Oyster FAQs: The Basics

Visitor Oyster is the cheapest way to pay for single journeys on the bus, Tube, DLR, tram, London Overground and most National Rail services in London.

Read our top frequently asked questions about how to travel around London to make sure you pay the right fare.

What is a Visitor Oyster card?

A Visitor Oyster card is a travel smartcard - the cheapest way to pay for single journeys on the bus, Tube, DLR, tram, London Overground and most National Rail services in London. Buy a Visitor Oyster card before you travel to London and it will be delivered to your home address.

What is an Oyster card?

An Oyster card is also a travel smartcard which you can use for travel on public transport in London. You can only buy an Oyster card when you arrive in London, so we recommend you buy a Visitor Oyster card before you leave home.

What is Pay As You Go?

"Pay as you go" means you can put money (credit) on your Visitor Oyster card or Oyster card and then use it to pay for single journeys on London’s transport system. The credit never expires – it stays there until you use it, so you can save your card for future visits to London or lend your card to family and friends to use. Once you’ve used up your credit, you can top it up again.

What is contactless payment?

Contactless payment cards are electronic debit, credit, charge or pre-paid cards which can be used to make quick, easy and secure payments for everyday purchases under £20.

Your contactless payment card works in the same way as a Visitor Oyster card - there's no need for a PIN or a signature. Simply touch your contactless payment card on the reader to pay, remembering to only touch one card on the reader. 

If your contactless payment card has been issued in the US, please check tfl.gov.uk/contactless-payment-card before you use it to pay for a London bus fare. For any international transaction fees or charges that may apply, please check with your card issuer.

What are "cash free" buses?

You can no longer pay for your London bus fare with cash. Instead, you can pay for your bus fare with a Visitor Oyster card, Oyster card, Travelcard or UK-issued contactless payment card. A single adult fare is £1.45.

What are London’s transport Zones?

London is divided up into nine travel Zones. Zone 1 is the most central part of London. As you travel away from Central London, you pass through Zones 2-9. Find Free London Travel Maps.

What areas of London can I access with my Visitor Oyster card?

While most tourist attractions and hotels are in Zones 1 and 2, the following attractions are only a short journey away using your Visitor Oyster card or Oyster card:

What and when is Peak and Off-Peak travel?

Different travel fares apply depending on which transport services you use, what day of the week and what time of day you travel. On the Tube, DLR, London Overground and most National Rail services in London, peak fares apply Monday to Friday (not on public holidays) from 06:30 to 09:30 and 16:00 to 19:00. Off-peak fares apply at all other times. It is cheaper to travel at off-peak travel times.

The fare for single journeys on bus and trams is the same at all times, regardless of when you travel.

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