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). – Henning Makholm May 26 '18 at 21:28
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    And what are the kids' ages? – Henning Makholm May 26 '18 at 21:29
  • @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 May 26 '18 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). – Henning Makholm May 26 '18 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 May 27 '18 at 8:03

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 May 27 '18 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 May 27 '18 at 16:36

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