Find out how to use the Oyster Card and get around London like a local, or even better.
London’s iconic easy to grasp tube map got more crowded over the last decades and is now tangled with all kind kinds of additional lines and services. And then there are buses too. So let us straighten it out for you so you can focus on visiting the London’s attractions and having a great time. At the end of the day it isn’t that difficult to move around London efficiently.

TFL – Transport of London are the guys keeping it all moving. And you can find all the information you need – sometimes more than you need – here. We summarised the most important ones and, hopefully, made it easy to understand

The Oyster Card


You can buy your card from all TFL ticket offices or ticket machines. If your want to have it ready when you arrive, order your Visitor Oyster Card here

The Oyster card is the easiest, fastest, and best way to use public transport in London. It is an electronic prepaid pay as you go card which you load with a certain amount of money at the beginning of your trip. At the end of your London stay, you can get back any amount left on your card from the TFL ticket offices.

It is valid on the:

  • Tube
  • Bus
  • Train
  • Tram
  • Overground (Orange line)
  • Dockland’s Light Railway (DLR)
  • Thames Clippers / Uber Boat at a supplement
  • Emirates Airline cable car at a supplement
  • Heathrow and Gatwick Express 
  • Elizabeth Line at a supplement

The Oyster card is valid in London’s transport zones 1-6 and gives you total flexibility on how often, when, and where to use it. And did you know that some tube lines run now for 24hours.

It is however not valid on the Stansted Express. 

How to use the Oyster Card?

Tap in your card on the reader, and when you leave you tap out. This way you automatically pay the cheapest available fare.

If you forget to tap out, you it charges the maximum amount for a single journey. But no worries most stations have barriers, and you won’t be able to leave without tapping out.

Note, you don’t have to tap out on the buses, just leave through the backdoor please.

If you lose it, hm, we recommend using your charm and waiving nervously at the guards at the barriers…

How much does it cost?


It costs a £7 and is non-refundable and you can load up £90 on each card.

In general transport in London especially on the tube is expensive. A ticket for a single tube journey can cost up to £6.40, but only £2.80 using your Oyster Card.

It is also capped to a maximum of £14.90 per day so you won’t pay more and basically travel for free afterwards.

And no worries if you forget to top up, you won’t be locked in. You can go into minus using up your £7 purchase costs.

How about a Travel Card?

Yes, there is another option. You can also buy a paper travel card which in essence covers all public transport modes too.

However, you must set the zones you will be travelling in advance, and you can’t top it up. And you can only buy it from at the train stations as they aren’t sold at the tube ticket offices. But it’s not all bad. If you stay for more than 6 days and use a lot of public transport in all zones a Travel Card is around £25 cheaper than an Oyster Card.

Pay contactless?

In short, yes. You can pay using your contactless credit / debit card or your phone. TFL accepts all major mobile payment platforms. You get charged Oyster fares but please check with your provider about any additional fees or charges.

Visitor Oyster Card

The Visitor Oyster Card gives you all the benefits of the regular one, but you can order it in advance here and load some money on it. This way you can jump straight on the tube when arriving.

It’s easy and hassle free. You can load your card with a maximum of £50 but we recommend starting with £20 if you are staying for a long weekend. But like the regular one you can claim any amount left back at the end of your stay.

Child Discount?


Of course. London is one of the most family friendly destinations.

Up to 4 children under 11 can travel for free with a fully paying adult.

For children from 11 – 15 get a Young Visitor Oyster card which gives you a 50% discount on all travel fares for 14 days.

16 to 17-year-olds can apply for a 16+ Oyster photocard to travel at half the adult pay rate. But they also to travel with a fully paying adult. Overall, it’s a messy process, don’t bother.

Now we hope you learned how to use the Oyster Card during your London stay. All you must do is to mind the gap, hold the rail, walk slowly, and keep your distance.

If you have any questions or would like us to tailor your London trip for you, just contact us here:

See you in London!