Oyster Card

3 Step Guide to using an Oyster Card in the United Kingdom 2020

The Oyster card is a payment method for public transport in London in the United Kingdom. A standard Oyster card is a blue contact less smart card. It can be utilized on many types of transportation modes over London including London Underground, London Buses, the Docklands Light Railway, London Overground, Tramlink, and other modes inside the London passage zones.  

1. Where to buy it

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Oyster cards are usable only in London, one can get it at: 

  • Any London Airport (Stanstead, Luton, Heathrow, Gatwick, or London City – simply head to the cylinder station or train station inside the air terminal) 
  • Tube or Overground Stations in London 
  • Visitor Centers 
  • Any London store that has a sign that says  “Oyster Ticket Stop” 
  • One can buy the card by going up to a staff member in a stop or, if there are no staff around, there are machines where one can buy Oyster cards and add credit.

2. How you save

Regardless of the length of your stay in London, getting a card will save you time from buying individual tickets during your trip. There are a few discounts on Oyster Card trips that can be applied if you qualify

  • 11 to 15-year olds can get a Young Visitor Discount added to their Oyster card which will make their fares less expensive for 14 days. 
  • Using an Oyster Card over purchasing single tickets is already a discount in itself

3. How to use it

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  • Regardless of your mode of transportation, bus, tube, or a boat locate the yellow Oyster card reader (circular). Here you “tap in”, by pressing your Oyster card onto it. For trains, your card will get you past ticket gates and for other modes tapping will make a beeping noise and flash green to signify you can get on.
  • When going on the tub or a boat, you will need to “tap out”, so make sure you don’t lose your card.
  • On a bus, you don’t have to “tap out” and can simply get off at your stop.

common questions about using an oyster card in the united kingdom

To use an Oyster card, simply tap it on the yellow card reader at the start and end of your journey on London’s public transport network, including buses, trams, the London Underground, and some national rail services. The correct fare will automatically be deducted from your card.

You can buy an Oyster card from any Tube station, London Overground station, TfL Rail station, as well as most newsagents and convenience stores in London. You can also order a visitor Oyster card online before your trip.



Yes, using an Oyster card comes with several benefits. You can enjoy discounted fares compared to buying paper tickets, and there is a daily price cap, ensuring you never pay more than a certain amount within a day. There are also weekly price caps and off-peak fares available.



Yes, you can use your Oyster card on some National Rail services as far as Gatwick Airport, Heathrow Airport, and London City Airport. However, it is specifically designed for travel within the London transport network, so it might not be as widely accepted outside of London.

You can add money to your Oyster card at any ticket machine located in Tube stations, Overground stations, TfL Rail stations, and some National Rail stations in London. You can also add money online or by phone.

Yes, you can easily request a refund of any unused Oyster card balance. You can do this at Tube station ticket machines or by contacting the Oyster helpline. Please note that there may be a small administration fee for the refund process.



Start Planning Your The United Kingdom Trip Now!

Book Your Flight:

Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flights. A travellers favorite way to book flights, as it searches websites and airlines around the world with one click.

Book Your Bus or Transportation Within The United Kingdom:

There are two ways to book your transporation, ask your hotel or hostel, go to the local bus terminal, or book online, for a less stressful trip using 12go.asia

Book Your Accomodation: 

Find the best hotels or hostels at HostelWorld, Booking.com, Agoda.com. Perks include with no upfront payment. Pay when you check out and Free cancellations.

Dont Forget Your Travel Insurance:

Two popular choices are SafetyWing and WorldsNomads. A traveler should buy traveler’s insurance to protect themselves against unexpected events such as trip cancellations, medical emergencies, and lost or stolen baggage. It provides peace of mind and financial protection in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Useful Apps

UK Bus Checker / Omio / First Bus – Booking Bus

United Kingdom Chat / Whatsapp / Telegram – Communication

Booking.com / Hotels.com / Tripadvisor – Booking Hotel

Trainline / Trip.com / Seat61 – Booking Train

Deliveroo / Ubereats / Just Eat – Food Delivery

Taxiapp Uk / Ola / Via – Booking Taxi

Want More Information On The United Kingdom?

Be sure to check out my nomad travel guide on the United Kingdom for even more tips.

Last Minute Travel Deals?

Find a group tour with G Adventures!

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above may be affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase.

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Justin Gonzalez

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