Whether you’re a daily commuter through the capital or visiting for the first time, an Oyster travel card is the cheapest and simplest way to make use of London’s public transport.

What makes them so useful and innovative, is that Oyster cards are ‘contactless’ electronic smartcards that know where they’ve been used and when. Meaning that, as long as you remember to swipe it at the beginning and end of each journey you make on the underground, it will automatically work out the cheapest possible route and only charge that amount to your card.

Oyster Cards and Visitor Oyster Cards will both come fully charged with however much credit you have loaded onto them and can be used on the underground, London Buses, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), London Overground, National Rail Services and the majority of London based National Rail services.

How To Use Your Oyster Card/Visitor Oyster Card/Contactless Card

They’re so easy to use. Simply touch your card of choice on the yellow circle at the gates and that’s it. Checking ‘out’ isn’t necessary on trams and buses, as it’s only required at the beginning of your journey. Oyster Cards are easily obtainable online at their website https://oyster.tfl.gov.uk/ or at a TFL visitor centre or Oyster ticket shop.

A One Day Travelcard are the traditional type of paper ticket that can be used on not only London Underground, but also DLR, National Rail Stations, London Overground, tram and bus services.

The exception with a Travelcard is that they are not permitted for use on riverboat services. However, if you show your ticket, the majority of tour companies will offer a 33% discount. This also applies to MBNA Thames Clipper River Bus services.

Why Buy an Oyster Card?

A Visitor Oyster Card represents by far the cheapest possible way to travel around London on public transport. National Rail services, DLR, Tube, Tram, MBNA Thames Clipper, bus and London Overground services are all able to used with one.

Still not convinced?

  • Your card is prepaid and is ready for use immediately upon your arrival
  • An Oyster Card works out a full 50% cheaper than buying a traditional paper travelcard with cash
  • Your daily travel spend is capped, meaning once that amount is reached, you’ll pay no more than that, no matter how much more it’s used that day (Cap excluded on Clipper River services)
  • You’ll also receive exclusive promotions and offers on shopping, eating and being entertained in the capital. 
  • There’s even a discount on the Emirates Air Line Cable Car (a great and rather unsung attraction in London)

Where to Buy a Visitor Oyster Card

You can purchase a Visitor Oyster Card from the comfort of your own home and have it delivered to you prior to your visit to the capital. It costs just £3 (not refundable) plus the cost of postage and you can decide at this point, exactly how much credit you would like loaded. A good rule of thumb is to allow for around £10 for each day of your visit.

It is also possible to purchase a Visitor Oyster Card from Gatwick Airport-based ‘Express’ ticket offices and on board Eurostar services heading into London.

For the easiest and trouble free (if not the cheapest) option, you can choose to use your contactless debit card as if it were your oyster card.

Can I use my own currency to purchase an Oyster Card?

It is possible to use your own country’s currency to buy an Oyster Card. There is a service in London that offers payment for Oyster Cards in a variety of different languages and currencies and it’s called VisitBritain.

Adding Credit to Your Visitor Oyster Card

Should you run out of credit, you can add more to your Oyster Card at the following places:

  • At over 4,000 Oyster Ticket Shops that can be found in newsagents and other small shops  across London
  • At TFL Visitor Centres
  • Touchscreen machines located on the Underground, DLR and at selected London Overground Stations and National Railway stations. 
  • At terminals for Emirates Air Lines
  • Ticket Offices at London Overground Stations


Traveller Information
Travel Cards & Oyster Cards in London
The Main Differences Between Standard and Visitor Oyster Cards
London Underground
Free Maps for London Travel
Tipping Whilst in London
London buses