Oyster Card at Heathrow?

I am debating whether to purchase my 3 Oyster Cards at Heathrow Airport (Terminal 5) when I arrive in London in June as I will be taking the Tube from there to Victoria Station or online and have mailed to my home in Houston. I will be in London for 3 days. It would be very convenient to have in hand once I got off Plane and not have to find where to purchase and would I have to wait in long lines to purchase? Is there a retail shop at Heathrow I could purchase as well or do I have to go to the basement and find a Tube booth? Also if something happened and I could not make the trip there is the problem of trying to recover my monies. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Any suggestions on how much to load on card for 3 days? Rick says he loads only 10 pounds for 3 days which seems low especially if you are able to get it back when you cash out.

Posted by Miranda
Central Indiana, USA
79 posts

Wait until you arrive. You have to pass the tube ticket window in T1/T3 to get on the train. T4 and T5 might be different. It might take 10 minutes, but probably closer to 5. For 3 days, 20GBP should be okay and then you can turn in the card and get refunded the deposit and left over money when you arrive back at Heathrow.

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1358 posts

hi, iirc, i put 20 BPS on my card. Also, i was traveling around during "rush hours" because i could and i wanted to see/experience what it was like during those times. more packed, but tolerable and fun! i didnt have any problems buying mine oyster card at any airport, yet. happy travels.

Posted by Adrienne
Vienna, VA
30 posts

Terminal 5 has a ticket booth as well. It was not hard to find, and if I recall correctly you had to pass it on the way to where the tube picks you up. Also the salesperson was very helpful.

Posted by Joe
Houston, TX, US
28 posts

Thanks for all of the comments and advice. I will wait till I get to Heathrow to get the 3 Oyster Cards and will load each one with 20GBP. I assume it will be easy to find an ATM at Terminal 5
I know which ones to avoid.

Posted by Tom
Suffolk, UK (formerly St. Louis, MO, USA)
166 posts

Joe - wait until you get there, and put 20 GBP on each one. You'll be just fine, and likely have a little padding on your Oyster. There are multiple ATMs in Terminal 5, so cash isn't a problem.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

'I assume it will be easy to find an ATM at Terminal 5
I know which ones to avoid.' 'There are multiple ATMs in Terminal 5, so cash isn't a problem.' Sounds like either conflicting statements or disparate languages. It seems like I've started to commute through Heathrow for the last few years and the only ATMs I've seen are the TravelEx jobs.

Posted by Tom
Suffolk, UK (formerly St. Louis, MO, USA)
166 posts

Perhaps I should clarify a little, based on what Ed has said (as he makes a good point): there ARE multiple machines in Terminal 5. What I cant tell you off hand is what banks they are. My apologies if I caused any confusion.

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
783 posts

You can pay for Oyster cards with a credit card.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2902 posts

there ARE multiple machines in Terminal 5. What I cant tell you off hand is what banks they are. There are no bank operated ATMs in Heathrow. There are multiple Travelex ATMs.

Posted by Joe
Houston, TX, US
28 posts

What a fine group of people on Rick Steves site. So many people being helpful and sharing information
about travel. Thank you for all that responded.