Simple Oyster card?


Sep 11th, 2015, 07:23 PM
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Simple Oyster card?

Forgive what may seem a redundant post, but I simply cannot make sense of the various threads about Oyster cards! Blame post cancer treatment brain but I am utterly's the deal. My husband and I will be in London mid October for eight nights. As I am not up to long walks we will be using the tube a lot. We are familiar with the tube, but having read about Oyster cards I am totally befuddled.

Friends have offered us the actual cards which they still have from their trip last year. What do I need to load onto them if we take their cards? Seven day passes, plus extra? Just money?

What is the need for a passport sized photo which appears in some threads?

We think Oyster cards would suit better than a London Pass, as many of the attractions on the London Pass might be beyond me at the moment.

Help me get my thinking clear?
Libretto2 is offline  
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Sep 11th, 2015, 07:48 PM
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The Oyster Card can be reloaded at any tube station and there are machines at each station that can "read" the card to let you know how much you have left on them.
I work as an international flight attendant and go to London quite a bit and love using the Oyster Card as they can be used both on the buses and on the tube. They will top out at the maximum (which I believe is something like 6.70 pounds a day") no matter how much you travel on them that day.
Another option that I have used in London is UBER. I just took it from Gloucester Road over to the Earls Court area for the London Beer Festival and is was cheaper for three of us to use than the tube.
Have a great time over there-one of the world's most interesting cities!
dutyfree is offline  
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Sep 11th, 2015, 10:36 PM
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Congratulations on your recovery.

>>As I am not up to long walks we will be using the tube a lot. <<

If you can't manage long walks and stairs, the tube probably isn't your best option for many journeys. Many station involve quite long walks underground plus stairs/steps. Buses will be much easier.

You definitely do NOT want a London Pass (and wouldn't even if you were stronger)

Where are you staying? Assuming in zone 1, what you want to load on the Oysters is a 7 day zone 1-2 travelcard and a little extra pay-as-you-go £ to cover any trips outside zones 1-2 and your extra day.
janisj is offline  
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Sep 11th, 2015, 11:37 PM
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There's one alternative to an Oyster for a week in London: a 7-day paper Travelcard bought from a National Retail station.

This ( )does virtually all the things Oyster does, but also gives you 2 for 1 entry to most paid-for London attractions. To buy the 7-day version, you need a passportish-size photo.

There's no need to think about photos if you're sticking just with the Oyster and you're a short-term visitor over 18. But there are advantages in getting the paper ticket allowing the 2 for 1 deal, and having the Oyster in your wallets won't cost you anything.

In fact, since you can't buy the paper travelcard at Heathrow, the Oyster will come in handy to get into town, and for getting you round during the extra day. You probably don't need to put more than £10 each on the Oyster, if your friends have left little or no credit on it.
flanneruk is offline  
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Sep 11th, 2015, 11:48 PM
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I purposely didn't mention the paper travelcards because you mentioned endurance/your physical condition and that you aren't planning on visiting too many sites. Unless you are planning on visiting several, I wouldn't faff about getting paper travelcards. Yes, it would save the typical visitor a fair amount w/ the 2for1 discounts -- but it sounds like you are mostly planning on taking it easy.

Since your friends have offered you their Oysters -- I'd just take them up on it, and load 7 day zone 1-2 travelcards and some extra PAYG £ on their Oysters.

There are more than enough free sites to fill your time in London.
janisj is offline  
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Sep 12th, 2015, 12:04 AM
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Libretto, it is confusing, but there's lots of great info and advice above and it's great you can get the cards from your friends. All I can add is that I'd download an app to help you navigate the public transport options. I loved City Mapper which I used very successfully in London, I prefer it to the London Transport app. It tells you how long it takes to get to places using a variety, and a combination of means, walking, tube, bus etc. Don't overlook the buses. If you don't want to walk too much they're often a great way to go. City mapper will make it easier for you to make sense of the system.
welltraveledbrit is offline  
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Sep 12th, 2015, 04:26 PM
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Thank you all so much for your helpful advice. Feeling more confident I understand the system now.
Libretto2 is offline  
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Sep 13th, 2015, 01:42 PM
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I was just as confused last month as you are. When we got to our first station, a tube employee came over to us and asked if he could help us. He took about 10 minutes to explain the system and even helped us decide where to go since we had a little time to kill our first evening. It was surprising to have help like that without asking, to say the least.

One other thing about the Oyster Card. If your friends don't want the Oyster cards back, you can turn them in to any ticket machine and get 5 pounds back for each when you are leaving. If you have over (I think) 10 pounds on a card, you can't use the machine to do this, but can get the 5 pound refund at the ticket window. They had employees stationed at each airport machine when we were leaving just to keep things moving and process those refunds quickly. It was very efficient.

I also echo the sentiment that there is a lot of walking at some of the stations. There are a lot of stairs too, but you can refer to tube maps and see which stations have elevators (the stations with the handicap icons.) Earls Court, for example, had an elevator which took us directly to one of the platforms.

If you don't get up to the maximum for the day, you just pay the normal amount for the ride, but it's a lot easier than paying each time. If you don't have enough money on the card, you will be told that when trying to enter the gate into the station.

The worker also told us to be sure to swipe the card on the way out of each station in addition to entering. If you forget, he said you will be charged more. We didn't try that out!!!

Good luck and have a nice trip!
kwren is offline  
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Sep 13th, 2015, 06:14 PM
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When you are tired, there is nothing better than having a card that lets you take a bue for a short hop. You are sitting down, out of the rain or the heat or the cold. Not heaven, but it will serve.
AJPeabody is offline  
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Sep 14th, 2015, 05:53 AM
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^^"If you don't get up to the maximum for the day, you just pay the normal amount for the ride, but it's a lot easier than paying each time."^^

This is true if you mean "normal Oyster fare" which is about half that of the "normal cash fare."

I was once behind two ladies in a ticket line - they wanted single tickets and the clerk earnestly tried to explain how much they would save using Oyster.
They wanted none of it.
nyse is offline  
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Sep 14th, 2015, 07:02 AM
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"Normal cash fare" is a contradiction in terms these days. If you insist on trying to pay cash-per-journey, the rate is set deliberately high to discourage you.
PatrickLondon is offline  
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Sep 14th, 2015, 07:38 AM
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I found the basic Maps app on my Android phone worked just fine in London, no need to download a special one. It recommended buses and tube trains, but I agree that you will find buses easier.

Please do not use Uber. The regular London taxi cabs are great, unlike cabs in some cities, and the drivers have invested years in learning London.
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