Oyster, Contactless and Travelcards | National Rail (2024)

There are so many ways to get around in London. There are also different ways to pay for your travel.

You can use Oyster or contactless pay as you go (PAYG) to travel at any time on National Rail services (which includes Elizabeth line and London Overground), as well as London Underground, DLR, London Buses and London Trams.

To find out where you can use PAYG on Oyster and where you can use it on contactless, please check the London Rail and Tube services map (PDF, 334k).

For unlimited travel on London’s public transport in specified zones, you can buy a Travelcard.

What is Oyster?

Oyster is a Smartcard from Transport for London (TfL). You can use it to store PAYG credit up to £90, or up to 3 Travelcard or London Bus & Tram Pass Season tickets. Find out more about Oyster, including how to get an Oyster card, how to create an account, how to use Oyster, how to top up, and how to buy a Travelcard.

Please note there are special conditions when travelling on National Rail with your Oyster card.

What is contactless?

Instead of adding money to an Oyster card, you can also use your contactless debit or credit card, mobile phone or other device for adult rate PAYG travel. Find out more about contactless, including valid payment methods and devices.

Use the same contactless card or device for every journey and you could benefit from daily and Monday to Sunday capping. Find out more about pay as you go with contactless caps (PDF, 155kb).

What is pay as you go?

Pay as you go (PAYG) is a flexible way to travel within London Fare Zones 1 to 9 (and certain other areas – see Where can I use Oyster and contactless? below). As long as you touch in and out with Oyster or contactless, you will be charged the appropriate single fare for your journey or journeys. Find out more about PAYG for Oyster and contactless.

If you make multiple journeys, once you reach a certain amount you will not be charged any more, thanks to the PAYG daily and weekly price caps. Find out more about price caps, including prices and how caps work.

Oyster, Contactless and Travelcards | National Rail (1)

Where can I use Oyster and contactless?

Oyster and contactless PAYGcan be used for all journeys on National Rail services, London Underground, DLR, London Buses and London Trams wholly within the London Fare Zones area and to some stations further out. For some stations outside the London Zones you can only travel PAYG using contactless, not Oyster. For details check check the London Rail and Tube services map (PDF, 334k).

Can I get a discount with my Railcard?

Yes. Depending on which Railcard you have, you may be able to get up to 1/3 off PAYG if you register your Oyster card with your Railcard. You can also buy discounted Off-Peak Day Travelcards. Find out more about Railcard discounts, including how to use your Railcard with Oyster, any restrictions, and the full range of discounts.

Can I get a child rate fare for Oyster PAYG?

Yes, there are many ways to get child rate fares with Oyster. Under 5s travel free with a fare-paying adult. For children aged between 5 and 18 there are different Oyster photocards available, offering free or discounted travel. Find out more about child fares, including eligibility and how to apply for Oyster photocards.

What is a Travelcard?

A Travelcard gives you unlimited travel in the zones for which it is valid on National Rail services, London Underground and DLR. You can use it on all London Buses and, if valid in zones 3, 4, 5 or 6, on all London Trams.

Travelcards can start on any day. They can be bought for 1 day, 7 days, 1 month and any period between 1 month and 1 year. The One Day Travelcard is printed on a paper ticket (you may also want to consider using PAYG on Oyster or Contactless instead, as the daily cap can work out cheaper). Travelcards for 7 days or longer can only be added to your Oyster or train company smartcard.

If you want to travel beyond the Zones permitted by your Travelcard or Pass then you can purchase a Boundary Zone ticket to or from stations outside of London. For more information see the section on Boundary tickets in our Travelling in London page.

If you are travelling to London from the home counties, the South, South East, or further afield on some routes, you may be able to buy a return ticket which also includes a One Day Travelcard. Check the Journey Planner to see if this option is available.

Find out more about Travelcards, including types of Travelcards and where you can use them.

Oyster, Contactless and Travelcards | National Rail (2024)
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