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London: Oyster Card or Travelcard?

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Jan 19th, 2014, 10:02 AM
  #1
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London: Oyster Card or Travelcard?

I'm confused about these two cards--do I need both for travel in and around London? I'm visiting for a week and thought I could get by with just the Oyster card.Does the Oyster card expire after 24 hours?

Here's what I read that caused the confusion:
If you're travelling regularly, a London Travelcard or Bus Pass can easily be loaded onto your Oyster. Travelcards and Bus Passes can be purchased for 1 day (Travelcards only), 1 week, 1 month or 1 year's travel. You can combine a Travelcard or Bus Pass with pre-pay Oyster credit to ensure you get the best value for money on your London travel tickets.

Thanks for your help.
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Jan 19th, 2014, 10:25 AM
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Oystercard is good until the funds on it run out. Then you just add more.

I suggest the Oystercard. You can purchase it ahead of time and have it mailed to you.
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Jan 19th, 2014, 10:28 AM
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Are you travelling alone or with someone else?

According to what I have heard, a paper travel card can be used for a number of special two-for-one deals. Not entirely sure what these are, since I travel alone.

An Oyster card can be loaded with different passes or sums of money. There is a small cost for the card itself, but I think you can get it back if you turn the card in. Not sure where or how, since I kept mine to use again for next time.
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Jan 19th, 2014, 10:38 AM
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The Oyster card is purchased at any tube station for around 5 pounds and can be reloaded with more money at any time. It is good for all tube and bus use around London. If you decide when you leave London,you can turn the card in and get the original 5 pounds back although any money extra that is on it will not be returned.
If you are coming in at Heathrow, it costs approximately 8 pounds to get from LHR into the city on the Oyster card whereas it will cost you anywhere from $50 to $75 to get a cab for the same destination.
The two for one can be a good deal however there are alot of things on it that you really wouldn't be interested in seeing or doing or if you are by yourself it is not worth it. Personally, the Oyster card is my favorite and I use it all the time when in London!
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Jan 19th, 2014, 10:39 AM
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An Oystercard remains workable more or less indefinitely. You can store all sorts of values on it, but for your purposes, the best bargain is the 7-day travelcard (for zones 1-2, with any add-ons you need to get from the airport into zone 2).

7-day travelcards are also available on old-style paper, issued by the national rail companies, as a service to their users commuting into London; the confusion comes from the fact that these companies also take part in a 2for1 promotional scheme for access to various sights up and down the land to people holding one of their tickets (of which their version of the travelcard, but not the Oystercard, is one). If you're travelling alone, you needn't worry about this particular wrinkle.
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Jan 19th, 2014, 11:32 AM
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There is always confusi9on about this. Leaving aside the 2 4 1 discounts not available with an oyster card, the oyster card remains the most flexible thing to use for local transportation in London.

You have to pay £5 as a deposit but it is fully refundable if you so desire at the end of your trip. As yu probably know from doing your homework, London is divided into concentric rings for travel with Heathrow being in zone 6 and the vast majority of tourist spots and where your hotel probably is being central London or zone 1, perhaps a tad further out in zone 2.

For a 7 day trip, again leaving aside the 2 4 1's, your bet bet is almost certainly a 7 day zone 1 & 2 travelcard which is loaded onto the oystercard (the oyster card being a credit card sized smartcard). You tap it against a yellow reader every time you enter the underground and tap it when leavig although if you ride the buses you only tap in.

Now since your 7 day travelcard is valid in zones 1 & 2, you have to pay the fare from the boundary of zone 2 to zone 6. this is accomplished with a cash account on every oystercard. When you purchase the card at Heathrow, the clerk will go over with you how much you need in the cash account which can always be topped up. Now you say 7 days, but it may be you need 8 days of travel (say Sunday to Sunday would really be 8 days) so you might have to use the cash account on the 8th day to get back to Heathrow. this would come out of the cash account as on the 8th day, the 7 day window on the card will have expired. Don't sweat it. Assuming you're from an English speaking country, there is a good chance the clerk at Heathrow will understand what you are saying and will work with you to settle on the amount although any cash left over on the card, contrary to one of the posts above, is refundable when you leave although if you're coming back to London, you might wish to hold on to the card and the cash amount never expires.

Should you venture out of zone 2 during the week, the add on fare will be deducted from the cash account for travel from the zone 2 boundary to wherever you're going although there are no zones for the buses for the most part.

Finally contrary to the post above, there is no need to purchase the oyster card in advance. Again it will take a couple of minutes at Heathrow but the clerks are very efficient and will help you.
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Jan 19th, 2014, 11:33 AM
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There is a semantics issue here. A 'travelcard' is two different things. That is probably what confused you.

A travelcard is a type of travel fare -- i.e. a 7-day zone 1 & 2 travelcard. A travelcard can also be an actual paper card to use for travel. The paper travelcards are purchased at train stations - but are only relevant if you want to use the 2for1 Days Out discounts. Otherwise you just need an oyster.

An Oyster card is simply a plastic card that holds you travel funds -- it can hold travelcards or Pay As You Go £££ . . . or both.

Another option is to have an Oyster w/ PAYG money loaded on it and then buy single day paper travel cards only on days you will use the 2for1's.
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Jan 19th, 2014, 12:02 PM
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Janisj has it right but just one small clarification which will probably increase everybody's confusion. As noted, if you want to use the 2 4 1's you need a ticket validated by the national railroad system...a paper ticket issued only at national rail stations such as Victoria, Paddington, Waterloo, London Bridge and the like. So if you want to do 2 days worth of 2 4 1's for example, then you use the oyster card for every other day and use the cash account. The card caps each day depending on your mode of travel so it's possible on a given day you will only use the buses so it would cap at the price of a one day bus pass but for the days you might need a 2 4 1, you have to buy a 1 day travelcard from a national rail station (you can do that the day before) since the underground also issues one day paper travelcards but they are not valid for the 2 4 1's.

Boy those 2 4 1's really complicate matters, don't they.
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Jan 19th, 2014, 12:10 PM
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>> just one small clarification <<

I have no idea what you are 'clarifying'. I tried to make it as clear (and concise) as possible. >>Another option is to have an Oyster w/ PAYG money loaded on it and then buy single day paper travel cards only on days you will use the 2for1's.<<

Simple as that.
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Jan 19th, 2014, 12:32 PM
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Hi janis...remember you can buy a 1 day travelcard from a tfl station; their 1 day travelcards come on paper stock but aren't valid for 2 4 1's. The 1 day travelcard you refer to has to be bought on national rail stock from the national rail portion of a main line station say Victoria, Paddington, Waterloo, London Bridge and the like. A small clarification; sorry if it came across mean spirited but there's always confusion between 1 day travelcards on paper issued by tfl at an underground station and a 1 day travelcard issued by national rail. They cost exactly the same. Sorry didn't mean to raise your anger.
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Jan 19th, 2014, 12:43 PM
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Thanks all for the good advice. Since I leave tomorrow, I'll pick up the Oyster card at Heathrow. Good to hear balances are refunded. How much would you load on for the week? 100 pounds?
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Jan 19th, 2014, 12:45 PM
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Oh my no where near that much! It tops out at £8.40 a day...at most multiply that by how many days you are in London and add that much!
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Jan 19th, 2014, 12:48 PM
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If you are in London for a week and don't want to up use the 2for1s then add a weekly transit pass for zone 1-2 at £31.40 with a bit extra for transit to and from heathrow...the people at the flicker booth will help you...

Ticket prices http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloa...s-jan-2014.pdf
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Jan 19th, 2014, 01:40 PM
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I'm sitting here banging my head against the wall because I can't grasp the Oyster/Travel Card information. Since this is GraceCO's thread, and I have my own questions about public transportation, should I start my own new separate topic?
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Jan 19th, 2014, 02:22 PM
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Ok firs thing...do you want to take advantage of 2for1 deals?

If yes...then you don't want an Oyster card.

You can out 1and 7 day travel cards on either an oyster or buy a paper travel card.

Oysters you buy from tube stations,

Paper cards you buy from overland train stations,

If you are in London more than 5 days it is cheaper to buy a 7 day travel card.

People get all tied up by trying to find the cheapest deal and comparing pay as you go vs travel cards etc.

Casually if you are two people and want the deal and are here for 5+ days just get the 7 day travel card on paper from the train station to use the deal.
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Jan 19th, 2014, 02:23 PM
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Basically, not casually...
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Jan 19th, 2014, 02:24 PM
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Give us your exact scenario and we can try to help...it really is not that complicated, but if you try to game the system it can be,....
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Jan 19th, 2014, 02:26 PM
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If you decide when you leave London,you can turn the card in and get the original 5 pounds back although any money extra that is on it will not be returned.

We were returned the extra when we turned in the card last summer.

The Oyster card is good for train travel to Hampton Court. Our Airbnb host told us that there is a daily maximum charge on the Oyster card, after which travel is free. But I never really bothered to check if this was true.
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Jan 19th, 2014, 02:55 PM
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Yes, there is a fare cap on pay-as-you-go on Oyster. It's divided between peak and off-peak, peak being the higher. It depends on when you first touch in your Oyster in a given day. If you use first between 0430 and 0929, you will be subject to peak cap (e.g. £8.40 in Zone 1-2, and £7 off-peak). If you first touch in at 0930 or later, you will be subject to off-peak cap.
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Jan 19th, 2014, 03:04 PM
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And you can get a refund on any credit left as well as £5 deposit when returning your Oyster card to a tube station ticket office.
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