The Oyster card is the most useful, easy and manageable means of payment that you will find in London to use the different transports of the city during your stay. It is a rechargeable card that saves you a lot of time and many queues, but also saves you a few pounds on the main transports if you choose the right option.
How to use the Oyster card
When you arrive in London, the issue of transportation can become a real nightmare. 10-pound surcharge? Do I buy a 10-trip voucher or the single trip?
Well, through the Oyster card you have two options:
- Pay as you go (pay depending on where you are going).
- Travelcard : transportation ticket. Also available in paper, without need of possession of Oyster card.
Both options are complementary and can be used at the same time, but we go in parts.
The city of London is divided into several transport zones, depending on the proximity of the area to the city center. There are, specifically, 9 zones. Therefore, you can use the travelcard for zones 1-2, which are the most central and tourist areas; and the Oyster card with Pay As You Go for the rest of the outdoor areas, to give an example.
We will see the different options in detail:
The Oyster card is valid so that anyone carrying it can travel by metro, bus, DLR, tram and most National Rail trains.
To use it as Pay as You Go is as simple as recharging it in one of the ticket offices of the subway or in an automatic machine and slide it through the yellow dot of the turnstiles that will open at your pace.
Basically, a card will have the recharge of money that you have previously made and from there they will pay for the trips you make. At the moment you spend a series of daily trips, the Oyster card becomes Travelcard for 1 day and the expense is limited to save even more.
This type of payment is very valid for tourists who are going to use public transport rather little or who will not be in London for more than 3 days. At the moment you need to travel by metro to visit the different monuments, museums or parks, it will always be more advisable to charge a Travelcard, either one day or one week, depending on the time of your stay.
Travelcard prices will depend on the areas you travel, as well as the amount of each ticket you pay via Pay As You Go.
Of course, before traveling to a certain area you must check the balance of your card because in case you are not covering the amount of the trip and one of the reviewers caught you, you can get a fine.
By the way, children under 5 years old do not have to pay for transportation and can travel for free, if accompanied by an adult, by subway, bus, tram, DLR, Overground and National Rail. However, children from 5 to 10 years old are only free by subway, DLR, Overground and some National Rail.
Finally, another fact to keep in mind is that rush hour trips in the city of London, known as peak, have a special price that is somewhat more expensive and occurs between 6.30 and 9.30 in the morning and between 4:00 - 7:00 PM
When you leave London you can return the Oyster card in a box office of some means of transport and the 3 pounds that cost you will be returned to you along with the amount of money not consumed.