Do I need an Oyster card?
First and foremost, let’s delve into the world of Oyster Cards, a London travel essential. These are smart cards that you add money to, so you can pay as you go. You can pay as you go to travel on bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, most TfL Rail (Transport for London), Emirates Air Line (more on that later) and Thames Clippers River Bus Services. You can also travel on most National Rail services in London and some outside London.
Oyster Cards eliminate the need to faff around with paper tickets. And if you lose them, you can claim back your balance. There is another option, however. The Transport for London network also accepts contactless payments. This means you can also tap your bank card when you start and end your Tube journey (it’s just a tap at the start for bus rides) and the prices are more or less what you’d pay when using an Oyster. If you want to embrace the full London experience with an Oyster Card in hand, you can get them (and top up) from any London Underground, Overground or Mainline Rail Station. It’s also wise to register them online as this makes viewing your balance and topping up even easier.
If you’re looking for money saving tips or, say, the cheapest way to get around London for 3 days, it’s worth noting that there’s a daily fare cap for Oyster card users. This limits the amount you have to pay regardless of the journeys you take. The cap for London zones 1-2, for example, is set at £7.20 per day, meaning you can explore this part of the city without paying any more than that price. Keep this in mind if you want to reduce your travel outgoings.