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Contactless Payment vs Oyster Card

Is there any reason to get an Oyster Card for paying fares on the Tube if you have a contactless credit card from an American bank that doesn't incur foreign transaction fees? I read on one travel site that contactless payment enjoys the same benefits as an Oyster Card, but they didn't elaborate. Does anyone know if that means you get the same reduced fare compared to a single trip ticket, and if it includes a cap on total fares charged for a day?
Also - if using contactless payment, can you pay for two people at the same time?

Posted by
2128 posts

No difference using a contactless bank card or an Oyster Card. Cap works with both.

Before the advent of bank-issued contactless cards Oyster was the only smartcard way to pay for fares. Now contactless cards are widespread so can be used in the same way for pay-as-you-go fares.

Each person needs their own card.

Posted by
218 posts

In fact Contactless can work out cheaper than Oyster with some journey combinations. Its the way the daily cap is worked out.
(unless Oyster has been upgraded)

Posted by
4006 posts

While it should be self evident, ensure you use the same card when tapping into, and out of, the tube. There must be some issues with people trying to use different cards since there were announcements reminding people of it. As already stated, a contactless card works equally well.

Posted by
27749 posts

Advantages of Oyster - if you lose it you haven't lost much, probably under £20. You don't have to take out a card each time (I never do, I keep it in an Oyster holder and tap that, not the card directly). That's about all.

Advantages of Contactless card - you don't have to buy it before use, and go through the hassle when you want to stop using it and get your money off it. a card is billed after you use it whereas an Oyster has to be loaded with money before your journey, the same or better caps apply.

Each person needs a different card, no matter if that is Oyster or a Contactless card. You can't put multiple people's trips onto one. So you need to keep track.

Other advantage of Contactless, you can use them from your phone or watch. If you have a watch you don't need to take your phone out.

Posted by
305 posts

What Nigel said.

Everybody needs their own card. Me? Like Nigel, I have an Oyster card in a holder. Just tap that in and out. If I lose it, I'm grumpy but thats about it. Lose a card or a phone? Yeah, then I'd be annoyed.

Posted by
233 posts

While it should be self evident, ensure you use the same card when tapping into, and out of, the tube. There must be some issues with people trying to use different cards since there were announcements reminding people of it. As already stated, a contactless card works equally well.

This is true. I might add that if you plan to use your card via your smart phone and/or smart watch, make sure you use the same device for the entire day. It has been reported that if you tap in with, say, your Apple Watch but tap out with your iPhone, the taps don’t align even if the same CC is used for both devices.

Posted by
6360 posts

Old school here. I use an Oyster card in a lovely card holder I got at the British Library. Love the gift shop at the Library. That and having a nosh there as well. Usually at the ground floor cafe.

Posted by
27749 posts

Lest my previous answer upthread was not clear - the card in my Oyster carrier is no longer an Oyster, it is my designated credit card. Easy to use, easy to pop back in the inner pocket. I have an Oyster in a drawer somewhere but haven't used it for several years.

Posted by
638 posts

As stated, two main reasons for an Oyster card are reducing risk of loss, and providing a payment card for each person in your party.

I use the Oyster for the first reason. I've been to London several times and used the Tube and buses extensively each time. But I'm not used to the rush and crush of TfL travel (under or above ground), as I'm not a regular mass transit rider here at home. I know myself; I'd rather lose an Oyster card than my phone or credit card. I've been known to drop the Oyster when I thought I'd put it back in my pocket. An annoyance but not a major incident.

If you're not worried about losing a card or phone and everyone you're traveling with has their own card, no need to get an Oyster.

Posted by
4689 posts

This might be a bit niche but weekly capping only works on a Monday-Sunday basis compared with a 7-day travelcard that can start on any day of the week and costs the equivalent of five days. So depending on day of arrival an Oyster plus appropriate travelcard might work out cheaper (with maybe some pay as you go balance to cover the odd journey outside of the bought travelcard).

Posted by
119 posts

Quite a few National Railcards that give discounted rail fares can be linked to an Oystercard, this cannot be done with a contactless credit or debit card, this includes 16-25/Senior Railcard/Disabled/HM Forces and 11-15 year olds can have a Young Visitor Discount applied to their Oystercard, this gives half price fare discounts.

If an Oystercard is registered and it is lost or stolen you have added security, any credit loaded is protected, another benefit of a registered oystercard is an incorrect fare charge due to a missed tap in/out is more easily resolved.