You will undoubtably be taking the Underground and other forms of public transportation when you’re in London. The Oyster card is a pre-paid card you can use to make travelling on London’s public transportation extremely simple.
There are a lot of advantages to getting an Oyster card and not really any disadvantages, so you should pick one up when you’re in London!
I’m going to give you all the information you need to make the most out of your Oyster card while in London. You’ll be using the Oyster card like a pro by the time you’re done reading this post!
Types of Oyster Cards and Where to Get Them
There are two different types of Oyster cards:
- Standard Card
- Visitor Card
Standard Oyster Card
The standard card is what locals in London use when travelling on public transportation. You can get the standard Oyster card at any Underground station, at the airport, and at some newsstands throughout the city.
Visitor Oyster Card
The visitor card is specifically designed for tourists. You have to order the card online in advance, and it will be delivered to you home, so you don’t have to worry about getting a card when you get to London.
The visitor Oyster card also has a few added perks like small discounts at tourist shops and restaurants. You can view a list of the perks here.
You should not choose to get the visitor card just because you get special offers because the offers aren’t that great. If you choose to get the visitor card, make sure you get it because it is convenient for you.
A £5 deposit is required whether you choose to get a standard card or a visitor card. You will pay the deposit online when ordering your card or at the booth when you purchase your card in London.
You get your deposit back when you return a standard Oyster card, but you do not get the deposit back with a visitor card. This is one of the major differences between the two types of Oyster cards.
You can return your standard Oyster card at any place where you can purchase a card. This includes Heathrow and Gatwick, so you can take the Underground to the airport and return your card there. It is a great system!
It isn’t a lot of money, but if you’re never planning on going back to London and using your Oyster card again, you are probably going to want to get your £5 back.
Getting a Refund
You can get any money you have left on your card back before you leave London. You can get your refund at any automated ticket machines or at any manned ticket booth.
The refund will only be in small bills and coins if you get your refund at a ticket machine. You should go to a ticket booth if you have a lot of money remaining on your card, so you don’t have a lot of pence that you can’t convert back to your home currency when you get back from London.
How to Use Your Oyster Card
It is very simple to use your Oyster card. You simply tap it on the yellow card reader when you enter the metro station and tap it on the same yellow card reader when you leave.
You have to tap it both times so be sure to remember to tap out when you leave!
Your Oyster card automatically deducted the appropriate amount from your card based on how how far you have travelled.
You can easily top up your Oyster card at any station by using the ticket machine. The ticket machines accept cash, credit cards, and debit, so you can top it up with whatever method best suits you.
You choose how much you want to add to your card. You can choose between adding £5, £10, £15, £20, and £50.
I recommend topping up with a smaller amount, so you don’t have to worry about trying to get a refund when you leave. It is easy to top up multiple times if you need to. The process is very quick and takes less than five minutes.
The Oyster Card Gives You Cheaper Fares
The biggest advantage to the Oyster card is that you pay less per trip than you would if you purchased single tickets. A trip in zone one with a single ticket costs £4.90. The same trip costs just £2.40 with your Oyster.
That adds up to significant savings over the course of your trip. You will likely use the Underground at least twice a day, but you could easily use it more often depending where in London you are staying. If you’re in London for five days, you will save £25 per person! Most people use the Underground more than twice a day, so you can potentially save even more money!
It doesn’t make sense to spend extra money if you don’t have to so make sure you get an Oyster card!
The maximum fare you can pay per day with the Oyster card is capped at £7! This can lead to a lot of savings for people who use the Underground a lot in one day.
You don’t get to cap your fare if you purchase single tickets, so this is another great advantage of the Oyster card.
The card will automatically stop taking money from your card when you tap out when you have reached the cap. You still need to tap in and out of the station like normal even if you are capped for the day though!
The Oyster card is an essential accessory when you visit London. It saves you both time and money, so it is a no brainer!
You save time because you don’t have to stand in the queue to purchase a single ticket each time you take the Underground. There isn’t normally a line in the smaller stations, but there can be long queues at main statins like Victoria- especially during peak times.
The true advantage of the Oyster is how much money it saves you on your vacation. The savings add up quickly, and it is well worth it to get a card.
The biggest decision you will have to make is whether you want to get the standard Oyster or the visitor Oyster. They both have their advantages, so you will have to decide which one fits your needs.
I personally prefer the standard Oyster card because it gives me the ability to get a refund on my deposit if I ever choose to. I frequent London, so I always keep my Oyster rather than returning it for a refund.
You can’t go wrong with either version of the Oyster card. They will both save you time and money, which is the most important part!