The Oyster card is a smartcard that allows people to travel around London.
The way you use it is by loading credit onto it either with cash or credit/debit card. Each time you use the card your credit will reduce until you need to top it up again – a bit like a pay as you go mobile phone that you top-up at your local sweetshop or off-licence. You can find your local convenience store that you can purchase an Oyster card and top it up here.
If you create an account for your Oyster card you can set up things like auto-top up to ensure that you never run out of credit. As soon as the credit left on the card falls below a certain threshold, the card will automatically top up with new credit. To do this, you obviously will need to connect your account to your credit/debit card to allow TfL to take payment for this.
You can order an Oyster card on TfL’s website or at your local convenience shop. You will have to pay £7 for the card. However, once you have the card that £7 will go straight onto your Oyster card as credit – so technically there is no real cost for it.
The Oyster card also has a number of other nifty features. For example, if you have a railcard for discounted train fares, you can add this to your Oyster card to ensure that you always get your discount when using Oyster. There’s a number of different discounted railcards that Network Rail offer, and you can get some pretty big savings, especially for more expensive and longer distance trips.
Another benefit of using Oyster rather than a paper ticket such as an all day travelcard is that you will take advantage of TfL’s capping system. The way this works is that once you’ve spent so much on travel every journey you take afterwards is free for the rest of the day. You can find out more about capping on our page.