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Some Travelcard questions

I have an “Oyster Visitor Card” that I bought on board the Eurostar in 2010. I’ve taken it with me on subsequent visits to London and topped it up with £15-20. That covers me for the two or three days I’m there, and there is usually a small amount left on the card when I leave (currently, it has £2.20 on it). I am unable to register this card with TfL.

For my upcoming trip I’ll be in London for six and a half days, so I thought getting a new Oyster card with a 7-day Travelcard (Zones 1 and 2) on it would be the way to go. I like the “one and done” aspect and not having to worry about topping up (and also being able to register it so I can add funds online prior to future trips). I understand there is a £5 fee in addition to the cost of the Travelcard. So my questions are:

  1. I’m taking the Heathrow Express from LHR. Can anyone give me a general idea of where I need to go at Paddington Station to buy a Travelcard? Is it the ticket office over on the left as you face the tracks, or is that just for trains?
  2. Can I apply the £2.20 balance from my Visitor Card to the cost of a new Travelcard?
  3. How do I pay the excess fare for traveling outside of Zone 2 (e.g., Kew Gardens or Greenwich (Cutty Sark)) and returning to Zone 1?
  4. Am I going to need to provide a photo? I seem to recall having to do so pre-2010, but I could be thinking of Paris.


Posted by
2424 posts
  1. Buy an Oyster card that includes a Travelcard from the ticket machines in the Underground station, not the office at the national rail station.
  2. You can get a cash refund of the balance from a Tube station ticket machine.
  3. Top up pay-as-you-go funds to the Oyster/Travelcard. When you tap in to start your journey and tap out at the end, the system automatically debits the additional balance from the Oyster card to pay for any travel outside the Travelcard's zones.
  4. No.
Posted by
31512 posts

Number 4.

7 day paper Travelcards issued by train companies are train season tickets which require photos, and can be used with the 2 for 1 promotions if there are 2 of you.

7 day Travelcards issued onto Oysters do not require photos and are not eligible to be used with the 2 for 1 promotions.

TfL Oyster 7 day Zone 1 and Zone 2 Travelcards are £38.40 pp.

The fares for Travelcards and Oyster caps are at

Posted by
3553 posts

ramblin' on said, "1. Buy an Oyster card that includes a Travelcard from the ticket machines in the Underground station, not the office at the national rail station."

Nigel said, "7 day Travelcards issued onto Oysters do not require photos and are not eligible to be used with the 2 for 1 promotions."

I must ask (because I don't know): Why does a person buy an Oyster that includes a Travelcard?
We always just top up our Oyster card, adding 40 or 50 pounds at a time.
We use this until it gets low, then top up again.
We never buy a Travelcard to be put onto Oyster (didn't see that option on the machines in the tube stations), but.......
Does it have a Travelcard on it automatically, and we just don't know that?
Is there an advantage to having the Travelcard on Oyster? Or fine to just do it the way we are doing it?

Sorry, Teresa, I don't mean to sidetrack your thread, but I never understand it when they are talking about this.
I just had to ask.

Thanks Nigel and ramblin' on, whomever answers.

Posted by
119 posts

@ Rebecca

For an answer to your query, see the toolkit link below, scroll down to the section ‘benefits of using travelcards with oyster’ they give examples.

If you travel irregularly or little and on many days not at all, then using the standard oyster PAYG works better, furthermore using contactless/paywave with a credit/debit card often calculates a better fare as the technology is newer.

Posted by
344 posts

Have you considered just using a credit card to Touch and Go? Seems the easiest way to pay the least amount. Here is what the website says:

Contactless cards
If your bank card shows the contactless payment symbol, you can use it to pay as you go straight away. You'll pay an adult rate fare.
Many contactless cards issued outside the UK can be used to pay as you go for travel (overseas transaction fees may apply):
American Express (AMEX)
MasterCard and Maestro (some cards issued in the USA, Canada and the Netherlands aren't accepted)
Visa and V PAY (some cards issued outside the UK aren't accepted)
If you have a prepaid card, it may be accepted on our transport services. Check with your card issuer if you're not sure if your card is contactless or if it's rejected.

Mobile payments
Using a mobile payment to pay as you go is the same as using a contactless card. You can make mobile payments with devices such as phones, watches, key fobs, stickers or wristbands.

You can use different mobile payments to travel on our transport services:
Apple Pay
Barclaycard Contactless Mobile
Fitbit Pay
Garmin Pay
Google Pay
Samsung Pay
If you use a mobile payment associated with a non-UK bank card, your card may not work or you may be charged overseas transaction fees. Check with your card issuer.

How to use
Touch in at the start of your journey and touch out at the end on yellow card readers using contactless (card or device). Only touch in on buses and trams. Find out more about touching in and out.

Contactless card over a yellow card reader
You can pay for someone else's travel with your contactless card or device if they're travelling with you. You need to pay for your own travel with a different card or device.

If you have a joint bank account, you can usually both use your contactless cards to travel as each card will be charged separately.

Find out why your contactless card might not work.

Pay the right fare
Always use the same device or contactless card to touch in and out to pay the right fare for your journey. If you don't, we won't be able to cap your fares. For example, don't touch in with an iPhone and touch out with an Apple Watch or contactless card.
A contactless card over a yellow card reader, followed by a device over a reader and a cross showing a clash. Contactless card followed by the same card showing the correct process.
Make sure you have enough battery otherwise you'll pay the maximum fare or might get a penalty fare
A mobile device showing a full green battery.
Watch out for card clash by keeping your contactless and Oyster cards away from your device when touching in and out so you pay for your travel with the right card or device
How much does it cost?
You can check your fare on our single fare finder or find out about journeys beyond Zone 9.

Travel as much as you like in one day or week (Monday to Sunday) and we'll cap your fares so you don't pay more.

You might see your payment on your bank statement as:

Travel charges
Travel refunds
Unpaid fares

Create a contactless and Oyster account to:

Check your payment and journey history
Get email alerts if there's an issue with your contactless card which might stop you from travelling
Apply for refunds
Pay unpaid fares
If you're adding contactless cards for a joint bank account to your contactless and Oyster account, you need to either:

Sign up for one account if the cards have the same long card number and expiry date
Sign up for separate accounts for each card if they have different long card numbers and/or expiry dates
Download the app
Once you've created an account, download our free TfL Oyster and contactless app to manage your contactless and Oyster cards on the go.

Posted by
894 posts

Thanks, ramblin' on and Nigel. I'm glad there's no photo requirement!

I tried my Google Pay app as well as three different cards with the contactless symbol on them 2 years ago while in London and Paris but they never worked. Has anyone from the US been able to use a contactless card or Google Pay on the Tube? I'm going in September and would love to just use the phone!