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Oytercard zones, and Greenwich?


I will be in London Sept 24-30. I have read many posts here about travelcards and Oystercards, as well as the RS book and the London transportation website. I am still confused about what I need.

I arrive by train (EUS) and will spend three nights in a hostel in Greenwich (London central is booked solid for the weekend). I assume I will use quite a bit of transport to get around.

Then I move to a hostel on Oxford Street for four nights (eventually leaving for LHR). I do not know how much I will use public transportation. A lot depends on the weather.


  1. I have searched but cannot find a Zone map. Where is it? Is Greenwich within Zones 1-2?

  2. If I buy an Oystercard, I assume I will hit the daily cap on the first three days from Greenwich. If I don't hit the daily cap on the remaining days (say I just use 2GBP of buses, etc) I can have the balance on my card refunded upon departure, correct?

If this is all correct, then doesn't an Oystercard make more sense than a TravelCard? Especially if there are days when I wander further afield than Zones 1 and 2?

Posted by
3493 posts

Yes, the Oyster makes much more sense than the travel cards or passes. Why?

  1. The Oyster will max out at whatever the equivalent amount is for the travel card for that day for the zones you go through. No pre calculating which zones you might or might not go through or being stuck when you bought a pass for 1 - 3 and you end up in 5.
  2. If you only take 1 or 2 trips a day, that is all you pay for.
  3. Even taking single trips you pay a lot less than a single ticket would cost you because the Oyster gives discounts on every trip.
  4. Yes, you can cash out your Oyster when you are done with your trip. You can do this at any Tube station as long as you have less than £10 remaining on it. So don't go crazy with adding funds, or just keep it for your next visit..

The zones are shown on the tube maps. Sometimes they may be difficult to determine. Go to and select "Standard Tube Map". The zones are clearest on this one. Greenwich appears to be in Zone 3, but is on the DLR or National Rail.

Posted by
449 posts


Just wanted to add this comment that is based on my experience in London in 2012; not sure if things have changed. On my last day in London I wanted to cash out the balance of my Oystercard. However, because I had added funds using both my credit card, which was used to initially acquire the card, and cash I had to spend down my balance and had to take an unneeded round trip before I got a refund. So always top off your card with a credit card if that is how you got it in the first place. When I left London after a visit in 2014 I kept the Oystercard with its small cash balance because I hoped that I would return someday and continue using that card.

Have a good trip. I plan to be in London in early November and do not expect to be faced with the apartment shortage that you are facing.


Posted by
11292 posts

Greenwich tube station is in both zones 2 and 3. So, a 1-2 zone pass will work without an extra fare. But, I agree that it's easier just to get an Oyster pay as you go and let it calculate the fares for you.

Posted by
4736 posts

If you have less than £10 PAYG credit on an Oyster card you can get it back from a ticket machine.

If you have a contactless payment method - eg card, Apple Pay etc, you can use this directly and don't need an Oyster card.