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BahnCard only available digitally from today

As of today, the plastic BahnCard is over – Deutsche Bahn is only issuing a digital version of the discount subscription. Consumer advocates are criticizing the move, saying it would disadvantage poor people in particular.

As of today, Deutsche Bahn will no longer issue plastic BahnCards, but will only offer a digital version. Existing BahnCards will remain valid until they expire. The digital card is also only valid for the subscription versions 25 and 50, with which holders pay a quarter or half less for a ticket. The plastic card will remain for the BahnCard subscription 100.

Social associations criticize the move toward digitalization. “Deutsche Bahn is showing how it shouldn't be done,” explained Michael Stiefel, head of the “Involvement of people with experience of poverty” project at Diakonie Deutschland. “It is setting up an ecologically good project without considering the social consequences.” Digital offerings often pose hurdles, especially for people affected by poverty: “People who do not have digital devices or are simply overwhelmed by digital applications will be excluded from using them in the future,” it said. In addition, not everyone can use digital means of payment.

Deutsche Bahn rejects criticism

The consumer advice center had also expressed similar views in the past. It was annoying that Deutsche Bahn was excluding customers without digital access from the tariff benefits. Deutsche Bahn rejected the criticism. It would still be possible to carry the BahnCard as a paper printout in the future. It could be bought and paid for in the company's customer centers. However, all BahnCard customers also need a digital customer account. Deutsche Bahn says it now sells 90 percent of its long-distance tickets via digital channels. Ten years ago, the figure was 51 percent.

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