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.
The Oyster Card: Getting around 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.
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.