How To Buy An Oyster Card
How To Buy An Oyster Card
If you got your Oyster card before 23 February 2020, you can get your 5 refunded when you don't need your card anymore. If you got your Oyster card on or after this date, your 5 will be refunded automatically as pay as you go credit after one year, when you make a journey with your card. You must collect your refund within six months or you won't be eligible to receive it.
A Travelcard, in the zones it's valid for, gives you unlimited travel at any time on bus, Tube, Tram, DLR, London Overground, Elizabeth line and National Rail services in London. You can use it on all buses, and if valid in zones 3, 4, 5 or 6, on all trams. Travelcards can start on any day.
London is one of the top travel destinations in the world, but navigating this large city can be overwhelming for a first time visitor. Using an Oyster card, a credit card sized transport smartcard, is an easy way to save time and money if you are planning to use public transportation in London.
An Oyster card can be used on just about every form of transport within London including public bus, tram, and rail services within the city. Our goal is help you decide if an Oyster card is a good fit for you and to help you effectively use your card on public transportation in London.
An Oyster card is a credit card sized card that can be used to electronically pay for travel on London transport. All you have to do is load the card with credit, and then you can use it for nearly all your public transport needs around London without having to buy individual tickets.
The best reason to get an Oyster card is cost savings and convenience! It is significantly cheaper to travel in London using an Oyster card than it is to purchase individual tickets for each trip. The only reason you would want to just buy individual tickets is if you are only using public transportation once or twice during your stay.
Oyster cards also have a capping system, which can save you even more money. There is a maximum amount that you can be charged on a daily basis (days run from 4.30am to 4.29am the next day) for traveling in different zones. After you exceed that amount in one day, your travel is free for the rest of the day.
As of September 2021, Oyster cards also have a weekly cap. This runs from Monday to Sunday, and means you will never pay more than the weekly cap for travel. For Zones 1 & 2, the weekly cap is 38.40 (as of February 2023). So you will never pay more than that for public transport in Zones 1 & 2 from a Monday to the following Sunday.
The standard Oyster card is a credit card sized piece of blue plastic. The Visitor Oyster card is the same format, but is more elaborately visual, with an artistic design. Other than external appearance, the standard and Visitor Oyster cards offer the same functionality in terms of transport options and are used in the same way.
They can both be recharged (topped up) and are designed to be a transport card that you can keep and use for a prolonged period of time. Both cards also allow you to obtain a refund for any unused balance (see more on obtaining refunds later in the post).
Fees. First, in terms of fees, the blue standard Oyster card has a 7 deposit. Until 2020 you could claim this back when you were done with the card. From 2020, this 7 is added to the card as credit one year after activation and can no longer be refunded. The Visitor Oyster card has a non-refundable 5 activation fee.
Travelcards. The standard Oyster card allows visitors to add travelcards and bus and tram passes onto the card and the Visitor Oyster card does not. This is unlikely to matter for those staying for only a short time in London, but if you are staying a week or more in London, you may want to consider loading a 7-day London Travelcard onto a standard Oyster card. These are useful if you are visiting London for a week or more and are planning on doing a lot of travel, as these allow you to travel for an unlimited number of journeys