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London on public transport: what kind of tickets to use?

I will stay in London for only 2 days, but will travel using underground train (tube) quite often.

So my questions are:

  1. Should I buy an Oyster card? What is the minimum deposit of Oyster? How long is the validity of the Oyster card?
  2. Is there any card that I can buy that allow me to travel freely for 2 days without any extra charge? (Something like 15 pounds card that will expire within 24 hours, but can be used countless times)
  3. Or anybody has any other alternative?

UPDATE : from the link that I duplicated, I found all of the info I needed in http://visitorshop.tfl.gov.uk/


1 Answer 1


The prices for travelling with either an Oyster card or by buying a Travel card/individual single tickets are exactly the same. So you don't save any money by having an Oyster card. You can see the prices at this page:


For only two days it seems like a waste of time to me to obtain an Oyster card. You can get an Oyster card for visitors from the Transport for London shop that is prepaid (http://visitorshop.tfl.gov.uk/home.html), but you pay a £3 activation fee, and it doesn't make it any faster than using a regular paper ticket.

You don't save any money, assuming you make enough single journeys in one day that you reach the price cap (when you hit the price cap with an Oyster card it is just the same as if you bought a Travelcard, you get unlimited free travel for the rest of the day).

It makes a lot more sense to just buy a travel card every day for Zones 1-2 (you probably won't go outside of those zones). Then you get unlimited travel, and you can use them on the bus too.

  • Hi Victoriah, I have read the tickets table. How to know the scope of a zone? I read that the unlimited travel cost is 18 Pounds a day. If I just buy Oyster card for 36 Pounds, when will the card expired? If it's more than 1 year, I would be glad to buy Oyster card since I will come to England again in 2012 or 2013. Nov 7, 2011 at 18:43
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    Funny; you say "you don't save any money by having an Oyster Card" and "it makes more sense to buy day travel cards", while Gagravarr wrote a while back that "by far and away your best bet is an Oyster Card". Which, as I understand it, implies that you do save money. I wonder what the truth is here.
    – Jonik
    Nov 7, 2011 at 19:08
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    Um, with an Oyster card, tickets are half price if bought on prepay with the card. Bus tickets are half, and tube are less, and most importantly, it stops you paying more than the maximum per day - it's free after that.
    – Mark Mayo
    Nov 7, 2011 at 19:20
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    Like I said, it doesn't save you any money assuming you travel enough that you hit the price cap in a given day. A new visitor to London trying to fit sightseeing into two days is going to meet that cap easily. It is by no means "far and away" better to get an Oyster card, at best you will save £2, which you spend anyway purchasing the card. An off peak Zone 1-2 single is £1.90 with an Oyster card. So after three journeys you've reached the cap. Someone who goes to the effort of obtaining an Oyster card is not going to be someone who only uses it twice per day.
    – victoriah
    Nov 7, 2011 at 19:42
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    Hmm, a few years ago the £3 (now £5) deposit was refundable (so Oyster was never more expensive than paper). It's not clear to me that it still is (the TFL website is inconsistent, there's some obsolete info there). Even if it isn't, Oyster is only more expensive in corner cases, and is more convenient. @Rudy Oyster cards do not (currently) expire. Nov 7, 2011 at 22:01

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