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London Tube Confusion

I have read a lot about London tube fares and Oyster cards and travel passes. I am confused. I will have two full days in London and will, of course, be using the underground. I really don't understand how the Oyster cards work. It looks like I would save money by using one, but do I need a travel pass as well? We will be using the underground from Kings Cross to Heathrow on our final morning....Thanks everyone.

Posted by
4538 posts

Non-Oyster method: Buy a one day travel card from an underground/overground/railway station. Cost each day £7.30 if starting after 9:30am, £9 before, both for zones 1-2. Buy a cash single fare from Kings Cross to Heathrow, price £5.70.

Oyster method: Buy Oyster Card (£5 deposit) from station or other vendor. Put a pay-as-you-go deposit on it sufficient for your possible use, say £25. Use for two days. Amount is capped to £7 off peak, £8.40 peak for zones 1-2. Use to Heathrow (£5 single fare peak, £3 off peak). At Heathrow claim back £5 deposit, plus any unused credit, or keep for next visit.

So using the Oyster is a bit cheaper.

The reason people use paper travelcards from national railway stations is to access the two for one admission offer. As from what you say that you are actually alone, there is no such advantage. Just make sure you touch in and out at every tube/rail journey.

Posted by
109 posts

Much more clearly stated than on the website. Thank you.

Posted by
4538 posts

There is a reasonably good 'visitor' section, but the information under the general tickets/fares section seems to get more obscure every time they change it. TfL have a clear preference for Oyster use, which suits them, as it usually means them holding some of your money. It can be the best option, but not always.

Posted by
6898 posts

Ann, you refer only to the underground metro (tube). Don't rule out the bus system above. The Oyster card works on them as well. On our last visit to London, we were there for 6 days. We found ourselves either on the bus or in the tube system an average of 6 times a day as we were traveling around visiting the sites. Above ground, the bus system can be faster than using the tube in many areas. In some areas above ground, buses have their own lanes.

Posted by
5463 posts

I would just purchase the Oystercard and top it up with 10 pounds to start, maybe 15 if you wanted to be safe. If you use the tube and buses alot, you will max out each day at an amount actually less or nearly the same as a pass, if not, you will not be charged. When you get to Heathrow, turn in your card for the 5 pound deposit plus any unused credit. Day passes are not refundable obviously and we found that we probaly did more walking between sites than hopping on the tube. Many days we only used the bus or tube twice, so a day pass would have been a waste.