Travel with Oyster Card

The cheapest way to travel in London

Oyster Card Oyster Card Fares & Tickets Lost Property on the London Transport


Oyster cards for London 2012 Olympics and Queen's Diamond Jubilee

The first card, to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee weekend in June, features an official portrait of the Queen and will be available to purchase and collect from mid-May at all London Underground ticket offices.

The second card, which will be released in mid-June, features a design that celebrates all of the events taking place in the capital during a busy summer, including the Games. It will also feature nods to the number of community celebrations and street parties taking place across the capital.

The cards will cost £10 (£5 deposit and £5 minimum top-up) to purchase and there will be around 1.5 million on sale.

The Oyster card is a form of electronic ticketing used on public transport services within the Greater London area of the United Kingdom. It is promoted by Transport for London. Oyster card is the best way to get around London's public transport network.

Oyster card provides access to the majority of London’s transport services. Ride the Tube, Dock lands Light Railway, bus and tram, and some National Rail services all with a single card. It hs no date restrictions, you simply need to refill the amount you will need to use. It is also a reusable card, so you simply add value to your card the next time you visit London. And transferable, which you can pass your card on to friends or family who visit London next time (the one which does not contain a photograph).

The Oyster Card is valid while the card has credits on it. When the card reaches 0 credits you may pay to add more credits. It is valid on a number of different travel systems including the London Underground, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), London Overground, trams and some National Rail services.

Contactless fares to be rolled out across London transport network

Transport for London has confirmed plans to upgrade the capital’s Oyster system to allow payment to allow contactless payment across the “entire transport network” with a compatible bank or credit card.

TfL says London’s entire bus fleet will be upgraded in time for the 2012 Olympics with Tube, DLR, Tram and London Overground network expected to be upgraded by the end of next year.

Work is underway to upgrade the Oyster software to recognise cards issued by Visa, MasterCard and American Express which passengers will be able to use for Pay as You Go travel.

Use of an Oyster Card

An Oyster Card reader on a London Underground ticket barrier.Travellers touch the card on a distinctive yellow circular reader on the automated barriers at London Underground stations to 'touch in' and 'touch out' at the start and end of a journey (contact is not necessary). Tram stops and buses also have readers, on the driver/conductor's ticket machine or, in the case of articulated buses, near the other entrance doors. Oyster cards can be used to store both period travelcards and bus passes (of one week or more), and a Pay as you go balance.

Not only does an Oyster Card give you cheaper travel it can be used to save money on attractions in London, including West End shows, museums, and some restaurants.

Save Time with Oyster

You can also add some discount entitlements to it such as National Railcards and discounts for those on low income or who are unemployed.

You can:

  • Store credit to pay as you go
  • Set up Auto-top up so you never run out of credit: If your balance is less than £5 (£8 from 2 January 2011) when you touch your card on the yellow reader, your card will be topped up automatically from your bank account or credit card.

    Setting up Auto-top up

    • Log in to your online account or create one
    • Set up Auto top-up by choosing the 'add/renew/top-up ticket' option
    • Select a top-up amount (£20 or £40)
    • Choose a station where you want to activate (start) Auto top-up

    Activating Auto top-up

    You only need to activate Auto-top up once. After that your card tops up automatically when you travel, wherever you are.

    • Activate your card as part of a normal journey
    • Start at the station or tram stop you chose when you signed up (not buses - the top up works on buses but not the activation)
    • Touch your Oyster card on a yellow card reader
    • If using Tube, DLR, London Overground or National Rail, touch your card on a reader at the end of your journey too

    Remember, if you activate your card but don't make a journey, or if you don't touch out, you'll get charged a maximum Oyster fare of £7.00 (£7.40 from 2 January 2011).

  • Add Travelcards if they're for longer than a day
  • Add Bus & Tram Passes
  • Add Bus & Tram and New Deal discounts
  • Add National Railcards or Gold Card discounts
  • Get student and child discounts with an Oyster photocard
  • Protect your card from loss or theft.

Oyster cards are reusable
Just keep topping up with credit or renew your Travelcard or Bus & Tram Pass on the same Oyster card when you need to.

Pay as you go

  • Single fares are generally cheaper with Oyster than cash
  • Oyster automatically works out the cheapest fare for all your journeys in one day so you'll never pay more than the price of a Day Travelcard.  Does not apply for travel to/from Grays, Purfleet, Okendon or Chafford Hundred

Quicker and easier

  • Put credit on your card then use it as you go. No more queuing for tickets
  • No need to plan your journey or buy a specific ticket in advance
  • Oyster really is smart - store pay as you go credit and a Travelcard on your card and it will work out which to use, for example if you go outside the zones covered by your Travelcard.
Travelcards and passes on Oyster

You can put Travelcards and Bus & Tram Passes on Oyster. Day Travelcards are only available as paper tickets.

It really is smart - your card will work out when to switch from your Travelcard to pay as you go, for example if you go outside the zones covered by your Travelcard.

Daily price capping

If you make lots of pay as you go journeys in one day we'll make sure you never pay more than the price of an equivalent Day Travelcard*.

There's a different daily price cap for different types of transport.

  • Tube, DLR, London Overground and National Rail
  • Buses and trams
  • Stations north of Moor Park and Southern Region stations

* Does not apply for travel to/from Grays, Purfleet, Ockendon or Chafford Hundred.

Tube, DLR, London Overground and National Rail

There is a peak and off-peak daily price cap, depending on when you touch in on the yellow card readers, not when you travel.

Oyster will work out the cheapest Oyster fare for you. For example, it might charge you an off-peak cap plus a peak single fare if that's cheaper than a peak cap for all your journeys in a single day.


  • Monday-Friday 04:30-09:29


  • Monday-Friday from 09:30-04:29 (the following day)
  • Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 04:30-04:29 (the following day)

Special peak and off-peak times apply on journeys that start at stations north of Moor Park and from some Southern Regions stations.

National Railcard discounts

We'll reduce the daily price cap by 34 per cent if:

  • All your travel is during off-peak hours
  • And you have put any of the Railcard discount entitlements below on your Oyster card:
    • Disabled Persons
    • HM Forces
    • Senior
    • 16 - 25
    • Annual Gold Card holder

    Journeys using only buses and trams

    If you're only using buses and trams there's a flat-rate cap regardless of when you travel.

    If you catch a bus in peak hours, then other types of transport in off-peak hours, you'll be charged a peak cap.

    Stations north of Moor Park and Southern Region stations

    If you travel from a station north of Moor Park on a weekday after the times below, your Oyster single fare will count towards the off-peak cap instead of the peak cap:

    Station Touch in times
    Chesham After 09:00
    Amersham After 09:10
    Chalfont & Latimer After 09:15
    Chorleywood After 09:15
    Rickmansworth After 09:20

    Stations on Southern Region

    If you travel from one of the stations on Southern region on a weekday after the times below, your Oyster single fare will count towards the off-peak cap instead of the peak cap:

    Caterham- London Bridge

    Station Touch in times
    Caterham After 09:00
    Whyteleafe South After 09:10
    Whyteleafe After 09:10
    Kenley After 09:10
    Purley After 09:15
    Purley Oaks After 09:20
    South Croydon After 09:20

    Tattenham Corner - London Bridge

    Station Touch in times
    Tattenham Corner After 09:00
    Tadworth After 09:00
    Kingswood After 09:10

    Reigate, Redhill, Merstham, Coulsdon South to London Bridge

    Station Touch in times
    Coulsdon South After 09:20

    Carshalton Beeches to Victoria

    Station Touch in times
    Carshalton Beeches After 09:20
    Wallington After 09:20

Freedom Pass

You can get a Freedom Pass if your only or main home is in a London Borough and:

  • You were 60 or older before 6 April 2010
  • You turned 60 on or after 6 April 2010 and meet the new age criteria
  • Or have an eligible disability

Children under five travel free at any time on buses, the Tube, trams, DLR, London Overground and National Rail.

They must be with someone who has a valid ticket, is using Oyster to pay as they go, has a Freedom Pass or has a Veterans Oyster photocard.

Get and top-up Oyster cards:

  • From Oyster online if you live in the UK
  • From the Oyster Visitor shop or overseas agents website if you're visiting from outside London
  • At London Travel Information Centres
  • From Oyster Ticket Stops
  • From stations

Oyster Ticket Stops

You'll find Oyster Ticket Stops in newsagents, garages, off-licences and hundreds of other shops in London.

You can:

  • Get an Oyster card
  • Top up an Oyster card or Oyster photocard with pay as you go credit
  • Get Anytime and Day Travelcard paper tickets
  • Set Oyster Extension Permits for National Rail
  • Renew the tickets below:
    • 7 Day Bus & Tram Pass
    • 7 Day Travelcard
    • Monthly Travelcard
    • Monthly Bus & Tram Pass
    • Annual Bus Pass

You can't

Get an Oyster photocard for discount travel.

Discount travel

If you get discounted travel you'll need to bring your Oyster photocard, New Deal photocard or Bus & Tram Discount card with you.

You can get one:

  • At most Tube station ticket offices
  • At over 2,200 Oyster Ticket Stops across London
  • At London Overground station ticket offices
  • At some National Rail ticket offices
  • At eight London Travel Information Centres

You can get one from the following before you arrive in London.

  • Gatwick Express: from the ticket office at Gatwick and the Gatwick Express desks in both Terminals
  • Stansted Express Ticket Office at the Airport rail station
  • Eurostar: on board trains travelling to London
  • Oxford Tube Coach Service: in Oxford from ticket offices at Gloucester Green Coach Station and Thornhill Park and Ride
  • EasyJet flights to London Luton, Gatwick and Stansted
  • Wrexham & Shropshire trains: On board trains into Marylebone (non-stop between Banbury and Marylebone)
  • Some overseas travel agents who sell tickets on our behalf

You can also buy a Travelcard or an Oyster Card when you arrive in London.


A number of different ticket types can be held on an Oyster card, and validity varies across the different transport modes within London. Oyster Extension Permits are required for Travelcard users starting a journey within their Travelcard zones but travelling beyond their zones on a National Rail service.

National Rail

The introduction of Oyster pay as you go on the National Rail commuter rail network in London was phased in gradually over a period of about six years. Since January 2010, PAYG has been valid on all London suburban rail services which currently accept Travelcards. Additionally, PAYG may be used at a selected number of stations which lie just outside the zones. New maps were issued in January 2010 which illustrates where PAYG is now valid.

Certain limitations remain on National Rail, however; Oyster PAYG is NOT valid anywhere on Heathrow Express, Heathrow Connect between Hayes and Harlington and Heathrow Airport, on ANY Southeastern High speed services or on the forthcoming Olympic Javelin Shuttle. Other airport express services (Gatwick Express, Stansted Express and First Capital Connect Luton Airport services) all run outside the Travelcard zones, so PAYG is not valid on those services either.

In November 2007 the metro routes operated by Silverlink were brought under the control of TfL and operated under the brand name London Overground. From the first day of operation, Oyster PAYG became valid on all Overground routes.

London River Services

Since 23 November 2009, Oyster PAYG has been valid on London River Services boats which are operated by Thames Clippers only. Oyster cards are accepted for all Thames Clippers scheduled services, the Hilton Docklands ferry, the "Tate to Tate" service and the O2 Express. Discounts on standard fares are offered to Oyster card holders, except on the O2 Express. The daily price capping guarantee does not apply to journeys made on Thames Clippers.

River boat discounts

Boats operated by Thames Clippers offer a 10% discount on standard fares to Oyster PAYG users, except on their O2 Express service, and a 33% discount to passengers carrying Oyster cards which have been loaded with a valid period Travelcard.

Fares and tickets ( Read More )

Registration and protection - Lost or stolen card

It is important to report your Oyster card lost or stolen as soon as possible.

If you protected your adult Oyster card with a security question and answer you need to:

  • Contact us so no one can use it
  • Get a replacement card and transfer any tickets or pay as you go credit it
  • Or get a refund

Replacing a concessionary Oyster card

Please follow the links below to find out who you need to contact to report a lost or stolen Oyster photocard, Freedom pass or discount photocard, and to see if you are eligible for a refund:

  • Freedom Pass
  • An Oyster card used with a New Deal photocard
  • An Oyster card used with a Bus and Tram Discount card
  • A 5-10, 11-15, Under-14, 14-15, Child or 16+ Oyster photocard
  • An 18+ Student Oyster card
  • A Veterans Concessionary Travel Scheme Oyster (VCTS) photocard

Replacing an adult Oyster card

If you have an Oyster account and you know the security answer you set up when you registered or protected your Oyster card, you can report your card as lost or stolen and order a replacement online. Your lost or stolen card will be frozen so no-one can use it, and your replacement card will be sent to you by post.

Alternatively, you can contact the Oyster helpline on 0845 330 9876* (08:00-20:00), and we'll freeze the lost or stolen card so no-one can use it. You can then either transfer tickets to a replacement card or get a replacement Oyster card by post:

Transfer tickets to a replacement card
  • Get a replacement card from an Underground station or Oyster Ticket Stop. You'll need to complete a registration form and add a nominal amount of pay as you go credit
  • Call 0845 330 9876* (08:00-20:00), and choose a station to pick up the transfer
  • Pick up your transfer at your chosen station from the following morning, by touching in on a yellow card reader when you make a normal journey
    • For Travelcard season tickets you have three days to pick up the transfer. There must be at least 24 hours of the original ticket left
    • For pay as you go credit you have eight days to pick up the transfer, but if you are also transferring a Travelcard you will need to complete the pick-up within three days
    • For Bus & Tram Passes, please use the postal replacement process below
  • For a transfer to be made within 24 hours, you must know your Oyster card number and security question when you phone the Oyster helpline to report its loss/theft
Get a replacement Oyster card by post
  • Order a replacement card when you call to get your card frozen. We'll transfer your ticket(s) or pay as you go credit to the replacement card
  • You'll receive your replacement card within five days. It may take longer if you don't know your Oyster card number or your security question, as we will have to establish that you are the owner of the card.
  • Travelcard season tickets must have six or more days remaining


Whether you use the online process or contact the Oyster helpline, we can credit your online Oyster account if:

  • you only had pay as you go credit on your card
  • you have five days or less on the tickets on your Oyster card

We will charge a £10 administration fee when processing your refund. In some cases this may mean that no refund is payable.

Security question and answer

You will have chosen a security question and answer when you filled in your Oyster card registration form at the station, Oyster Ticket Stop, or when you protected it online. If you don't know your Oyster card number or security question and answer, staff will ask you other questions to check you owned the card.

* For BT residential customers, calls to the Oyster helpline will cost no more than 3.5p per minute, (current at December 2009). The price on non-BT phone lines may be different.


Penalty fares and maximum Oyster fare

In order to prevent "misuse" by a stated 2% of passengers, from 19 November 2006 Pay-as-you-go users who do not both 'touch in' at the start and 'touch out' at the end of their rail network journeys are charged a "maximum Oyster fare" - currently up to £7 (presumably depending on whether journeys have been made during or outside peak times) for most journeys, or more if the journey begins or ends at certain National Rail stations. Depending on the journey made, the difference between this maximum fare and the actual fare due is automatically refunded to the user's Oyster card upon touching out.

Users must touch in and out even if the ticket barriers are open. At stations where Oyster is accepted but that do not have ticket barriers, an Oyster validator will be provided for the purposes of touching in and out. The maximum Oyster fare applies even if the daily price cap has been reached and does not count towards the cap.

Maximum Oyster fares may be contested by telephone to the Oyster helpline on 0845 330 9876. This involves providing the Oyster card number and the relevant journey details; further journeys appearing on the card are helpful to validate the user's claim.

If the claim is accepted then the maximum Oyster fare minus the cost of the journey will be refunded. The user will be asked to nominate and make a journey from a specific Tube, DLR, London Overground or National Rail station, or Tramlink stop. On touching 'in', the refund is loaded to the card. The customer should make the pick up as part of his or her regular travel pattern. This is because when they touch the reader with their Oyster card, not only will the refund go on to the card, but a new journey will start.

The refund can be 'available' at the nominated station from the next day and will remain there for 8 days in total. After this time the refund will be deleted from the gate line, and the customer will have to re-request the refund.

Oyster users who do not touch in before making a journey may be liable to pay a penalty fare (currently £50) and/or reported for prosecution if caught by a revenue protection inspector.

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