An independent guide, including when not to use Oyster
Full definitions list is being worked on. Please see the fares guide page for an up-to-date list of which lines are charged at which rates.
This page updated 12 September 2016.
i have a couple of questions: 1) which area does travel card for 1-6 zone cover, where to find the map?
2) I have a 1-6 zone annual, I need to go to windsor…what extra ticket should i buy?
The map is on this page on the TfL website. You’ll need to buy a Boundary Zone 6 to Windsor ticket. The one to Central is slightly cheaper than the one to Riverside. The train does not need to stop at the boundary station (West Drayton or Feltham). As you have a season ticket you could also buy a ticket from the relevant boundary station. These can be bought online while the boundary zone 6 tickets can only be bought at a ticket office.
Interestingly if you check the National Rail site (eg journey from SFA to STP 00:00 9th September) you can use an Oyster from Stratford International to St Pancras.
Also from this page on this site http://www.oyster-rail.org.uk/2012/05/olympic-volunteer-oyster-cards/ there is a link to
Sorry for the delay responding. I tried putting in the time and date you suggested and I believe that the Oyster fare is triggered by the fifth option which is Stratford Intl to Startford Regional by DLR, Stratford to Liverpool Street by GA and Liverpool Street to Kings Cross St Pancras by tube. The Oyster fare disappears if you select 2300 on 8th September.
As to the link, I’ll be adding a new page to the site soon.
Hello, Any idea why there is this different fares policy between the two groups of lines and if there are any plans to harmonise them? It is advantageous for those travelling on a ‘red’ line only but more expensive if they then have to switch to tube to complete the journey. I can’t see any price discrimination logic behind that.
It’s frustrating isn’t it? The red lines are the services run by TOCs who did not agree with TfLs pricing policies. I think the best hope for harmonisation is likely to come if TfL/LOROL takes over some/all of these lines.
There does however appear to be an anomaly on the Kew Gardens to Waterloo (district to Richmond then NR) route. As a through fare it should cost £3.70 off-peak but in fact it only costs £2.60. Perhaps because it is not using the tube in zone 1. Wonder if there are any other such exceptions?
Between Gunnersbury and Richmond counts as NR because it is also served by London Overground, hence you are not actually using the tube for that journey.
Ah that clears up that mystery then. Thanks! I always assumed that Overground was treated as a normal tube line, because it appears on the map. (and I meant £2.40, which is indeed the NR 1-4)
My fiancée uses Zone1-3 from Walthamstow central to Liverpool Street station using the train. She has a Zone 1-3 7 day travelcard. She complained on several occasions that she had to top up her oyster. Isn’t it so, that You could use your Oyster in the London Zones without additional charges? I checked her Journey history apparently some days she get charged at the station some days she won’t. I do not really understand this. Any pointers in the right direction? For trains shall I forget the Zone 1-3 travelcards and use pay as you go?
Oyster is definitely useable between Walthamstow Central and Liverpool Street either on National Rail or the tube. If she only makes that one return journey each day then it is possible that a travelcard is more expensive, but if she adds any other travel (eg weekends) or buses then it probably is worthwhile. If you can provide a screen print of the journey history I’ll send you an email address to send it to. I can then try and work out what has happened.
I have figured out what is the problem. She is getting off at Wood street which Is Zone 4 (I totally forgot about this)… Her travelcard is only Zone 1-3.
Thank you for the help anyways. My mistake. But at least I am assured that from Walthamstow Central to Liverpool Street it should definitely work.
No problem, Greg. Thanks for letting us know.
I have an Oyster Card, last used in 2008. I am returning to London for a visit in May and am trying to top up my card on line. I cannot set up an account because it will not accept my New Zealand phone number or my post code. Is there any way I can top up my card on line so that I can use it instantly when leaving Heathrow?
I’ve heard about this problem before. Do you have a UK address (relative or friend perhaps) that you could use? I’m pretty sure nothing will be sent there. Alternatively you will be able to top up using a credit/debit card at Heathrow tube station before you travel.
Fantastic site, really helps to make sense of the ridiculously overcomplicated system.
But would like to know: is all London Overground counted as National Rail? So a journey that went NationalRail-Overground-NationalRail would be charged National Rail rates?
I only ask because I recently did a journey from Hornsey to Beckenham Junction via H&I, ELL and Crystal Palace. This was a journey recommended by TfL journeyplanner. I touched the pink reader at H&I and was expecting to pay for NR1-4, but it charged me the integrated fare – I guess this means they assumed I took the Vicky to Kings Cross, then Circle Line to Farringdon before changing onto Thameslink, because I don’t see else how I could have got on and off the Underground without going thru an OSI at some point. Anyway, your thought would be most welcome.
This is a similar journey to the one I made a few years back which also resulted in a mixed fare. I complained to the helpdesk and after an exchange of emails they agreed to adjust the default fare from the next fares change. It did require approval from the TOCs as well though. Mine was Crayford to Ally Pally and I think they changed all combinations from South Eastern land via New Cross to FCC land north of Finsbury Park.
You do have a compelling arguement because entering Hornsey to Beckenham Junction via New Cross Gate into a ticket site like southeasternrailway.co.uk will offer itinerarys via your route at the “NOT UNDERGROUND” rate. I suggest emailing the helpdesk and asking them to pass your request to the fares setting department.
However, you do have the option of an even cheaper fare with a slight detour. Take the Overground to Stratford then Central/District to Whitechapel (via same platform interchange at Mile End) and pick up the ELL there. You need to touch both pink validators at Highbury and Islington and Stratford, but it will then only charge you a NR* zone 2-4 fare. *Outside zone 1 there is no difference between NR only and NR + TfL fares.
You are right though, at the moment the default fare is via Farringdon with a NR only option if changing between Kings Cross and St Pancras International.
Thank you very much for your detailed reply. Have emailed the fares desk and will see what they say.
Was aware of the Stratford route, but it is an awful way round and I didn’t have bags of time to spare. What’s really galling is that Journey Planner recommended the ELL route – so it’s very strange that Single Fare Finder should avoid it entirely.
Thanks again for your reply. I thought I’d misunderstood what counts as National Rail for the purpose of Overground trains, or that some vestige of the old Underground ELL was messing with fares. Really the whole system is in dire need of simplification,
Could you kindly advice on the cheapest travel method from either walthamstow/leyton to oxford circus/piccadilly circus on oyster . thanks
Any rail journey between those stations should cost the same.
I’ve got a 16-25 Railcard and I’m wanting to go from Tooting Broadway to North Greenwich. Zones 1-3 (peak single) is 3.20, and zones 2-3 (peak single) is 1.60. Tooting is zone 2, and north greenwich is 2&3. which of the fares would I be charged? I ask because I have been previously charged both fares respectively and it’s really confusing!
Obviously your railcard has no effect on peak fares. The higher fare applies when you travel via zone 1, eg Tooting to London Bridge on the northern line then to North Greenwich on the jubilee line. The cheaper fare involves changing between Clapham North and High Street and again at Canada Water. In both cases North Greenwich is treated as being in zone 2 because you get there from the zone 2 side.
Glad I found this site after much Googling! I think you’ve already answered my question in the very first question on this page. I intend to make a journey from Paddington to Windsor & Eton Central (via the fast train to Slough). I will have a Z1-6 travelcard already – will I be able to purchase a Z6 boundary extension return fare (even though the train will not be stopping in zone 6) – and will I only be able to purchase this from Paddington or can I purchase it from any ticket office in the country? Also – is there anywhere to be able to check how much various boundary fares would be – is it a case of simply finding the last station in zone 6 and using that?
Not really an Oyster question, but here goes anyway. You can purchase BZ extensions from any ticket office as long as you already have the travelcard (or are buying it at the same time). A ticket from the last station in zone 6 isn’t always the sane price, and if you have that then the train must call at that station, unless the travelcard is a season. Try http://www.brfares.com for fares.
Getting a bit confused about tickets beyond Zone 6 and wondering if you can help. A friend and I are doing a big round trip at the weekend as follows….
Thames Ditton to Waterloo (SWtrain) then on to Upney (tube)
Upney to Tilbury Town (tube to Upminster then c2c train)
Tilbury to Gravesend (ferry)
Gravesend to Waterloo (South Eastern train) then Waterloo to Thames Ditton (SWtrain)
I have a Oyster card, my friend will be buying a 1-6 Travelcard.
Should we be buying boundary tickets or normal train tickets for the bits outside of the areas covered by our Oyster and Travelcard and can we just buy these at Upminster and Gravesend en route or do we need to buy them when my friend buys her travel card at Thames Ditton? (the ferry is obviously a separate thing – v.excited about the ferry!)
Does your Oyster card contain a travelcard season? If it does and it is zones 1-6 then paper tickets from Upminster to Tilbury and from Gravesend to Boundary zone 6 are what you will both need. These can be bought at Thames Ditton, or in London, or at any booking office really.
If you are intending using Pay As You Go then it becomes a bit more awkward. You can touch out at Upminster without too much hassle as you are changing trains there. You also have the option of continuing to Grays using PAYG, but I doubt it would save much, if anything. You would still need to touch out where-ever you switch to the paper ticket. Coming back from Gravesend is a lot more tricky. The Oyster area starts to the West of Dartford. Rather than buying a single to boundary zone 6 you’ll need to name one of the stations. Crayford is the best bet as half the trains from Gravesend to Waterloo go via there. You’ll need to get off to touch in. There is a platform validator behind the vending machine on the up platform which you should be near enough to in the 3rd coach of a 4-car train or the 5th coach of anything longer. The other trains from Gravesend run fast from Dartford to Abbey Wood which will cost more for the paper ticket. You would need to be in the back coach to get to the gates, but some formations will still stop a way further up the platform.
Hope that helps.
That’s such brilliant info! Thank you so much 🙂
i have a valid ticket for overground harlow to tottenham hale, does anyone know if i can use my oyster to stay on the national rail till liverpool street?
Unless your Oyster has a season ticket covering zones 1-3 then no, you’ll need to get off the train to touch in. See this page for full details.
I need to travel on the underground to whitechapel and then change to the overground to go to Denmark Hill. Please could you tell me if there is an oyster reader on whitechapel station or do I need to purchase a separate ticket
Yes, there are pink route validators at Whitechapel which you should touch when interchanging. Otherwise touch in at your start station and out at Denmark Hill.
I have a Priv ticket zones 1-4 which states travel TFL RAIL Only Std, can I use this ticket to get me to Edmonton Green from Seven Sisters, using the trains ?
In a word, no. This might change if this is one of the lines being transfered to London Overground, but it won’t be valid today.
Does anybody know if I can use my weekly greater anglia travel card on the c2c line at the weekends.
I don’t know. If it is a travelcard from outside the zones then it is obviously valid on all routes within zones 1-6. To check any other validity I’d need to know exactly what the ticket is, including from, to, route and price.
I have an bus operator nominee oyster and would like to know if i would be able to get free travel from tottenham hale to liverpool street?
This is not my area of expertise, but a google search suggests not. You would need to use the Underground via Kings Cross (Vic then Circle).
I am consistently charged peak rate for journeys from Carshalton to London VIctoria during the evening peak period though this seems to fall within exception 1 of the rule that peak period fares will be charged. Could I avoid this by travelling instead to Waterloo, as the pilot stretch from Victoria to Balham – and presumably vice versa .- seems to be the culprit here. All tfl will reply is that I am travelling at a peak time, which, if the exception does apply is not very helpful.
The whole journey comes under NR rates, not just the pilot stretch. Going to Waterloo won’t make any difference, I’m afraid.
I have a yearly travelcard from Twyford to London Zones 1-6. Can I some how link this paper travelcard to my oyster card because at the moment I’m having to use the paper travelcard at every entrance and exit on the tube. Thanks.
Only travelcards wholly within the Oyster area can be loaded onto cards.
That’s a shame but thanks for coming back to me so quickly Mike.
Hey tomarrown I hawe to go to kent, ill take train from london victoria station. Can u pass with oystercard or do I need to buy tickets for travel thx.
It depends where you are going to in Kent. St Mary Cray is as far as you can get on the mainline from Victoria.
Its swanley station sir, tomarrow morning.
Sorry, Swanley is outside the Oyster area.
Can I use my Oyster card for a journey from Cannon Street Station to Deptford station?
Yes you can.
Hi, thanks so much for your useful site! Is there any difference between tfl and national rail issued 7 day travel cards? They seem to have different prices but not sure on difference in usage. For example I want a travel card for zones 2-6 to travel between Barnes and Surbiton via Clapham Junction, which is on nr services, can I get a travel card through tfl on my oyster?
You can get a travelcard for zones 2-6, but it will cost more than a rail only season. If you only use the SWT then that is your best option.
On Saturday I wish to travel on my Oyster 60+, from Swanley Kent into Central London. Can I do this or do I have to pay extra for the Swanley to St Mary Cray bit?
Good news, the validity for the 60+ card is the same as the freedom pass, so includes Swanley. You may have to be let through the barriers if there are any.
Such a helpful site, thanks!
I have a quick question. Your definition mentions that Oyster cards are not accepted on southeastern high speed trains at certain stops, is this so for Gravesend to St. Pancreas? So I wouldn’t be able to travel to and from these stations with a zone 1-6 oyster travel card? Thanks in advance!
Inboundary travelcards (Oyster or paper) are not valid on HS1. However, a Gravesend to zones 1-6 travelcard route “Plus High Speed” is valid between Gravesend and St Pancras via Ebbsfleet.
I just rented a place near Hornsey Station and was wondering whether an Oyster Zone 1-3 Travelcard would allow me to travel to Moorgate using national rail?
Yes it will, Kooze.
I have a monthly travel card for zone 1 to 4. I need to travel to St James Park for work. I was told that it was faster to catch the c2c from Barking to Fenchurch street in terms of commute. I was just wondering if this would be covered by my Oyster card or not?
Yes it is covered and yes it will be quicker. Make sure you exit down the stairs in the middle of the platforms rather than at the front of the train as that exit is half the distance to Tower Hill.
just a enquiring can i use my oyster card from seven sister underground to edmonton green rail station on the greater anglia train
Yes, you can.
My daughter has a monthly 16-18 oyster travel card for zones 1-6.We would prefer her journey to start and finish in Swanley instead of St Mary Cray. Is it possible to buy a swanley to boundary zone 6 monthly season ticket and if so how much would it be?
Unfortunately the person in the ticket office is either unable or unwilling to discuss boundary zone tickets as he says he has never heard of them.
You can’t get season tickets to Boundary zone destinations, only singles and returns. You would need to buy paper return tickets between Swanley and St Mary Cray if you want her to be able to use fast trains. If you buy a season ticket then the train she’s on would have to call at St Mary Cray.
Visiting London tomorrow and will have a combined rail and 1-4 travel card. I hope to get to Denmark Hill via Whitechapel and the overground. Can I do this?
Yes, that’s fine.
just wondering….is it still a more expensive ticket to go from stratford internation station to Kings cross on the 7 minute train or can you know use your oyster card? cheers!
Yes, it is still more expensive.
I have a bus operator nominee pass, I want to go from Stratford international to Tottenham Hale, can I use my bus operator pass as a payable oyster, if so do you know how much this will cost?
Much appreciated Mike, have a Merry Xmas
Jay Clemens MAO
I don’t think you can, but I’m not 100% sure about the rules of the various staff oyster cards.
Hi Mike, is Harold Wood to Gloucester Road a single journey, and does it matter if this is via Liverpool Street (using exit barriers) or via Stratford onto the tube network? TFL fare finder quotes £5.20 off peak, whereas a single zone 1-6 is £3.10. Even if it is 2 journeys (HW to LS Z1-6 then LS to GR Z1) it should be £3.10 + £2.30 = £5.40??
This is the difference between TfL fares, NR fares and NR+TfL through fares. Harold Wood to Gloucester Road is a NR+TfL through fare. If you travelled from Upminster it would be the TfL fare of £3.10. Harold Wood to Liverpool Street actually costs £3.60 as that is a NR fare. When you travel onwards on the underground that is increased to the through fare as long as the interchange is made within the given time (20 minutes NR-LU).
I travel from Chafford Hundred to Victoria everyday during peak hours using the C2C and changing at Fenchurch street.
I pay £14.30 a day on contactless travel or £15.60 a day on Oyster pay as you go (not sure why they are different).
Is there any cheaper season ticket available for me or an alternative route you could suggest?
I know why contactless is cheaper, though I think it should be £14.60 rather than £14.30*. For each daily set of journeys it compares the combination of each daily cap plus extension fares. In this case the cheapest I can find is the zone 1-4 daily cap of £9.20 plus two zone 5-Grays journeys at £2.70 each. If you use the same contactless card all week it would be £73.00. The paper weekly travelcard from Chafford Hundred is £83.80 so that’s not going to help. Neither is a rail only season to Fenchurch Street (£55.90) plus 10 zone 1 singles (£23.00), so I think contactless is the best way for now.
*Actually £14.30 would suggest one extension journey is off-peak – can you give me some timings for all touches on a day when £14.30 was charged?
It is £14.30 a day for some reason.
Touch in at 06:52 at chafford hundred and touch out at Fenchurch Street at 07:30 (roughly) and then touch back in at Tower Hill at 07:32 and touch out at Victoria at 07:55.
Then in the evening, touch in at Victoria at 17:05 and touch out at Tower Hill at 17:28. Lastly, touch in at Fenchurch street at 17:30 and touch out at Chafford at 18:10.
As there is no cheaper alternative, do you know if the freedom pass would work at Chafford as it is outside London but still in the pay as you go bit?
Thank you so much.
That’s puzzling. Can you confirm what it charges for each journey? The freedom pass is not valid at Chafford Hundred. If you are eligible for a freedom pass then you’d be better off using an Oyster or CPC for Chafford Hundred to Upminster then get off and touch out before using the freedom pass on the next train. Do the reverse on the way home.
It simply charges £7.80 in the morning and £6.50 in the evening and does not break it down any further. Although it does mention in brackets “daily capping” for the return journey which is £6.50.
Well £7.80 is exactly what I’d expect in the morning as that is a peak single from Grays group to zone 1 beyond Fenchurch Street or Liverpool Street. By the evening it has converted this to a zone 1-4 daily cap at £9.20 plus Grays to zone 5 peak single at £2.70 plus zone 5 to Grays off-peak single at £2.40. I wouldn’t complain if I were you.
I will be staying near Stratford International and need to go to King’s Cross daily. I am planning to apply monthly Travelcard (Z1-3) linked to Oyster but I read that Oyster is not valid on Southeastern high speed from Stratford International. How do I plan my journey?
Thank you for your answer
As long as you only want to travel between Stratford and St Pancras then a rail only season ticket at £121.40/month will work. It’s not as good as the travelcard, obviously, but the 8 minute journey time is quite outstanding.
Staying in Vauxall on hols. Purchased oyster card kids travelling free. Trip planned to legoland tomorrow can oystercard be used? or what cheapest route to get to Windsor. 2 adults & 2 kids.
While kids under 12 travel free on TfL trains, only those under 5 travel free on trains to Windsor. Oyster can only be used as far as Feltham so, as it’s likely to be the only journey you make, I’d just get paper returns from Vauxhall to Windsor & Eton Riverside.
Is a journey between Deptford Bridge DLR and Cannon St National Rail covered by an Oyster annual season ticket for zones 1 & 2? (this journey involves changing from DLR to Rail at Greenwich).
I currently use Oyster PAYG and this journey is £4.20 whereas a DLR to DLR/Underground (not via
National Rail) is only £2.90, so was thinking if covered by a season ticket would be way cheaper?
Yes, the DLR between Lewisham and Cutty Sark is all along the boundary between zones 2 and 3, so as long as you don’t travel away from London at Greenwich it is just zone 2.
I currently have an annual gold rail card from Walthamstow Central to London Liverpool street which expires mid October. As this line is now under London Overground rather than previous National Rail, will I have to buy a 3-zone travel card at £500 more a year or can I still get a rail card for that journey
TfL pledged not to remove any of the previously available season tickets when they took over the line, so you should be ok still.
I’m confused again southern’s site says zones 1-6 for oyster
Does this mean I need to get off at Wembley when travelling north to Watford and swipe out?
Absolutely not. Southern are being simplistic and forgetting that Oyster is valid to Watford on their out of area service. What they are trying to convey is that it isn’t valid south of zone 6. Of course it soon will be when the extensions to Epsom and Gatwick Airport go live.
Hi mike What is the cheapest way to get from Swanley Kent to oxford circus will be using a couple ntactless card
At the moment you can’t use Oyster (or contactless) to travel from Swanley, even though readers are being installed. Until they are switched on you will need a paper ticket.
I travel from Iver to London Victoria at peak time, 4 weekdays a week. I currently get a paper ticket from Iver to London Victoria via Ealing Broadway with return at a cost of £14.90 each travelling day. As I don’t travel 5 days a week, I find it cheaper to purchase the daily tickets rather than weekly or monthly. I wanted to check with you if there is a cheaper way for me?
Sadly that is the cheapest option for your journey.
I have been looking for a list of AKA or abbreviation to some of the ones used here oep still have not worked that one out
OEP was Oyster extension permit, but it’s an old feature so redundant now. I will get around to expanding on this page at some point.
I have being told by representative of TfL, I can travel for free with my 60+ Oyster card from Fenchurch Street/Liverpool Street to Grays, because it is TfL Rail. Is this correct or is it incorrect?
TfL Rail: The underground, DLR and train services within zones 1-9 which joined the Oyster system before January 2010 (apart from the pilot stretch between Victoria and Balham). These are London Overground, London Midland, First Great Western, Heathrow Connect*, Chiltern, Thameslink between Elephant & Castle/London Bridge and West Hampstead, Great Northern between Kings Cross/Moorgate and Finsbury Park, Greater Anglia, TfL-Rail and C2C between Fenchurch Street/Liverpool Street and Grays.
Sorry, no it is not. TfL Rail was first coined by me to try and describe the groups of lines charged at the TfL scale. It was subsequently hi-jacked by them to describe the Crossrail-in-waiting services between Liverpool Street and Shenfield. I really ought to have updated this page sooner.
I have an annual season train zone 2 to 3 and also an oyster PAYU on it. I am travelling from Lee to Gatwick and not sure whether to just touch in and out with my oyster or buy ticket at my rail office and get 30% off with my annual gold card?
First thing is to make sure that your Oyster has the discount flag set so you also get 34% off PAYG off-peak fares/caps. Then use your Oyster unless you are starting the journey between 1600-1900 when peak single fares apply on Oyster. At that time a paper ticket will be cheaper with the gold card discount.
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