We are 2 families traveling to London for about 6 days. We have young kids in the group. We are staying right at the border between zones 1 and 2, and will be traveling only within these 2 zones. So, which card is economical: Oyster card or travel card? It seems to me that the travel card would be cheaper for us, but everyone seems to be recommending the Oyster card. Thoughts?

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    When in the week are those 6 days? (This is relevant because contactless PAYG has a weekly cap that works on Monday-to-Sunday periods only). Commented May 26, 2018 at 21:28
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    And what are the kids' ages? Commented May 26, 2018 at 21:29
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    @HenningMakholm worth distinguishing between contactless bank cards and Oyster if the card is not connected to an account denominated in British pounds. Foreign currency conversion and fees (daily) could easily tip the balance.
    – user16259
    Commented May 26, 2018 at 21:53
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    @user16259: Depends. I for one do not pay any per-transaction (or daily) fee on foreign use of my payment cards. There's an exchange rate spread, of course, but I'd be paying the same spread if I used the card to top up an Oyster (or buy travelcards) all at once. (And even more if I withdrew pounds in cash from an ATM, and more yet at a bureau de change). Commented May 26, 2018 at 22:07
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    @HenningMakholm but presumably you live and bank inside SEPA, which keeps in-zone foreign card transaction charges down to the point where some banks don't even bother, and certainly discourages swingeing fees. The OP may not.
    – MadHatter
    Commented May 27, 2018 at 8:03

3 Answers 3


It is quite difficult to find exact details on the TfL web-site but it repeatedly states that Pay as You Go is cheaper than a Day Trravlecard.


States that quite clearly. If you dig hard enough into the web-site you can find exact fares for all sorts of journeys and details of exactly what the cap is. That page also mentions contactless instead and as comments above state this may be better if your week is a calendar week but not if your card provider charges per transaction.

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    I think some very clever people found that this isn't true that PAYG is always cheaper. In particular you can buy a Group Day Travelcard (for groups of more than 10 passengers) which may be cheaper. oyster-rail.org.uk/when-not-to-use-oyster
    – Calchas
    Commented May 27, 2018 at 16:07
  • @Calchas that is an excellent resource. I am sure I have stumbled over it a while ago but completely forgotten it.
    – mdewey
    Commented May 27, 2018 at 16:36

Oyster is cheaper than a travelcard due to caps for for both adult and children. That means, no matter how much you travel, you can only be charged a maximum amount which is less than a travelcard.

Adult Zone 1/2 cap:


Whereas the travelcard is £13.10 for Zones 1-4. The same applies for children with the price depending on their age.

View the caps here.

  • Did you consider the money you pay to get the Oystercard?
    – Willeke
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 15:10
  • @Willeke it is refundable
    – Xnero
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 15:12
  • Not easily. I gave mine away as I could never work out how to turn it in.
    – Willeke
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 15:13
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    @Willeke At a Tube station ticket machine, you can get a refund of up to £10 pay as you go credit and your deposit. Simply touch your Oyster card on the yellow card reader on the ticket machine, select 'Oyster refund' and follow the on screen instructions.
    – Xnero
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 15:16

A 1 day Travelcard would be cheaper than an Oyster card for contactless payment. With Travelcard, you will get discounts on a visit to attractions and throughout England. But there is one place where Travelcard lags behind Oyster, i.e., Airport Express trains.

But my personal opinion is the Oyster card, last year I paid a visit to London and stayed at Regency House Hotel with my family, it saved me some money and time.

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    Where do you get that it gives you entry to attractions from?
    – Xnero
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 10:38
  • A 1 day travel card is definitely not cheaper than an Oyster card or using contactless, quite the opposite. A 1 day travel card is £13.10 for zones 1-4, while the daily ap using Oyster or contactless is £7 for zones 1-2 (and £10.10 for zones 1-4, if you want to compare for the same zones).
    – jcaron
    Commented Aug 27, 2019 at 11:43
  • The hotel gives information where they stayed. This in not spam.
    – Willeke
    Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 15:50
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    @Willeke: How is it even vaguely relevant to the question to advertise for a particular hotel? Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 16:32
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    Same author has repeatedly written about the same hotel on other sites over several months if not years. Unless they were mightily impressed with their stay, this looks like spam, especially when they write answer which is completely false and suddenly introduce the hotel which is not relevant in any way.
    – jcaron
    Commented Aug 28, 2019 at 19:45

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