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OYSTER CARD – Spiegata in poche semplici parole”  in italiano

So here we go, the OYSTER CARD.

Let me tell you something, even Londoners still have dubts about it, so if you are just visiting London, it is totally OK to be confused!

Londoners typically use an Oyster card for their public transport needs, and there is also the Contactless option. As for visitors the situation becomes a little bit more complicated.

The Contactless option can be used when on your credit/debit card there is the “contactless” sign, but if you are from another country you may incur in foreign exchange charges as fares are converted from Pounds to your currency. On top of this, in can not be used for child fares.

You can not buy a cheaper ticket than the Oyster Card.

For each day there is a “fare cap”, which is the maximun you can pay in a  single day on public transport, and it is always less compared to the single day Travelcard.

If you come to London for 5 or more days you can buy an Oyster card and load it with a 7 day travelcard, which will make you save money compared to the Pay As You Go option for 5 days.

This is not available with contactless cards.

If you come to London and need one single trip from A to B, for the entire day, in this case only you are advised to buy a single journey ticket, in all other cases you should get an Oyster Card or a London Travelcard pass and do not pay for single tickets. (each is 2,40£ basically almost double the price compared to the Oyster Card fare)

The Oyster card is forever! You buy it once and can use it for ever. It looks like a credit card in size, and can be topped up whenever you need it, at ticket machines in every tube station, but also in train stations and some shops. Online too, of course.

Every time you use it, the fare will be taken off the cash on your Card.

This is the PAY AS YOU GO option.

So it is rather important to get this straight:

If you use an Oyster Card for 5 or more days in any 7 days :

  • 7 Day Travelcard will usually be cheaper than using Oyster on a Pay As You Go basis every day.
  • Oyster Cards have the option to load a 7 day Travelcard  onto the Oyster and you can use both Oyster Pay As You Go AND a 7 day Travelcard together.
  • If you are planning to visit  London for 10 days, you can use Oyster for the first 3 days and the 7 day Travelcard for the other 7 remaing days.

There is one very important thing to know about the Oyster Card!

Please note that OYSTER CARD & VISITOR OYSTER CARD are not the same thing!

The Visitor Card is useful for tourist because it gives you discounts on restaurants, museums, shows, and other major attractions. The Oyster Card is simply for your travel needs, no special discounts.

Lets recap some infos:


  • Visitor Cards  (£3 )  is non-refundable.
  • Oyster Cards  (£5)  is refunded (in cash/coins).
  • A standard Oyster Card can be registered on-line.
  • Visitor Oyster cards can not be registered on-line.
  • You CAN NOT load 7-day Travelcard on a VISITOR Oyster Card.
  • Basically if you stay in London for 5 days or LESS, Oyster Card and 7 day Travelcards have almost identical fares.
  • Day 6 and day 7 are “free” with a 7 day Travelcard compared to the Oyster Card Pay as You Go option.
  • If you plan to visit London again in the future you can keep your Oyster and use it again.
  • If you want to cancel the Oyster you will get 5£ deposit back plus up to 10£ value in fares. So make sure you do not have much money loaded on your Oyster because the maximun you will be able to get back is 10£.

Oyster Card can be used by one person only at any time, if 2 people are travelling together then they need 2 different Oyster cards. However another person can use your Oyster when you don’t need it.

Oyster card have no ID photo or name on them, unless it is a Child Oyster Card, but this is not necessary if you are staying in London for less than 14 days, in this case there is a Young Persons Discount Oyster Card which will give you a discounted child Oyster card but with no ID photo. So if you are travelling with kids please ask a member of the London Underground to advice you on the best option.


London public transport system is divided up into zones that radiate from the centre. Almost all main hotels and tourist attraction are in zone 1 and 2, mainly in zone 1.

I’ve mentioned “daily fare cap” before. A CAP is the maxiumun you will be charged in a day, no matter how many trips you make within the 24 hours between 4:30AM to 4:30AM of the day after. Please remember that fares during PEAK TIMES are slightly higher!


Zone 1 Peak time £2.40 Off peak time £2.40
Zone 2 Peak time £1.70 Off pick time £1.50


You can, of course, use the Oyster Card on any London bus and there are no zones and no different fares, it is always 1,50£

All fares can be viewd here – fare grid taken from TFL website.

Hope this helped !