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French and Spanish train ticket purchases and Tarjeta Dorada


Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Pamplona to Santiago (2013)
Le Puy to Pamplona in segments (2013 - 2016)
Pamplona to León
I have often recommended Capitaine Train (now Trainline) for advance purchase of train tickets in France or Spain. I have done so despite earlier online purchases of tickets directly from SNCF (France's state-owned national railway system). I was forced to use Capitaine Train because, starting about 3 years ago, SNCF wouldn't accept my U.S. credit cards for payment. I continue to be very happy with Capitaine Train and bought tickets from them before this year's Camino. Their customer service has been excellent and the site is easy to use. (I am in no way connected to Capitaine Train or Trainline.)

However, I didn't book train tickets for the last leg of this year's trip and I am hoping other forum members can help explain the fine print of what happened.

On Trainline the Sevilla-Malaga tickets were sold out about two days before the date of travel. At the Sevilla train station I inquired about one way tickets for my wife and myself and were told they were available and that if we purchased the Tarjeta Dorada the cost would be about 22 euros for each of us. This was less than the Capitaine Train advertised cost. So from this I gathered two things...

First, Capitaine Train may only have a limited number of tickets to sell.

Second, the use of a Tarjeta Dorada on Spanish RENFE trains may offer the lowest price.

The Tarjeta Dorada cards we were issued are valid through May 2018 and since we will be walking another segment of the CF next year, I would want to use them if: 1) I can book RENFE trains online and pay for them with my U.S. credit card and 2) if the pricing offered to Tarjeta Dorada users is likely to be the lowest available.


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C clearly

Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
The Tarjeta Dorada discounts depend on the day of the week you are traveling, and sometimes there are other specials that result in a similar price without using the Tarjeta. I have not tried buying tickets online using the Tarjeta Dorada discounts.


Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
a few since 2010
I can't comment on whether you can use a US credit card but I frequently use the 'tarjeta dorada'. When looking for trains on the RENFE site it asks if you have a tarjeta dorada, when the prices are shown you can see whether there is a promotional price or whether the tarjeta is the lowest, then you can make the decision which one to take. Sometimes even travelling first class works out really good value.
As regards paying - have you thought of using paypal!? Just a thought.
Trains can be fully booked here, that was really astonishing to me as, in the UK, I'm used to tickets just being sold regardless and people being squashed like sardines :)

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