Can you tell me more about Oyster card?

Oyster card is a smartcard for use in travelling around London.

An Oyster card is not a ticket but rather a facility which allows you to store tickets or add money to pay for your journey as you travel (Pay As You Go). It only becomes a ticket once you have loaded a season ticket onto it or once you have added Pay As You Go and you have touched in on the yellow reader before the start of your journey.

The season ticket is loaded on to the card, and unlike paper cards, Oyster cards are reusable. When your ticket expires, simply buy another one on the same Oyster card. You can have a Travelcard or Bus Pass season ticket on your Oyster card. You can also use Pay As You Go for ticket extensions on the same card. So, if you buy a monthly ticket that covers Zones 1 and 2 but need a ticket extension to reach Zone 3, you can just add Pay As You Go to your card.

Pay As You Go is available for those who undertake journeys less regularly or undertake a variety of different journeys. Pay As You Go is cheaper than paying cash for single tickets – and a daily price cap is placed on it to ensure that you will not pay more than the relevant Travelcard fare. So Pay As You Go gives you the flexibility to change your travel plans without needing to buy additional tickets, or worry that you’ll spend more than you need. When your Pay As You Go runs out of money, you can top it up at stations, online or by setting up an automatic top up.

In January 2015, TfL lowered the daily Oyster PAYG fare cap to help those who work part time, removing the need for anyone working five days or fewer to buy a weekly Travelcard to get the cheapest fare. The off-peak Oyster PAYG cap was removed but Pay As You Go customers who repeatedly pay more than the former off-peak daily cap in Zones 4-6 are automatically refunded.

To use your Oyster card, simply touch it on the yellow card readers at Tube, DLR and National Rail stations, on buses and at tram stops and go. When exiting Tube, DLR and National Rail stations, you must touch out at the end of the journey.  If your journey avoids zone 1, touch a pink route validator at your interchange station to ensure you pay the cheapest fare (although some journeys are charged as zone 1 regardless of the route taken).

If you are travelling using Pay As You Go only but you have not touched the yellow reader at the start of your journey you do not have a ticket on your Oyster card and may be issued with a penalty fare, regardless of whether you have enough money on your Oyster card.

Oyster cards with Travelcards are valid on Tube, DLR, trams and National Rail services within your chosen zones and across the entire London bus network. See our FAQ, Where can I use my Pay As You Go Oyster card? for more details.

When you get any new Oyster card, you will pay a £5 deposit. Further details are available on TfL’s website.

You must register your card if you have a monthly or longer season ticket. You are not required to do so for weekly seasons or Pay As You Go but if your card is lost or stolen, registering will prevent its use by someone else and can protect any pre-pay value on the card.

More details on Oyster cards can be found on the Transport for London website including details about  their app which allows you to manage your Oyster card ‘on the go’. There is also an independent guide to Oyster, Oyster-Rail which includes examples of when to use Oyster.