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Help with London Travelcard

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My partner and I are arriving in London Heathrow on Sunday, 1 May and leaving London the following Saturday, 7 May. I have been trying to make sense of the Travelcard and Oyster Card options with little success, but I think we have decided to purchase a 7 day Travelcard. Can we purchase a 2 zone 7 day Travelcard at London Heathrow? We intend to take the Picadilly line into London when we arrive. Can we also purchase a supplement for the trip from Heathrow into London?

What is the price of a 7 day Travelcard? How does that compare to a single tube fare in the inner 2 zone region?

Any help is appreciated. I find the websites I have read to be too confusing for a novice reader.

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    I'll deal with the travel issue but I warn you, it is clouded by other issues such as discounts available on travelcards you buy from the National railway system. I'll let others do that.

    Yes the answer is indeed a zone 1 & 2 7 day travelcard...cost is £27.40...at the same time you will need what is known as an extension fare to cover on your trip from Heathrow in zones 6 to 3...when you cross into zone 2, your travelcard becomes valid...the extension fare for a zone 6 to 3 extension is £1.40 off peak and £2.50 peak (peak defined as between 0630 and 0930 and 1600 59 1900 weekdays, all other times are off peak)....you touch in and touch out and the tfl computer does the rest...there is also a 5 quid deposit for the card which is refundable at the end of the trip...

    If there are a couple of days where you won't do much use of pubic transportation, you won't do all that much worse just using PAYG for the whole thing...there are daily caps and if you have a couple of days where you just do one or two rides, it will come out about the same (and this might help with the 2 for 1 discounts others will describe probably). Just put 20 quid on the cdard and you can check it and top it up as needed.

    You don't want to do cash fares, they are prohibitively expensive.

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    The only way you'll lose anything substantial is by trying to pay in cash per trip: the system is deliberately designed to get you to pay in advance using Oyster and other passes.

    The differences between a 7-day travelcard and pay-as-you-go on Oyster for the length of time you will be here are minimal, unless you intend to stick to buses or not to use public transport at all for a couple of days.

    The other option xyz123 refers to is a promotional scheme run by the national rail companies who also run commuter trains into London. If you have one of their tickets, it can be used to get 2for1 entry to a range of concessions for the period during which it is valid: http://www.daysoutguide.co.uk/

    If any of these are worth it to you, it could be worth the hassle of printing out the vouchers, and getting your tickets from a National Rail station - Heathrow is NOT one, so you'd need to pay cash or get Oyster PAYG to get you into London, so that you can go to one of the National Rail stations in the centre. They can issue you a travelcard with just the same validity as one issued by TfL, but it won't be on Oyster and therefore won't have the facility to store extra PAYG cash.

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    Above is excellent and clear advice. I have only a couple comments to add:

    I found the agents, esp. at LHR, to be most helpful, so plan on depending on their advice if you have last minute questions, too.

    As xyz said, IF there are days you just plan to walk or just use the tube a couple times, you can probably save just a little by using the PAYG option on the Oyster. But for one week, there's probably not going to be much difference, if you are using the Tube several times a day each day. One thing about the travel cards--you don't, as far as I can tell, get the money back. It's gone, whether you actually "use" that day's credit or not. The PAYG is ---pay as you go. And easy to top up and check balances. So it's convenient, but you do have to think about doing that. Whereas the travelcard is a done deal. So.... (FYI, for both of our trips we used PAYG, not travel cards, and were happy. BUT one trip was for 2 weeks, with 5-6 days where we didn't ride the tube much, and one trip was only 3.5 days, so not an exact comparison with your trip.)

    About the 2for1 deals--it's worth exploring. BUT you can't buy the paper card you need at LHR, so you'd have to buy something there anyway to start your trip and then have to find a station that sold the paper ticket, which may not be convenient in terms of location or time. And if you opt to just buy the 7-day-travel card with extension at LHR, then you won't need any other ticket anyway. What we did was loaded up the Oyster card at LHR (with amount agent recommended when I told him our plans). Then ONE day we made a special trip to Victoria Station, bought a ONE day paper travel card (valid for the next day) and then ONE day used that travel card, with the vouchers I'd printed out for the Tower and the Tower Bridge Exhibition, for discounted admission to those. We saved enough that day to "pay for" the time and effort we had to expend to go to a station for the express purpose of purchasing a ticket. IF your rooms or your planned itineraries give you proximity to a NATIONAL RAIL station easily, then you might want to look at the 2for1 offers more closely. Actually, look at them first and see if there are any on the list you are even interested in; if not, all the above in rather moot anyway!

    Also, while I agree the TFL info about fares is a bit confusing, I would recommend you get familiar enough with their website to check for line updates and such; planned and unplanned Tube line works can mess up the best laid plans o' mice and men.

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    Here it is in basic, simple, plain English.

    Pay your one-shot fare from Heathrow to wherever you're going in Central London to your hotel/flat/house/den of iniquity/whatever. If you are staying in Central London, you likely will be near a national rail station (hint: tell us where you're lodging and we can make this part really easy). If your destination in London is near Euston or Kings Cross/St. Pancras -- all the better because the Piccadilly will take you there.

    Once you get settled, you likely will be able to walk to the nearest national rail station -- Charing Cross is walking distance to Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, St. Pancras is walking distance to Bloomsbury, etc. What you do is:

    (1) Before you leave, print out all the 2for1 vouchers you'd ever consider using from the Daysoutguide.co.uk website. This includes the Tower, the Cabinet War Rooms, the Eye, and Hampton Court Palace, among others. There is no limit.

    (2) When you are in London, drop your junk off at your temporary residence and enter the nearest national rail station and go to the manned ticket booths on the national rail level (will contain M&S Simply Food and Boots Pharmacy because those are ubiquitous in London). Do NOT go to the Underground station (every national rail station in central London has currently one except Blackfriars). Stay on street level.

    (3) Obtain a 7 day travelcard from the national rail ticket agent -- you should receive a flimsy plastic-coated card with orange top and bottom borders and the old BritRail symbol at the bottom left. You use this to enter and exit the Tube every time you use the Tube. Get the Zone 1-2 card. DO NOT GET THE BLUE OYSTER CARD THAT IS HARD PLASTIC LIKE A CREDIT CARD.

    (4) Present your travelcard and voucher at your preferred tourist sites. At the Tower, you save 17 GBP; at HCP, you save 13 or so; at the Cabinet War Rooms, you save 12. That's 42 sterling, or about $65+. It's worth the minimal extra time.

    I don't like the one-day paper travelcard idea because (a) you pay a premium for the one-day card over the fare from Heathrow to London; (b) if you want to do just 5-7 top sites (Tower, HCP, Kew Gardens, Kensington Palace, Eye, Cabinet War Rooms, Globe Theatre), you can't do them in a day or two (HCP takes a day); (c) if you're in central London, you'll be close to a national rail station, period.

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    I am doing exactly what you advised BigRuss. I have one question. Will I be able to pay for my 7 day Travelcard using my US mastercard or debit card or will I need to get local currency? I was thinking of using the machine at HCP because I am going by bus 111 directly to HCP upon landing at Heathrow. I was just going to pay the bus fare. Then when I got to KT8, I was going to walk over to the rail HCP o by my pass so I can use the 2 for 1 at HCP . Iam having only backpack for luggage so no issue with this.
    Then I was going to buy the extension fare to get back to Victoria from the rail station.
    Is this a do-able plan? What am I missing?

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    You should be fine to pay with your US mastercard, if you are within the hours of the manned ticket book - the automated machine likely wont work if its not chip and pin:

    http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/stations/hmc/details.html

    Dont forget to print the 2for1 voucher before you travel as you need to bring it with you.

    You can but the extension fare at the same time as you pass....no need to go back twice.

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    Great advice here. I will also be in London in May and want to use some 2 for 1 vouchers and have noticed that some of the offers I have looked at expire on 31/03/2011, another at the end of April. Here is a link to a thread that was posted some days ago. http://tinyurl.com/4c4jjhy

    Let's keep our fingers crossed they extend the offers.

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