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This question is related to...

Oyster Card - how does it actually work?

But it's not the same.

So basically I'm traveling to London as a tourist and plan to stay for 1 day seeing the sights, etc. - 2 adults and 2 children, one aged 5 and the other 13.

The way I understand the Oyster card is, I get to London. I plan to park in North Ealing car park which is in zone 3. Now I need an Oyster card for each of us to travel.

So I buy 2 for the adults, this will cost me £10 and I'll put on £7.70 credit for each of us (the "Cap" is £7.70 for zone 3.) for a total (so far) of £25.40

I'll also need one for the older child. The Cap for an 11-15 year old is £3.85. Now the website states that he will need a "Oyster Zip Photo" card or something? Can this be bought at the station just like the adult ones? Does it also have the £5 refundable deposit? And if not, do I need a full (adult) price Oyster card for him too, so another £5 + £7.70 credit?

Then I have another child aged 5. From my understanding, she can travel for free because she's accompanied by an adult who is using a "Pay as you go" Oyster card?

Then to get my refund, can I just go into the same station where I bought them and hand them back and get my £15 back?

  • Just a bit of useful info in case anyone is in a similar situation: We were advised by a station staff member that because you need 48 hours before the deposit can be refunded (and we weren't staying that long), the best course of action would be: the 13 year old get a child travel card for £6.10. Then the two adults would simply use our contactless debit cards to tap in and out at the turn-styles and it would still cost £7.70 each for the day. Doesn't answer my specific question but ended up working out well. – colmde Apr 12 '17 at 7:59
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It seems like this is explained pretty clearly at https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/travel-for-under-18s/zip-oyster-photocards#on-this-page-1. You would have to apply for an Oyster Zip Photocard online, allow a week or more for delivery, and there is a £15 administration fee which is not refundable. So for a one-day trip, it is probably better just to buy an ordinary adult Oyster card for the older child, and pay the adult fares.

Your younger child can travel for free:

Your child doesn't need a 5-10 Zip Oyster photocard: [...]

  • If you accompany your child on Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and some National Rail services. Check this map to see the services on which they can do this.

You can return the cards and get the deposits refunded at any ticket machine, as well as any remaining pay-as-you-go credit, up to £10 per card, See https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/replacements-and-refunds/oyster-refunds-and-replacements

  • Thanks, that answers my question, but I didn't see anything about the administration fee or that you have to apply several weeks in advance in the link you provided. – colmde Apr 8 '17 at 1:36
  • @colmde: Scroll down to where it says "Find out how to apply if you:" and expand the appropriate box. The fee is actually £15 for 11-15 year olds (I was reading the wrong section). In the best case you can get it by post, which they say takes one week plus mailing time. – Nate Eldredge Apr 8 '17 at 1:44

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