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Basic Oyster Card questions for our first trip to London

harrisburg, PA
Level Contributor
82 posts
469 reviews
Basic Oyster Card questions for our first trip to London

We will only be in London Wed evening until Saturday noon so is it safe to assume that the travel card is not a good idea?

Coming from Heathrow into London (Gloucester Rd area) and then using the tube to go to central London and back once that evening, is it worth getting the Oyster card for that first day?

There are 3 of us - do we each get our own Oyster Card or can we load the total on one card?

As long as we are using the tube and bus a lot on a given day, is there any reason NOT to buy an Oyster card?

Is the Oyster card good for bus as well?

On Saturday, we will only be going back to Heathrow. Is it safe to assume that we should just pay as we go for that day?

How much is one tube ride from Gloucester Rd into London City?

Why is it called an Oyster Card?

London, United...
Destination Expert
for Berlin
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6,820 posts
87 reviews
1. Re: Basic Oyster Card questions for our first trip to London

Oyster is a delivery system, rather than a ticket (and alludes to "the world is your oyster"). Each person travelling must have their own card, and it can be used on all public transport services in London, with some minor exceptions. A card with about £15 each would probably be enough. However, if you have a contactless credit card, you may be able to use that and get the same prices - beware of foreign transaction fees though.

Bingley, United...
Destination Expert
for Edinburgh
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35,024 posts
1 review
2. Re: Basic Oyster Card questions for our first trip to London

Oystercard with cash (PAYG) is the best option, you get a refund of unused funds and if you use too much it's easy to top up. It will cap each day so it doesn't really matter if you use it once or 100 times - only the the correct money is removed from thr card

You need a card each and it's good for virtually all transport within London except Heathrow Express and the Heathrow Connect between Hayes & Harlington and Heathrow.

It's called an Oystercard because it's got to be called something, the Hong Kong equivalent is Octopus and they couldn't use Squid as that would lead to jokes like

Man walks into a bar carrying an ill looking cephalopod - "Here's that sick squid (six quid) I owe you"

harrisburg, PA
Level Contributor
82 posts
469 reviews
3. Re: Basic Oyster Card questions for our first trip to London

Very helpful - thank you!

So it sounds like you save money by hitting the cap. If you don't hit the cap, then you are just paying what you would normally pay without the card, and the advantage is that you don't have to buy a ticket each time. Do I have that right?

Do you buy this card at a machine or at a kiosk? Can/should we buy one in Heathrow? You said pay with cash - can you pay with a credit card?

If we take the tube from Heathrow then we can use it, it sounds like. If we take the train we can't. Correct?

Does each person get their own card or do you load one up for the family? Or doesn't it matter?

Love the explanation as to the name!

London
Destination Expert
for London
Level Contributor
24,175 posts
77 reviews
4. Re: Basic Oyster Card questions for our first trip to London

Yes you can buy Oysters at Heathrow, one for each person travelling.

Yes you can buy from a machine or a ticket counter - probably the latter unless you have Chip/PIN cards which will work in machines. You can use credit cards or cash to pay for them.

You can use it on tube, buses, DLR and some national rail services but not the Heathrow Express. Neither the HEX nor HEC are worth it as neither is convenient for Gloucester Rd (straight shot on the Piccadilly line).

Fares are on the TFL site. Notee that London City is not a term we would use as that usually means the City of London - financial district.

https://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/

London, UK
Level Contributor
1,910 posts
203 reviews
5. Re: Basic Oyster Card questions for our first trip to London

Even if you don't hit the cap every day, Oyster is still the cheapest way to travel and far, far cheaper than buying individual tickets for each journey. The only exception is if you are here for 5+ days, and travelling quite a lot, in which case you might save by getting a 7 day travelcard, which can be loaded onto an oyster card. But in your case I would just use Oyster loaded with PAYG (pay as you go) funds.

harrisburg, PA
Level Contributor
82 posts
469 reviews
6. Re: Basic Oyster Card questions for our first trip to London

Thank you all - I feel very prepared now!

London
Destination Expert
for London
Level Contributor
24,175 posts
77 reviews
7. Re: Basic Oyster Card questions for our first trip to London

Good. It's a lot easier to do than to explain:)

Loughton, United...
Level Contributor
6,859 posts
390 reviews
8. Re: Basic Oyster Card questions for our first trip to London

Don't forget to tap in at the beginning of each tube or rail journey and out again at the end.

On buses, you tap in only once, on boarding.

New Mexico
Level Contributor
14,607 posts
111 reviews
9. Re: Basic Oyster Card questions for our first trip to London

<<How much is one tube ride from Gloucester Rd into London City?>>

Gloucester Road is in zone 1, trips to any other station in zone 1 are £2.30 with PAYG on Oyster anytime and £4.80 if you pay cash.

Should you travel to a station in zone 2 the fares are the same except for Peak travel times, then:

Peak: £2.90 (with Oyster)

Monday to Friday from 0630 to 0930 and from 1600 to 1900.

The daily cap with an Oyster Card for travel in zones 1 or zones 1&2 is £6.40 (for anytime travel), so the math says the Oyster card is a pretty good deal. I agree with Darren, (post 1) OC with £15 would be a good start.

You can check your balance at the ticket machines in the Underground Stations, and/or you will see it when you touch in at the station. (You also need to touch out at your destination).

Here is a tube map:

https:/…large-print-tube-map.pdf

Edited: 03 August 2015, 22:43
New Mexico
Level Contributor
14,607 posts
111 reviews
10. Re: Basic Oyster Card questions for our first trip to London

<<On Saturday, we will only be going back to Heathrow. Is it safe to assume that we should just pay as we go for that day?>>

Best to use your Oyster Card for the return trip to Heathrow, fare will be £3.10 on Saturday. £6 if you pay cash.

You can then turn in your Oyster Card for a refund at the tube station at Heathrow. I would suggest you leave a little extra time, maybe 15 minutes, in your schedule as there can be a queue.

What terminal are you leaving from?