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Contactless vs Oyster

All the publicity surrounding the acceptance of contactless payment cards centres on the fact that both Oyster and CPCs charge the same fares.  But do they?  Well the answer for single fares is a resounding yes (with one small caveat*), but the methods they use to calculate caps are very different and that can end up with quite different daily totals.  Before we get into capping, we’ll start with a brief run-down of the other differences.

  • Oyster cards require a deposit whereas CPCs do not.
  • Oyster cards hold a PAYG balance which is reduced every time you travel whereas CPCs charge your account once at the end of each day.
  • Oyster cards can hold travelcards whereas CPCs can not.
  • Oyster cards can have discount entitlement whereas CPCs are only for full-fare adults.
  • You can check Oyster journey history online from the following day for up to 8 weeks, while registered CPCs can access a whole year and you can follow today’s travel with about a 15 minute delay.

And so to capping.  Oyster keeps track of the zones used each day and will stop charging when you reach the appropriate cap for the zones used.  The size of the cap increases the further out from zone 1 you travel, and either matches or undercuts the price of a one-day travelcard for the same zones.  Once you have been charged for a journey on exit the charge remains deducted whatever you do.  Each new journey is charged in isolation with only the currently applicable cap able to stop or curtail charges.  This was the best system available when Oyster was first introduced where journey details are only transmitted to the central database at the end of each day.  There are some drawbacks with this system, particularly where travel from outer zones is only at the beginning of the day with lots of journeys in zone 1 afterwards.  Even if you returned to the outer zones at the end you might end up paying more than two singles and a zone 1-2 cap.  But the total paid was still no more than the paper travelcard which you would have needed, with the added bonus that if you didn’t use the full travelcard you would only be charged for the journeys.

Contactless is todays technology and allows us to benefit from significant advances.  All touches are transmitted to the central database within 15 minutes, and often quite a bit less.  The central system then looks at the journeys made so far and works out the best combination of zonal cap and extension charges.  Sometimes this can make quite a difference, particularly if your travel involves stations outside the zonal area.  This complex calculation is reworked after every journey so the details of today’s travel will sometimes include very odd fares.  And it doesn’t stop at the end of the day either.  Journey details for the whole Monday to Sunday week are also examined and an appropriate cap equivalent to the weekly travelcard is applied with extension charges where odd journeys are made outside the regular zones.

With all this flexibility, is there any guarantee?  Thankfully yes, you will never be charged more on a daily basis using a CPC than you would using Oyster.  So if you can use a CPC then there may be advantages in doing so.  The good news is that in the future the Oyster system will change to use the same processing model as CPCs, but at present there are still some significant hurdles to overcome.  The other definite is that Oyster cards are not set to be replaced by CPCs, not least because young children can’t have bank cards.

* That small caveat I mentioned at the top.  Sometimes a journey can be made in more than one way and TfL have decided not to differenciate between them.  If an out of station interchange exists in the middle of the journey it can sometimes lead to a higher fare being charged.  When the journey ends Oyster cannot reduce the charge levied at the intermediate point, whereas CPCs look at the whole journey and just charge what the single fare finder says. An example is Crayford to Custom House.  One way involves zones 6-3 when you travel via Woolwich Arsenal whereas the other way involves zone 2 around Canary Wharf.  Travelling to Custom House you will be charged for a 5 zone journey on touch out at Heron Quays or Canary Wharf DLR.  The other way it is only a 2 zone journey at Canary Wharf LU so you are always charged a 4 zone fare at the end at Crayford.

174 Responses

  1. Hi there,
    I wonder if you can help. I regularly make a crazy journey across London and have recently been using contactless, rather than Oyster. Having a look at my bank statement, though, it looks like I am getting charged all manner of weird fares. I switch between DLR and Overground and always use the pink contactless reader, but am beginning to wonder if it is charging me more! Surely switching between the 2 should incur just one fare? Any advice? Many thanks indeed for your time and help!

  2. Hi Alex,

    You’re going to have to go into a lot more detail. At the very least I need your journey (including all via points) and what you are being charged. If your contactless payment card is registered on the TfL website then you can check your actual journey history. I’d recommend registering it anyway so that you can check what you’ve been charged for.

  3. Hi there,

    on being encouraged to use Contactless rather than Oyster and assured I would have to pay no more for travel etc. etc., I registered my CPC on my oyster account and have been using it for the past month.
    However, I have a 16-25 Railcard discount associated with my Oyster. On checking my travel history with my CPC I discovered that this discount was not being applied, causing every journey to cost me more. This matches what you say here about CPC only being for full adult fares, but it was not made clear when I was encouraged to use contactless.
    I called TfL this morning to enquire and was (eventually) told that this kind of discount is not transferred and that I would be better off using Oyster.
    Obviously I’ve wasted money travelling contactless due to misinformation and will be submitting a formal complaint (though I doubt my case will get very far). Do you have any advice beyond this?

    Thanks,
    Jasper

  4. Hi Jasper,

    Oh dear. I think the crux of the matter is did whoever encouraged you to use contactless know that you had a railcard discount? Or if it was a poster, did it make clear (even in the small print) that it only applied to full price adult fares. Good luck with your complaint.

  5. I wish to travel from Epsom to Waterloo and want to know if I can use my CPC for this journey. Epsom is outside zone 6 but does have the Oyster type card sensors on the gates. If I do will this still have the same cap on the fare or could I get charged more if I do more journeys that day in London. On a separate day if I use my CPC card at Waterloo to start the journey can I alight at Epsom and complete the journey there for a single fare?
    Thanks
    Steve

  6. Hi Steve,

    Epsom is coming to Oyster and Contactless, but it’s not there yet. The readers you see there are for Southern’s The Key smartcard which is a different thing. We don’t yet know what the fares and caps from Epsom will be on Oyster.

  7. Hi Mike,

    On Friday, I made a few journeys within zones 1 and 2, reaching the £6.40 fare cap on Oyster. I then took the tube from Holborn (zone 1) to Heathrow (zone 6). On the way, I got out at Hammersmith (zone 2) and asked the TfL staff there how much I would be charged for the tube journey from Holborn to Heathrow. They told me that I would only be charged £1.50 for the fare from there (zone 2) to zone 6. So I just got back on the next train without exiting.

    However, I checked my journey history today, and found that I was actually charged £3.10 for the journey from Holborn to Heathrow, which is the normal off-peak Oyster fare for zones 1-6. So I discovered that the benefit of the fare cap is less valuable than a travelcard, under which the zones 1 and 2 part of the journey to Heathrow would be free.

    Could I have done this more cheaply?

    – If I exited the station at Hammersmith and then immediately entered again with the same Oyster card, would it still have counted as one journey?

    – If I exited the station at Hammersmith, tapped in on a nearby bus, and then entered again with the same Oyster, I understand that it wouldn’t have counted as an OSI – is that right?

    – Finally, I am sure that if I exited the station at Hammersmith and then immediately entered again with a different card (Oyster or Contactless) then I could have taken the tube to Heathrow for £1.50. That would have been the optimal solution, but requires me to use two different payment cards.

    Is this right?

    Thanks,

    Rich

  8. Hi Rich,

    Yes, you could have done it for less money. If you had exited and re-entered at Hammersmith you would have been charged £1.50 for a zone 2-6 off-peak tube journey. Unless there were any service issues involving Hammersmith the two journeys wouldn’t have been added together anyway, but yes, had you been transferring between the two Hammersmith stations a bus would have broken the OSI.

    With a contactless payment card you would only have been charged £1.50 whether you touched out or not.

  9. Hi, at the moment the fare to and from Forest Gate into central London (using Greater Anglia) seems to be more expensive than the fare to and from Woodgrange Park (using the Overground) using Oyster (and indeed more expensive than travelling further out on the Central Line e.g. to Wanstead. Why is this? Would it be any different using contactless? And will it change when Crossrail take over?
    Brill site BTW

  10. Hi Gill,

    London Overground is priced by TfL whereas Greater Anglia is priced by ATOC. The single fares are the same with Oyster or Contactless. Yes, it probably will change when Crossrail take over.

  11. Hi,

    I wonder if you could help me with the following question: Can I claim the £5 deposit back if I register my Oyster card? I have added it to my online account but it still shows as ‘not registered’. After a search around TfL’s site I understand I have to register the card in the station, and now I remember I read somewhere that doing so will allow me to claim back deposit while retaining the card for future use. Can you shed any light on this? Thanks in advance.

  12. Hi Jan,

    Sadly no. Registering the card enables any PAYG balance, tickets and the deposit to be returned in the event that the card is lost or stolen.

  13. Hi

    We (2 adults & 2 kids 5&9) are planning on visiting London on 2 days in the holidays, staying nr Watford High Street Station. Our plans are to travel twice to London (Fri & Sat), from Watford High Street via Overground to Bushey or Watford Junction, then get the London Midland train to Euston. Then return journey at the end of the day.
    I plan to use contactless debit cards for each adult, kids will be free. We are planning no further travel once in Central London, as have booked the Original Bus Tour tickets to get us around/see sights. However on one of the days I plan to purchase us all the cheapest singles for a journey into London in order to use 2for1 at London Eye & Tower of London, which should be 6.60, but saving us 2 kids entries at each sight.
    I have spent hours looking into this as the cheapest/best option for us, have I done my homework right, as lots of research needed to find best routes/fares/methods of payment. Is contactless the way to go for us?

  14. Hi Alison,

    Yes, your homework appears spot on. Contactless would avoid the need to pay Oyster deposits and top-up, so yes, that’s the way to go. On the Friday, don’t touch in at Watford High Street before 0930 or you will be charged the peak single fare. Also, avoid touching in at Euston between 1600-1900 on the way home for the same reason.

  15. Hi Mike,
    I’m about to start commuting from Surbiton to Waterloo. My intention is to walk within London, but, in all honesty, there will be the odd day where I use the Underground. If I use a CPC to tap in and out on all my journeys, will I just get charged (up to)£45 for weeks where I don’t use the underground and £58 for weeks where I do use the underground?

    Thanks,

    Tom

  16. Hi Tom,

    Oyster and Contactless do not cap at rail only rates, only the travelcard rates. You will probably be better off getting a paper season for the rail and using PAYG on Oyster/contactless on the odd days that you use the tube.

  17. Hello Mike,

    First of all, awesome site! This has been very helpful for me. Just a quick question, I am going to London next week for a 5 day training course. I’ll be staying in Enfield and the training is near Waterloo station.

    I’ll be travelling around 7.30/8 in the morning and back around 6 in the evening.

    We get travel costs reimbursed up to 10 pounds a day, so ideally I’d like to stay under that. Is CBC or Oyster better?

    Thank you in advance,

    Ineke

  18. Hi Ineke,

    Charges should be the same, the zone 1-5 daily cap of £10.90 is the most you will pay.

  19. IslandDweller

    Thanks for informative article.
    I’ve switched to contactless. It’s great for me as I rarely know my travel needs in advance – the ‘after the event’ weekly cap works well for me.
    Couple of oddities. I recently travelled from Canary Wharf to Rickmansworth. I exited the tube at Marylebone, intending to catch a Chiltern service to Ricky. However, service disruption meant no Chiltern trains so I walked to Baker Street and continued on a Met line train. I’ve checked on-line and my exit/entry interval was 9 minutes, so I’d expect an OSI to apply and be charged for one journey. That didn’t happen, and there were two separate journeys itemised.
    Is there some difference in the way OSI are applied for contactless?
    To my advantage, my journeys were capped at the z1/6 cap rate, even though Ricky is z7

  20. There is no OSI between Marylebone LU and Baker Street. Depending on what your overall journeys were that day it’s possible that you were capped at zone 1-2 plus two extension journeys.

  21. Hi I line in chatham Kent and drive to Streatham every week day and use my oyster but I was wondering where can I put money on it is there any shops where I live hope you can help that ks

  22. Hi Patrick,

    I doubt that there are any newsagents in Chatham selling Oyster products, but from Dartford and in Greater London there will be plenty. You should also be able to top up at the ticket machine at Streatham

  23. Hello Mike,
    I wondered if you would help please?
    I am aiming to travel at peak from Clapham Junction to Bank via train and then the waterloo and city line tube.
    Would it be best to get pay contactless or pay a one day travel card on oyster ?
    Hope you can help

  24. Hi Sara,

    You can’t load a one-day travelcard onto an Oyster card, but both Oyster PAYG and Contactless will cap at the daily rate of £6.40 for zones 1-2. You can reduce the price of a single fare to £2.90 if you travel via West Brompton, but it will take longer.

  25. Hi Mike,
    I am sure that I’ve been overcharged using contactless and I suspect its one journey that has confused it. On Monday and Tuesday of this week I used nothing but buses so I got 2 days with a £4.40 cap. on Wednesday I was here there and everywhere, I took 14 buses so there would be a cap on that and made several rail journeys Woolwich Arsenal to Abbey Wood, Woolwich Arsenal to Welling (Via the Slade Green loop) and Sidcup to Crayford – I was charged £10.30 for the day. On Thursday I used buses and a train journey from Sidcup to Slade Green and was charged £6.70.
    Today, I had to go up to London so travelled from Slade Green to Victoria (off peak) and was charged £3.70, and the return journey from Victoria to Barnehurst was also charged at £3.70 then 10p for the bus.

    This works out from Monday to Friday that I’ve been charged £33.30. However with the exception of todays trip up to London all my journeys have been in zones 4 to 6.
    I expected at the most to be capped at £26.60 for zones 4-6 and the off peak fare from zone 4 to zone 1 – which looks to be £2.70 each way (£5.40 total) – this makes a total of £32 but its gone over that.

    I am wondering if my trip from Woolwich Arsenal to Welling has confused it and it thinks I have gone via zone 3…

    I was charged £2.30 (peak time) for that journey.

    Any thoughts?
    Chris

  26. Hi Chris,

    You’re spot on with your analysis apart from the extension tickets which would be zones 1-3 at £2.40 off-peak. The Woolwich to Welling journey is unfortunate. It is charged as a two zone 3-4 journey via either Blackheath or Greenwich and Lewisham. The way you went would be zones 4-6 and thus cost more, unless you were looking at capping anyway in those zones.

    It won’t be an easy situation to program for, but I think they ought to do something, at least retrospectively for you. The way round it would be to touch out and back in again at Barnehurst where I think the train stops for a short while. With validators you have to wait about 2 minutes between touches or they are both treated as exits. I’ll be very interested to hear what they say about this.

    I’d also be keen to get sight of your journey histsory for the week and I may be able to ask questions in a different direction.

  27. Hi Mike,
    I’m wondering if you can clear this up for me.
    I currently travel from watford highstreet (zone 8) overground in to euston, then down to bank, on the the dlr and off at Shadwell.
    i do this journey peak time in the AM but ometimes i the eveing my journey home (back from euston) might be off peak.
    using an oyster (PAYG) at peak times the whole journey used to cost me £6.90 each way. now using my contactless card i seem to have all sorts of costs! one day was over £10 twice in the day according to my bank statement.
    any light shed on the above would be a huge help! thank you

  28. Hi Phoebe,

    Well £6.90 is the correct fare for that journey at peak times. If you are being charged more using a CPC then there must be some incomplete journeys involved. Have you registered your CPC at contactless.tfl.gov.uk yet? You can see journey history going back over a full year on there. If you can get access then please check some sample days journey history.

    Incomplete journeys might be caused by missing a touch or card clash. Without journey detail it’s difficult to say what might have happened. If you can let me know what it says I’ll see where it’s going wrong.

  29. Interesting to know that they do this more advanced optimisation. It’s good news and what I think ought to be done but I don’t envy them the responsibility for the algorithmic development!

  30. It’s what they would have liked to do with Oyster, but the technology wasn’t there to support it 10+ years ago. Oyster will catch up when it switches to back office transactions, although the implimentation date is slipping on that project.

  31. I am in South Croydon from 10th August til 19th and want to see the sites and sights of London.
    I have a Nottingham disabled bus pass which gives me free bus travel.
    What will be my best and cheapest options.
    I would prefer to travel by train to the centre of town to save time.
    Please advise.
    Mick

  32. Hi Mick,

    You can get slightly cheaper travel by using London Overground from West Croydon to Canada Water and then Jubilee line into the centre.

  33. Hi Mike,
    I wish to make an off-peak return journey from Maidenhead to Paddington then onwards via tube to Tottenham Hale. I have an Oyster Card with Senior Railcard liked. What type of ticket would you recommend? Thanks.

  34. Hi Geraldine,

    Just buy a Maidenhead to zones 1-6 off-peak travelcard with your railcard.

  35. Hi hope you can help me.
    I going to london and wonder as I have a contact less card and oyyster card registered, can I use one and my mum use the other? She hasn’t got a contact less card. Didn’t know if I can do this if both cards are on the same account.

  36. Hi Nicole,

    Yes you can, as long as the Oyster hasn’t got a travelcard or discount entitlement loaded onto it.

  37. Where can I get my top up activated at Euston Station? I don’t intend to use the underground but want my top up applied to my card for a later bus journey.

  38. Hi Cath,

    Online top up is supposed to be collected as part of a journey. You can use any of the ticket machines at either Euston station to manually top up instantly.

  39. Can you clarify reply to Nicole regards using contact less and Oyster. I want to do similar i.e. I use my Oyster card WHICH HAS A SENIOR RAILCARD linked to it…and my sister uses my registered contact less card for same journey. This journey will probably be at peak time anyway so maybe it doesn’t matter?

  40. Hi Jeffers,

    That’s fine. You must use your Oyster card with the senior railcard. It’s a matter between you and your sister whether she uses your contactless payment card. The Oyster card is not transferable even if the fares will not get discounted because they are peak.

  41. Thanks Mike I understand now that only me can use the oyster as I’ve got the my senior railcard linked to it. Just to repeat everyone else’s comments ……super helpful website long may you continue!!

  42. Hello Mate, I travel in from Hockley, Essex by abellio greater anglia each morning (07.02am) to Canary Wharf paying £377 per month for a monthly travelcard (including zone 2-6). Is there a cheaper method now that Shenfield accepts Oyster, even if it involves getting off and on again to catch the next train.
    Thanks very much.

  43. Hi Mick,

    Sadly there doesn’t appear to be any saving because your journey doesn’t involve zone 1. You might be able to save some if you can make either or both of your Oyster journeys off-peak. If you touch in at Shenfield before 0630 and/or touch in at Canary Wharf before 1600 or after 1900 then that journey will be charged as off peak.

  44. Hello.
    I have added my wife’s contactless card to my contactless account (no oyster card) so there is just one account to check. If we travel together or will the system think there is a ‘contactless card clash’? Many thanks

  45. Hi Coldel,

    As long as the two contactless payment cards have different long numbers across the middle then you’ll be fine.

  46. Thanks. You have an excellent site and TFL have nothing approaching this in quality or responsiveness. Congratulations!

  47. Hi Mike,
    I recently made the following journey and asked at Feltham counter what is the best ticket to buy:

    1) Single journey from Feltham Overground via waterloo to London Bridge Underground (Departure 7:30am).
    2) Single journey from London Bridge Underground to Euston Underground (Departure: 10:30am).

    I was told that getting two singles would be cheaper than travelcard.

    However I was charged £9.60 for journey 1. I have pasted my bank statement below.

    02 Sep VIS TICKETOFFICESALE SWTRAINS FELT 9.60

    Single fare finder quotes £6 for peak journey whereas the fare on pay-as-you-go is £5.10.

    I originally calculated my two journey 1&2 to be 5.10+ 2.30 = 7.40 £ according to the table below

    https://tfl.gov.uk/cdn/static/cms/documents/tube-dlr-lo-adult-fares.pdf

    BUT…ended up paying £9.60 + £2.30 = £11.90

    I am totally confused. I had an oyster and I was happy to use contactless payment as well on the day, but this was what I spent according to the man behind the counter.

    I have to make this journey again and want to clarify if I use contactless, I should only touch pink reader at waterloo when changing? If not, the yellow reader charges as two single journeys ?

    Thanks for your advice,
    Indu

  48. Hi Indu,

    There are several issues here.

    Firstly you have been very badly advised by the ticket office at Feltham. You should never have been sold the £9.60 ticket because the Underground between Waterloo and London Bridge is included in the National Rail price because of the rebuilding works at London Bridge. You should have been sold a £6.90 single to London Terminals.

    Secondly, the fares table you have quoted is for TfL Rail. This includes London Overground, but not all National Rail services (sometimes known as Overground). The actual fares are £6.00 peak, £3.70 off-peak. Clearly you should have been advised to use Oyster or contactless. £2.30 is the correct fare for the second journey.

    I would write to SWT and complain and claim the difference (£9.60 – £6.00 = £3.60) back in compensation.

  49. Hi Mike,
    Thank you for your prompt response. I am going to write to SWT (South West Trains?) Please let me know if this is the right place – -https://www.southwesttrains.co.uk/contact-us-form.aspx

    I will be making the same journey again soon and have now registered my bank debit card on tfl for contactless payment.

    Just one more question wrt your advice:
    You should have been sold a £6.90 single to London Terminals.

    – Is this single ticket valid when I want to break the journey at London Bridge for a few hours?

    Also, for a return journey from Feltham to London Bridge (forward – peak time; return- off-peak time), my understanding now is that it is best to use contactless and pay two single fares £6.00 + £3.70 ? Pl let me know if this is correct?

    Thanks for you help !
    Still trying to get my head around single/return journeys in London as it seems straightforward anywhere outside London being a frequent user of train.

    Indu

  50. Hi Indu,

    The £6.90 ticket takes you to London Bridge. You then used Oyster to go further on the Underground as a separate journey. The £9.60 ticket would normally allow break of journey at London Bridge and then onward on the Underground, but because you have to use the Undergound to get to London Bridge it muddies the waters a bit. However, everything you want to do is cheaper using Oyster or contactless.

    Yes, £6.00 + £3.70 would be the charge if one journey is peak and the other off-peak.

  51. Thank you Mike !! Your comments have been very helpful

  52. Hi Mike , great site here

    I don’t know if you can answer this one, but here goes.

    If instead of using my PAYG Oyster card, I start a journey by tapping in with Apple Pay, can I tap out using my contactless bank card which is the same card number that Apple Pay uses? In case of phone battery dying for example. Hope this makes sense.

    Thanks,

    Adam

  53. Hi Adam,

    Yes it does make sense. I don’t know exactly how apple pay works, but if your bank cannot differentiate between using apple pay or contactless with the actual bank card then TfL won’t be able to either. I would try it out using apple pay one day (with a full battery) and contactless on another day and see if they both end up on the same card on your online account. If they do you’ll be fine, otherwise you’ll need to use the same one all day.

  54. Hi Mike!

    Apologies if this is a silly question, but I want to travel from East Ham in Z3 to Brent Cross that’s also in Z3, but the other side and going through Z1-2.

    I would like to know if I’d be charged on contactless for zones 1-3, or just zone 3? Also, could I but a monthly/annual travel card for just zone 3, or would I have to buy one for zones 1-3? Very confused!

    Thanks!!!!

  55. Hi Stacy,

    Not a silly question, but it is a common one, hence it’s the first one on the FAQ page. The answer is 1-3. Also, you can’t buy travelcards for only one zone.

  56. Hi Mike, in relation to your suggestion, I wrote to SWT for refund for my ticket (our discussion is on this page just above). This is what I got back. Wondering what you think?! Thanks, Indu

    Dear Mrs Manoharan

    Thank you for your Email of 09 September 2015.

    I am sorry to learn that you believe our ticket office at Feltham has overcharged you. From looking at the information you have provided it appears the ticket office clerk has charged you the correct fare for a through ticket.

    South West Trains ticket clerks are trained to recognise and sell the cheapest through fare available for the service a passenger wishes to take, however they will not issue combinations of tickets where a through ticket is available unless it is specifically requested by the customer. There are a number of reasons for this.

    If asked for the fares between two stations we are required by industry agreements to quote the fares for the whole journey only.
    Fares are set by different train operating companies dependant on who ‘owns’ the majority of the route the passenger wishes to travel on. This results in a huge number of fares and variations and our clerks cannot be expected to know all of them.
    The time needed to check all possible variations is more than a ticket office can offer, which would certainly result in longer queues. Something many passengers would find very frustrating.
    If we were to suggest splitting tickets we cannot be positive they have offered the best combination of tickets.

    The pricing for the route you wished to travel is not set by South West Trains but by Transport for London. If you have discovered that it is cheaper to travel by splitting the ticket into two portions for this journey you may choose to specifically request to split this ticket on future journeys. Our staff members will continue to follow set industry agreements and quote the through fare unless otherwise instructed by the passenger.

    I do hope this information proves useful to you. Thank you for taking the time to contact South West Trains.

    Kind regards

  57. Hi Mike

    I have PAYG credit on my oyster which sums to 10.10 GBP

    But I just ordered my travelcard to start from 12th OCT.

    I remembered the last time I tried online top up, the money did not load on to my card upon validation at the station, it showed up only after 24 hours resulting in a second top up in person at station to get through gates.

    Now, Im confused as to what will happen when I touch in at Feltham on 12th. Will it activate travelcard immediately for use or will this be in effect only after 24 hours after activation. I.e., would it use my PAYG balance on the 12th ? Resulting in my use of a monthly travel card from13th OCT and not 12th. Frustratingly confused !

    Indu

    Type: Monthly Travelcard Zones 1 to 6
    Start Date: 12/10/2015
    End Date: 11/11/2015
    Ticket Price: £225.10

    Pick up window: 08/10/2015 to 14/10/2015

    Total charged to bank card: £225.10

    Your order will be added to your Oyster card (number **redacted**) when you touch it on a yellow card reader at Feltham [National Rail], as part of a journey in the specified time period.

    If the order is not activated in time, it will be cancelled and you will be automatically refunded.

    Please note that you will only be able to use your Travelcard from the requested start date.

    Thank you for your cooperation,

  58. Hi Indu,

    I think that they haven’t understood the issue. This is simply that the £9.60 single is not required for a journey from Feltham to London Bridge because the Underground section is free because you can’t use Southeastern between Waterloo East and London Bridge. A Feltham to London terminals ticket is normally valid to London Bridge via Waterloo East, but there are no direct trains because of the Thameslink work at London Bridge so use of the Jubilee line is allowed.

    I would write back to them again and ask for a refund of £2.70 plus some compensation for the fact that they have had to be asked twice.

  59. Hi Indu,

    Your travelcard will be picked up on your next touch at Feltham starting tomorrow. If it is before the 12th then it will just sit on your card unused until that date. If it is picked up on the 12th then it will be used straight away.

  60. Mike,

    I have a Network Rail card, can you load it onto a PAYG Oyster?
    No use M-F because of £13 minium fare.

    The T & C`s say not on the rail card.

  61. Hi Qwerty12,

    No you can’t.

  62. Hi Mike
    Thank you, I understand it better now and hopefully they will too! I will write to them again.
    Indu

  63. Hi Mike,

    I wanted to ask how what you would suggest if you mix up the card used to tap in. My sister was visiting for the weekend using a CPC to travel, but on the tube we discovered she had mixed her card with another very similar looking card. Luckily she picked the right one to tap out, but I was wondering if she had picked the wrong one, I presume there would be 2 incomplete journeys on 2 cards – can you get the max charges refunded and only pay the ‘correct’ fare via the helpdesk/ticket office, using the tap out card to prove where you left the tube system?

    Also, is there any way of not leaving it to chance? These are my thoughts, if you had any advice as to whether they would work/be allowed.

    1) Check online account if the 15 min after touch in – (not sure if just a touch in would register before the max journey time was over)

    2) Could a staff member check if the card had been tapped in (if they have access to something that has the same functionality as maybe what RPI’s use to check)

    3) If it had been oysters, could I tap out as usual, taking her cards and check journey history on a ticket machine and then pass the correct card over the barriers for my sister to tap out with – (not sure if it would register the tap on the ticket machine which is outside the barriers. Also, would the passing oysters over the barriers raise eyebrows, even if it could be explained using journey history).

    Sorry for the length, this is more out of curiosity as everything worked out and I will be very vigilant about keeping cards separate from now!

  64. Hi Saj,

    I’m sure that the helpdesk would sort out maximum charges if it happened accidentally. It’s probably not a good idea to make a habit of it though. As to your suggestions:

    1) Yes, as long as the card is registered on the TfL system then the touch in should show after 5-15 minutes.
    2) No, the readers simply send a card checked message to the central database. They don’t receive a response back. Later on, the central system will charge a maximum fare if you weren’t in the system at the time.
    3) Yes, that would work. Ticket machines don’t register enquiries on the card. Staff might ask what you were doing, but the explanation should be perfectly reasonable.

  65. Hi Mike,
    I need to travel from London Bridge to Chatham on Fri Nov 6 after 3.30pm. I would like to use my travelcard zone 1 -6 and buy ticket from the station where my zone card is not valid to travel to Chatham. For eg) travel till Abbey wood on zone card and then purchase rail ticket from abbey wood to Chatham.

    My question is – can this be done? If yes, can you pl let me know what is the best route I can take so I can get the cheapest available fare to chatham from ‘X’ station.

    Also, what happens when I swipe in at London bridge and dont swipe out? Will I be charged extra for this since tfl cant see where my journey ends?

    Thank you

  66. Hi Indu,

    You need to purchase a boundary zone 6 to Chatham ticket. This will work on any route from London to Chatham (apart from the high speed line) and doesn’t tie you to the same route back. Don’t worry about your Oyster, there is no penalty for making incomplete journeys within the zones of your travelcard.

  67. Thank you! You are amazing (always with prompt responses!)

  68. Hi Mike, I have Q again. Where can I look at the costs of boundary tickets to X destination? I also regularly make weekend trips to rugeley Trent valley from London Euston (3x month return trip). Does this mean I can purchase boundary zone 6 to rugeley Trent valley ? I have been buying regular off peak tickets for this or advance single when I have a cheaper option. Pl advise

  69. Hi Indu,

    Try brfares.com to look up prices. Sadly there are very few destinations outside the former Network South East area which have boundary zone tickets so you can’t buy BZ6 to Rugeley TV.

  70. Hello Mike,
    Please can you help me. I need to send my travel expenses but as I used my Oyster Card, I’m not sure how much my journey was. I travelled from Stanmore to Canary Wharf at 9.30am then came home at 5pm from Stockwell to arrive at 6pm in Edgware.

    Many thanks

  71. Hi Monique,

    Stanmore to Canary Wharf is £4.70 or £3.10 depending on which side of the peak/off-peak switch at 0930 you touched. Stockwell to Edgware is £4.70 at that time.

  72. Hello Mike,

    Thank you so much for that.

    You’re a star!

  73. Hi Mike,

    My regular journey involves going from Clapham Junction to Victoria on National Rail, then from Victoria to Euston on the underground using my contactless card for both. My question, in this instance, is am I being charged twice for this journey, even though I’m doing the out of station interchange within the allowed time period?

    Thanks,

    Sam

  74. Hi Sam,

    You are charged extra for the Underground leg, but not as much as a fresh zone 1 single.

  75. Hello Mike,

    I am travelling from Perivale to Upton Park next Saturday morning 12the December at approx 10.30AM. I have not used the tube before. Should I use my contactless credit card for the cheapest option and how much should this journey cost? I will be doing the return journey at approx 6pm on the same day.

    Phil

  76. Hi Phil,

    The off-peak Oyster fare is £2.80 each way and yes, a contactless payment card will give you those prices.

  77. Hi MIke,

    My wife and I used our contactless cards to travel 1 stop from St Margarets to Ware and back recently (outward journey at 18.00 return at 20.00). We were each charged £4-20 which I have confirmed through your fantastic site is correct but the National Rail website confirms that the same journey by buying paper tickets would have cost us £2-40 each. The question is obviously why use contactless ???

  78. Hi John,

    On that particular journey you shouldn’t use Oyster or Contactless. The situation will hopefully improve when the back office Oyster processing comes in and proper fares can be set rather than classing the whole branch as one station.

  79. Very informative website. Nicely done.

    I’m curious about the changes to bus fares coming in september. Your explanation of CPC and Oyster suggests to me that CPC can cope with capping bus travel within the hour at one fare. I hope so, otherwise it’s back to oyster for me.

  80. Hi Helen,

    I’m unclear as to the technical issues surrounding the bus hopper ‘ticket’. From what I can gather the first stage will be to allow two bus journeys within the hour which is similar to the idea of the feeder buses for the trams at New Addington. Once Oyster can cope with the desired unlimited bus journeys within the hour then I’m sure that contactless will work as well. Contactless could probably cope with less of an upgrade, but I don’t think they’ll impliment the changes at different times.

  81. Hi Mike,

    I have three different ways to get to my new job, they seem to cost different amounts, although that varies also and I can’t spot why. I was looking at moving from my PAYG Oyster to my CPC and wondered if you could provide your opinion on the cost for the journeys?

    – Haydons Road train station, change at Blackfriars, enter tube (circle/district), alight at monument and hop on the DLR at bank, exit at Canary wharf DLR. (this is my preference in the morning)
    – Colliers Wood tube station, change at Bank to the DLR, exit at Canary Wharf DLR. (my second choice in the morning)
    – Wimbledon train station, change at Waterloo to Jubilee tube, exit at Canary Wharf tube (rarely use in the morning but always use in the evenings in reverse)

    Would my fairs using any of these routes be cheaper with CPC than my PAYG Oyster?

    Thanks, Wendy

  82. Hi Wendy,

    The reason for the differences in fares is that the routes use different combinations of modes of train. The most expensive way involves National Rail and Underground in a journey that includes zone 1. The cheapest way is when you restrict yourself to just Underground and DLR, or avoid zone 1. You may also find that if you use an expensive route both ways that you are capped at the zone 1-3 daily rate of £7.60. With those journeys you won’t find any difference between Oyster and Contactless.

    To avoid zone 1 you can try one of these routes:
    – Wimbledon – Clapham Junction – Canada Water (touch pink) – Canary Wharf.
    – Colliers Wood – Clapham North (walk) Clapham High Street – Canada Water – Canary Wharf.
    – Haydons Road – Tulse Hill – Queens Road Peckham – Canada Water – Canary Wharf.

  83. Two us of made some trips by bus and train in zones 1-5 off-peak, one by contactless and one by blue oyster card. The contactless journey maxed at £9.50 due to something called a Best Value Combination. The Blue Oyster card was charged £15.30 due to a tap-in issue, but TFL say it should have been £11. Do you know this Best Value Combination?

  84. Hi Peter,

    Yes. It is almost certainly the zone 1-2 cap of £6.50 plus two zone 3-5 extensions at £1.50 each. The zone 1-2 cap will cover all bus journeys as well, so you are just left with the rail bits outside zone 2. You’ll have travelled using Underground or one of the National Rail routes charging the TfL-LU scale. £11 is the zone 1-5 all day cap. Take a look at this video from our friends at Londonist.

  85. hiya, what about buses? I travel from hanwell (z4) to ealing broadway (z3) on a bus , then the tube to central london. and back again.
    usually i have a zone 3 travelcard, but am going to go into work only 2 or 3 times a week from now on. would oyster or contactless be best? thanks!

  86. Hi Phil,

    Contactless will be best because you’ll have the safety net of the weekly cap should you unexpectedly make enough extra journeys. The bus counts towards whichever rail cap you reach, so you don’t need to worry about zone 4.

  87. Hi Mike
    My regular journey home requires a change of bus. Using Oyster, does this cost me two fares? Is there any way I can get this treated as a single fare? Thanks.

  88. Hi Pat,

    At the moment you have to pay on every bus, but there is a cap at 3 journeys so the 4th and subsequent ones are free. TfL are working to pass on the new Mayor’s promise of a bus hopper ticket, with the first phase likely to allow two journeys to be joined together. This I believe is due to be rolled out in September, but watch for publicity.

  89. Hi Mike,
    My commute is the following: 6.55 am Northfields (Z3)-Hyde Park Corner then a few stops by bus. Going home at 17.15 from Hyde Park Corner. Rarely use the tube on the weekend, mostly bus. But I buy monthly travelcard z1-z3. I was wondering if there’s a cheaper option.
    Thanks!

  90. Hi Orsi,

    The fact that you use a bus as well as tube means that the travelcard will be your cheapest option.

  91. I’ve started using contactless for my occasional work journeys, so I can distinguish between personal use and what I claim back through expenses.

    As an Oyster user, I’ve been used to getting a weekly e-mail statement with my journey details on. I can’t find that option for contactless – does this mean I always have to go online to get those details?

  92. Hi Paul,

    Yes it does. The main reason they email Oyster statements is that the history only remains online for 8 weeks. With contactless it is a year so there is less of an issue accessing older history.

  93. Hi Mike, great video on the Londonist! Hoping you can help. I travel Walthamstow to Mornington Cr each day via the Victoria line. As I live around 20 mins walk from walthamstow about 3x a week I jump a bus to the tube station, probably about 2 X a week I jump the bus home. I’ll also travel due to my work at least 2x a week down to Covent Garden from Mornington Cr – at the moment I buy a monthly zone 1-3 travel card on oyster, is this the cheapest option? Or am I best just using cpc each day?

  94. Hi Baz,

    As long as you use the monthly at least 19 days in the month then it will be cheaper than weekly tickets which is the best that a CPC will currently offer.

  95. Hi
    Here’s one for you…I will be flying to London in September and have a choice of going to Gatwick or Stansted. I would like to use either my contactless debit card or my oyster card to travel to Wembley from either of the airports, in your opinion which airport and consequent route to Wembley (Park, Stadium or even central) should I chose to get the best fare? Might even want to hop off in central London for a gander? I’ll also need to travel to a potential outer zone on the tube map after my Wembley soirée, the options on the various transport websites and fare finders are baffling!
    Thanks
    Bernie

  96. Hi Bernie,

    You can’t use Oyster or a contactless payment method at Stansted at present, so you’d need to buy a paper ticket for there. Other than that, your potential itinerary is too vague to advise specifics. Outer zone on tube map could mean almost anywhere from Amersham to Croydon. Is the travel all to be completed in one day, or is an overnight stay required? If yes, where? and what other travel will be required on each day?

  97. Hi Mike,

    During the week I travel from my home (Wood Green) into work (Holborn) and back, daily Monday – Friday. I’ll sometimes make multiple journeys in the weekday evening before returning home, but always within zones 1 – 2. All on the tube.

    At the weekend I usually make various journeys around zones 1 – 3, on tube and bus.

    I’ve previously always got a monthly travel card, but am now going to be out of London at least one week per month so am looking at other options. I can’t figure out if it will be more cost affective for me to get a weekly travel card or use my contactless card?

    Thanks

    Jen

  98. Hi Jen,

    The weekly travelcard costs the same as the Monday to Sunday weekly cap on a contactless payment card. If you need to start the weekly on a day other than Monday then the travelcard is your best option. If Monday is ok then use a CPC because if your plans change and you don’t travel enough you’ll only be charged for the travel you do make.

  99. Hi Mike,

    The weekly price [quote]cap for travelling by bus only is £21.20 on contactless – same as my weekly bus pass on Oyster. What will happen if I complete an Underground journey? Will the weekly price cap increase due to this journey? On Oyster I have the choice to pay any Underground journey in addition to my weekly bus pass. How does this work on contactless?

  100. Hi Anne,

    Contactless will work out the cheapest combination of fares and caps. If you only make one tube journey and lots of bus journeys it will be likely to be the bus cap plus the single Underground fare.

    Note also that from tomorrow (Mon) the bus hopper ticket comes into effect. This means that if you make two bus journeys within an hour you will only be charged one fare. You may find it better to use contactless this week to see whether you actually reach the weekly bus cap.

  101. I will be travelling from Waterloo to Chalk Farm and back only between 1720 and 2300.
    I don’t have an Oyster but I do have Apple Pay – would that be the cheapest way to travel rather than a paper ticket/travelcard?

  102. Hi Charlotte,

    Absolutely the cheapest, yes.

  103. Hi Mike, yes I was very vague re my query from Gatwick. I have now firmed up my trip arriving into Gatwick at 2.30 on Wednesday. I want to travel directly to London (Blackfriars/City Thameslink) for some sightseeing. From Farringdon I’ll travel to Wembley that evening. My trip home that evening will be either to Loughton in Essex or Whitton near Twickenham. The following day I will be leaving either Loughton or Whitton at 10ish for Gatwick. I have both an Oyster and contactless debit card, what do you recommend- touch in and out or load travel cards or even some sort of return or 2 day rambler (if there is such a thing)? Many thanks Bernie

  104. Hi Bernie,

    There’s no 2-day rambler sadly. You can’t load day travelcards onto an Oyster. I’d go for the contactless payment card. If you have time you can save quite a bit by splitting the journeys to/from Gatwick at East Croydon. Just get off, touch out and back in again at the gateline (either the main one at the Gatwick End of the platforms or on the new footbridge at the London End) and then board the next train.

  105. Thanks for your help here Mike

  106. Hi Mike,

    I have a question regarding using contactless PAYG/Oystercard.

    Can you let me know how will I be charged in the following scenario?

    Traveling from Heathrow (z6) to St. James station (z1) after 12pm (£3.10), then use bus (3+ times) for the remaining day. My understanding is bus daily cap is £4.50, so my total charge to the card would be £7.60? If I use tube instead of bus for the remaining day (3+ time at z1-z2 only), how much would I be charged instead? Would it be £6.50+£3.10=£9.60?

    Thanks!

  107. Hi Jenny,

    You are correct about the buses. For tubes it’s a bit more complicated. With Oyster you will be charged £2.40 for each zone 1-2 tube journey until your total spend reaches the zone 1-6 daily cap of £11.80. With contactless you will be charged the zone 1-2 daily cap of £6.50 plus a zone 3-6 extension fare of £1.50, so a total of £8.00.

  108. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for the reply. How would the oyster and contactless fare change if the journey start from Hampton court instead of Heathrow? I think single fare offpeak from Hampton court to central London is £3.80. Is zone 3-6 extension fare is always £1.50 (for both Hampton Court and Heathrow)?

    Thanks!

  109. Hi Jenny,

    Sadly not. Hampton Court uses the NR1 scale and the zone 3-6 fare for that scale off peak is £2.50. So Oyster would still cap at £11.80 while contactless would be £9.00 (£6.50+£2.50).

  110. Hi Mike

    I use contactless and generally travel within zones 1-4, coming from Woolwich Arsenal. I’ve been offered a job one or two days a week in Debden zone 6. Will travelling to zone 6 raise my weekly cap across the board as it were? So even if I only go there once a week my overall cap will go up to £59.10?

    If so is there any better solution?

    Many Thanks

    Gavin

  111. Hi Gavin,

    Contactless works out the best combination of caps and extension fares, so an odd trip out to zone 6 won’t alter the basic cap. You’ll be charged a zone 1-4 cap (assuming you reach that) plus two zone 5-6 singles.

  112. Thanks for clarifying that Mike, would that apply even i did it twice a week?

  113. It all depends on how much other travel you make. If you don’t go into zone 1 on the days that you go to Debden then you may find that the system chooses a different combination. Remember that weekly travelcards/caps can be for any 2 or more zones. All I know is that it will calculate the best possible combination that covers all your journeys.

    As an aside, I’m assuming you’ll take the DLR to Stratford then Central line. If you take Southeastern to Cannon Street, walk to Bank and then take the Central line you may find the extension fares are higher because the journey is mixed NR+LU.

  114. Thanks again. Gavin.

  115. Hi! I need to take 3 x 12 year olds to Chessington WOA tomorrow from sutton. Will contactless and their zip Oyster cards work at surbiton station and on the following bus to Chessington WOA?

  116. Hi Sue,

    Yes, Oyster is accepted at Surbiton. If the bus is operated by TfL then it will also accept Oyster. If Oyster is ok then so is contactless.

  117. Hello,

    I travel from Woolwich Arsenal (DLR) to Caledonian Road & Barnsbury ( London Overground) Monday – Friday peak times. I’ve noticed my contactless charges me more a week than if I paid for a Z2 – Z4 ? Is there a reason for this and is oyster the best way?

  118. Hi Ellyn,

    Two questions: Are you travelling via Stratford? Do you touch the pink reader on the overground platforms while changing trains?

    If the answer to both questions is yes then this would appear to be one of the few journeys where contactless doesn’t properly cap avoiding zone 1. In this case I’d be grateful if you could copy some sample journey history to help me understand what the problem is.

    If the answer to either question is no then that will be the reason why – you either have gone via zone 1, or the system thinks you have because you haven’t said you’ve avoided it. A zone 2-4 travelcard on Oyster will work as long as you go via Stratford and touch the pink readers.

  119. Hi there,

    I pay using contactless and travel by a variety of modes of transport in zones 1 to 3, starting in peak hours. I’m frequently being charged £14.40 a day. Do you know how this might be calculated? Why would it not be capped at £7.60 which is the z1-3 anytime day cap? I can’t even see £14.40 being a standard cap amount.

  120. Hi Kathy,

    Can you copy your journey history. Something clearly isn’t right, but it’s not obvious. The other question is: do you use river boats or the Southeastern High Speed between Stratford and St Pancras?

  121. I’ve got a good one for you. The 508 bus route (advertised as “Free Route 508”) is put on whenever Forest Lane is closed at the Forest Gate Station end for TfL works for Crossrail / Elizabeth Line. As TfL are causing the 308 bus to be diverted, I am glad they are putting on a free replacement. However, recently, we have been asked to touch in, being told it would not charge. Oyster does not charge, however contactless bank/credit cards do charge. So there is one situation where Contactless is more expensive than Oyster!!!

  122. Hi Adrian,

    Have you complained to TfL? They ought to be able to adjust that.

  123. Yes, and they say that the modules have been updated to not charge, yet on Sunday they were still charging.

  124. OK, are they going to refund you? And anyone else?

  125. Exactly – they refunded me the last time, but what about all the people who have touched in with their Contactless cards over the past year that we have had the 508? (I must admit, I did try the contactless card deliberately to see if they had indeed fixed the modules, but obviously not – my credit card has been debited, and it will be interesting to see if it is credited)

  126. Mike, I was wondering if you could make head or tail as to why my wifes and my own fares differed when we travelled up to Wembley yesterday. I used my Oyster with PAYG loaded (No Travelcard/Bus Pass) and my wife used Contactless and we both paid the correct cap but with different fares.

    My journey is as follows :-
    Touch in Slade Green (National Rail) 09:31
    Touch out Wembley Park 10:56
    (Travelled via Greenwich then DLR to Heron Quays and Jubilee Line) – Fare £5.30
    Bus 206 £1.50 10:58
    Bus 206 £1.50 13:19
    Touch in Wembley Park 13:29
    Touch out North Greenwich 14:10 – Fare £2.80
    Bus 486 £0.70 14:13
    Touch in Charlton 14:26
    Touch out Slade Green 14:46 – Fare £0.00
    Total fare £11.80 – Capped

    My wife’s using Contactless

    Slade Green to Wembley Park 09:31 – 10:56 – £5.30
    Bus 206 10:58 £1.50
    Bus 206 13:19 £1.50
    Wembley Park to North Greenwich 13:29 – 14:10 – £2.20
    Bus 486 14:13 £0.00
    Charlton to Slade Green 14:26 – 14:46 – £1.30

    Cap £11.80!

    I am confused as why we would be charged different fares for the return journey! 🙂

  127. Hi Chris,

    Contactless continuously calculates the best combination of caps and extension fares. By the time you’d returned to North Greenwich this would have been a zone 1-2 cap plus NR zone 3-6 single and LU zone 3-4 single, £6.50+£2.50+£1.50. Your Oyster is only ever going to cap at zone 1-6 once you’ve touched in at Slade Green.

  128. Hi Mike,

    Wonder if you can assist. Out of town friend attempted to tap in peak time zone 1 tube on a PAYG oyster with credit of £4.10 – the initial full charge of £7.70 would have sent it to negative £3.60. Tap in was not allowed. He did add another £5 that allowed tap in to happen. Was this an insufficient credit issue or something else? He was only going to do an intra z1 journey so thought as it was going to cost £2.40 that all should be good.

  129. Hi William,

    If there was definitely £4.10 on the card then the rejection was some other reason. If it worked again after top up then it looks like an intermittent failure to read the card. If he knew the error number then I could tell what the issue was.

  130. Hi Mike,

    Ok thanks, unfortunately he didn’t know to read about codes, but will pass that info on for next time. In theory…if you have at least enough credit to do the cheapest journey you should be let through (ie in this case £2.40)?

  131. Yes, that’s the way the system is set up.

  132. Hi Mike. I watched the Londonist video, where they were using the TFL metropolitan line. Does the same thing work using the NR Southeastern service from Orpington to London Bridge, Z1 travel, then back? I note the NR single fare is £3.90, not £3.10, what is the Z3-6 extension cost on Southeastern?

  133. Hi John,

    It does work, but the savings are not as good. The extension fare is £2.60, so £11.80 vs £12.00.

  134. Thanks Mike. The difference between £11.80 and £9.50 for the same nominal zones really does show how NR users south of the river are disadvantaged. And with the takeover of suburban lines blocked by Grayling, the situation will only get worse as TfL fares are frozen and NR ones rise.

  135. Hi Mike, first of all this is a really fantastic site. I just wanted to ask a theoretical question:
    If, using the contactless card, it had worked out that my total travel cost would be cheapest if a Zone 3 to 4 Weekly Mon to Sun Cap was applied.
    On one of the days, I travel between Zones 1 to 2 three times and also a journey from Zone 1 to 6 at peak times. How would the system calculate the extension fare? Would it either:
    1) Apply a Zone 1-2 daily cap of £6.60 plus a Zone 5-6 single fare of £1.70 making it a total of £8.30 extension card.
    2) For the Zone 1-6 journey, would it calculate whichever is cheapest first: Zone 1-2 single of £2.90 and a Zone 5-6 single at £1.70 (total £4.60) or a Zone 1-6 single (£5.10). Thus, it would choose the £4.60 option. And then add the three Zone 1-2 singles (£2.9 x 3 = £8.40). Since the total would be £13, would it then apply a Zone 1-6 daily anytime cap so instead charges £12.
    Thank you for your help!

  136. Sorry, to add to my question posted, which calculation would the oyster do? Thanks!

  137. Hi Helen,

    That’s a very interesting question. By the end of the week I would expect it to be your number 1. Depending on when in the week the extra journeys occur, the intermediate calculations may appear different.

    As for the Oyster, if we assume that you have purchased a zone 3-4 travelcard at the beginning of the week then the 3 zone 1-2 journeys would cap at £6.60. The zone 1-6 single would be charged in two bits totalling £4.60 resulting in a PAYG charge of £11.20 for that day. If you can split the zone 1-6 journey somewhere in zones 3-4 then you’d only have to pay £1.70 on the zone 5-6 extension and the zone 1-2 extension would have been covered by the zone 1-2 cap, so just £8.30. This all assumes that the extension journeys are in order: 2-1, 1-2, 2-1, 1-6.

  138. Hi Mike,
    Thank you your reply, I did not realise that with Oyster it would not include the Zone 1-2 section of the Zone 1-6 journey within the Zone 1-2 cap unless you split the journey (if I am understanding you correctly).
    So in a similar scenario, with oyster and a Zone 3-4 travelcard applied, how would it calculate the extension fare if the order of the journeys differed – instead you made the Zone 1-6 at the beginning of the day and then 1-2, 2-1, 1-2? Thanks again

  139. Hi Helen,

    Yes, Oyster deals with full journeys and if a new cap is to be applied then the whole journey charge will be levied up to the new cap. If you physically split it in two (by touching out and back in again) then the first half can be covered by the already acquired cap.

    Sadly your second scenario highlights one of the big disadvantages of the older Oyster charging system. Because you start out going to/from zone 6 all PAYG extensions will count towards the zone 1-6 cap. In your 6-1, 1-2, 2-1, 1-2 example you would end up being charged the full £12. It’s not fair, but it’s the best TfL could do with the technology available when Oyster was developed. With contactless it doesn’t matter what order you make journeys, and the same will apply to Oyster when it is transfered to the back-office processing model.

  140. Hi Mike

    I want to catch the 285 bus from Feltham station to Heathrow airport. Can I use Oyster or Contactless when I board the bus to pay for the fare?

    Phil

  141. Hi Phil,

    As long as the bus is operated on behalf of TfL and carries the red roundel symbol on the front then yes, you can use Oyster and Contactless.

  142. I travel daily from Watford Junction to Euston with a colleague.

    I use an Oyster Card and my colleague uses a debit card. We have been comparing fares and he is charged £14 daily and I am being charged £19 daily.

    Is this possible? And am I doing something wrong with my oyster card?

  143. Hi Umeet,

    You are doing nothing wrong with Oyster, but if you’ve got a contactless card I’d switch to using it.

  144. Hi Mike,
    Thank you for your help! Just another couple of questions:
    1) If the contactless applies a 5-6 weekly Mon-Sun cap, however on one of those days of the week you travel excessively between zones 1-2 (with one single journey between 1-6), would it then apply a daily cap between zones 1-2 on that day and add a single fare between 3-4?
    2) With the weekly Mon-Sun Contactless cap, I have read on the tfl website that: “Weekly capping is calculated by analysing the cumulative daily totals as the week progresses and applying a cap when appropriate.” Thus, as TFL suggests, would it track the zones travelled, and only charge up the weekly cap between the minimum and maximum zones travelled that week (similar to the Oyster calculations)? Alternatively, similar to what contactless does with daily capping, would it calculate all the different combinations of weekly caps and daily caps and then pick the cheapest option and charge that?
    Let me know if these make any sense at all, and thanks again, you are incredibly helpful.

  145. Hi Helen,

    1) It is just possible, but as the difference between the zone 1-2 cap and the zone 1-4 cap is only £2.90, if you made a return trip then you’d just be charged the zone 1-4 cap for that day. If you try it, do let me know the outcome, plus how you bridged zones 3-4 one way.

    2) I’m informed that contactless charges the cheapest combination of cap(s) and extension fares on both a daily and weekly basis. Once you have travelled enough to be triggering a weekly cap then it will compare different weekly cap and extension fare combinations.

  146. I will be a visiting tourist. My hotel will be located in Zone 6 (west) and that is where I will begin my sightseeing day. My travel period will run from Sunday through Saturday. Here is how I understand the fare structure. Please correct any mistakes I may make and please offer your best recommendation.

    Option 1: Load a 7 day zone 1-6 travel card onto an Oyster Card. The total cost would be £60.20. That would cap my transportation cost for the week except for rail journeys I may make outside the TFL zone such as Feltham to Windsor (Castle) and Euston to Bletchley (Park). But, I may overpay compared to pay as I go depending on the number of peak and off-peak journeys I make. Under this option, I am required to predict correctly whether or not I will make £60.20 worth of journeys during those seven days.

    Option 2: Load a 7 day zone 1-2 travel card onto an Oyster Card. The total cost would be £33.00 which would cover all journeys in zones 1 and 2 and all bus journeys in any zone, peak or off-peak. I would have to carry a pay as I go balance on the Oyster Card for all journeys outside zones 1-2. My journey from my zone 6 hotel to a zone 1 tourist site and the return journey at the end of each sightseeing day would each be charged as a zone 3-6 single journey (£1.50 off peak, £2.80 peak hours). I save £27.20 compared to the cost of a zone 1-6 travel card, and, as long as I do not spend in the aggregate £27.20 in £1.50 off peak journeys or £2.80 peak hours journeys outside zones 1-2, this is better than Option 1. However, once again I am required to predict correctly whether or not I will make £33.00 worth in travel within zones 1-2 or on buses. If the quantity of my travel is less than expected, the purchase of a travel card will have been unwise.

    Option 3: Go Contactless. No predictions are required. At the end of my travels Contactless will apply a seven day cap if I have made a sufficient number of journeys or charge me on a pay as I go basis if I have not met the cap. If I have extensive travel within zones 1-2, Contactless will not charge me more than the zone 1-2 cap (£6.60) and two single fares (£1.50 and £1.50) but Oyster will charge me the full daily cap for zone 1-6 (£12.00). My USA credit card will not charge me any foreign currency transaction fees. The card is not contactless, but I can make it effectively contactless by loading it into Android Pay and using my phone as a contactless device. Contactless seems like the perfect solution. Unfortunately, Contactless calculates its seven day cap from Monday through Sunday and I would need to meet that cap on journeys made from Monday through Saturday. Any journeys on that first Sunday would not count toward the seven day cap on Contactless, but they would count on a Sunday through Saturday travel card loaded onto an Oyster Card.

    There will be days when I plan to visit Windsor Castle or Hampton Court Palace or Kew Gardens or the RAF bunker at Uxbridge, perhaps combining two of those destinations into a single day. Therefore, there may be days where I do not enter zones 1-2. On other days my sightseeing within zone 1 may be concentrated within a single region so that I may not need more transportation than single journeys to and from the museums near the South Kensington station. If forced to make a prediction, I would not expect to reach the weekly cap amount even on a Sunday to Saturday basis. But, I might be mistaken. Perhaps, a weekly travel card might liberate me to visit everywhere.

    Mike, what is your advice?

  147. Hi Stuart,

    You’ve certainly done your homework. I have an observation. You don’t say where your hotel is situated and thus which line you will use to get into zone 1 most days. Your £1.50/£2.80 zone 3-6 fare is correct if you travel on the Piccadilly (or other Underground) line or GWR/Chiltern railways. However, if you use SWT then it is £2.60/£3.60.

    As to advice, I’m sure you’ll agree that without an itinerary it is difficult to predict which might be the best option. Perhaps if you can plan to do one or more west attractions on the Sunday then the weekly cap using contactless for the rest of the week will probably see you spend less than the zones 1-6 weekly travelcard. Note specifically that you can’t use Oyster beyond Feltham or West Drayton so Windsor will require paper tickets whichever option you choose. The other mentioned attractions are all fine for zones 1-6.

    Hope that helps.

  148. Mike, I have done more homework and have more questions.

    Let us assume the following: I have purchased an Oyster Card. I have added a 7 day, zone 1-2 travel card to the Oyster Card for the travel from Sunday through Saturday. I have added some PAYG cash for my travel on the underground or on rail that is wholly or partly outside zones 1-2 but within the Oyster geographical area. My travel is now complete and I would like to obtain a refund of my unused PAYG balance (less than £10) and my £5 deposit.

    1. Is it true that an Oyster Card refund is not permissible if there is an unexpired season ticket (such as my 7 day travel card) on the Oyster?

    2. My 7 day travel card which expires on Saturday is actually valid until 4:30 am Sunday morning. Does that mean I may seek the refund only during the narrow time window between 4:30 am Sunday morning and when I must start the process for clearing security for my 10:15 am flight home?

    3. Are there any special rules if the Oyster Card and any top-ups have been paid exclusively by credit card? What if the initial purchase was with a credit card, but some top-ups have been paid in cash? When is the refund credited to the purchasing credit card and when is the refund paid to me in cash? Are Oyster Cards paid for in whole or in part by credit card not refundable at a Heathrow tube station ticket machine? When must I seek a refund from a ticket office? Are ticket offices at Heathrow open and staffed early on Sunday mornings for a refund transaction?

  149. Hi Stuart,

    I’m not aware of a restriction saying that an Oyster can’t be cancelled and refunded with a live travelcard on it. You might possibly need to seek assistance from the visible staff but I’d say it should be possible. And as long as the credit is less than £10 I believe that the refund will be made in cash at the machine regardless of how the topups were made. I haven’t actually tried doing this myself yet, so there may be more to it.

    As for Heathrow, I don’t think there is a ticket office there anymore. I’d contact the Oyster helpline to make sure that you will be able to do what you want. There is always the option to refund the card by post to a bank account – you may be able to post it at Heathrow before flying out.

  150. Hi Mike,

    I’m looking to travel from Wimbledon To Epsom on a potential monthly basis. What is the best/most affordable way of doing that?

    Regards

  151. Hi Chris,

    As long as you only need trains then a Wimbledon to Epsom season ticket will fit the bill.

  152. Hi Mike
    Thanks for this site and all your analysis and replies – I wonder if I could ask you to clarify this journey:
    I travel from Penge West to West Ham three times a week (with other travel thrown in, in between, but that is my main ‘commute’). I’ve found out that the easiest route is to take the train to London Bridge, and then the jubilee line, but this is very expensive on Oyster. So I settled to standing on the overground, and changing at Whitechapel, to avoid the madness at Canada Water, which is cheaper, but if I walk an extra 10 minutes and take the overground from Crystal Palace, this is even cheaper. I use Oyster and touch in/out at the pink intersection points as well as the regular Oyster points.
    I’m now wondering whether contactless might be a better option, whether I even need to touch on the pink points, and if you have any advice on what the cheapest route might be.
    Really appreciate your time!

  153. Hi Tanja,

    Crystal Palace is in zone 3 for a journey towards London whereas Penge West is in zone 4. That is why it is cheaper to walk to there. By touching the pink reader at Whitechapel you are telling the system that you’ve avoided zone 1. If you don’t touch it then you may get charged more.

    Contactless won’t charge you any more than Oyster, and may be slightly cheaper. It depends what else you do other than your usual commute.

  154. Hi Mike,

    I found this article ( http://londonist.com/2016/06/oyster-fares-and-contactless-not-always-the-same-price?utm_content=bufferdfbc8&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer ) where back in June you point out that in some cases contactless is cheaper.

    My question is if that is still the case? I travel between zone 4 and 1 between 5 and 7 times a week most of the time with the occasional zone 1 trip / bus / or a zone 5 return with National Rail. I have a railcard discount applied to my oyster but Im mindful that it only kicks in on off-peak rail journeys so not sure if Im saving anything.

    Now that weekly capping is available on Oyster is it still the case that Contactless is cheaper as it finds the best combination of caps? And does it only apply to journeys made in a single day or Mon-Sun?

    Many thanks for your help!

  155. Hi Mira,

    Oyster does NOT yet provide weekly capping. There is a push on at present to highlight the fact that for many people a weekly travelcard costs more than the PAYG fares for the journeys they make.

    If you have a railcard discount then do not switch to contactless. You can only be charged full adult fares using contactless payment methods.

    However, adults using PAYG may well still end up being charged less on contactless, as described in the video. It all depends on the journeys made in one day. Over a Monday to Sunday week it’s a bit different because if you’re going to travel enough for a weekly cap then you should really get a travelcard on Oyster. Contactless is still better because it only applies the weekly cap if you get to it (no need to worry about getting ill), but if the weekly cap is the same as the travelcard which would be on Oyster then the extension fares will be the same*.

    * I hate having to add this caveat, but this is not true if any journeys involve travel between Merstham and Gatwick Airport.

  156. Hi Mike.

    I have an Oyster card and contactless card regsitered on the same account. Can they both be used on the same day at basically the same time? I have a visitor with me for a day, so can I give them the Oyster card to use while I use my contactless card?

    Thanks for you advice and your time to this site which is greatly appreciated.

  157. Hi Jon,

    Yes, that’s fine. My account has my cards and all my kids zip cards too. The TfL system treats each card separately for travel. The account allows you to hold more than one for convenience.

  158. Brilliant, thanks very much, you’re a gentleman.

  159. This is your visiting tourist seeking additional advice.

    I will be visiting the RAF bunker near Uxbridge. After that visit has been completed, I will travel to Windsor Castle by a bus to West Drayton and then Great Western Rail to Windsor Central via Slough. I realize the rail portion of the journey is outside the Oyster area so I plan to purchase an Open Return ticket for travel between West Drayton and Windsor Central.

    Upon my return from Windsor, I do not wish to disembark at West Drayton. Rather, I wish to continue to Paddington. I will have a 7 day zone 1-2 travel card loaded on an Oyster. How do I arrange the ticketing?

    1. At the time I purchase my return ticket between West Drayton and Windsor Central, do I need to purchase a separate single ticket or extension of journey ticket, for use on the return trip, covering the travel between West Drayton and Boundary Zone 2, at which point my travel card covers the remainder of the journey between the boundary of zone 2 and Paddington?

    2. Would I be better off using the pay as I go balance on my Oyster card to cover the fare between West Drayton and the boundary of zone 2? Would that require that I exit the train at West Drayton, tap back in with my Oyster card, then wait for the next train to arrive with Paddington as the destination?

  160. Hi Stuart,

    You can do either. Option 2 will definitely be cheaper, but you will have to get off the train to touch in. The paper ticket is £4.30 while the Oyster extension is £1.50.

  161. Thank you, Mike.

    Would it work the same way if I want to visit Bletchley Park?

    1. Use my zone 1-2 travel card to take the tube to Euston.
    2. Go to a ticket window (not a machine) at Euston and ask for an off-peak, day return ticket between “Boundary Zone 2” and Bletchley.
    3. Tap on at Euston with my Oyster card.
    4. Use the rail ticket to exit at Bletchley.
    5. For the return voyage, use the return rail ticket to enter the platform at Bletchley.
    6. Use the Oyster card to exit at Euston.

    Do I have the procedure correct?

  162. Is there any prospect that Railcards would in future be added to registered contactless payment cards? Since the cards can be registered to the system, and the charges are applied daily, it seems technologically feasible to do so… Just wondered if you or anyone reading knew anything about this?
    Thanks

  163. Hi Stuart,

    Yes, that’s spot on. And enjoy Bletchley Park, it’s well worth the visit.

  164. Hi John,

    The issue is how to tell the inspector who might be checking your card that they have to ask to see a railcard as well. Obviously TfL can’t write anything to your contactless payment card.

  165. Hi Mike,

    I need to travel from Ewell West to Waterloo (return) on a weekend. Is it cheaper for me to obtain an Oyster card or just use my contactless debit card? I’m assuming both of those options will be cheaper than buying a return ticket which is £13.90. Thanks.

  166. Hi Aaron,

    Both Oyster and Contactless will cost the same for that journey. With Contactless you won’t need to put a deposit on the card or top up before using it.

  167. I have additional questions regarding my tourist visit to Bletchley Park, about which you advised me last month.

    If I am reading the tables correctly, off peak trains to Bletchley begin at an earlier time from Watford Junction than they begin from Euston. I could board a London Midland train departing Watford Junction at 9:03 and arriving Bletchley at 9:23, pay off-peak train fares, and arrive at Bletchley almost one hour before the arrival time of the earliest off-peak train which departs from Euston. I would also avoid the exorbitant peak hour fares between Euston and Bletchley.

    I could meet the 9:03 train from Watford Junction by beginning my journey at Gunnersbury (a proper starting point given the location of my hotel), changing trains at Willesden Junction, and there boarding a train to Watford Junction. If I touched the pink card reader at Willesden Junction, the peak hour fare from Gunnersbury to Watford Junction would be £4.10. I understand that because I would have only a zone 1-2, weekly travel card loaded on my Oyster card, the £4.10 fare would require pay-as-you-go funds and not count toward any daily cap.

    However, at the conclusion of my visit to Bletchley, I would wish to travel to Euston, not Watford Junction. The off-peak, return fare between Watford Junction and Bletchley appears to be £15.60. The off-peak, return fare between Boundary Zone 2 and Bletchley appears to be £15.70. If, on Monday, I were to visit a National Rail station ticket booth, purchase a Boundary Zone 2 to Bletchley, off-peak, return ticket, would I be allowed to use that ticket on Tuesday to board the 9:03 train at Watford Junction, then use any return train that day to travel the entire distance between Bletchley and Euston? Would I be doing anything improper?

  168. Hi Stuart,

    Any off-peak fares will count towards the cap for that day, although the cap including Watford Junction is quite high.

    The off-peak day return from boundary zone 2 is not valid until 0915 so you couldn’t use it on the 0903 from Watford Junction. Sadly it looks like you are going to have to juggle preferences, cost vs time vs convenience.

    One bit of good news is that you can do Gunnersbury to Watford Junction in the morning peak for just £3.50 on Oyster. Instead of touching the pink reader at Willesden Junction you should touch out at the gateline and then touch back in. You then benefit from the £1.80 off-peak single from Willesden Junction to Watford Junction having paid £1.70 for the peak single from Gunnersbury. Off-peak morning fares are only valid on the Euston to Watford Junction line itself.

  169. Hi I would like to go from Sutton to Flitwick (round trip) but on the way to there I have to stop and do something in Wandsworth Town hall. Which one would be the cheapest and best option. Going tomorrow saturday
    Thank you

  170. Hi Deni,

    The nearest station you can get to Wandsworth Town Hall on a permitted route from Sutton to Flitwick is Clapham Junction. If you want to get to/from Wandsworth Town then you’ll need to use Oyster or a separate ticket. From Sutton you can travel to Clapham Junction. After your break you can go to either Waterloo or Victoria and take the tube to either Blackfriars or St Pancras and pickup Thameslink to Flitwick from there.

    The cheapest ticket is a super off-peak return from Sutton to Flitwick which is available on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays.

  171. Hi Mike,
    I cannot understand the charge that has been made to my CPC.
    I travelled Sunday Sth Ken to Piccadilly and returned 90 mins later, same route. Later that day I travelled Sth Ken to LHR T3. I expected all of this. to be included in the Zone 1-9 cap and pay £11 however I was capped at £9.60.I phoned TfL as I thought I was undercharged and they couldn’t explain the breakdown. Can you? Many thanks

  172. Hi Brent,

    You were correctly charged. Contactless works out the best combination of caps and extension fares and charges that. In this case that is a zone 1-2 cap at £6.60 and two zones 3-6 Underground fares at £1.50 each. Had you used an Oyster card then you would have paid £11.00.

    As a side note, you would have been limited to the zones 1-6 cap as Heathrow Underground is in zone 6.

  173. Mike,
    We (USA) have requested and just received Capital One contactless Visa cards. There have been stoties of US Visa contactless cards not working in London. We arrive at Gatwick in September and wondered if there is any way to test our cards before we try to board a Thameslink train, or do we just try to use them and if they don’t work we’ll have to go back and get Oysters. How far would that be?

  174. Hi Bob,

    Capital One provide contactless cards over here too, so I’d be surprised if they didn’t work. You could call them and see if they can reassure you. Otherwise there is a TfL desk within Gatwick, not far from the station, where Oysters can be bought.

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