Tourism Cards, City Passes, Go “Wherever” Cards: Are they Worth It?

For most big tourism cities, there is some sort of tourism card or pass that gives the purchaser access to several tourist attractions throughout the city. There are pros and cons to these, so a budget traveler would probably want to consider the pros and cons before purchasing one.

For the most part, visitors are forced into seeing more attractions than they would usually want to, so you might not actually save much money. Sellers and owners of the attractions make money from the cards, at a flat rate up front, even if the traveler skips out on some of the included attractions. So, it makes sense that to the people who produce them, these passes are profitable. Most visitors won’t want to use these passes, but for some visitors, they are the right choice.

PROS:

  • You’re more inclined to visit the best cultural places. It is easy to decide against visiting some of the top museums if they are expensive or crowded. If it’s included on your City Pass, you’re more likely to go.
  • They give you somewhere to start when planning what to do. If you’ve already paid for certain attractions, it’s easier to not waste time trying to decide what to do.

CONS:

  • You’ll probably end up spending more, but you might see more sights!
  • Usually, to save money on these passes or break even, you’ll have to see at least 4 attractions a day, which might be exhausting and make you enjoy your day less.
  • You might feel obligated to do the checklist of things that are included, instead of just enjoying the city, which could be wonderful. You’ll also probably meet less people, or see less of the things the locals enjoy doing. Which will probably end up in you feeling like you lost money if you miss out on some attractions.

Based on my research, there are some people who could get beneficial use out of these cards! People like families, people on tight schedules, who want to see the top attractions and people on their first visit to the city. If you are in any of these categories, then buying one of these passes might be a great idea. However, for college students, most budget travelers and independent travelers, they probably will do more harm than good. There are multiple sites that offer other pros and cons and show the prices, but 501Places has an article on tourist cards, which can be found at: http://www.501places.com/2012/09/does-a-city-pass-or-tourist-card-offer-value-for-money/

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