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Buying Rail Tickets on RENFE

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
The topic of how to buy train tickets in Spain from overseas without going crazy frequently comes up. In a recent post, I described how I was able to buy very cheap advance purchase tickets on the AVE (high speed train) from Madrid to Sevilla on the website -- and I saved a lot of money. Regular fare, over 80E, webfare, about 30.

Based on what I have read on a travel forum (Fodor's), RENFE now has a policy that unless you have actually purchased a train ticket while physically in Spain during the last year, you will not be able to do it online -- the site will reject your CC info. But, apparently there is a website, which is much easier to use than RENFE's, where you can buy your tickets in advance, getting all the RENFE discounts, with an out-of-Spain credit card. The site is rumbo.es

I have looked at the site (though I haven't purchased a ticket), and it does seem to offer the very cheap advance purchase fares, so if you want to buy a RENFE train ticket and can't do it on their website, give this one a try. (And for more information, here's a link to the thread where it was discussed: http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/ ... -phone.cfm

If anyone has used this site, let us know how it went. Thanks, laurie
 
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Alan Pearce

Veteran Member
Hi Laurie

Hi Laurie

It did not go so well! It started so promisingly, by saying that the price I enquired about [Madrid to Seville] was 32 euro, cheaper than the renfe rate. Then it promised me a 5 euro discount. Even better! But the next window imposed a 13 euro management fee, so the total became 40 euro, still not too bad. I filled in the various fields, and gave my credit card details, and pressed continue. Then it refused the transaction because I could not give a mobile phone number for a Spanish, Portugese or English number. I had spent an hour on the renfe website prior to this, where I struck a brick wall because it refused to accept that I lived in Australia and had an Australian phone numger. Good grief, as Charlie Brown used to say. Where is the nearest travel agent? And where is that bottle of vino tinto?

Buen camino

Alan

Be brave. Life is joyous.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
Try using the phone number of your first albergue. I doubt that they can do much verification of phony cell numbers.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Falcon's suggestion sounds like a good one, I really can't think of any reason why or how using someone else's phone number would cause a problem. (On another thread, we've discussed how Spain is trying to gather complete information on cell phone purchasers for security reasons, but I assume this isn't part of that effort).

Well, I think that buying RENFE tickets from overseas is a topic that has got all the great travel heads in the world confused. Apparently there are lots of threads on tripadvisor as well. One of them suggests that you can use the RENFE website directly if you have a secured number or verified by Visa or some other features on your credit card. Has anyone tried that?

Last year I was able to purchase a RENFE ticket directly online from their website, but I had several failed attempts before I was able to complete the transaction.

I'm going to have to try this again in a month or so, so any tips or success stories would be appreciated. Laurie
 

Kitsambler

Jakobsweg Junkie
Past OR future Camino
Le Puy 2010-11, Prague 2012, Nuremberg 2013, Einsiedeln 2015, Geneva 2017-19
Based on my experience making similar purchases from the US (your mileage may vary), the problem was not the European web site blocking the credit card transaction. Instead, it was my own bank refusing the charge (as a security measure). Once I started alerting the bank that I would be making purchases in France (rail, hotel reservations, opera tickets), this problem went away.

The banks monitor the sources of these foreign transactions, so just call their security or fraud-prevention desk.
 
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Alan Pearce

Veteran Member
I have decided that my sanity is more important than a few dollars [or euros] and have purchased a ticket from Madrid to Seville through the TGV europe web site. Coach 5, seat 70D beside the window, and the ticket is airmailed to me at no additional cost The price was 48 euro, as against the renfe web price of 33.90. I have not looked at their price for SDC to Madrid yet. The site is easy to use.

Alan

Be brave. Life is joyous.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, Alan,
I know that feeling well. What a relief to have your ticket. I did hear from the person who recommended rumbo, though, that it shouldn't be a problem having a non-Spain phone number. Here's what she said:

"They SAY their website is set up to accept foreign phone numbers and need more exact info on the error that appears.

So all I can say is to try again, or write them yourselves ,,(seems they are quick to answer at clientes@rumbo.es and perhaps they can solve your problems directly)."

If it's true that their customer service email is prompt, this may be a decent alternative. but it sounds like you found a decent alternative, since you said rumbo would have charged you 40 for the ticket you got from TGV europe for 48. Much better than those places like rail europe where you pay through the nose, in any event.

Buen camino, when are you starting the Vdlp? Laurie
 

Vigdis

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2008/2009, Roncesvalles-Burgos Oct. 2012
Must one/should one order a ticket by train in advance?
I've taken the train in Spain on some occasions without any problems getting a ticket before.
Most likely I will take the night train from Burgos to Barcelona to fetch my plane, after finishing my walk for then, in March. I thought I could wait so I don't have to be so dependent on when to leave Burgos, or is that a change to take?
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, vigdis,

Though there may be some times when advance purchase is necessary (for instance, some times when I arrive in Santiago, there are no train seats available to Madrid for a couple of days), usually it's not a problem. The incentive here is purely financial -- buying an AVE ticket on line last year a few months before the travel date, I paid 30 euros for a ticket that would have cost me over 80 if I had walked up to the RENFE ticket counter to buy it.

Buen camino, Laurie
 

Alan Pearce

Veteran Member
Hi Vigdis

The reason I am buying the ticket now is that it is cheaper to buy ahead of time. The same ticket that I paid 48 euro for would cost me 83 euro if bought on the day of departure. Those who are less economically challanged than me can buy at their convenience :D

Hi Lautie, leaving Australia 8 weeks from next Monday, but who's counting 8) , and start walking from Seville on March 31st.

Alan

Be brave. Life is joyous.
 
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Vigdis

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2008/2009, Roncesvalles-Burgos Oct. 2012
Ok, Laurie and Alan, thanks. :D
Maybe I could do as I thougt I would then.
Or maybe buy a ticket as I go along the way and know more, in some town before Burgos that also has a train station. Just to be sure.
 

renegadepilgrim

Veteran Pilgrim and Traveler
Past OR future Camino
2010: Camino Frances, 2011: Santo Domingo de la Calzada (Hospitalera), 2012: Camino Portuguese from Porto, 2015: Camino Norte
What about buying tickets through RailEurope? I believe that's who I went through when I bought my ticket from Paris to Bayonne last year. Their website is in English, easy to understand and I got my ticket in the mail quickly.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
For ease and convenience, if money is not a factor, RailEurope is fine. Years ago, someone pointed out to me their enormous charges and i have tried to find alternatives since then. For one or two train trips, on the way to Camino starting point and back, it's probably not worth the hassle, but I've sort of gotten into the mind set that "I can do it" and have tried to find ways to avoid what many consider to be highway robbery on the Rail Europe site. But then, in contrast to the torture inflicted by the SNCF and RENFE websites, highway robbery may be a preferable fate.

Buen camino, Laurie
 

Alan Pearce

Veteran Member
An even worse fate is to go through a travel agent in Australia. In 2009 I was quoted $135 for a train ticket from Paris to Bayonne by my agent. I went on the http://www.TGV-europe. com website and got it for half of that price. Funny though, they seem to have their cheapest fares from Montparnasse station, rather than from CDG airport. Or maybe I'm confused [again] :?

Alan

Be brave. Life is joyous.
 

renegadepilgrim

Veteran Pilgrim and Traveler
Past OR future Camino
2010: Camino Frances, 2011: Santo Domingo de la Calzada (Hospitalera), 2012: Camino Portuguese from Porto, 2015: Camino Norte
For me, it was just easier to do it on the Rail Europe site, which BTW, had similar rates to the actual train sites, but it was in a language I could understand and they were rather good. They even accidentally double-charged my credit card (no thanks to my enter-happy clicks!) and promptly charged back my card. I'm so used to Amtrak costing an arm and a leg, that European rates seem cheap to me.
 
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Alan Pearce

Veteran Member
Got my train ticket from Madrid to Sevilla today via airmail from France 7 days after I placed the order on the internet.

The TGV-europe website is easy to use as there is an English language option.

Alan

Be brave. Life is joyous.
 

kissan4

New Member
Hey guys,

What a relief it was finding this forum. I have been suffering for weeks now with the shitty RENFE site, getting all those bloody G001 errors that everybody knows pretty well and seeing that in the meanwhile there are less and less free seats for my train. I have read and applied tripadvisor's 96 tips for buying the ticket, but the site gave me no chance. Now I have got here, went to http://www.tgv-europe.com/ and bought my Barcelona-Pamplona ticket in less than 2 minutes. Worked like a charm. Of course I still keep my fingers crossed that my tickets reach me through post, but I feel a large step closer to my trip.

By the way, I could buy a ticket for only 2 euros more than the best offer on RENFE, and it's 1st class!!!

All I can recommend to everyone: leave that bloody RENFE and go for TGV Europe, nice, fast and English. I finally have the last piece of the puzzle, what a good feeling :)

Cheers,
San
 

ffp13

Addicted pilgrim
Past OR future Camino
Completed Caminos: 2009 SJPP, 2011 Roncessvalle , 2012 Pamploma, 2013 Roncessvalle, 2013 Porto, 2014 Burgos, 2014 Porto

Future: Roncessvalle
I fly to Barcelona and will need to make the same journey, what was the cost? I tried to book a bus online..failed.
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
For all my complaining about Renfe, it was painless when I finally booked. No phone number needed, no hitches. Very smooth. And I happened to hit a sale - about half of what I had been following the last couple of months.. So .... The train in Spain is no longer a pain (for me).

lynne
 
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renegadepilgrim

Veteran Pilgrim and Traveler
Past OR future Camino
2010: Camino Frances, 2011: Santo Domingo de la Calzada (Hospitalera), 2012: Camino Portuguese from Porto, 2015: Camino Norte
Never heard of them and its your first post. Sounds suspicious to me. I'd go with a trusted site like raileurope before anyone else.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I can confirm what TomSmith said. Raileurope charges a much heftier per ticket fee, something like $16. This is a relatively recent development. Petrabax has a fee around $5 or $6. I think I remeber that alipilgrim has used their service.

RENFE now lets these agents sell their cheap web fares, but those fares are now available 120 days in advance (used to be only 60 days in advance). In most cases, you need to get on exactly the day they are available or they will be gone.

Has anyone used rumbo.es, which was the site recommended to me by a Spanish friend?

Buen camino, Laurie
 

renegadepilgrim

Veteran Pilgrim and Traveler
Past OR future Camino
2010: Camino Frances, 2011: Santo Domingo de la Calzada (Hospitalera), 2012: Camino Portuguese from Porto, 2015: Camino Norte
I used Rumbo for booking flights from Madrid to Lisbon and Porto to Madrid. Not train. I just bought day of travel in Portugal from Lisbon to Porto for 24€ one way. Still haven't figured out how to get from SDC to Porto. :) I will figure it out later!

Sorry but when someone posts their first post as a link to a site I'm always gonna call bs. Especially when all the site is doing is selling tour packages.
 

jirit

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2007,
Via Francigena Italy, 2008,
Jakobsweg Austria 2010,
Camino Frances 2011,
Le Puy to Lourdes 2012,
Via de la Plata 2013,
Future:
Ökumenischer (Via Regia), Germany,
Lycian Way, Turkey
Has anybody from either Canada or the USA successfully used the Renfe train site to book train tickets?

I tried to set up an account on their site prior to booking the tickets. Unable to do this since it does not accept Canadian postal codes

There is no information about if you print the tickets out from home or pick them up or they are mailed to you? Does anybody know?

No information if you can download and save a pdf copy of the ticket or print it out later if required?

Right now I get some very attractive prices about 1/2 of what Rail Europe and TVG Europe offers but I am unsure if I can actually book, buy and print the tickets on the Renfe site

I welcome any suggestions
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
In all my years of buying RENFE tickets, only once have I been able to buy a ticket online at their website. What I remember is that you got an email confirmation/ticket, which you could then print out. You had to use the actual printed ticket to get on the train.

You should find that Raileurope and Petrabax and the other sites offer the same cheap fares but add a booking fee. In my experience, Petrabax's fee is much less than Raileurope. In fact, Petrabax's booking fee is incorporated into the fare that is shown on their page -- so, for instance, there were promotional fares from Madrid to Sevilla in April for $30 (USD). The fare you see posted is what you will pay, whereas with Rail Europe, I believe they add on $18 per ticket.

I admit that I have pretty much given up on the RENFE site because of all the frustration it caused. But I have been able to get very cheap fares on Petrabax.com -- they send you an email with all the information, and then in a day or so you get the actual printable ticket. They are VERY reliable and efficient.


If you can get RENFE to take your credit card, though, you can be sure you'll get a printable ticket. Buen camino, Laurie
 
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jirit

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2007,
Via Francigena Italy, 2008,
Jakobsweg Austria 2010,
Camino Frances 2011,
Le Puy to Lourdes 2012,
Via de la Plata 2013,
Future:
Ökumenischer (Via Regia), Germany,
Lycian Way, Turkey
Hi Laurie

Looked at the other site Petrabax but it does not appear that they sell to non US customers (ie us folks in Canada for example)

Neville
 

jirit

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2007,
Via Francigena Italy, 2008,
Jakobsweg Austria 2010,
Camino Frances 2011,
Le Puy to Lourdes 2012,
Via de la Plata 2013,
Future:
Ökumenischer (Via Regia), Germany,
Lycian Way, Turkey
peregrina2000 said:
Hi, Neville,
You should try it. I just called their 800 number and they say that people outside the US can buy tickets through them.


And p.s., they take credit cards, not a bank transfer :D

Cool Many thanks!!

I will try Renfe first and if they kick me out, due to whatever I will give Petrabax a call

Cheers
 

ericandbeethoven

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Francis Dec 2012 - Jan 2013
The RENFE site is poorly programmed for foreign purchases. It makes fields that are Spanish-centric (eg Province & Postal Code) mandatory. You are not going to be able to purchase a ticket with an address in North America.

I recently tried purchasing a ticket from North America with no success and then purchasing from Spain using my foreign credit card with no success. I was able to use the same foreign credit card freely throughout Spain & it was accepted at the RENFE station when using a human ticket agent but not at a ticket kiosk.

I was able to purchase a bus ticket from a ticket kiosk using this credit card.
 
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Luka

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Pelgrimspad I, Via Monastica, Via Podiensis, Via de la Plata, Camino Francés, Camino del Norte...
I had no problems buying my AVE ticket from Madrid to Sevilla on the RENFE website. I just bought it with my creditcard. You only need a MasterCard SecureCode (probably the same with VISA or other companies).

Also tried http://www.tgveurope.com, but the ticket was way more expensive there. More than twice the amount I paid at http://www.renfe.com.
 

jirit

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances 2007,
Via Francigena Italy, 2008,
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Camino Frances 2011,
Le Puy to Lourdes 2012,
Via de la Plata 2013,
Future:
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Lycian Way, Turkey
Never bothered to try Renfe especially after the last set of comments confirmed my suspicions that non European customers could probably not buy the tickets regardless how attractive the price was. I tried to set up an account with Renfe prior to purchasing the tickets and was stopped by the postal codes. As we all know the postal code is used to validate the credit card transaction, so this makes impossible to process the credit card transaction if you can not enter a non European postal code.

Instead bought the train tickets from the Petrabax site - no issues other than the availability of the real inexpensive economy tickets.

Therefore settled on getting a pair of comfort style seats at 1/2 the price of what was been offered by the Eurail and TVG sites.

The tickets arrived by email about hour later after the transaction was completed, with confirmed seats. Just need to print them out and take them with me when I fly to Spain

I think for Australian, Canadian and US based customers Petrabax is a good option for purchasing train tickets in advance for Spain.
 

capun

Active Member
The RENFE site will make you jump off a cliff.

I am a native spanish speaker (but not spaniard) and was able to get an account, everything was fine until the time to pay.

I use a Visa and I use their SecurePay (or whatever) often for online purchases, but the RENFE site kicks it back.

I spoke to the bank's visa people to unblock purchases in Spain and try their suggestion to change the password, still no luck. I don't think it takes that much time for data to synchronize across the Internet.

Either I need to try another method or call them, but their phone ticketing adds a charge.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
If you check around on some travel forum sites, like fodors.com or tripadvisor.com or slowtravel, you will see that this is a VERY common complaint. It has to do with RENFE's system, not your credit card (especially if you've taken the steps you describe), and there is nothing you can do about it. Some people get lucky and are able to buy tickets from them online. I've done this once a year for ten years now, and have been able to buy tickets on the RENFE site only once. I have not identified what made that one year a success with so many years of failure. I've given up on RENFE -- now I use the petrabax.com website, because their booking fees are the lowest I've found and you can get all the cheap RENFE promotional sales.

Good luck, and my advice is to stop torturing yourself with the RENFE website!
 

capun

Active Member
I tried petrabax but the RENFE online rates for the Double Compartment is $276 while petrabax is quoting $342

RENFE applies a couple of discounts while petrabax does not
 
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Striderc8

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2013)
I'm not sure if this has been mentioned but there is a website that may be helpful. The Man in Seat 61 covers rail travel worldwide and whilst it is predominantly for a UK market he does give useful tips if you're booking from outside Europe.

http://www.seat61.com/Spain-trains.htm# ... .renfe.com

I hope the link works but if not just google "seat 61 renfe" and you'll get it.
 

La Barre

Member
Past OR future Camino
C. Frances, Roncesvalles to SdC 2010
C. Frances, SJPDP to Sdc 2012
C.Frances,SJPDP to Finisterre 2014
C.Portuguese, Lisbon to SdC(hopscotch) Sept. 2015
C. Frances SJPDP to Muxia 2017
Hello,

I have just purchased a ticket from Barcelona to Pamplona on the RENFE site. They have revised their reservation site and is almost painless. Two things that made it easier were 1) calling my credit card company and letting them know I was making a purchase online through an overseas website (live in USA) and when they ask for phone number do not put any dashes just numbers, starting with area code.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
This is great news, La Barre. In my years of buying RENFE tickets, I was only successful online once, notwithstanding many calls to credit card companies, etc. I had heard that their website had been totally revamped and improved, and your experience confirms that. Ironically, I've pretty much stopped using trains to get to and from Madrid at the start and end of my Caminos, because I've found it to be almost as cheap (and very much more convenient) to add the flights onto my international plane ticket. But I do like spending a day or two in Madrid every now and then, so maybe I'll have a chance to try the new RENFE system out. Thanks for the update, I'm sure it will help others. Laurie
 

lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
I would book online as well, but I want the Tarjeta Dorada, and its accompanying discount, and I thought one had to get that in person. Is this correct?
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi, Lynne,
I am pretty sure you can only buy the tarjeta dorada on line. Once you have it though, you can apparently use it online by just recording the card number. At least that's what piogaw told me.

But you should just check to see the online special prices because they may be below the tarjeta dorada rate, which is 40% off on weekdays and 25% off on weekends, I think. Sometimes these web fares, if you get them far enough out, are much better deals than that. Getting closer! L.
 
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lynnejohn

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances(2005), VDLP(2007), Madrid(2009), Ingles(2009), Sur (2011), VDLP(2011)-partial, VDLP(2014)
Thanks Laurie! I'll check it out!
 

La Barre

Member
Past OR future Camino
C. Frances, Roncesvalles to SdC 2010
C. Frances, SJPDP to Sdc 2012
C.Frances,SJPDP to Finisterre 2014
C.Portuguese, Lisbon to SdC(hopscotch) Sept. 2015
C. Frances SJPDP to Muxia 2017
I'm not sure about the tarjeta dorada but the ticket from Barcelona to Pamplona on the 12:10 train was 23,80 E, @ 32$, on petrabax it was 50$, so a good deal I think. Also I have "winged" it before and bought at the train station but it sure feels good having the ticket in my hand.
 

MissPixy_A

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2014)
I'm so excited that I've finally had success buying my ticket through Renfe's site, that I have to share...and hopefully it will help others in the future too!
I had tried Renfe, Petrabax, and others (can't remember sites now, it was about a month ago). I had all the online credit card security codes set up, and my bank assured me they hadn't seen any of my attempts to make the payment, let alone stopped it. I thought I'd try Renfe again tonight. Still no luck...same message - it would connect to the bank, and then say that my bank was not allowing the payment to go through. So I thought I'd try the new Multi-Currency Cash Passport that I bought from my travel agent recently...and bingo! I now have my ticket booked from Barcelona to Bilbao (I'm going to go to the Guggenheim before I start my camino). And my face is sore from the grin that I haven't been able to wipe off it for the last hour :) For anyone in Australia (and I think the cards are available in other countries also) it's an excellent option. You have to load it with at least $100 AUD (or equivalent) when you first buy it, and there's some fees, but even if I had only bought it to buy my train ticket, the 26.15, instead of 65(?) Euro makes it worthwhile.

*Edit* I had Euro's loaded on the cash passport, so that might have helped?*
 
Last edited:
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whariwharangi

Guest
"La Tarjeta Dorada, con una validez anual, se puede adquirir en estaciones Renfe, Oficinas de Ventas y Agencias de Viajes por 6 Euros. También existe la posibilidad de adquirir la Tarjeta Dorada asociada a tarjetas de crédito y débito, emitidas por algunas entidades bancarias."
http://www.renfe.com/viajeros/tarifas/tarjeta_dorada.html

If my less than fluent Spanish is correct ... you can acquire a tarjeta dorada (needing annual renewal) at the Renfe train station, Renfe sales offices, and travel agents. (my read is - in person) Some banks will issue credit cards and bank cards with the tarjeta dorado included. The cost is 6 euros.

There was a fellow just yesterday on a different thread stating a tarjeta dorada could be obtained from petrabax for a fee of 15 euro. You'd have to contact petrabax directly to start the process.
http://petrabax.com/

I guess you really need to consider how often you will use it. Its about 50 euro for Madrid to Pamplona and 70 euro from Santiago to Madrid. So if you travel weekdays with 40% discount you save 48 euros for the price of 6 euros plus 15 euros for petrabax (if you go that route). If you travel weekends with 25% discount its 30 euros for a cost of 21. Note the dorada card doesn't apply to tickets sold for promotion purpose ... you don't get a discount on a discount.

Considering the cost of travel from NA its insignificant and doesn't seem worth the bother unless you plan to use the train more often.
 

Tixunau

New Member
Hi,

I just wanted to share that I bought my train tickets today from Renfe website with no complication at all. Whatever they did to enhance their website work like a charm compared to what I've read from epople experiences in the past. After the payment was process, I was able to print a copy of my ticket but also got an email confirmation with the transaction reference number. (it can be used to re-print your ticket on-site as well from my understanding)

On a side note, I did have to setup a password for my 'Visa check' online purchase but I think that depend on your financial institution or credit card company. I also had a call from my bank a few minutes after to verify that the transaction was done by me.

Cheers!
 
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Profile maps of all 34 stages of the Camino Frances ivar
Profile maps of all 34 stages of the Camino Frances
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