Getting around London: Oyster Card or Travelcard?

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Pau Monfort

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Getting around in London: which card to buy? Oyster Card or Travelcard?

One of the first questions you will ask yourself when preparation of your stay how will I move and which card to use? London transport offers two cards namely the Travelcard and the Oyster Card.
What are their specificities and their advantages? But also what are their differences? Last but not least which one to choose?

What is the Travelcard?

La Travelcard

is a paper-based transport ticket that allows unlimited use of public transport depending on the duration and the zones chosen.
It can be used for one day or for 7 days. In other words, if you are staying in London for 3 days, you will need to purchase three Travelcards on different dates, one for each day.
To do this, you will have to choose which zone you plan to travel but here it is much easier, zone 1 and 2 which represent central London will be enough for you if you choose this card…!

The 1-day Travelcard comes in two offers:

  • Peak: Valid all the time without restriction.
  • Off-Peak: To be used only from Monday to Friday from 09:30 am. Without restriction on weekends and public holidays. Its price is a little lower.

The 7-day Travelcard
As its name suggests, it is valid for 7 days at any time of the day.

Where can I use the Travelcard?

  • bus: no zone limit. In other words, with a Travelcard for central London you can travel to all surrounding areas, without restriction of distance.
  • Metro
  • Tram
  • DLR (skytrain in east London)
  • London Underground (commuter trains)
    Tate Boat. River shuttle connecting the Tate Modern to the Tate Britain.

How much does a Travelcard cost for an adult in 2020?


How much does a Travelcard cost for a child in 2020?

Children under 11 accompanied by an adult benefit from free transport. They do not need a ticket and go through the gates with the adult Travelcard holder.


Where to buy the Travelcard?


  • The best solution is to buy it on the Great Britain Tourist Board website which is in French and on which you can pay in euros.
  •  Metro stations
  • stations


What are the good deals of the Travelcard?

The Travelcard is a good plan if you want to benefit from the 2 for 1 offer of the Day Out Guide. This offer will allow you to have two tickets to one of the 150 attractions (London Eye, Tower of London, Madame Tussauds…) For the price of one!
To do this, buy your Travelcard exclusively at the counter of a National Rail station (Kings Cross) which will issue your card with the railway logo.

The Travelcard also offers discounts:
- Less than 30% on the Riverboat: boats on the Thames
- Less than 25% on the Emirates Air Line: cable car that crosses the Thames


What is the Oyster Card?

London Transport (TFL) offers two Oyster Cards: the Pay as you go Card and the Visitor Oyster Card.
Don't panic, the principle is the same for both! These are plastic cards that are acquired in exchange for a deposit.

Each trip is debited according to the trip made (areas crossed) and the time (peak and off peak as explained above).
No need to do clever calculations because the Oyster card automatically calculates the cheapest rate for the day.

Finally, with the Oyster Card, you have a daily limit for each zone. Therefore, no matter how many trips you make during the day, you never spend more than this limit.

At the end of your stay, you can have your unused card refunded at the counter.

And if you plan to come back to London, you can keep the Oyster Card because the loaded balance has no expiration date.
Another advantage, as the card is not personal, you can also lend it!


Quelles differences entre l’Oyster Card Pay as you Go et la visitor Oyster Card ?

Visually, the Visitor Oyster Card

is always more colorful and attractive.
The deposit amount (activation fee) for the Visitor Oyster Card is £ 5 and is non-refundable.




How much does the Oyster Card cost for an adult in 2020?


How to use the Oyster Card?

On each trip, you will have to swipe your Oyster Card on a card reader. Unlike the bus where you validate the card only at the entrance, you will have to do the same when exiting the metro to avoid a penalty of £ 8.80.



In which transports can the Oyster be used
Card ?

  • bus
  • Metro
  • Tram
  • DLR (skytrain in east London)
  • London Underground (commuter trains)
  • Most lines National rail
  • Thames Clippers (river services)
  • Cable car Emirates Airline
  • Tate Boat. River shuttle connecting the Tate Modern to the Tate Britain


Where to buy the Oyster Card?


  • On the Great Britain Tourist Board website  which is in French and on which you can pay in euros.
  • Metro stations
  • stations
  • Airport
  • Eurostar (bar car): Sale only of the Visitor Oyster Card which is credited with £ 10, plus the deposit of £ 3 and a non-refundable fee of £ 2. Payment in £ or €.


What are the good deals of the Visitor Oyster Card?

The Visitor Oyster Card offers discounts on many restaurants (Hard Rock Café, Planet Hollywood, Hix Restaurant…), shopping (Crest of London, M & M's World ..), theater and musical comedies.


For children aged 11 to 15: Oyster Card or Travelcard?

Children under the age of 11 and accompanied by an adult benefit from free travel on London public transport: underground, on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) lines, the London Overground (within the limits of the zones 1 to 9 where it is possible to use theOyster Card ).

For example, if you make your own way to studios Harry Potter, the train to Watford Junction will be free for children under 11 and a half fare 11 to 15 years.

The good plan for children is to take the Oyster Card which offers a 50% reduction compared to the adult rate. To do this, go to the counter with your child and ask for the child rate, namely “Young Visitor discount”. This offer is valid for 14 days.

Ticket offices can be found in most metro stations, ticket offices at Victoria National Rail station or in Visitor Centers:


Conclusion : Osyter Card ou Travelcard ?

First of all, do not plan to buy single tickets as this solution will be very expensive! Indeed, the price of a single metro ticket for zones 1 and 2 costs (regardless of the time of day) £ 4.90, while using the Oyster Card your journey will be £ 2.40 to £ 2.90 depending on the hour.

To choose these two cards, you must take into account the length of your stay and the areas visited.

For a stay of less than 6 days in London, I recommend the Oyster Card which is the most economical. I use it myself on a personal basis.

In addition, if you make a lot of trips, the Oyster Card will automatically calculate the daily limit which will be the equivalent of a Day Travelcard. In other words, you can travel as much as you want and the maximum price per day will be £ 7.20 for journeys in zones 1 & 2 (i.e. central London).

If you decide to keep your Oyster Card for another stay, be aware that you can top it up online and avoid wasting time when you arrive.


  More information Oyster card More information Travelcard

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