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Change to Oyster Deposit

News has leaked out that TfL are to change the Oyster card deposit at some point in the new year.  The date hasn’t been agreed yet, but it is NOT linked to the new fares.

When this change takes place the £5 refundable deposit will be replaced with a £5 fee.  This is to encourage use of contactless payments for short or infrequent visits to London.  The good news is that after a year the fee will be added to the PAYG balance making the card effectively free.  This recognises that people who use their Oyster cards to hold season tickets or discounts and keep the same card are not adding to the burden of providing new cards.

A Transport for London spokesperson said:

In early 2020, we propose to replace the £5 refundable Oyster card deposit with a £5 fee. This will only affect cards issued after this time and will help reduce the number of cards that are returned after a few days or weeks. Customers who still use the card after a year will receive £5 pay as you go credit, essentially making their card free. If customers wish to avoid the charge, they can alternatively use pay as you go with a contactless card or mobile device instead. More information will be provided to customers when the timescales for these changes have been agreed.

I think this is a good change.  I’d like to see the refund to PAYG extended to existing cards, although the logistics of that may be a bit of a challenge.  Of course once the new system has come in you can always swap your old card for a new one and get a refund of the old deposit.  I’d also like to see the differentiation between normal and visitor cards ended with this change.  There are times when visitors could make use of a travelcard (which can’t be put on an existing visitor card) and it would simplify the offering.  They could still produce cards with fancy designs for visitors who would like a keepsake.

5 Responses

  1. Hi

    Will the £5 be refundable and would I be able to keep my oyster with a value of £0.00 or will I need to keep buying a new card and thus paying £5 everytime I visit County London.

    I’m not too into using contactless and I am a young chap.

  2. Hi James,

    It sounds like you visit London and then get a refund at the end of your trip. If this is the case then once this new system comes in you will not get the £5 back at the end of the trip. However, if you keep the card you can use it on every trip to London, and after a year the £5 will be added to the PAYG balance. Don’t worry about leaving a small amount on the card, it will still be there to use the next time you come.

  3. Merry xmas Mike,

    Will this potentially result in a £5 increase of the refundable unused credit that can be claimed when returning/ cancelling the card?

  4. Hi Fraser,

    I don’t think so. Currently you get back the unused credit and the deposit. When the new system starts you’ll only get back the unused credit. If you’ve held the card for a year the credit will have been boosted, but only by the amount paid initially to get the card.

  5. George Moodie

    So. A once in lifetime visit to London means that those who get the oyster loose the £5 fee, as they won’t be back. You say that this is to encourage them to use the Contactless. First hand experience has shown me that they don’t want to use their cards due to the International charges they get for using their cards. So either way, the tourist is screwed and oyster win….or, TfL win. Meanwhile, the staff will get the verbal abuse even more. Wonderful.

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