incorrect word) so that I can take it with me when I go to Germany.
If I understand how the introductory card works, I can buy it online, print it out and use it immediately to purchase discounted Sparpreis tickets. On the other hand, if I elect renewal at a reduced rate (for which I do qualify), I would have to furnish proof of qualification and await delivery of the physical card before I could book with the discount? (Given that I intend to cancel, if this is how it works, I strongly prefer to avoid the delay).
I'm very grateful for FTers' help on this.
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Old Nov 16, 14, 2:44 am
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I stole the text from here. https://www.aboalarm.de/kuendigungss...card-kuendigen

They'll send it for you for a fee.

I think it's pretty self explanatory how to fill in the form letter. "Geburtsdatum" means "Date of Birth". Dates need to be entered in the form DD.MM.YYYY
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Old Nov 16, 14, 5:53 am
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What a useful link, thank you very much.

Here is my version of a cancellation letter, but someone else may have something better and I tend to change them all the time, not employing the same model all the time. Above the BahnCard-Service address you need to put your address, usually top right. You can play with and spread the formatting to look better, naturally. I try to keep these letters as short as possible, although for some it may appear a bit curt. Lastly, when you write the date a full stop always appears after the number. The months of the year in German are: Januar, Februar, März, April, Mai, Juni, Juli, August, September, Oktober, November & Dezember, so you can just substitute the appropriate one into your letter.


BahnCard-Service
60643 Frankfurt am Main

16. November, 2014


Betrifft: Kündigung meiner Bahncard 25

Bahncardnummer 7081 xxxx xxxx xxxx


Hiermit möchte ich meine Bahncard 25 mit der Deutsche Bahn kündigen, bevor sie am 3. März 2015 verlängert wird.

Ich bitte um schriftliche Bestätigung.


Mit freundlichen Grüßen

Concerto


EDIT to add: I think it's always important to ask for a written confirmation (Ich bitte um schriftliche Bestätigung).

Last edited by Concerto; Nov 16, 14 at 5:54 am Reason: missing info
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