I had read many tips about Oyster vs Travelcard. I chose the Oystercard. I used my Oystercard the whole time I was in London and didn't have to reload it. I have kept my card as I plan to return on day and having my Oystercard will be handy - just might need to refill it.
I had no problems with the Oystercard. Just had to remember to touch the pass when you go in and out of the Tube Station or the bus.
I hear that if you forget to 'tap out' as you leave the Tube you have to pay a full days fee. That's a great incentive to remember to 'tap out'.
February 2013update, Oyster fares are significantly cheaper than cash fares, you may have to put up a deposit but you get it back when you turn it in. The Oyster cap is .30off peak/.40 peak less than the 1 day travelcard.
The Oyster Card is the newest addition to the headache of trying to figure out the cheapest way to get around London, I'm pretty sure your head would explode before making it through the pages and pages of fares offered on TFL's website. If you purchase a 7 day at an underground/tube station they will automatically load it onto an Oyster Card. If you want to use the 2 for 1 offers you have to get a paper travelcard and you can only purchase those at rail stations. Heathrow is not a rail station so if you purchase it there it will be loaded onto an Oyster Card.
The Oyster Card is a rechargeable plastic fare card that you can add onto and keep forever. The TFL website says a £5 refundable deposit is required to get one but it was waived when I purchased a zone 1-2 7 day travelcard many many years ago. If you get the 7 day zone 1-2 travelcard on the Oyster, you can always add on if you need to go outside zone 1-2.
You can also use the Oyster card to PAYG (pay as you go), the Oyster card is a smart card and the daily price capping should calculate the cheapest fare for the journeys you make in a single day and should be the same or less per day as a travelcard depending on the number of journeys and much less than cash fares. You can top off the Oyster Card at the machines at the tube stations or with an agent in any amount that you'd like. If you are staying longer than 4-5 days, check to see if the 7 day travelcard won't be cheaper for your purposes.
I'm guessing that the #1 question about London is "should I get an Oyster Card or a travelcard?" I've given it a lot of thought on my many visits to London and I almost always get a travelcard although I do have an Oyster Card that I've kept from a previous trip.
Reasons to get a travelcard:
-if you are going for more than 4 days, it may be cheaper to buy a 7 day travelcard which currently costs £30.40 (as of 1/1/13). The daily price cap on an Oyster is £7 off peak or £8.40 peak. At day 5 it becomes cheaper to have a travelcard with off peak travel (5x7=35)and at day 4 (8.40 x 4= 33.60) it becomes cheaper if using peak travel.
Peak Oyster time is from 06:30-09:30 and from 16.00-19-00 Monday to Friday (except public holidays). The travelcard has different peak and off peak than an Oyster, off Peak time for the travelcard is after 9:30am and on the weekends/holidays.
-if you plan on taking trains outside of London, you can show your travelcard and get a discounted train ticket
-2 for 1 offers on places like the Tower of London and Kensington Palace, only available if you have a train ticket OR travelcard with the Crow's Foot logo on it. Purchase the travelcard at a rail station, there is a new requirement to have a photocard with the 7 day travelcard.
-no need to worry about your balance as you do with an Oyster
-no deposit to get back at the end of your trip
Reasons to get an Oyster:
-if you are planning on going outside of London's central zone 1-2 often, examples of tourist sights outside of zone 1-2 are Wimbledon, Richmond, Kew, and Heathrow. Ultimately it should be cheaper with the Oyster although not necessarily so
-you don't plan on hitting the daily cap (somewhere between 4-5 tube rides) and are only in London for a couple of days
Buy your Oyster Card at the tube station at Heathrow when you arrive in the country, it is cheaper. I notice on the Oyster Card website you can apply on line for the card but the charge for this is £18 which includes a £15 load and £3 fee which is non refundable. at the Heathrow tube station you can obtain an Oyster card for £5 refundable deposit and load as much as you like. It only takes a couple of minutes.Just hand in your card when you leave and your £5 will be returned.
The card will save you around 50% for your tube journeys, sometimes not so much if you are travelling at peak times (mon-fri 6.30-9.30am and 4-7pm).
Any bus journey will cost £1.35 off peak.
If you are making several journeys in one day the computerised system will stop charging you should the journey fares total more than a one day pass.
The Oystercard is an electronic chargecard which replaces the old paper tickets for public transport. You can buy a weekly card (for a small refundable deposit) and recharge it through the ticket machines or online. It works by holding the pass flat against the yellow readers on tube gates or buses. An excellent idea to speed away London's terrible queues!! Transport for London have thankfully realised that it is difficult for anyone to understand the way these cards work, so they have put together a page on their website with more information specifically for visitors to London.
A one-day travel card which covers all transport inside London Zones 1-2, plus bus travel in any London zone costs £8.40. An off-peak version, for travel after 9.30 a.m. weekdays, or any time at weekends costs £7.00. Alternatively, Oyster is a pay as you go smart card, with a daily cap at the same amount as a cost of the equivalent daily travelcard. http://visitorshop.tfl.gov.uk/help-centre/ticket-comparison.html
It doesn't cover entry to visitor attractions, though if you have a national rail ticket (or a paper travel card purchased at a rail station, such as Waterloo or Paddington) you can get 2 for 1 entry on many attractions. http://www.daysoutguide.co.uk/2for1-london
The London Pass includes admission to visitor attractions. An adult one costs £46 per day, or £54 with a one day travel card included. A 3 day pass costs £66, or £91.60 with travel. http://www.londonpass.com/london-pass-prices.php
What will work out best for you depends on how many fee-paying attractions you visit.
The best and cheapest way to see London is a with a Day Travelcard - we bought a ticket for the buses and tube for only £5.50 (May 09) for travel zones 1 & 2. To illustrate its value our days travel was - Kings Cross to Hampstead by tube, Hampstead to Little Venice by bus, Paddington to London Bridge by tube, Tower Gateway to Park Lane by bus, Park Lane to Oxford Street by bus and Oxford Circus to Kings Cross by tube. All for £7.00 - is the new 2012 price.
Remember a single bus ride is £2.30 and single tube train ride is £4.40 - if you buy a £7.00 card and only make 2 journeys on the tube , you have made a profit.
The cards are available from Underground stations or mainline rail stations and I have shown below what each ticket looks like - they both have the same validity.
Let me start off by saying to OysterCard is a must for traveling around London. BUT if you are on a budget, try to walk as much as you can. The prices add up quickly even with an OysterCard and my friends and I spent most of our time topping off our OysterCard when we could have walked to our destination faster. In conclusion, good value just don't over do it.
I know everyone has an opinion, so I'll share mine. We chose the Travelcard for getting around London. It was good for zones 1-6, which meant we could use it from Heathrow to get to our centrally located hotel without any hassle. Since we were zipping all around the city it definitely came in handy and is much cheaper then buying individual tickets every time you want to use the tube, bus or metro.
Before you head to London, visit the website and compare the two cards to see which one meets your preference. Buy your card for the number of days you'll need it and then off you go. It's very easy to use, you just insert it into the machines at the entrance and exit at the tube station.
We bought our Travelcard in conjunction with the London Pass, so there are a few extra savings that we got out of our card (train ride out to Windsor Castle).
I love traveling on the "Tube" in London. It's the easiest and most economical way of getting around.
Recently on a day layover from a business trip I discovered this very ingenius way of traveling, the "Oyster Card". Its a refillable smartcard that never expires. Determine the amount you want to put into the card and use is as you wish.
For more indepth information about the Oyster Card, check out their website.
The Travelcard can be used on the DLR, London Overground and buses, trams (where your Travelcard would include Zone 3, 4, 5 or 6), National Rail (excluding Heathrow Connect between Hayes & Harlington and Heathrow, and on Heathrow Express).
The Travelcard must be valid for the zones you’ll be traveling through. You have a choice of pruchasing a 1 or 3 day Travelcard for peak or off peak times.
The off peak Travelcard can be used from 9:30 am Mondays to Fridays, all day Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, on the day you validate the card and for journeys that starts before 4:30 am on the following day.
I decided to purchase an off peak Travelcard for the one day I was going to use the public transportation as I found it to be the most economical way to get around London.
The Travelcard was £5.30 for Zones 1&2.
Please note that you can use the vending machines to purchase your cards. Some machines only accept coins, while others accept bills and credit cards.
Once upon a time when I was a girl, there was the Red Bus Rover - the day pass that allowed you unlimited access to London buses and all the magical possibilities that went with that.
This was superceded by the Travel Card, which allowed you unlimited access to the London Transport system for the duration of your stay - all you had to work out was which zones you wanted covered (the more zones, the more expensive) and how long a period the card should be valid for. And then the Oyster Card was introduced and things got more confusing ...
Essentially the Travel Card gives unlimited access to travel within selected zones for a set period of time. By contrast, the Oyster Card is a 'pay as you go' system which is not limited to a particular time period. I am not going to try and explain the complex details and conditions of each in any greater detail or take credit for someone else's work, so instead I will happily direct you to the website detailed below, which gives a simple, easy-to-use comparison of both options. It's then up to you to decide which meets your needs more closely ...
When you're in London, the Oyster card is one very usefull thing. Regular price for tube one way ticket (in Central London) is 4 pounds. With Oyster card it cost only 1.5 pounds. You can buy this card at ant Subway station. The card with 2 pounds credit is 5 pounds + you can add on it as much money as you like.
Don't throw away your Oyster card cos you can use it forever!
Make sure you get yourself an Oyster card. You can get this from all underground stations and some newsagents. It's a small electronic card that has replaced the old paper tickets system - which is slowing being phased out! Look for the yellow rings at undergrounds station ticket gates, on buses and trams. You don't even need to take your oyster card out of its wallet, even works when its in a thin bag! The fastest, cheapest way to travel - I say that as a user of 3 years. ALways go for 1 week or more travelcards because you save more if you are staying even just 4 days or something it will still work out cheaper if you are planning to run around a lot. Be warned that this is not yet valid on surface trains so you may get fined!
There are a variety of travelcards on offer for the entire london transport network. Most tourists would probably be interested in a one-day travel card, this can cover various zone combinations, but the most useful for the visitor is the 1-2 zone travelcard. These are offered in peak and non-peak versions, the non-peak one is sufficient, as peak allows one to travel before 9:30, and the rest of the day is considered non-peak. For longer travelcards, you must get an oyster card, which can have money and "passes" added to it by machine or through a teller at a tube or train station, or at a newsagent.