This blog post was updated on January 11, 2022.
Whether you’re making a one time trip or you’re frequently hopping aboard flights to London, using an Oyster Card is the easiest way to access London’s expansive public transport network.
A London Oyster Card is a reusable, electronic plastic smart card that can be used in the place of paper tickets.
You can put Travelcards, Bus and Tram season tickets on your Oyster Card as well as pay as you go credit. Using an Oyster Card is the fastest, most convenient and most cost effective way to pay for single journeys on London’s busses, DLR, trams, London Overground trains, Thames Clippers, a number of National Rail services and of course the Tube.
Accessing London public transportation with your Oyster Card is a quick and simple process. All you have to do is touch your card to the yellow reader at Tube gates or when you board other London public transport services, such as a bus. You will need to touch out again when leaving Tube and train stations too.
If you plan to travel regularly in London, you may want to consider loading a Travelcard or Bus Pass onto your Oyster Card. Travelcards and Bus Passes can be purchased for one day, one week, one month or even a whole year’s worth of travel. You can combine a Travelcard or Bus Pass with pre-pay Oyster credit to get the best value for money on your London travel tickets.
To benefit from quick and easy renewals and refunds for lost or stolen cards, you can register your Oyster Card online. But don’t worry; there’s no requirement saying you must register your card. You can also update your card at most ticket machines at stations as well as at a number of local “corner shops”. This will save you time queuing up at ticket offices.
You can get your Oyster Card at variety of sources. If you’re already in the United Kingdom, the cards may be purchased online. They are also available at London Travel Information Centres, Oyster Ticket Stops and stations. You’ll need to pay a refundable deposit of £5 (roughly $8) is required to obtain an Oyster card (return your card for the refund).
For those international travelers coming into Heathrow or St Pancras, rest assured there’s Tube station at both where you can get your card. There’s also a Visitor Oyster card available online that allows you ready to go access to public transport when you arrive in town and that adjusts automatically to help you get the least expensive price for all the trips you make in a day.
To find out more about the Oyster Card and to see what transportation options are best for your situation, visit Transport for London’s What is Oyster? webpage.