I have been living in London for many years yet I still can't figure out when I am not allowed to use my Oyster card and I have to ask every time I suspect that it can't be used.

Two recent examples:

  • Trains from Paddington to Slough for example stop at Ealing Broadway, Southall, Hayes & Harlington, West Drayton and Langley

I know for sure that I can use my Oyster to go to Ealing Broadway as I have done it hundreds of times and I am very sure that I cant use it to go to Slough. I cant remember which of the rest of stations are within the coverage of the Oyster card. There are no signs at the station to explain that.

  • Trains from St Pancras to Ebbsfleet

If I remember correctly I can get off at Stratford, no problem using the Oyster card but you have to buy a ticket if you are going to Ebbsfleet

Again no signs and no way to tell not even the ticket machine warns you about that.

Is there something I am not aware of?

  • 2
    +1 I struggled with this too. Sometimes you hear announcements on the trains themselves like "Please be aware that oyster cards may only be used as far as X" but it's a bit late once you're on the train! Oct 16, 2016 at 13:37
  • @user568458 lucky you, NEVER heard such warring and as you said it would be too late
    – Ulkoma
    Oct 16, 2016 at 13:39
  • 2
    TFL have a page "Where you can use oyster" which includes a PDF map, but it seems a bit complicated and arbitrary, can't see any clear pattern. I'm not even 100% sure if the locations on the map can all use oyster or not Oct 16, 2016 at 13:40
  • 1
    @user568458 All locations on the map except the non-tube Heathrow stations are Oyster-compatible. However, the Merstham-Gatwick section to the south are only for Oyster pay-as-you-go, and aren't covered by any Travelcard
    – Crazydre
    Oct 16, 2016 at 13:56
  • You can always ask the staff manning the ticket gateline at your starting station if Oyster will be valid to your destination, they should know or otherwise have a map to check on. Ask before you go through though, so you can go buy a paper ticket if needed!
    – Gagravarr
    Oct 17, 2016 at 6:06

1 Answer 1


Consult this map, which marks all zones and the stations located within them http://content.tfl.gov.uk/london-rail-and-tube-services-map.pdf

While I haven't bothered to memorise every single zone Limit (since I'm not a UK resident, but a fairly frequent visitor), I do know where the outer boundaries of the TFL area are located, which is the most important thing.

On the route to Reading, you can go as far as West Drayton, and as you say, up to Stratford on the high-speed line

  • Are you sure this is for Oyster card? I see Gatwick airport on the map and as far as I know Heathrow is the only airport you can travel to using your Oyster card
    – Ulkoma
    Oct 16, 2016 at 13:42
  • 2
    There's also a bit more info around this on tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/oyster/using-oyster/… Oct 16, 2016 at 13:52
  • Do the same rules also apply for contactless?
    – JonathanReez
    Oct 16, 2016 at 20:23
  • @JonathanReez Contactless is a form of pay-as-you-go, only using a regular bank/credit card rather than an Oyster card. So yes, whatever rules apply for pay-as-you-go using Oyster also apply to contactless. The main difference is that contactless, unlike Oyster, has weekly (Monday-Sunday) fare caps, which vary depending on the zone. Similar to the daily caps with pay-as-you-go using both Oyster and contactless
    – Crazydre
    Oct 16, 2016 at 20:28
  • 1
    @Ulkoma It can save money under the right circumstances. Monday to sunday contactless capping is the same price as Weekly travelcards on oyster. Weekly travelcards have the advantage that they can be bought to start on any day. Monday to Sunday capping has the advantage that you don't have to decide in advance whether to buy a travelcard or not. Oct 16, 2016 at 21:55

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