Should Visitors to London Buy an Oyster Card?

The Oyster Card is a smart card which replaces tickets on the London transport network.  You have to pay a £5 refundable deposit to buy an Oyster Card and top-up it up before use.

I visit London on average once a year, for around a week at a time. When the Oyster Card first came out, I’d asked at a Ticket Office in a Tube station whether as a visitor to London I was better off with a Travelcard or an Oyster Card. The reply was that the Oyster Card had a daily spending cap equivalent to the price of a one day off-peak Travelcard. I didn’t bother to look into it any further and kept buying mainly Travelcards, with a single ticket on my day of arrival and departure.

Oyster CardI baulked at paying the hefty £4.30 for a single Zone 1 ticket during my recent trip to London. Considering that a one day off peak Zone 1 – 2 Travelcard costs £7.70 for unlimited trips, a £4.30 single seemed excessive. I decided to pick up a leaflet about the Oyster Card, as I knew I’d only need one single ticket for at least a couple of other days during that visit to London.

I’m glad that I finally got around to investigating the Oyster Card, as I discovered that a Zone 1 single only costs £2 when using an Oyster Card.

Having an Oyster Card also means that you don’t have to queue to buy tickets every day.

Oyster CardThe other big advantage to me is that some days I’m not sure how many trips I’ll make on London Transport, as I try to walk as much as possible.  I don’t need to make the decision of whether to purchase a Travelcard before I make my first journey of the day. If I do end up making a lot of journeys that day, I’ll pay the same daily total using my Oyster Card. But if I only make a couple of journeys within Zone 1, I’ll pay £4 (2 x £2 single journeys) with my Oyster Card, instead of £7 with a one day off-peak Travelcard.

I registered my Oyster Card by handing in a completed form at a Tube ticket office, which means I am protected against loss or theft, althought I assume I’d lose the £5 deposit.

I believe that buying an Oyster Card was worthwhile for me, even although I’m not in London that often. I’ll save a bit of money, it’ll be more convenient than buying tickets every day and it’s more flexible when I’m not sure how many journeys I’ll make in one day.

This entry was posted in UK and tagged on by .

About Karen Bryan

Hello, I'm Karen Bryan, I created Europe a la Carte in 2002 to highlight the best places to visit in Europe with travel tips, photos and no fluff reviews. I’m also an artist; my artworks are often inspired by my travels