Visitor Oyster Cards and Travelcards in London

Whether you're making a one-off trip to London or you're a regular visitor, using an Visitor Oyster travel smartcard is the easiest way to travel around the city’s public transport network.

Visitor Oyster cards are electronic smartcards that come fully charged with credit which you can spend as you travel on the Tube, busesDLR, London Overground and most National Rail services in London. 

It's easy to use a Visitor Oyster card. Simply touch the card on the yellow card reader at the gates when you start and end your journey. This will ensure you pay the correct fare. If you don't, you may get charged a penalty fare. If you need help ask a member of station staff.

You only need to touch the yellow card reader at the start of your journey on buses and trams.

Travel Zones in London

London's public transport network is divided up into nine travel zones. Zone 1 is in Central London and zones 6 to 9 are on the outskirts of the city. You can download a Tube map from our selection of Free London Travel Maps.

Travel ticket prices vary depending on the transport service you use, the zone(s) you travel in, the day you travel and the time you travel.

Peak travel is between 6:30am to 9.30am and 4pm to 7pm, Monday to Friday. Travel is more expensive during these hours than it is during off peak travel times (all other times, including bank holidays).

Buy a Visitor Oyster Card Before You Leave Home

A Visitor Oyster card is the cheapest way to pay for single journeys on the bus, Tube, DLR, tram, London Overground and most National Rail services in London:

  • Save time – your card is ready to use as soon as you arrive in London
  • It's more than 50% cheaper than buying a paper Travelcard or single tickets with cash
  • There is a daily price cap – once you have reached this limit, you won't pay any more (excluding MBNA Thames Clippers River Bus where there is no capping)
  • Enjoy special offers and promotions at leading London restaurants, shops and entertainment venues – plus discounts on the Emirates Air Line cable car

Buy a Visitor Oyster card before you visit London and get it delivered to your home address.

You can also buy a Visitor Oyster card from Gatwick Express ticket offices at Gatwick Airport Station and on board Eurostar trains travelling to London.

Visitor Oyster Card Pay As You Go

You can put money on a Visitor Oyster card, and then use it as pay as you go credit to pay for journeys.

Pay as you go fares are generally cheaper than paying cash. Oyster will work out the cheapest fare for all your journeys in one day so you'll never pay more than the price of a Day Travelcard (read below).

You can buy a Visitor Oyster card before you leave home.

How to Add Credit to Your Visitor Oyster Card

If you run out of credit on your Visitor Oyster card you can add more credit at the following locations:

Day Travelcards

Day Travelcards are paper tickets which allow you to travel as much as you like, as often as you like, for a single day. You can use them on bus, Tube, DLR, tram, London Overground and most National Rail services within London:

You can buy Day Travelcards for the following zones:

  • Zones 1-4 (only Anytime Day Travelcards are available for these zones)
  • Zones 1-6
  • Zones 1-9
  • Zones 1-9 including Watford Junction

You can buy either an Anytime Day Travelcard, which allows you to travel at any time of the day, or an Off-Peak Day Travelcard, which is cheaper but only allows you to travel after 9:30am Monday to Friday and anytime on Saturday, Sunday and public holidays.

Deciding on which ticket to buy – a Travelcard or a Visitor Oyster card – depends on how long you’re staying in London and how frequently you’ll be using public transport.

If you plan to stay in London for a couple of days or want to travel to the outskirts of the city, then a Visitor Oyster card may be the cheapest option. 

If you are visiting London for a week or more, and plan to use only the Central London area (e.g. zones 1 to 2 or zone 1 to 4) on a daily basis, then a 7 Day Travelcard may be the most cost-effective option.

You can buy paper Travelcards at the station.

Travelcards on Oyster

A Travelcard is a ticket that gives you the freedom to travel as much as you like. Travelcards can be purchased as paper tickets. Alternatively, you can load an electronic version onto an Oyster card which works in the same way as a Visitor Oyster card. However, you cannot load a Travelcard on to a Visitor Oyster card. You can only buy an Oyster card once you arrive in London. 

On Oyster, you can buy 7 Day, Monthly or Annual Travelcards for travel across Zones 1 to 9 and Watford Junction. If your Travelcard is for longer than seven days, your Oyster card must be registered. If you lose your registered Oyster card with a Travelcard on it, Transport for London can stop it, send you a replacement or arrange a transfer to a new Oyster card.

You can get 30% off the normal MBNA Thames Clippers river bus fare on some services and discounted fare prices on the Emirates Air Line cable car with a Travelcard.

You can buy and top up Oyster cards from the places listed above in the Oyster Pay As You Go section.

Oyster and Travelcards: Discounts and Concessions

Show your Visitor Oyster Card at museums, theatres, restaurants, bars and more to receive exclusive discounts and complimentary food and drinks. Download the Visitor Oyster Card Special Offers Booklet here to discover all participating venues.

Travel discounts and concessions are available, including kids who travel free in London. Find out more about adult discounts and concessions or student and child discounts and concessions.

Bus and Tram Passes

A Bus and Tram Pass on your Oyster card allows you to travel when and where you like, as much as you like, on bus and tram services across London.

You can't put a Bus and Tram Pass on a Visitor Oyster card.

You can get a 7 Day, Monthly or Annual Bus and Tram Pass on Oyster. However, Day Bus and Tram Passes aren't available if you're using Oyster to pay as you go on bus and trams. There is a flat-rate cap regardless of when you travel.

Bus and Tram Passes don't have travel zones and are valid on all tram services and the entire London bus network, including some sections outside Greater London.

Bus and Tram passes can't be used for travel on MBNA Thames Clippers river bus services or on the Emirates Air Line.

London Ticket Prices

The cost of your journey will depend on how you travel, which day you travel, what time of day you travel and which zones you travel through.

Here are some examples of what you might expect to pay:

Visitor Oyster card maximum daily cost for unlimited journeys for adults, after 9:30am Monday to Friday:

  • Zones 1 and 2 –£6.50
  • Zones 1 to 4 – £9.30
  • Zones 1 to 6 – £11.80

Day Travelcard daily cost for unlimited journeys for adults, after 9:30am Monday to Friday:

  • Zones 1 to 4 – £12.10
  • Zones 1 to 6 – £12.10

Visit the TfL website for more information on fares.

More Questions About Oyster?

Still not sure which travel ticket you need to buy? Unclear on how to use your Visitor Oyster card? Read through our Oyster FAQs pages for the answer to these and other Oyster-related questions.

You Might Also Like