Oyster is an electronic smartcard ticket. Simply touch your card on the yellow reader to get through the Tube gates or board other London public transport services. It doesn't even need to be removed from your purse or wallet to work.
You can register your Oyster card online to benefit from quick and easy renewals and refunds for lost or stolen cards. You can also update your Oyster card at ticket machines, helping to avoid queues at ticket offices. A refundable deposit of £5 is required to obtain an Oyster card.
Travelcards and Bus Passes
If you're travelling regularly, a London Travelcard or Bus Pass can easily be loaded onto your Oyster. Travelcards and Bus Passes can be purchased for 1 day (Travelcards only), 1 week, 1 month or 1 year's travel. You can combine a Travelcard or Bus Pass with pre-pay Oyster credit to ensure you get the best value for money on your London travel tickets.
Oyster Pay-as-You-Go (Pre-pay Oyster)
Oyster pay-as-you-go cards are charged with an amount of credit of your choice. You can make as many journeys as you like in a 24 hour period (4.30am-4.30am) and you will be charged less than you would pay for a paper ticket.
If you make lots of journeys, the Oyster card will automatically cap the day's charges at the price of an equivalent 1-Day Travelcard (see price guide below). The aim is to ensure that Oyster always charges the lowest fare. Where it doesn't, you can get a refund.
London Transport Zones and Ticket Prices
The cost of a single journey or multiple-trip Travelcard will depend on which zones you need to travel through.
London is split into 9 zones, with Zones 1 and 2 in Central London and Zones 6-9 covering the outer edge of the capital. Make sure your Oyster has enough credit, or that you purchase the right ticket to cover your entire journey to avoid a fine. You can download a tube map from our selection of Free London Travel Maps.
Here are some examples of what you might expect to pay in 2014:
Off-Peak One-day Travelcard – valid from 9.30am Monday to Friday and all day (12.01am to 4.30am the following day) at weekends and public holidays:
- Zones 1 and 2 – adult £8.90
- Zones 1–4 – adult £8.90
- Zones 1–6 – adult £8.90
- Zones 1–9 – adult £12.50
Anytime One-day Travelcard – valid for travel until 4.30am the following morning:
- Zones 1 and 2 – adult £9 (Oyster pay-as-you-go price cap: £8.40)
- Zones 1–4 – adult £11.40 (Oyster PAYG cap: £10.60)
- Zones 1–6 – adult £17 (Oyster PAYG cap: £15.80)
- Zones 1–9 – adult £21 (Oyster PAYG cap: £19.60)
Visit the TfL website for more information on fares.
London Oyster and Travelcards: Discounts and Concessions
Free travel or various discounts are available for children under 18, students, the elderly, veterans, receivers of certain benefits and disabled travellers. See TfL's Oyster website for details.
UK Visitors to London: Buy Oyster Cards in Advance
Save time by buying your Oyster card online before you travel to London. Visitor Oyster cards cost £18 and come fully charged with £15 credit. Buy a Visitor Oyster Card here.
UK residents can also buy Oyster cards through the Transport for London (TfL) Oyster website. Once in London you can buy or recharge Oyster cards at Tube stations, DLR stations, London Travel Information Centres and participating shops. Visit Tfl's Oyster website.
International Visitors to London: Buy Oyster Cards in Advance
International visitors can buy a standard pay-as-you-go Oyster card on arrival or buy a Visitor Oyster card in advance through Visit Britain.
You can also buy the Visitor Oyster card from the Gatwick Express ticket offices at Gatwick Airport Station and Victoria Station, on board Eurostar trains travelling to London and at various other outlets. Go to TfL's Visitor Oyster page.
Buy Oyster Cards by Country
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- All other countries