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Buying & setting up Oyster card

I will be in London July 13-16. I want to get an Oyster card for me & my teen ( under 18). Do we need photos for the oyster cards? Can I buy an Oyster card and put money on it at a train station ( ie not a tube station ) .. we will be dropped off at the Newbury train station to take a train to Paddington the afternoon of July 13, I am hoping we can purchase our Oyster cards there at Newbury for use on the tube once we arrive at Paddington station.

My goal is for each of us to have our own card that we can tap on & off at the tube.



Posted by
343 posts

No photo necessary for the standard, pay as you go Oyster card, and no, you won’t be able to get them at Newbury. Leave your train at Paddington, head towards the tube/Underground station at Paddington and you can buy them there before you get on the Underground train.

Posted by
6113 posts

Oyster cards are for use in the London area, not as far out as Newbury. They will be available at Paddington. You will need one each.

Posted by
317 posts

Regarding topping up - throughout your stay, when you need to top up, most tube stations will have a machine you can top up with before you pass the barriers. Tap your Oyster to the yellow circular pad and the machine will tell you how much you have left on your Oyster. You can then select from several options to top up. Some machines will only allow you to top up with a card, others will be either cash or card.

Posted by
17 posts

Another option on the tube is to use ApplePay if you have an iPhone. In phone settings, under ApplePay, enable express transit. Then, you can tap in and out with your phone. Quite convenient. My travel companion had android phone, but was able to use her Wi-Fi enabled credit card same way.

Posted by
231 posts

We've used Oyster cards in the past, but this time (June) we just used our (American) tapping credit cards - very convenient and saved us the hassle of returning the Oyster cards at the end of the trip. Just make sure you tap in and out with the same card and of course, keep the card in a safe location while traveling. Fees are capped just as if you'd used an Oyster card. The transport agency tallies up your trips for the day and charges your credit card at the end of the day.

Posted by
2504 posts

I also used my American contactless MasterCard debit card to travel in June and it worked great. My travel companion used a contactless Visa credit card. Amusingly our charges were not exactly the same for the same rides - the debit card came in about a dollar less (total, not each ride) than the visa. Worked on both tube and buses. Since your teen may not have their own credit or debit card you may end up needing to get them an oyster but you should be able to do so at the stations you mentioned.

Posted by
631 posts

Hi Victoria,
Below is info that officially compares Oyster cards with the paper alternative 'Visitors Travel Card'. We just used a pair of the latter (i.e. one week per each card) without any trouble.
I am done. The end.

'The Visitor Oyster card is a contactless smartcard that carries credit which you can use to pay for journeys on all public transport on the Transport for London (TfL) network. It is valid in all travel zones and automatically calculates the cheapest total fare for all the journeys you make in a single day.

The Travelcard is a paper London travel pass which is valid for either a single day or seven days, and is available for certain combinations of travel zones (Travelcards for consecutive days will be posted as single day cards for each day of travel. For example, 2 x 3 day cards will mean you will recieve 6 cards in total). It is also valid on all public transport on the TfL network.
Whether you should get the Travelcard or Oyster card depends on how long you’re staying in London and how frequently you’ll be using public transport.
If you are in London for a week and plan to use only the central London Travelcard zones on a daily basis then a 7 day Travelcard might be the most cost-effective option. If you plan to stay in London for a shorter time or want to travel to the outskirts of the city, the pay-as-you-go Oyster card cost might be cheaper.
For more detailed advice on which travel pass is right for you, please visit our read our guide to London transport tickets.'

Posted by
6799 posts

We’ve been using the same Oyster cards for years since we go to the UK most years. Easy to get and use. Contactless or Oyster is a personal preference. Have a great trip.

Posted by
5382 posts

There is a Child Visitor option that can be loaded on the Oyster card, but for that your teen needs to be under 16.

Posted by
13 posts

Hi...Can someone provide SPECIFIC details how to obtain 3... 7-day Travel Cards & load them onto an Oyster?
We arrive & depart on a Wednesday for a 3-wk stay so it seems 7-Day Travel cards save money over simply loading Oyster with funds.
And yes, we'll use public transport every day.

We won't be using contactless CC or phone.
Thank you

Posted by
2791 posts

Hey, CL--could it have been that your debit card had no foreign transaction fee while your companion's Visa credit card did not? After about 30 or so dollars of fares total3% FTF on the visa would be that dollar or so.

Posted by
33301 posts

jennyr has woken up this thread from July when the the OP went on her trip, so answering other than the new question about putting Travelcards on Oyster won't be productive.

jennyr, if you want on topic answers, and if you want notifications of replies, you might be better with your own thread...

Posted by
169 posts

Google Pay on your smartphone works well in place of an Oyster card. You just touch your phone to the yellow pad. You don't have to keep track of a card and it doesn't need topping up.

Posted by
73 posts

My thought is I would rather lose my Oyster Card than my debit/credit card or phone. Or, the possibility of having someone grabbing for my phone or scanning debit/credit cards while tapping. But...I'm old school!