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Oyster card

Can someone explain the Oyster card for London! What it does...cost. Etc. thanks

Posted by
3334 posts

This site should explain it well.

https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/oyster.

It's a transportation card. You buy it and then load it with money from your credit card. Use it by tapping the reader each time you enter to ride an underground or bus. Tap when you exit the underground. The amount from that ride is deducted from the card. You can see the amount remaining on the reader when you do this. Reload when you need to. At the end of your stay, you can keep it to use on your next trip, or get the balance refunded. All the details are in the linked site.

Posted by
21281 posts

Bottom line: It saves you money in two ways:

  • The per-ride fare is much lower with the Oyster Card vs. buying an individual ticket.
  • There's a daily cap that may save you money if you use a lot of public transit on one particular day (I think it's 3 tube trips currently).

You do pay a fee for the empty card. Last year it was either 3 GBP for a Visitor Oyster Card with no refund available for the fee itself (but you can keep the card and use it on a later trip), or 5 GBP for a regular Oyster Card and a refundable fee if you don't want to keep the card for re-use.

Think of the Oyster Card as sort of a bank account: You put money in (load money on the card, at a vending machine, credit cards accepted) and you take money out (every time you take a tube or bus ride). It's very easy.

Posted by
7254 posts

I see you live in Barrington Illinois so It works just like the Ventra Card on the Chicago Transit that all nothing to it.

Posted by
6451 posts

I’ve noticed you’ve posted a few queries about London. Happy to help but in all honesty worth a bit of your time to get a copy of the RS London guidebook. Chock full of pertinent info that helps a first time visitor explore London with ease.

Great city.

Posted by
177 posts

I don't mean to hijack carolyn's thread, but I'm a bit confused about the Oyster Card too. I will be traveling to London with my two daughters, ages 9 and 13 in a few months. Our trip is for two weeks, not all of it in London. I looked at the website and I'm trying to figure out if I will be able to just show up and get myself and my older daughter the appropriate oyster cards, or should I buy them in advance? There was also something about children needing picture id oysters? These would have to be ordered in advance. Just really hoping for some advice from someone who has traveled with kids, and how they went about it. Thanks so much!

Posted by
6451 posts

Well you did hijack her thread but here’s your answer buy them there, don’t preorder. You will pay a refundable deposit.

ALSO use this forums search engine as this question has been asked and answered more than once.

The Oyster is for use on the London Underground, Overground and busses. Doesn’t work on trains nor the Heathrow Express or Connect.

Posted by
6772 posts

mary, there are two kinds of Oyster cards. One is the visitors card that you can buy ahead of time, and have sent to to you here, and the other is the standard card that people who live there buy, from shops, kiosks, ticket booths, etc. No good reason for most tourists to get the visitor card. Its easy to get the standard one there and no photo necessary.

Posted by
177 posts

Thank you for your replies, Stan and Jazz+travels.

Posted by
12 posts

The rules for under 11 are a little confusing, so let me make sure I'm reading the site correctly: It notes that if the child is traveling with the parent doing pay-as-you-go (emphasis mine), then they don't need a card. So if I load up an Oyster card when I get there and just go until I hit the daily cap, I don't need to buy a card for them, correct?

Posted by
364 posts

Was in London last May- the Oyster Card was extremely easy to use- when you land at Heathrow there are machines there where you can buy the card for 5 pounds and then load it with whatever amount you like- and then you use it on the tube and buses take it as well- when you leave you can get the 5 pounds back thru the machines and whatever dollar amount is left on them- I found the London transportation system so very easy to use and fast. Its the best way to get around London, and from the airport to London-

Posted by
11431 posts

And....you can download the Oyster app and register your card. It will give you the balance on your card and a list of your most recent journeys. You can also "top up" your card online.

It's very useful to keep you aware of when you need to add money.