We are spending there days in London. Is the Oyster a good idea?
Yes. In my opinion it is essential. You can also use the tap cards (contactless) but I was hit and miss on their acceptability in London. I got my card before I left and had it charged here, I think you can also get them there.
I just returned from London and like Pey said, it's the only way to go. The literature on the card is not straightforward at all and is confusing. When I couldn't understand it I handed it over to my wife and she was equally as puzzled. In the end what I learned is that once you load it up, the maximum that will be deducted from the card each day is something like £ 7.50. What that means is that you can ride all day and they will not deduct any more than that amount per 24 hour period. There is an initial charge of £ 5.00 to dispense a new card, but it's is refunded to you if you want to dispose of the card at the end of your trip. The machine will also refund any unused funds that you have remaining on the card.
Absolute no brainer. Makes travel in London much easier. Has a maximum daily charge. You can use it On the underground, local rail, DLR, buses and even the river boats. Absolutely essential.
Travel is a breeze with the Oyster card. I wish I would have gotten them sooner. Have a great trip!
Short answer, international visitors get the Oyster card.
If a UK resident you can reliably use any contactless bank card. Remember to use the same one throughout the day to avoid being charged twice and to get the advantages of capping (of which more later).
If an international visitor you should be able to use your contactless bank card but in reality it’s hit-and-miss so your best idea by far is is to buy an Oyster Prepaid Card. It costs £5 and you’ll need an Oyster Card for each person travelling. Prepay onto it more than you think you’ll need and at the end of your vacation take it back to a train Office (such as Euston, Paddington or Heathrow) and they’ll refund you any money left on the card and your initial £5 fee. Or keep hold of the card for your next visit!
And what does it cost? Well London is divided up into 9 travel zones. All the tourist bits are in zones 1 and 2 and a single ride in those zones costs £4.90 if you buy a single ticket from the machine at the station, or £2.40 on your Oyster card. Also on Oyster there’s a maximum daily cap so no matter how many journeys you make with your Oyster card in zones 1 & 2 the Card will not charge you more than £7. It also monitors your weekly activity and stops charging you when you reach £35 in any week. This means it’s cheaper than any single or return fare or one-day or one-week unlimited travelcard you can buy. Once you go out into the boonies, the fare increases and so do all the maximums. Heathrow is in zone 6. The fare is £7 (Piccadilly line, not Heathrow Express) and once you go there from zone 1 or 2 the daily cap becomes £12.50. You can even use it on the Emirates Air Line which is the cable car over the Thames and gives me the excuse to gratuitously add this photo:
Ride it while you can, our new London Mayor has vowed to close it in 2021!
Alas it is an extra cost of £3.50 on your Oyster, but that’s still cheaper than the £4.50 cash fare and cuts out queueing for your ticket, just touch your Oyster and you‘re on!
Put simply, no matter how you journey around London, the Oyster card will always charge you the cheapest possible option and cap the daily or weekly costs to ensure using it is cheaper than buying a daily or weekly travelcard. Get it!
If you stay out at Heathrow, and save yourself a fortune on Central London hotel prices, your daily return tube ticket, paid by Oyster already maxes out the daily charge. Other than that then all your travel in Central London is free!
Also the Oyster card can be used by anyone as it is a prepay card. My wife and I each have one but if our family members are going to London we give them our cards which they use when they are there. So for one initial, refundable, charge our whole family can travel in London cheaply.
I used to do that but now I‘ve cashed in my numerous Oysters and simply use my bank card, one less thing to remember!
brightlybob - once you reach the age of having a pensioners bus pass you can load your bus pass onto the oyster, get free buses and a nice discount on any off-peak tube fares. Just occasionally, being ancient is a good thing!
Thanks normanp. I have used my bus pass in London a few times however I didn't know about the discount on tube fares. I must look into it.
Norm, I assume that that only applies to UK residents?
pey - yes, in fact it is even more limited than that, it only applies to English bus pass holders. There is no reciprocal arrangement for bus passes between England, Scotland and Wales.
The discounts off normal London Transport prices apply to any Oyster card holder wherever they come from. As OAPs Norman and I qualify for a free bus pass which is valid anywhere in England. These passes are also valid on local tram services in many places and they are also valid on many train services within the area in which we live. I sometimes use mine for an adventure. I set off with my pass to have a day out, without having any local destination in mind. I change transport wherever I feel like and see where I end up!
That is fantastic brianandlin thank you for that and it sounds like a great way to do a bus pub craw .Over here us OAP get to ride the bus for the same price as the rest of the masses, well actually on a cash fare we save 25 cents. I learn so much more than just travel stuff from you and Norman and Bob on your UK banters. Hey Rugby Union early 2019.
I will let you know when the new seasons fixtures are announced. If you want any info go to www.salesharks.com. The match dates should appear there in July.
Well pey - the great thing about Insiders is that it is a vast resource of travel experience and we can all share whatever knowledge we have. In a few weeks I hope to begin planning our next road trip in Canada for next summer - hopefully you will be able to share your local wisdom with us.
Absolutely, There are quite a few of us on here. Give us an idea of your plans and we can help.
Oh yes, brianandlin, stay at excellent Sheraton Skyline or usually pricier and not really any better Marriott, or finally the well refurbished but problematic Renaissance (but which does have the BEST Exec lounge of any Heathrow hotel) and you’re on the free bus route to LHR where London buses run between LHR and these hotels literally every few minutes free of charge. The LHR bus station is next to the tube station where trains run on the Piccadilly line every 2-10 minutes. The last time I stayed at the Sheraton it took me an hour to get to Westminster, and on Oyster the return fare is £12.50 which is the maximum meaning all other travel in or between zones 1-6 are free for the day. When you take into account that these 3 are usually about £100/nt against typical London Marriott prices between £200 (Kensington/Marble Arch) or £400 (Park Lane/County Hall/JW) you can see theres considerable savings to be made, though you do sacrifice 2 hours of your vacation each day riding back and forth.
Good reading time. Take a book of a kindle!
Also if you want to go to Hampton Court of Windsor then the Heathrow hotels are much nearer than Central London hotels. Also Kew and a number of National Trust properties.
Absolutely. Do you travel to London with any degree of frequency?
Also as someone stated that you get any balance back on your card except (and it may have changed since our last visit) that you could not get a refund at Heathrow. Which is (was) a kind of stick it to you thing but pretty smart on Oysters part. But, we used the Oyster card everyday, went everywhere and it was exceptional. And we got a refund of our unused balance back before we went to Heathrow.
Cash it in at Hatton Cross and the the free bus to Heathrow.
It's a great idea. We used them in London last year and it's easy and a great value. Plus, we can reuse them next time we visit, which should be as soon as Harry and Meghan invite us over :-)
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