Have you got an oyster card?

So I have just moved to London, and naturally, I looked into an oyster.

But why would you use an oyster card over a monzo card for example as they are the same price
(unless you are a student)

So if anyone has one. Why?

I think there are various discounts that can be applied to an Oyster card, such as Student plans, Under 16 plans etc.

For the vast majority of people it’s simpler to just use a contactless debit or credit card.

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You also can’t apply railcards to a contactless card atm (fingers crossed that eventually happens) or get monthly/ annual season tickets.

So I have an oyster (because of my railcard) with a recurring card payment set up, that tops up your oyster automatically when your balance gets below £10.

I was aware of student discount, but a lot of people I see with them appear to be middle-aged business people

I do not live in London - only visit for the day a few times a year - so maybe not a direct read across

Originally I got one years ago when it was the original and only contactless choice. It is still unregistered and not linked to my bank account

I guess I keep it as it minimises the risks of dropping it or it being (massively) overcharged wrongly (see other threads)

Maybe they’ve had them for ages and built up a considerable amount of credit on them, or maybe their work pays for them and it’s easier to keep track of the expenses that way.

In some other countries (:us: I’m looking at you!) travel cards are more common since contactless debit cards aren’t commonplace, but most people here would have contactless cards, so no idea!

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They aren’t the same price - an Oyster will be cheaper for a month as that can be up to 31 days, whereas Oyster is capped over 7 days. If you’re out of London for over a week in a month, it’ll probably be cheaper to get weekly travel cards.
As Simon says, you can also apply discounts to Oyster for some railcards. if you buy an annual travel card you can get a Gold card which offers big discounts - really handy if your employer gives you a loan for your annual travel pass.


Many of the Railcard variants (e.g. Senior Railcard, 16-25 Railcard etc), allow a 1/3rd discount on tube fares during off-peak travel periods. To get this, the Railcard has to be “attached” (associated) with your Oyster Card. Hence I use Oyster instead of another contactless payment method.

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Any London resident over 60 will likely be getting free travel with an Oyster card.

Yeah the main reason for me was that I can get a travelcard. But now I have a citymapper pass for zones 1-2 which is even cheaper :ok_hand:

Many probably have an annual pass.

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Did not know this, handy tip!

Oyster is ever so slightly quicker to trigger the barriers opening at a gate line - contactless always takes half a second or so to register. It’s all time that mounts up! :grinning:

There is a bit of a thrill though walking full pelt towards the barriers at rush hour armed with a contactless / Monzo Card not knowing whether the gates will open or not just before you reach them. Or is that just me…? :thinking::upside_down_face:

Contactless cards also weekly cap now negating the need for a 7 day travel card :slightly_smiling_face:

Historically contactless was more expensive however nowadays unless you’re using a monthly or yearly pass it is no cheaper to use an Oyster card. That said, old habits die hard, hence a lot of TfL advertising around contactless fare capping.

Many companies offer season ticket loans to their employees – and companies like Commuter Club offer them to the public – which can save hundreds of pounds per year and it’s not yet possible to use them with contactless, so for those with a regular schedule it can be sensible to have a monthly or yearly ticket.

Personally, I used an Oyster card because it meant that by purchasing a monthly pass my credit card
transaction history wasn’t filled with TFL charges.

Also to go off on a tangent for a moment, contactless means without contact. The amount of people I see pressing and bending their card against the contactless terminal really hurts my soul, watching those poor little cards be bent unnecessarily. At most the contact should be limited to a tap, but certainly not a press.

I think there may be situations where using a weekly pass via Oyster may be cheaper than using contactless.

For example, if your commute is zones 2-4 the weekly contactless cap is £29.10.
If you make a single journey into zone 1 in that week the cap raises to £50.50.

So if you mainly travel outside 1 with just a single visit into zone 1 per week you may be better off with a weekly Oyster card (excluding zone 1) and then use PAYG to cover the zone 1 trips.

Contactless is cleverer than Oyster on daily capping but I don’t know about weekly. On a daily cap, contactless can account for the odd, out of zone journey and charge appropriately where Oyster just caps at the higher level.

The weekly “odd journey” scenario would be an interesting experiment.

Yeah, I’ve made an assumption about how I think it would work but have never hade opportunity to try it out as the scenario doesn’t match my travel patterns.

As far as I understand it the cap is simply a limit on the amount you can be charged for a certain class of travel, so there’s not so much a thing that you activate based on behaviour but rather a limit on the amount you can spend in that class. My understanding is when you take an irregular journey outside of your current “cap” you’re simply charged the cost of that journey because it applies to a separate class of travel – which you haven’t reached a cap on – and it does not influence your regular cap which remains hit and so regular travel remains capped.

For example if you have reached your Zone 1 - 2 daily cap of £7.00 and then make a journey from Zone 1 to 6 you’ll be charged £7.00 + £3.10 but then if you travel from Zone 1 to Zone 2 it will be free, even though you haven’t reached the £12.80 cap for Zone 1 - 6, because you’re travelling within Zone 1 - 2 which you have reached the cap for.

The caps can be thought of as applying to buckets of travel, and once a bucket is filled all travel applicable to that bucket is free, and there are many buckets that can be filled independent of one another.

Bucket Zone 1 - 2: A journey begins and ends within Zones 1 + 2
Bucket Zone 1 - 3: A journey involves Zone 3, and can involve any of Zones 1 + 2
Bucket Zone 1 - 4: A journey involves Zone 4, and can involve any of Zones 1 + 2 + 3
Bucket Zone 1 - 5: A journey involves Zone 5, and can involve any of Zones 1 + 2 + 3 + 4

That’s my understanding at least.

Yeah, that’s how the back-end processing for contactless does things. The Oyster card itself isn’t that clever so until that moves to the back-end processing systems the first journey into a new zone raises the cap value to the corresponding level.