What is an Oyster card?

Oyster LogoAn Oyster card is a plastic credit card sized 'smart card' which is accepted by Transport for London (TfL) as a ticket for travel with the London Fare Zones. The card has a micro-chip embedded within it that is capable of storing and conveying details of electronically stored season tickets i.e. 'in-boundary" travelcards and TfL Bus Passes.

The chip also records details of money added to the card, known as pay as you go (PAYG). The card holder can use PAYG to travel on both TfL and participating National Rail services.

The Oyster card is neither a travel document, a ticket or a permit to travel. Nor is it a credit card or debit card. It is simply a way of storing a ticket such as a Travelcard season, and a cash value for payment of single journeys. For more information, why not visit the Transport for London (TfL) website.

What products can I put on an Oyster card?

An Oyster card can hold up to three "products" at the same time. These may be Travelcards, bus passes or 'Pay As You Go' (PAYG). Travelcards can be loaded onto the Oyster card up to a month in advance of their start date.

Travelcard Season Tickets

A Travelcard is an inter-modal ticket that can be issued for periods of one, three and seven days, or for any period from one month to one year. It is valid for any journey commencing before 04.30 on the day following its last day of validity on most public transport in London. The ticket is issued by Transport for London and National Rail outlets and can be used on the services of either.

A Travelcard entitles the holder to use the following modes of transport within Greater London:

  • London Underground
  • Docklands Light Railway
  • National Rail
  • London Buses
  • Tramlink

Travelcards also entitle the holder to discounts on some London River Services.

Pay As You Go (PAYG)

In addition to Travelcards and bus passes, Oyster cards can also store value - up to �90 - for pay as you go (PAYG) travel. The PAYG balance is automatically debited by the correct fare at the end of each journey and each time it is used on a bus or tram. If you travel outside of the boundary of your Travelcard, the additional cost is also deducted from the Oystercard.

PAYG can be topped up at London Underground station, some National Rail stations, at certain shops or on the Oyster web site.

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How do I use an Oyster card - what do I do at the station?

Oyster card reader at a station

All London Underground stations and many National Rail stations in London have Oyster card compatible barriers. At other stations, such as London Overground stations users have to touch the card on the validators provided. Validators are also provided at interchanges at stations served by both National Rail and TfL services.

If you do not "touch in" at the start of your journey and "touch out" at the end of your journey, you may be charged more than the advertised Oyster single fare and the daily price capping promise will not apply. You may also be liable to a Penalty Fare or you may be prosecuted.

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Where can I buy an Oyster card?

You can buy new Oyster cards, renew Travelcards and top up your PAYG at some National Rail stations. These are usually those stations which serve both the Underground and National Rail.

At all National Rail stations you can continue to buy the full range of rail-only tickets and Travelcards. They will be issued on traditional paper tickets. Travelcards issued this way are valid on rail, tube and bus services within the zones for which they are valid.

If you would like help with using your Oyster card you can talk to the ticket office staff at the station where you bought it or contact the Oyster Helpline on 0845 3309876.

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Where can I use my Oyster card?

Oyster card Travelcards

If you have a Travelcard on your Oyster card you can use it on any National Rail service within the zones for which it is valid.

Oyster cards with 'Pay As You Go (PAYG)'

There are only a few journeys within the National Rail network where PAYG is valid. At the start of your journey you must touch in, by placing your Oyster card on a reader. A PAYG entry charge of �5 or �4, representing the average rail fare, is deducted at National Rail stations where PAYG is accepted - when you touch the Oyster reader on exit the card balance will be adjusted so that you pay the advertised fare.

You may view the 'Oyster Pay As You Go on National Rail map'. This shows you the stations where Oyster can and can not be used.


  • Upminster to Fenchurch St/Liverpool St via Barking, but not at Maryland / Forest Gate


  • Amersham to Marylebone
  • West/South Ruislip to Marylebone, but not on any intermediate station

First Capital Connect

  • West Hampstead to Moorgate/Elephant & Castle/London Bridge
  • Finsbury Park to Kings Cross/Moorgate

London Midland

  • Watford Junction to London Euston

London Overground

  • Watford Junction to London Euston
  • Willesden Junction to Clapham Junction
  • Richmond to Stratford
  • Gospel Oak to Barking


  • Liverpool St to Walthamstow Central/Tottenham Hale/Seven Sisters, but not at any of the intermediate stations
  • Stratford to Tottenham Hale/Seven Sisters
  • Stratford to Liverpool St


  • Watford Junction to Clapham Junction


  • Elephant & Castle to City Thameslink

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