5D/4N Backpacking London Without A Tour – Free & Easy (Part 1) : Visitor Oyster Card – The Cheap & Easy Way to Travel around London (Basic Information & Things That You Need To Know)

London, United Kingdom has one of the best public transportation service in the world. 😀 Using a Visitor Oyster card, visitors can travel cheaply and conveniently from one place to another via the Tube/Underground and Overground trains, busses, trams, DLR, Tfl Rail and most National Rail services in the bustling city.


The Cheap & Easy Way to Travel around London

Using a Visitor Oyster card is the cheapest way to pay for single journeys on the London Tube/Underground and Overground trains, busses, trams, DLR, Tfl Rail and most National Rail services in London, United Kingdom.

From January 2016, Visitor Oyster cards can be used to pay for travel on train services to/from Gatwick Airport, including Gatwick Express. For your info, pay as you go fares are cheaper than buying a paper single ticket.

Besides that, the Visitor Oyster card offers daily capping. This means visitors can travel as much as they like in a single day and the amount they pay for their travel is limited (or capped). For example, a visitor can travel as many times as he/she likes in a day in Zones 1 and 2 (from 04:30 to 04:29 the next day) and will not be charged more than £6.50. 😉

Another perk of using a Visitor Oyster card is we get to save money with special offer and discounts at restaurants, shops, galleries and entertainment venues throughout London, United Kingdom.


Erika travels around London, UK mostly by the Tubes using her Visitor Oyster card for better savings


Visitor Oyster Card – Buying the Card & Basic Information

Do take note that the Visitor Oyster cards can only be bought online here. Visitors will not be able to buy a Visitor Oyster card when in London. The cards however, can be bought before one arrives in London from different locations in the United Kingdom and overseas.

A Visitor Oyster card itself costs £3 (activation fee) and is pre-loaded with pay as you go credit. Visitors can choose how much credit to add to the card: from as low as £10, and up to £50.

For example, a Visitor Oyster card pre-loaded with £10 credit costs £13. A postal fee of either £12.75 (Express/Overseas Tfl OC) or £4.25 (Standard/Local Tfl OC) is charged for delivery. Therefore, the total amount payable for the Visitor Oyster card for a visitor from overseas is £25.75. 😀


Screenshot of the online checkout process for the Visitor Oyster card on the official website
The Oyster & Visitor Oyster Card – The Cheap & Easy Way to Travel around London


Visitor Oyster Card – Credit, Top Up & Refund

The credit on the Visitor Oyster card never expires. If a card runs out of credit, it is easy to top it up at any Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and most National Rail stations, Oyster Ticket Stops and Visitor Centres. A £30 card is a good amount to start for 3-4 days visit in London, United Kingdom.

Because the credit on a Visitor Oyster card never expires, the card can be kept and use for our next visit to London, or lend it to friends and family members. 😉

Else, visitors can get a refund for the unused credit. Simply go to a London Tube/Underground train station ticket machine for balances up to £10 (after 48 hours of having used your card for the first time), visit a Visitor Centre or simply post the card to Transport for London. Do note that the £3 cost of the card (activation fee) is not refundable.

For your info, if you get a credit refund at a Tube/Underground station ticket machine, your Visitor Oyster card will be returned to you but it will be cancelled, so you won’t be able to use it again to travel. However, you can keep your card as a souvenir and still use it to take advantage of all the special offers and discounts available with a Visitor Oyster card.


Buy, top up or check the credit balance of your Visitor Oyster card at any Tube/Underground station ticket machine in London, UK


Visitor Oyster Card – Adult Rates for the Tube, DLR & London Overground Fares

London‘s public transport network covers both the centre of London and the wider surrounding areas of Greater London. The network is split into 9 different zones, named Zone 1 to Zone 6.

The centre of London, including most major attractions, is in Zones 1-2. Most suburban areas of London, and famous sights including Wembley Stadium and Wimbledon Tennis Club, are within Zones 1-4. Almost the whole of London, including Heathrow airport and London City airport, are in Zones 1-6. 😀

Visitor Oyster cards deduct credit every time we make a journey. After we make several journeys in one day, we will reach a daily limit, and the rest of the journeys on that day will be free. Different journeys cost different amounts, depending on which zones we travel in and what time of day we travel. Daily limits/caps also vary according to these factors.

Do note that travelling in peak times is more expensive than travelling off-peak. Peak times are from Monday to Friday, 6.30am – 9.30am and 4pm – 7pm. All other times are considered off-peak. Also, travelling through more zones is more expensive.


Sample Visitor Oyster card fares for 2016:

Oyster (1 Way) Peak Hours Off-Peak Hours Daily Fare Cap
Zones 1 to 2 £2.90 £2.40 £6.50
Zones 1 to 6 £5.10 £3.10
Busses/Trams £1.50 £4.50
Trains to/from Gatwick Airport £19.80
Southern or Thameslink trainservices to/from central London £14 £8

*A complete chart of all the fares can be viewed here.


For more information about the Visitor Oyster card, visit the official website here. 😉

Up next: Flying for the very first time with Malaysia Airlines onboard the mighty Airbus A380 to London, United Kingdom


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