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Difference between London Oyster and Visitor Oyster

I'm traveling to London in the fall and have read conflicting info on the difference between the regular oyster card and the visitor oyster card. Can they both be bought in London? Can they both be "topped up" ? Do they both have a daily cap on cost? I was thinking of buying the visitor one for a four day visit but read somewhere it can't be purchased in London only online and that it CAN'T be topped up. That doesn't make sense. Please help with some basics, thanks! - Nancy

Posted by
6744 posts

Welcome to the forum, Nancy- this web page will answer your questions-

Q1. Visitor Oyster can not be purchased in London, only on line, then mailed to you;
Q2 Visitor Oyster CAN be topped up, same as a regular one;
Q3. Visitor Oyster has the same daily/weekly caps as a regular one

The only real difference is that, if you have to cancel your trip for any reason, you are stuck with the Visitor Oyster.

Others can debate with you why an Oyster card (any Oyster Card) may or may not be the best way to pay for your transportation needs.

Posted by
1808 posts

Get an Oyster Card of some sort. IMO the least amount of times I have to take out a CC the better. If you lose an Oyster card you lose the remaining balance. You lose your CC and it is a bigger hassle. Oyster so simple to use.

Posted by
7724 posts

Cost wise, you are better off just using a contactless credit card or your phone to tap in and out. It cost you nothing (unless your card charges a Foreign Transaction Fee (FTF), then address that), there is no need to estimate what to load, just pay as you go. You still cap out daily with heavier use.

The Oyster card will cost you to get, 7 GBP, about $9, you then need to estimate what to load, and then take the time to refund any money left on the card. If you already have an Oyster card, then fine, or if you envision frequent trips to London over time, maybe look at it, but for most all people, it just doesn't pay, even if you are hit with a FTF on your card.

Posted by
15710 posts

Whether or not you get an Oyster Card, use a credit card, or use Google Pay/Apple Pay is completely up to you. There are pros and cons to each.

However, I don't see the reason to buy a visitors Oyster card and spend the extra money to have it sent to you. Buying a card will take a couple of minutes and all the instructions are in English. Very simple. You can buy them at any tube station via a machine. Most larger tube stations will have someone there to help you if you have a problem.

Posted by
33336 posts

whatever method you choose to use, the basics are you tap in at the barrier going to your Underground (tube) train and again at the destination as you leave the system. Same on those mainline trains accepting Oyster or contactless, and on Uber boats, and DLR, and Overground commuter trains.

You only tap getting on a bus, you do not tap getting off or you will pay for two rides.

Everybody needs their own card or contactless method (card, phone, watch, etc.) You can't tap twice for two people..

The two taps tell the system where you got on and where you got off - London is divided into 6 main zones and the price is higher for more zones. If you forget to tap out the system will charge you for a maximum ride unless you protest on line.

Buses don't have zones which is why you only need to tap in but not out.

Posted by
1856 posts

Welcome to the forums.

To get daily and weekly caps you need to use the same method. So mixing say different credit cards or card vs phone will not get the lowest fares.

Enjoy your trip