Everything You Need to Know About the Oyster Card

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.

London England United Kingdom Everything You Need to Know About the Oyster Card

The Deposit

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.

Topping Up

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.

Tower Bridge London England

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!

Capped Fares

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!

St. James' Park London England


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!

5 Tips to Survive the London Underground

You will use the London Underground when you’re in London. It is incredibly efficient, and makes your trip so easy and efficient.

You can travel basically anywhere in London by using the Underground. If you’re travelling to certain far-away suburbs, you may have to use the Overground, but for the most part, the Underground will serve all of your transportation needs.

Using the London Underground is easy when you know what you are doing. These 5 London Underground tips will help you use the Underground like a local and save time and money in the process!

1. Get an Oyster Card

Getting an Oyster card is essential. This card allows you to tap in and out of the London Underground without having to purchase a ticket each time. You pre-load the card with money, and your card is deduced every time you use the Underground. The card can be re-loaded with money at any station if needed.

You can purchase an Oyster card when you land at the airport, or you can get your Oyster mailed to your home in advance. You have to purchase your Oyster card at a ticket window. But after your initial purchase, you can use the machines to top it up.

There is an option to purchase a Visitor Oyster card. The Visitor card has to be ordered before you leave with enough time for it to be mailed to you. You get a number of discounts if you purchase the visitor Oyster. So you will want to review the discounts to see if pre-buying the visitor Oyster is beneficial to you.

You have to pay a £5 deposit when you get your Oyster card. This is refundable if you return your card when you leave the city. You can get a refund for any money on your card if you return your card when you leave. If you don’t return your card, the money stays on the card, and you are able to use it next time you visit London.

Benefits of using an Oyster card:

  • You don’t need to purchase a ticket for each trip.
  • It save you money by giving you a reduced fee each time your ride. You save £2.50 per ride on average when you use the Oyster card.
  • Your daily fee is capped. After you spend a certain amount of money on the London Underground in a single day, you are not charged anymore.

2. Avoid Peak Hours

It costs more to ride the London Underground during peak hours. You save approximately 50 pence each trip when you ride during off-peak times.

Peak-hours are different depending on whether you have a visitor Oyster card or a regular Oyster card.

For people using the visitor card, peak times are between 6:30 and 9:30am and 4 and 7pm. All day on weekends and Bank holidays are considered peak as well.

Peak times are the same for a regular Oyster card; however, weekends are not considered peak times.

That means you may end up paying more if you choose to get a Visitor card rather than a regular Oyster.

Avoiding the London Underground during peak times will also make for a more comfortable journey. The Underground gets very busy during peak times, so it will be very crowded, and you will have no personal space. It can be an uncomfortable ride- especially if you are going a long distance. You can have a less crowded and more enjoyable ride when you ride the London Underground during non-peak hours.

Tower Bridge London England 5 Tips to Survive the London Underground

3. Know Your Platform

When you go down to the Underground platform, there will be two different platforms to choose from. The platforms have trains going in the opposite direction of one another, so be sure you know what platform you need.

You can tell what platform you need by reading the signs at the entrance to the platforms. These signs list what stations each train stops at. You need to find your station then go to the corresponding platform.

London Underground Bonus Tip:

You will most likely enter the platform in the middle, but you should move all the way down to the end. The end of the platform is always the least busy, so you will have fewer people in your car then you would if you go onto a car in the middle of the platform. This is especially helpful during peak times.

London England United Kingdom 5 Tips to Survive the London Underground

4. Stand on the Right

If you’re going to stand on the escalator, always stand on the right. People walk on the left-hand side of the escalator, and they will ask you to move to the right if you are standing on the left.

London is a fast-paced city, and people regularly walk up the escalator. So please stand on the right in a single-file line. You will make the locals so much happier because you will be one less tourist they need to ask to move.

It can be easy to forgot to stand only on the right if you come from a society where it is acceptable to stand on both sides of the escalator. You should watch what the locals are doing and follow their lead. You may not thing this is a great tip, but it is. Trust me.

St. Paul's Cathedral London England 5 Tips to Survive the London Underground

5. Consider Walking

You should consider walking if you are going from one place in central London to another. The London Underground is great, but it is sometimes quicker to walk than to take the Underground.

I suggest walking if you’re in central London, and the place you are going is less than 3-4 stations away. The distance between stations is often short, so walking the equivalent can mean only having to walk 5 or so blocks.

Westminster station and Leicester Square station look like they are far apart on the London Underground map. However, they are only a 10 minute walk away from one another. You can easily walk from one station to the other in less time than it would take to use the Underground.

You get to see more of London and save money when you walk rather than take the Underground. If you plan your days strategically, you can walk to most places rather than take the Underground from sight to sight.

London England United Kingdom 5 Tips to Survive the London Underground


You will use the London Underground when you are in London. There is no way around using it, so you should know how to ride the Underground efficiently and like a local.

Getting an Oyster card is the most important thing you need to do when riding the London Underground. You also need to know how to save money by walking and not riding at peak times.

If you know where you are going and what platform you need, you have a stress-free experience on the Underground and seamlessly blend in with the locals.

It is easy to ride the London Underground even if you have never used public transportation before. Each station has clearly marked signs, and employees can help you if you have questions.

You should pick up a free paper London Underground map, so you can easily plan your journey before you go down into the station. This will help you easily navigate where you need to go without getting in anybody’s way.

The London Underground is great, and I know you will have no troubles figuring it out!