Which is best? Compare Oyster v Contactless v London Travelcard (2023)

Ask us a question… Are you trying to decide between using an Oyster card, contactless card or travelcard? We can help you learn the differences between each one

Jane Is a two traveling together card, work out cheaper than a pay as go Oyster card

Staff Hi Jane. No, if you're talking about the railcard then it doesn't apply to Oyster pay-as-you-go fares. It's only really any good if you're travelling on trains outside of London - twotogether-railcard.co.uk/​using-your-railcard/​travel-times-tickets/

JohnP My sister and I are coming to London for a week of museums and galleries. We've been there three times before, but each time I get confused between travelcards, Oyster cards, etc. We arrive and depart through Heathrow, and we're staying near Holland Park/Kensington, so I THINK the 7 Day travelcard is what we should use, but I'm not sure. Any suggestions or help in explaining it more clearly would be greatly appreciated

Staff Hi JohnP. Weekly travelcards always have a start date on them (which you choose when you buy it) and they're valid for for seven consecutive days. You also have to choose which zones you want it to cover. You'll probably want zones 1-2, but it depends where you're going. Oyster cards 'might' be better because they don't have a date on them, they can be used in all the zones, and they cap the maximum price you can spend each day (regardless of how many journeys you take). You can look up the daily caps on our Oyster card page - city-guide.london/​transport/​oyster-cards.php. This might work out cheaper, but if you're making at least three or more journeys on six days, or two or more journeys on seven days, then a weekly travelcard will be better

Tony Hi. I'm London travelling across zone 1 and 2 for 3 days. Is it right that if I use a contactless card the cap will allow me to travel off-peak for less than a one day travelcard

Staff Hi Tony, that's right. The daily cap for zones 1-2 is only about half the cost of a 1-day travelcard

Bobbie I'll be in England for a month with several train trips. I just purchased a Senior Railcard. Can I get discounted fares on the tube? And how do I use it in conjunction with contactless credit card payment?

(Video) Oyster vs contactless - Which one is better?

Staff Hi Bobbie. Most of the savings come from buying National Rail tickets, The only discounts you get on the tube are 33% off the daily cap for Oyster fares (off-peak only), 33% off single Oyster fares (off-peak only), and 33% off a zone 1-9 one day travelcard (when bought as part of a journey to London from outside London). You have to buy an Oyster card and get the Senior railcard loaded on to it. It doesnt work with contactless because its not possible to load the railcard onto your bank card - senior-railcard.co.uk/​using-your-railcard/​travel-times-tickets/

Vered Hello again, I just found 2 oyster cards from a London visit 3 years ago.. Would they still be valid? Would it be possible to put a week travel card on one of them? Thank you

Staff If you had any remaining credit refunded at the end of your last holiday then they would have been voided at the same time, so they’ll be no good. but if you didn’t then yes, you can load a travelcard on to them at a machine in the station

Susan Tchudi We're coming to London for ten days. We're staying in Kensington. We've always used travelcards in the past, but we'll probably want to go beyond zones 1 and 2, for example to Kew Gardens. So would it be better to get the Oyster card?

Staff Hi Susan. If youre staying for ten days then it will be cheaper with an oyster card, because you can only buy 1-day and 7-day travelcards. the maximum you'll pay with Oyster is the weekly cap x 1 (which is the same price as a weekly travelcard) plus a daily cap x 3 (which are cheaper than a 1-day travelcard) for whichever zones you travel through. all the caps are here: city-guide.london/​transport/​oyster-cards.php

JennyJ Hi, I am JennyJ. I go betwenn zone 1&3, there and back 3 times a week and also twice a week to zone 5 (hayes& harlington). I use an Oyster card and top up 20.00 as and when its low. What is the cap for this journey each weekplease. Is it £9 or £11 or neither. I dont know how to work out but dont think I am better off buying a card to cover zones 1-5 as only go max twice a week.

Staff Hi Jenny. The daily cap for the days when you're doing zones 1-3 is £9, and when you're doing zones 1-5 it’s £13,10. a weekly travelcard for zones 1-5 is currently £65,70, so its not worth it - city-guide.london/​transport/​adult-train-fares.php

Wangui Going through this information has been super helpful, thanks so much! My family of 4 foreigners are coming to London for 11 days from Heathrow Airport and staying at a location in Zone 6, are likely to be visiting attractions in Zone 1 everyday but also traveling to Surrey on 2 days. What is the cheapest means of travel payment to use? -VOC or travel card considering the £7 deposit and postage fee to a UK address for VOC? -If VOC then how much credit should be loaded on the cards? -Also is the weekly/daily cap applied to VOC automatic or how does it work; do the particular days eg Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday need to be specified?

(Video) Oyster Card vs Travelcard Price Comparison, Transport for London

Staff Hi Wangui. If it was me I would probably just keep it simple and get Visitor Oyster cards for everyone, and forget about the travelcards. Visitor Oyster cards have a weekly cap which is the same cost as a weekly travelcard anyway, so you wont be losing anything (apart from the £7 deposit - which you'd have to pay anyway because you'll need something to cover the other four days). How much credit you need will depend on where you’re going. The maximum amount you will pay each day is the ‘daily cap’ for the zones you travel through. The daily cap for zones 1-6, for example, is currently £14,10 - but maybe you’ll only be making 2 journeys each day, going there and back, so then you’d just pay two single fares instead - 2x£5,50 . If the running total between Mon-Sun reaches the weekly cap then the cost will be capped at that (currently £70,30). The caps all get applied automatically. Its all explained on our Oyster card page - city-guide.london/​transport/​oyster-cards.php

jan Hi, I am currently travelling to work from slough to zone 3, (i would also sometimes go to the other zones (1-6) - by bus/underground after work. I am using the contactless method. The job is Monday to Friday, I wanted to know if buying a weekly/ monthly travelcard would work out cheaper as I also have a 16-25 railcard. Also how does the weekly cap work? does it add your daily charges and refund you if you go over the cap?

Staff Hi Jan. Travelcards usually work out cheaper if you’re making two or more journeys on seven days a week, or three or more journeys on six days a week. You wont get it cheaper with for your railcard either, because it only gives a discount on 1-day travelcards for zones 1-9. I would recommend getting an oyster card instead because the fares and weekly cap are identical to contactless, but you can have your railcard added to it. You can’t do that with contactless. But check the travel times apply to you first, because they might not - 16-25railcard.co.uk/​using-your-railcard/​travel-times-tickets/. The weekly cap will kick in when the sum total of all your journeys that week reaches the relevant amount (its the same price as a weekly travelcard). The computer will then automatically stop charging you. Bear in mind that it only counts up the fares between Mon and Sun, and not any other combination of days, like Tue to Mon

frankie Hi, I would like to ask, if you use the same contactless card but one day you use it as the actual physical card and then the next day you use your mobile phone to pay (but with the same debit card) would it count towards the weekly cap?

Staff Hi Frankie. Unfortunately not, no. The computer wouldn't recognise it as the same card because things like Apple Pay don't pass over your card number (it passes over a unique number based on your bank card and device instead). TFL says “Always use the same device or contactless card to touch in and out… For example, don't touch in with an iPhone and touch out with an Apple Watch or contactless card” - tfl.gov.uk/​fares/​how-to-pay-and-where-to-buy-tickets-and-oyster/pay-as-you-go/contactless-and-mobile-pay-as-you-go

Betty Hi I will be in London for a week. I will be staying at a hotel at the Heathrow airport and going back and forth between there and the actual city of London. Is the Travel card best and what zones would I pick? Thank you

Staff Hi Betty. it depends how many journeys you're going to be making. If you make two or more journeys on seven days, or three or more on six days, then a weekly travelcard will probably be cheaper. We’d normally recommend getting an oyster card. All the pros and cons are described above. Heathrow to central London is zones 1-6.

Canan Hi, I'll be visiting London this summer. My daughter is 10 years old (born in 2013). Is she going to be free of charge or discounted?

(Video) HOW TO PAY FOR LONDON UNDERGROUND // Oyster vs Contactless Card

Staff Hi Canan. Under 11s are free on the buses and tube (as long as she’s accompanied by an adult on the tube) - city-guide.london/​transport/​child-train-fares.php

Cristina Grilo Amaral Hi, we are a family of 4 and will be in London for 6 days. We will be riding transport a lot on those days, in zones 1- 2; meaning we should make about 6 tube trips a day. We will arrive and depart via Heathrow so we have 2 journeys (1 outbound, 1 return). Can you please indicate which card you recommend? Thank you so much.

Staff Hi cristina. Price-wise, the best would be a zone 1-2 weekly travelcard put onto an oyster card, and then adding some pay-as-you-go credit onto the same oyster card to cover the two journeys out to heathrow zone 6. But if you want to keep it easy and dont mind paying a bit more, then just get zone 1-6 weekly travelcards instead

Elaine I am travelling with a 14 year old and I would use contactless for myself but what would be the best option for my 14 year old.

Staff Hi elaine. It depends on how many journeys you're making. If you're just talking about one day, there and back, then i would buy her single tickets at the self-service machine (using your card), and then use your card on the gate for yourself. So she will end up paying the adult cash fare, and you’ll get the adult contactless fare.

Mike M We are arriving in London in late May for 3 days and another 4 days in early June after travelling around UK on Britrail Pass. While in London what would be the best card to use on Underground and 1 day to Watford

Staff Hi Mike. I would get an oyster card. there are no dates on those, so you can carry on using your credit when you return in june. You can also use them out to Watford (assuming you’re going to see the Harry Potter studios)

Ali Hi, we are a family of 4 travelling to London over Easter from the UK. We have a friends and family railcard, and I'm just wondering what is the best way for us to travel around, given we will be sightseeing in London for a few days, and also travelling to Paris via Eurostar. We also will be visiting London again in the summer for a few days. It is myself, my partner and 2 kids (ages 7 and 14). Am I right in thinking contactless is best for 3 of us (and doesn't my 7 year old travel free?). Or should I sort getting an oyster cards for us instead? Thank you for your advice in advance. Cheers Ali

(Video) Oyster Card VS Contactless - EXPLAINED

Staff Hi Ali. Contactless will be the cheapest for the two adults. Your 14-year-old can't use contactless if they don't have their own bank card (the system doesn't allow you to tap your card down twice to pay two fares), so I would get the 14-year-old an Oyster card and then have the 'Young Visitor Discount' applied to it once you arrive in London - more info about that here - city-guide.london/​transport/​child-train-fares.php. The 7-year-old will travel for free.

Ali Thank you so much for that perfect and swift response. Amazing!

Sue Can we pay contactless for ourselves and our grandchildren?

Staff Hi Sue. No, each person needs their own bank card. The system doesn't allow you to tap down multiple times to pay multiple fares. What you can do is use your card to buy them a paper ticket at the machine (which will be charged as a cash fare) and then tap down on the gate for yourself (for a contactless fare)

Sue We are coming to London for one day with two grandchildren 12 and 25 years old. If we use our debit contact less card for us can the grandchildren use our credit contactless card? Although we know that would be a full fare.

Staff Hi Sue. If you mean you want to use one debit card to pay two contactless fares, and one credit card to pay two contactless fares, then no. The system doesn't let you tap down twice to pay two fares. Each individual needs their own card. But you can use one card to buy more than one paper ticket from the machine. But then you'll be paying the cash fare.

Show all the comments

(Video) Contactless vs Oyster Card EXPLAINED: Which card to choose, London Travel


Is it better to use contactless or Travelcard? ›

As a general rule a Travelcard is more expensive than an Oyster card or Contactless payment card. The exception is if you make 3 or more journeys for 6 days or more within a 7 day period. In this case a 7 day Travelcard works out cheaper than an Oyster or Contactless payment card.

Which card is best for travel in London? ›

Visitor Oyster cards & Oyster cards

Oyster fares are the lowest fares and if you are not using contactless payment then you need to buy an Oyster card to gain access to the Oyster fares. For most overseas visitors an Oyster card or a Visitor Oyster card is the most popular ticketing solution.

Does an Oyster card save money compared to contactless? ›

There is a very small financial advantage to using a contactless card if you're in London for more than a week and travel extensively every single day (weekly capping) but otherwise it's no cheaper than using an Oyster. 3.

What is the difference between Oyster card and Travelcard? ›

- Oyster and Travelcard are actually the same but Oyster cannot be used for overground trains and is a plastic card, while Travelcard is a paper ticket which may offer 2 for 1 discounts. - Travelcard is also available in Oyster card form. Almost.

What are the disadvantages of contactless cards? ›

Potential security concerns

Because contactless payments require neither PIN nor signature authorisation, lost or stolen contactless cards can be used to make fraudulent transactions.

What is the best way to travel around London? ›

In the majority of London, you will usually find that there is an underground stop within easy walking distance, and a train arriving within 10 minutes or less. Because the underground doesn't have to worry about traffic and streets, it is one of the most efficient ways to get around, and usually the best choice.

Is it worth getting an Oyster card in London? ›

Why You Should Buy An Oyster Card in London? The best reason to get an Oyster card is cost savings and convenience! It is significantly cheaper to travel in London using an Oyster card than it is to purchase individual tickets for each trip.

Is an Oyster card the cheapest way to travel in London? ›

The Pay as you go Oyster card is the cheapest way to pay for single tickets on the underground. For journeys in central London (zone 1), ticket prices are more than 50% cheaper with an Oyster card.

Which card is best for international travel? ›

Top Credit Cards for International Travel in 2023
Credit CardJoining Fee
Axis Bank Miles & More World Credit CardRs.3,500
Jet Privilege HDFC Bank World Credit CardRs.2,500
Air India SBI Platinum CardRs.1,499
Axis Bank Titanium Smart Traveler Credit CardRs.250
3 more rows

Is it cheaper to buy a tube ticket or use contactless? ›

Pay as you go

You don't have to work out the cost of your journey in advance. You can pay as you go using contactless (card or device), an Oyster card or a Visitor Oyster card. It also offers great value as pay as you go is cheaper than buying single tickets and you get daily and weekly capping.

Is it cheaper to use contactless on trains? ›

Whilst a daily cap will apply; it is important to be aware that it will not always be cheaper than buying a return paper ticket. There will also be a weekly price cap for those using a Contactless card or mobile device; but it will still be cheaper to buy a season ticket on the Key Smartcard or paper.

Is it cheaper to tap or buy a train ticket? ›

You can add money to an Oyster card or use contactless (card or device) straight away. You only pay for the journeys you make and it's cheaper than buying a paper single or return ticket (train companies may offer special deals on some journeys).

Is a travel card better than pay as you go? ›

The weekly travel card saves money if you're travelling for more than five days in a seven day period - if not then PAYG is cheaper.


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