Oyster Travel Card

If you want/need to travel in and around London (UK), you are better off buying a P.A.Y.G TFL Oyster Card Web PageOyster Card as a car is NOT needed in London (UK).

TFL Oyster Card

The Oyster Card is a Top-Up (Pay As You Go) ticket payment card that allows you to travel on TFL Tube Web PageThe Tube (London Underground Train), TFL Buses Web PageBus, TFL Trams Web PageTram, TFL Rail Web PageRail (Train) and so on.

Transport App

One of the best ways to check transport times, routes and so on is to use a London Transpport App.

MXData Transport AppsMXData Transport Apps

The MX Data (London Transpport) Apps are all you will need for Tube ( Tube Transport AppAndroid, Tube Transport AppiTunes and Tube Transport AppWindows) and Bus (Bus Transport AppAndroid and Bus Transport AppiTunes.

How To Get Around London Using Public Transport

Oyster Card - Top-Up - P.A.Y.G - London Zones - Bus - Tram - DLR

When you settle down (actually start living) in London (UK), the first thing you will notice is the vast number of public transport Buses and Underground (Tube) Trains available for your particular journey across London. The network, run by Transport For London (Transport For London WebsiteTFL), has so many different Bus Routes and Train Routes and Tube Lines to take you shopping, to your friend's house, to work and so on that you do not really need a car.

Londoners get by using public transport, and only really need a car when travelling outside of London; such as when they need to visit a city like Manchester and/or when they go on holiday within the UK. Even then the national coach companies and private coach companies cover most, if not all, of the major UK towns and cities.

London ZONES

The London transport system (network) splits London into nine zones (areas), known as Zone 1 to Zone 9. This is very important to remember when looking at the London Underground (Tube) MapTube Map, or a Central London Bus MapBus Map, because you might get lost! It is even more important to remember when adding credit to your Oyster Card (see below) simply because you might overcharge yourself!

As an example: If you live in Zone 5 (Outer London) and want to visit a friend in Zone 1 (Inner London / West End / City Centre of London) you have to make sure your credit can cover the journey from Zone 5 into Zone 1; so five zones in total. However, if you are visiting a friend in the same zone (i.e. Zone 5) you only need to have enough credit to cover a 'one zone' journey only (i.e. travel within Zone 5 only). The cost of a single, adult, peak-time, p.a.y.g journey from zone 5 to zone 1 is £4.70 whereas a single, adult, peak-time, p.a.y.g journey within zone 5 only is £1.70.

Ironically, for some weird reason(s), if you both meet in Zone 3: Coming from zone 1 into zone 3 will cost £3.30, but coming from zone 5 into zone 3 will only cost £2.80.

Peak / Off-Peak TIME / PRICES

TFL also split the day, and therefore fares, into TFL Peak Times Web PagePeak Times when travelling by Tube, DLR, London Overground, TFL Rail and National Rail services in London. Peak-Time: Monday to Friday (not on public holidays) from 6:30am to 9:30am and 4pm to 7pm. Off-Peak: All other times, and if you travel from a station outside of Zone 1 that enters a station within Zone 1 between 4pm and 7pm on a week day (Mondays to Fridays).


When you arrive in England (UK), going to your destination (i.e. London or Nottingham), buy a travel pass straight away; especially if you need to take a longish taxi journey from the city to your final destination (i.e. your London flat). This is because, although it is often convenient to just hop into a taxi with big luggage, taxis are very expensive in the UK. At least double, if not treble, that of public transport; especially London Black Cabs.


The London travel card is called an Oyster Card Web PageOyster Card. It allows you to travel in and around London by Train, Bus, Tram and even Boat! You can also get certain discounts on boat services and national railway services. Tourists should by the £3 Visitor Oyster Card Web PageVisitor Oyster Card instead.

Refundable DEPOSIT

An Oyster Card currently costs £5 to buy whereby that £5 acts as a Refundable Deposit ONLY. This means you get the £5 back when you TFL Refund Web Pagereturn (surrender) the Oyster Card, which you might do when you plan to leave London (UK) and therefore have no need for the Oyster Card. Note: The £5 is NOT credit. It does NOT become £5 of credit.

Likewise: The £3 P.A.Y.G (Pay As You Go) Visitor Oyster Card costs £3 (plus postage), which is NOT refundable, and must be prepaid (pre-topped up) with credit of £10, £15, £20, £25, £30, £35, £40 or £50 before it is sent to you in the post (mail).

Top-Up Your CREDIT

If you want to add credit to your new, empty (no credit), Oyster Card you must visit a Newsagent, London Underground (tube) station or Railway station with your Oyster Card in your hand, give it to a member of staff and ask to purchase one of the following examples:

Alternatively, you can visit the TFL Top-Up Web PageTFL Top-Up Web Page, create and sign into your TFL Oyster Card Account and then purchase one of the above. You can also pay via a visit to a TFL Visitor Centres Web PageVisitor Centre (Tourist Information Centre). In all cases you can purchase in advanced (i.e. for the next day or week). Note: Some travel tariffs, such as the one year travel card and certain child/student cards require a photo card.


Certain tariffs, such as the one day bus pass, are actually capped (fixed price). Meaning, it currently costs £1.50 for a single bus journey in and around London. So if you take two bus journeys in one day it will cost you £3, but if you take three or more bus journeys in one day your p.a.y.g (pay as you go) credit will only be minus £4.50 at the end of the day. A one day Bus & Tram pass costs £5, but is not needed unless you visit Croydon (roughly 9 miles away from Central London!) to use its tram services. For more information about Fares And Payment Web PageFares & Payments visit the tfl Fares Web PageFares web page and download their Fares PDF FileAdult 2017 Fares PDF file; along with other relevant Fares PDF files.


As well as the standard Oyster Card, you can also use a contactless card to pay for travel journeys. Furthermore, banks and other companies are now issuing Contactless Debit/Credit Cards that allow you to pay for shopping, bills and travel journeys simply by placing (touching) the contactless debit/credit card onto a yellow card reader device. So instead of entering contact details and/or a pin code you simply touch the yellow card reader with your contactless debit/credit card; hence the name: Contactless.

One thing to be aware of here is that if you have a standard oyster card and a contactless debit/credit card in the same wallet you might be charged twice, depending on the card issuer and technology of the device, simply because both cards would of been scanned and charged by the yellow card reader device. Hence why TFL for example announce on their tannoys and in their advertising about 'Card Clash'. UK issued and Non-UK issued contactless cards can also be scanned and charged, so always keep your oyster card in a separate wallet from your contactless card(s).


With the same token as above: If you enter the barriers of a tube station, get onto the platform and then realise you have missed your train whereby you then decide to come out of the same tube station, perhaps to take a bus instead, you will receive a £4 penalty. This isn't because the system is stupid and didn't realise you went in and out of the same tube station. It is to prevent fraud.


Example: You are taking a train from a tube station in zone 1 to meet a friend at a tube station in zone 4. Instead of travelling to zone 4, getting out of the tube station to meet the friend in street, you tell them you will meet on the platform of the tube station in zone 4. Nothing wrong here. The friend enters the zone 4 tube station and meets you on the platform.

The problem starts if you then go back to the zone 1 tube station, perhaps to take your friend to your house in zone 1, and leave the zone 1 tube station. The yellow card reader has noticed you enter the zone 1 tube station at 10am for example, but then leave it at 11am; therefore assuming you took a free ride to visit your friend, regardless if that friend actually came back to zone 1 with you or not. In other words, you have become a 'fare dodger' (technically, a would-be non-payer).

In genuine cases where you have missed the last train, go to the ticket booth/kiosk to get a refund. Their computer will have a record of your journeys and non-journeys. In extreme cases you may have to call and/or write to the tfl head office for a refund, but if it is a genuine error you should have nothing to worry about and receive a, full, refund.


If you are taking a tube train: Once you have bought an oyster card and topped it up with some credit, as pay as you go credit or as a one week travel card for example, when you are ready to use it simply walk up to the tube station train barrier (gates) and touch the yellow card reader device with your oyster card. The card reader will scan your oyster card for credit and either deny you access through the barrier because of lack of credit or open the barrier for you so you can walk through the barrier and towards the train platform.

TFL Yellow Card Reader

Touch the yellow card reader with your oyster card when coming/going through barriers

It is the same process of touching your oyster card on the yellow card reader device when you want to travel by bus or on a railway train. If you lack credit the yellow card reader will beep twice to indicate you lack credit; in which case you must top-up before continuing with your journey.

IMPORTANT - If you are travelling by tube train, you MUST touch the yellow card reader with your oyster card each time you enter and exit a tube station via its barriers. When travelling by bus, you only need to touch the yellow card reader with your oyster card each time you enter a bus. You do NOT need to do this when exiting a bus.

Use the TFL tools above to help plan your journey