Travel Card or Oyster Card?

Old Mar 6th, 2010, 08:10 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 24
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Travel Card or Oyster Card?

Hi, I will be in London next week and have been trying to figure out which travel card to use (oyster or travel card). We will fly into Heathrow at 8:05AM and will need to get to my hotel on Southwark (which is Zone 1). We will spend most of our time in central London visiting the sites; however, one day we will try to visit Greenwich. On another day I will visit Windsor Castle and from there visit some friends in Reading. We would also like to spend a day in Oxford as well.

So, my question is: would it be a better investment to use a travel card (and if so, which one?) or would it be better for me to purchase an Oyster Card.

I see with the travel cards you can use the 2-for-1 deals... but how exactly does that work? Would I need to print them out here at home? Or can I get them there?

If I do the Oyster Card, would I need to purchase single tickets to Windsor and Reading before I leave home? Or on the day that I travel? And are the off peak hours from 10-6?

Thank you for your expertise... I know there have been a million threads on this subject!
kristanp is offline  
Old Mar 6th, 2010, 08:37 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 5,271
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Windsor is not in travelcard or oyster turf...you need National rail tickets as I believe Reading too although I'm not as famil,iar with Reading.

Now for your London travels...

1. How long are you going to be in London?

2. There seems to be the false perception about the difference between oyster, travelcards and 2 for 1's. Leaving the 2 for 1's aside for just a second, oyster is the way to go. The cdhoicde is to either buy a 7 day zone 1 & 2 travelcard whgich goes onto an oyster card if purchased from a tfl agent or at the tube stop at Heathrow with a certain amount of what is called payg to cover trips outside zones 1 & 2 (say the trip in from Heathrow if using the tube) or buying simply PAYG where the amount for each trip is deducted from the account balance but depending on your use during a day, it will cap for that day at the same amount as buying a 1 day paper travelcard would. Around 5 days is the cut off. Fewer than 5 days, you use PAYG. 5 days or more, it is probably better to go with the 7 day purchase which as noted is put on an oyster card if purchased at a tfl station.

The 2 for 1's do complicate matters. To qualify, you need some sort of ticket issued not by tfl but by the National rail companies at a national rail station. You cannot, I repeat cannot, purchase a paper travelcard at Heathrow. Period on that...you have to get into town and go to one of the rail stationsto purchase such a thing. You can purchase either a 1 day travelcdard or a 7 day travelcard which is put on national rail stock if bought at a national rail ticket office. They will cover the 2 for 1's. So if you're not coming in from Heathrow by tube, you can wait till you get into town.

But be aware that single fares on London Underground cost £4 so getting from your hotel to a station costs that (unless youy can walk which you probably can)...also extension fares on oyster cards if you stray from zones 1 & 2 are much more neatly handled by oyster cards out of the PAYG portion of the oyster card. Much more flexibility there with oyster.

Perhaps the best of both worlds...you know buy oyster PAYG for the first day...and the second day if using the 2 for 1's, go over to a national rail station and buy the 1 day travelcfard (I also think you can buy them in advance) for each day you are doing a 2 for 1, for all other days use oyster cards.

Such complications alas because of the 2 for 1's and the competition for business between national rail services and tfl; one would think they couyld get their act together.
xyz123 is offline  
Old Mar 6th, 2010, 08:49 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 19,881
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Given you are not going to spend many consecutive days in London itself probably the best thing to do is to get an Oystercard at Heathrow and load it up with £20 of PAYG. Use it on days that you are going outside London to get to Paddington and from LHR.

On days that you are needing 2-4-1 offers go to the nearest National Rail Station (probably London Bridge) and buy a one day Travelcard from the National Rail (NOT TUBE STATION) Booking Office.

One other bit of advice - Southwark is probably the worst place in Central London to stay if you are coming from LHR and wanting to visit Oxford, Reading or Windsor. You'd have done much better finding a hotel near Paddington thus saving you two trips a day from Southwark to Paddington & back and hence money on your Oystercard as well as about an hour in travel time
alanRow is offline  
Old Mar 6th, 2010, 09:07 AM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 24
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
In answer to your question: we will be staying for 7 full days (Sunday, March 13 - Monday, March 22).

alanRow: believe me, I wasn't originally planning on visiting Reading or Oxford, I just recently met some friends here in the states that insisted I come visit them. We were also planning on doing a day tour to Windsor, Oxford, and Stonehenge when we booked our hotel, but when I met them, plans kind of changed. Thank you for your advice though about the Oyster card with PYG.

Does it matter if you use the Southwest Trains, First Great Western, or the National Rail service? This is the part that really confuses me, I guess.

Also, does the 2-for-1 offer have to be used the same day you buy the card? Or can it be used at any time after the ticket was purchased and used?
kristanp is offline  
Old Mar 6th, 2010, 09:31 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 19,881
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
National Rail is the umbrella organtisation. It does not sell tickets or run trains. For most folk it doesn't matter which company runs the trains service you are getting though you might find that they start trains to a particular destination from different train stations.

If booking tickets in advance then use www.eastcoast.co.uk which does allow overseas booking of virtually any UK train tickets. However cheap fares tend to appear between 6 & 12 weeks in advance so don't try to book too early
alanRow is offline  
Old Mar 6th, 2010, 09:48 AM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 24
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Ohhhh! Okay... that was confusing the mess out of me! That makes so much more sense! Wow... I feel a little foolish now... haha.

Thanks for the website, I will check it out right now!
kristanp is offline  
Old Mar 6th, 2010, 10:15 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 17,263
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"Does it matter if you use the Southwest Trains, First Great Western, or the National Rail service?"

Oddly, if you're in Southwark and want to go to Windsor, Reading and Oxford, it does.

SW has trains from Waterloo (closest proper railway station to Southwark) to both Reading and Windsor. FGW has trains to those two from Paddington (just about the furthest central London station from Southwark). In practice, for you it'll almost always be better to get the SW train to Windsor, but the FGW train to Reading (the SW REading is so slow and only hourly, but the FGW so fast and every few minutes, it's quicker to add on the tube journey to Paddington). And to add to the fun, SW's owners owns the Megabus system, which generates the cheapest travel of all to Oxford (buses booked via the Megabus booking engine), though I prefer the FGW train.
flanneruk is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2010, 09:34 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 10
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Travelcard versus pay-as-you-go Oyster?
For your London transportation experts, here's my travel situation:
Will be in London for 7 consecutive days.
Am not interested in any 2-for-1 deals of any kind.
Will travel only in Zones 1 and 2 within London.
Within those zones, will be traveling to different places.
Question: Do I buy the Travelcard for those 7 days? Or do I purchase a pay-as-you-go Oyster Card?
Thanks for any help on a very confusing topic.
Steve
[email protected]
steve123 is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2010, 09:51 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Steve should buy a PAYG Oyster.

Kristan should buy a 7 day travelcard at Waterloo or London Bridge from the train station, not the Underground station and get an Oyster card for PAYG use on the days the travelcard is not useful (and for riding the Tube from Heathrow to the hotel, if not taking a car service) because she'll use the 25+ quid worth of travelcard fare and can return the unused portion of the Oyster card for full refund. And the one-day travelcards cost 7 gbp, but the 7 day travelcard costs 25.80, which means if she has four different days she wants to use 2-4-1 offers, under Alan's arrangement, she pays more.
BigRuss is offline  
Old Jun 10th, 2010, 09:53 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 7,561
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
And get your Windsor tickets directly from a manned ticket booth at Waterloo because they give you a voucher that accelerates you to the "ticketholder's line" and lets you skip the line waiting to buy tickets to enter the grounds. Last year the voucher at Waterloo, with train ticket, cost 12 GBP instead of the 15.50 for admission for buying at the castle.
BigRuss is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2011, 05:47 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 2
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have a similar question.
We will be in London for 11 days (May 28-June 7).
Our hotel is in South Kensington.
Already purchased London Pass card so don't need admission discounts.
We are planning 2 day trips, one to Windsor Castle and another to Hampton Court Palace, but otherwise will stay in Zone 1.
Do we buy the Travelcard for these 11 days? Or do we purchase a pay-as-you-go Oyster Card?
Thanks!
Anna
ava1256 is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2011, 06:03 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 68,236
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
welcome to Fodors ava1256. There are sooooooo many London travel threads -- it usually is better to start a new one of your own instead of tacking on to really old ones. Their details will be different than yours and your questions may get lost in the shuffle.

"Already purchased London Pass card"

That is unfortunate -- the LP is VERY expensive and does not save you any money. The 2for1 Days Out offers are much less expensive. But if you have already forked over for the LP -- you can just make the best of it.

Your trip to Windsor is outside of London so has nothing to do w/ Oysters. Hampton Court is in zone 6 so a small supplement on your zone 1-2 Oyster will cover that. You should get an Oyster w/ a weekly travel card and some PAYG money loaded on it -- then you can top it up if you need to.
janisj is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2011, 06:31 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 2
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for your quick reply. I read that the LP would allow me to not have to wait on lines and with our packed itinerary I hoped not spend time on that. But what's done is done.

Can you please explain how an Oyster with a weekly travel card works? Does that mean I need to buy two cards, an Oyster and a weekly travel card? Or is it somehow on one card all together? If it's on one card, when I swipe it, how will the machine know whether to use my PAYG money or my weekly travel card?
Thanks again!
ava1256 is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2011, 06:41 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 68,236
Likes: 0
Received 50 Likes on 7 Posts
There really aren't lines most anywhere -- except at the Tower of London.

"Can you please explain how an Oyster with a weekly travel card works? Does that mean I need to buy two cards,"

And oyster is just a plastic card that stores whatever transport ££ you want. Sort of like a refillable gift card that you can top up. So you can start out by putting the amount for a weekly travel card and some extra PAYG £ (to cover for the Hampton Court extension) on the Oyster, then you can add more ££ later on.

"how will the machine know "

It is a VERY smart machine
janisj is offline  
Old May 3rd, 2011, 09:12 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 20,523
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Your card has a chip with the value information stored on it. The yellow reader thingy you put it on will feed that back to the computer, which will work out the best deal for you - it will only deduct from any PAYG value on it if there is no valid travelcard for that day.
PatrickLondon is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
mhwhite
Europe
13
May 28th, 2013 04:17 AM
Mazey
Europe
6
Feb 25th, 2013 02:07 PM
nvl325
Europe
4
May 3rd, 2011 01:35 PM
woodstockguy
Europe
7
Mar 14th, 2011 05:12 PM
BNMIB
Europe
8
Mar 14th, 2009 01:11 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 01:41 AM.