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Oyster vs Travel Card

I need help knowing which travel pass to purchase. My husband and I will be in London in June 2019. We will be staying with my Cousin who lives in Clapham station. We plan to be in London and day tripping England for three weeks and then go to Paris for a week. We will purchase a britrail pass for trips outside of London but would an Oyster card, travel card, or Oyster/travel combination card be best?? Thanks

Posted by
2785 posts

When you decide for sure where you want to day trip to, get on and check the prices. If you buy in advance (10-12 weeks before travel) you can get really prices. Just looking at the prices for two Britrail passes, they start at $350.00 up to $1110.00, depending how many days you wasn’t it for, e.g., a pass for two people for 3 days are $350.00, 8 travel days would be $594.00.
You probably could get tickets for less by buying in advance.

Posted by
2494 posts

For short rail journeys, the prices in advance are the same as turn up and pay on the day. Peak fares usually apply on weekdays for travel before 9.30am. On some routes, you can reduce the price by splitting the tickets. The best split points tend to be where you have to change trains or train company although this is not always the case. Here is a map of the rail system:>

Posted by
5 posts

Clapham is in zone 2. A Travelcard costs 12 pounds for zones 1-2 (same price for zones 1-4). An Oyster card costs 5 pounds for the card and then you top it up with as much as you want. The good thing about it is that you use it as often as you want on both trains and buses and the total each day is capped is at 6 pounds 40 pence for zones 1 -2 and 9 pounds 20 pence for zones 1-4. That makes the Oyster card a better deal if you are there for a while.

You can buy the Oyster card at tube stations with cash or cards. However, in my experience two weeks ago in London, the machines only seem to accept cards that are "contactless". American credit cards tend not to be contactless.

Posted by
27453 posts

I reloaded my Visitor Oyster Card in London many times between August 28 and September 9 using my US credit card without any problems. It's a chip-and-signature card, not contactless.

Edited to clarify that it is my US credit card that is a "chip-and-signature card, not contactless".

Posted by
9 posts

I would go with the information provided by "columc" as you will be traveling to/from Clapham most days. Plus the Oyster card is pretty easy to top up at most of the larger stations. That said, you will need a Debit Card that you can use without paying the foreign currency transaction fees. Talk to your bank. If they can't be of assistance, google debit card foreign transaction fee for a list of banks that will offer the service. has a good article.

For daytripping, I would suggest looking into a BritRail Pass ( There are two types (x days continuous within one month, and any x days within 1 month), so mind how you go. I just returned from two weeks in England, and I wanted the flexability of picking my dates and times of travel, so I picked the "any 8 days within one month". I traveled from Heathrow (Express) to Paddington London, London-Bletchley-London, London-Bath, Bath-York, York-Liverpool, Liverpool-London, Paddington London-Heathrow. All for the princely sum of ~US$320.00. (That was seven trips . . . I still have one left.)

Oh . . . almost forgot. They use a lot of coins, so get a leather coin purse. That is the best piece of travel advise I received from one of my friends.