The Oyster Card: Getting around London

Despite its odd name, the Oyster card is an essential step toward saving money on public transportation in London. It's a travel "credit card" that offers substantial discounts on all London public transportation—the Underground, bus lines and the Docklands Light Railway.

Oyster Card London

Using the Oyster Card is the easiest way to get around London. Photo: mersy.


Let's break some costs down for you. A single Underground ride in Zone 1 costs £2.10 with the Oyster card. Without the Oyster card, that same individual journey will run you a whopping £4.50. A single bus journey costs £2.40 without an Oyster card and £1.40 with one. The difference adds up quickly.

Also, don’t forget to scan your card at the end of your journey as well as the start—if you forget to scan at the end of the trip your distance traveled can’t be recorded, so your card will be debited a "maximum Oyster fare" of up to £8.30.

Card options

There are a couple of Oyster card options. The pay-as-you-go method is perhaps the easiest route. Simply load your card with a credit, and the proper amount will be subtracted each time you ride. Those staying a while can apply a seven-day or monthly Travelcard to the card. Any way you go, the savings are huge.

Also of note: While Day Travelcards are not available on Oyster, if you pay as you go and make many journeys, you’ll stop being charged upon reaching the equivalent of a Day Travelcard (this price varies by mode of transit and time of travel).

We don't know how direct we should be here. Every visitor to London should purchase an Oyster card!

Where to buy

You can purchase Oyster cards online or at one of more than 2,200 Oyster ticket shops throughout London. Note that the purchase of a pay-as-you-go Oyster card requires a £5 deposit on the card itself.

For more information on the Oyster card check out the Oyster website or browse through the articles below for additional info on getting around London.

Related articles:

The London Underground
London city buses
Taxis in London
Walking and biking in London

From our London blog

Welcome to EuroCheapo, a guide to cheap hotels and budget travel in London and throughout Europe.

Our editors have inspected, photographed and reviewed inexpensive accommodation in London’s central neighborhoods in search of the very best values. Although the city isn’t the easiest for travelers on a budget, London does offer some small and inexpensive hotel options, along with lovely family-run B&Bs and some hostels that could also be a good fit.

Ready to find a hotel for your travel dates? Search in the box above to see what’s available.

Or browse through a list of our recommended hotels. All of these are located in central London, and are clean and affordable.

Keep your travel costs down

Hotels are just the beginning, of course. Click through to see a list of articles covering budget tips, including ways to save on the Tube, sightseeing, and restaurants.

And be sure to check out our London blog, which is regularly updated by Nina and Frances, our London correspondents, with ways to save and cheap and free things to do.

Thanks for visiting EuroCheapo. Together we can afford to go anywhere!

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