Public transport in London: the Oyster card

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Which Oyster card to choose?

Which Oyster card to choose?

The Oyster card (Oyster card or Visitor Oyster card) is a contactless smart card which allows you to take public transport in London. Simply place it on the yellow card readers at the start and end of your journey when you take the underground, the London Overground or even the National Rail services.

On buses and trams, you only need to place the card on the reader at the start of the journey.

The Oyster card (Oyster card or Visitor Oyster card) is not nominative.

Differences between the 2 cards

Classic Oyster (Oyster card)

The classic Oyster card (Oyster card) is free (£5 deposit refunded when the card is returned) and compatible with Travelcards.

It is blue in color.

When the card is returned, the remaining balance is also immediately refunded (in cash).

The classic Oyster card (Oyster card) cannot be obtained until you arrive in the UK.

Visitor Oyster

The Visitor Oyster card is chargeable (£5 non-refundable activation fee) but offers advantages and discounts on restaurants, shops, attractions, theater tickets, etc.

It is recognizable by its colorful design.

You can buy the Visitor Oyster card before you arrive in London!

Unlike the classic Oyster card (Oyster card), it is very complicated - if not impossible - to obtain a refund of the balance remaining on the card when it is returned.

The Visitor Oyster card is not compatible with Travelcards subscriptions.

Withdrawal

In London

The classic Oyster card can be withdrawn free of charge (against a deposit of £5 - refunded when the card is returned):

  • at ticket offices or automatic terminals in London underground or train stations
  • in London Transport Information Centers (Visitor centers)
  • in partner stores (Oyster ticket stops)
  • at Tramlink Shop in Croydon

To find out the location of the TfL (Transport for London) partner stores closest to you, use the search tool 'Oyster ticket stops' on the official London Transport website (TfL).

If you are from UK, you can order an Oyster card (Oyster card) from official London transport website (TfL).

From abroad

Only the Visitor Oyster card can be obtained prior to your arrival in the UK - the classic Oyster card (Oyster card) cannot only be obtained once there.

You can order a Visitor Oyster card on the official shop of the British Tourist Authority or the official London transport website (TfL).

The Visitor Oyster card is also available aboard the Eurostar.

Top up

You can top up them:

To find out the location of the TfL (Transport for London) partner stores closest to you, use the search tool 'Oyster ticket stops' on the official London Transport website (TfL).

If you live in the UK you can register your Oyster card on the official website of transport in London (TfL) and thus recharge it online and / or set up the automatic recharging service : below a certain balance, the card is automatically recharged by the specified amount.

The registration service is also very practical in the event of loss or theft of your card: you can block it remotely and request a refund (or transfer to another Oyster card) of the remaining balance.

Only the classic Oyster card (Oyster card) can be recharged online.

Authorized overdraft

If you forget to reload your card, you have an authorized overdraft of £1.50.

A minimum balance of £1.50 is nevertheless required to open the metro gate (£2.30 if you are leaving from zone 1).

Use

The "Pay as you go" is the default payment method for the Oyster card (Oyster card or Visitor Oyster card) - with fare per trip, depending on the areas crossed and the traveler profile.

The "Pay as you go" method of payment includes a rate limit:

  • daily (Daily Price Cap)
  • weekly (Weekly Price Cap): only for bus and tram journeys

You can find out the exact cost of a trip depending on the zones crossed and the traveler profile with the search tool 'Single fare finder' on the official London transport website (TfL).

Tariff penalties

Incomplete travel

For a trip to be considered complete, your Oyster card must be placed on the yellow reader entering and exiting of the metro.

If for some reason a trip is incomplete, you will be charged the daily price cap (Daily Price Cap).

If your Oyster card is registered on the official London transport website (TfL), you can enter incomplete trips via your personal account and thus avoid this price penalty.

If you are traveling during peak periods, some stations may leave the gates open in order to facilitate the flow of travelers - this does not mean that the trips are free, remember to place your Oyster card on the reader!

This sanction is not applicable if you are traveling with a Travelcard subscription.

Entry and exit recorded at the same station

In this situation - depending on the time spent between your entry and exit - there are 3 types of price penalty:

  • Less than 2 minutes: the daily limit (Daily Price Cap) will be charged - unless you enter another station within the next 45 minutes.
  • Between 2 and 30 minutes: the price equivalent to a 30min journey from the zone you entered will be charged.
  • More than 30 minutes: the system will consider that you have made 2 incomplete trips - the daily limit (Daily Price Cap) will therefore be billed 2 times !

This sanction is not applicable if you are traveling with a Travelcard subscription.

Alternatives

There are 3 alternatives to the “Pay as you go” of the Oyster card:

  • Contactless payment
  • The Travelcards subscriptions
  • The Bus & Tram Pass subscriptions

Contactless payment

The contactless payment system for your bank card can be used in "Pay as you go" - in the same way as an Oyster card (Oyster card or Visitor Oyster card) - in all London public transport: buses, subways, trams, trains, cable cars, etc.

Unlike the Oyster card (Oyster card or Visitor Oyster card), contactless payment allows you to benefit from the weekly rate limit (Weekly Price Cap) - in addition to the daily price cap (Daily Price Cap).

Travelcard subscriptions

Travelcards subscriptions allow you unlimited travel on London buses, metros, trams, London Overground and DLR, TfL Rail and National Rail trains.

Your subscription can start on any day of the week and be used until 4:30 am the day after its expiration date.

There are 3 types of Travelcard subscriptions:

  • Daily (Anytime Day Travelcard and Off-peak Day Travelcard) - in the form of a paper ticket
  • For groups of 10 or more (Group Day Travelcard) - in the form of a paper ticket
  • Weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, odd or yearly (Travelcard season ticket) - to be credited to your classic Oyster card (Oyster card)

Bus & Tram Pass subscriptions

The Bus & Tram Pass subscriptions allow you unlimited travel on London buses and trams.

Your subscription can start on any day of the week and be used until 4:30 am the day after its expiration date.

There are 2 types of Bus & Tram pass subscriptions:

  • Daily (One Day Bus & Tram Pass) - in the form of a paper ticket
  • Weekly, monthly or annually (Bus & Tram Pass season ticket) - to be credited to your Oyster card (Oyster card)

Bus and tram rides are free for children :