Oyster card

How to Buy an Oyster Card? (Where, How, Prices, Tips, FAQ)

If you want to know how to buy an Oyster Card, here is the answer: You can purchase an Oyster Card at Oyster Ticket Stops, London Underground stations, and Oyster Ticket Shops, as well as online from the Transport for London website.

An Oyster card serves as a clever card that provides the means to settle payments for transportation on public conveyances within London. It grants a practical and economical solution to navigate the urban metropolis, offering its utility across the Tube, buses, trams, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), London Overground, TfL Rail, and most National Rail services encompassing the area. A prominent advantage of utilizing the Oyster card lies in its frequent affordability in comparison to purchasing paper tickets or making cash payments. This card possesses an automated mechanism that computes the most favourable fare for each excursion, considering both the time of day and the zones through which one travels. Also, if you are looking for alternatives to Oyster cards you can use Contactless payment cards and Travelcards.

Additionally, the Oyster card accommodates pay-as-you-go options and the ability to load Travelcard or Bus & Tram Pass season tickets. The simplistic operation represents another selling point for the Oyster card, as all that is required is a gentle tap of the card on the yellow card reader at the commencement and conclusion of a venture. Concerns about ticket procurement or possessing exact change become inconsequential, especially since card top-ups can be effortlessly executed online, at stations, or designated Oyster Ticket Stops. In this discourse, we shall delve into the process of acquiring an Oyster Card. In essence, the Oyster card emerges as a convenient and cost-effective approach towards remunerating travel costs involving public transport within the London vicinity.


What is an Oyster Card?

London boasts an ingenious resolution for traversing its expansive public transportation network: the incredibly resourceful Oyster card. This reusable and cutting-edge smart card presents a remarkably efficient and economical means to effortlessly navigate the bustling city. Serving as an all-encompassing payment system, the Oyster card seamlessly facilitates travel across numerous modes of transportation, including the renowned Underground, buses, trams, the highly regarded Docklands Light Railway (DLR), the esteemed London Overground, TfL Rail, and the majority of National Rail services within the vicinity.

The real magic lies in the card’s ability to store funds that you can utilize to cover your trips. Adding credit to your Oyster card can be done at stations, Oyster Ticket Stops, or online. As you use the card for your travels, the fare for each journey is automatically deducted from the balance stored on it. The card is smart enough to calculate the most favourable fare based on the time of day and the zones you travel through. The Oyster card offers several advantages over traditional paper tickets or cash payments.

Notably, it is less costly. For instance, paying with cash will value you a widespread £4.90 for a single Underground journey in central London, whereas, an Oyster card will cost you £2.40.

Moreover, the Oyster card’s adaptability surpasses pay-as-you-go voyages; it can likewise be filled with Travelcard or Bus & Tram Pass season tickets, granting added flexibility. Additionally, as a pocket-friendly alternative, the Oyster card proves exceedingly user-friendly. Commencing and concluding your expedition is a breeze – simply tap your card against the glistening yellow card reader. Bid farewell to the concerns of ticket procurement and the exact change hassle, as you conveniently reload your card via online platforms, stations, or Oyster Ticket Stops. Altogether, the Oyster card presents a streamlined and budget-friendly approach to London’s public transportation payment system. It not only saves you monetary resources in comparison to cash or paper tickets but also simplifies the entire mechanism of navigating the city.

Where to Buy an Oyster Card?

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There are various avenues for acquiring an Oyster card, each offering its own convenience:

1. Online Purchase: You have the option to procure an Oyster card through the Transport for London (TfL) official website. This method proves highly convenient, ensuring that your Oyster card awaits you upon your arrival in the vibrant city of London.

2. Stations: Oyster cards are available for purchase at multiple London locations, encompassing Tube stations, London Overground stations, TfL Rail stations, and National Rail stations. To obtain one, you can effortlessly locate either a ticket machine or a staffed ticket office.

3. Oyster Ticket Stops: Another accessible option is to buy an Oyster card at Oyster Ticket Stops, which are widely dispersed among newsagents and small shops across London. Keep an eye out for the distinctive Oyster Ticket Stop sign displayed in shop windows.

4. Visitor Centres: Tourists in London can obtain a Visitor Oyster card by paying a visit to TfL Visitor Centres, conveniently situated at major transportation hubs such as Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport, and King’s Cross Station.


How to Buy an Oyster Card Online?

Here are the updated instructions for purchasing an Oyster card online:

To get your hands on an Oyster card through the internet, simply follow these step-by-step directions:

  1. Start by visiting the dedicated online platform associated with Transport for London (TfL), which you can easily find at the following web address: https://tfl.gov.uk/.
  2. In the top menu, locate the “Fares” section and choose “Oyster” from the dropdown menu.
  3. Scroll down the page until you arrive at the section labelled “Acquiring an Oyster Card.”
  4. Within this section, select the “Order Online” option.
  5. This action will take you to the online store, where you’ll be presented with the choice of two types of Oyster cards: the standard card or the Visitor Oyster card. Determine which card suits your needs and click the “Add to cart” button.
  6. At this point, you’ll either need to create a new account or log in if you already have one. Follow the provided instructions to complete this step successfully.
  7. After signing in successfully, you’ll be directed to your shopping cart. Take a moment to thoroughly review all the details of your order.
  8. If everything looks correct, proceed by clicking the “Checkout” button.
  9. Enter all the required information, including your delivery details and payment information. Once you’ve filled in the necessary fields, click the “Continue” button.
  10. Before confirming your order, double-check all the information you’ve provided, especially your delivery details.
  11. When you’re satisfied with the accuracy of your order, complete the process by clicking the “Place order” button.
  12. Subsequently, your Oyster card will be dispatched to the specified address, and you can expect its arrival within a few days.


How to Buy an Oyster Card in Person?

Here is a detailed guide on how to purchase an Oyster card in person:

  1. Locate a suitable establishment where you can acquire an Oyster card. This could be a Tube station, London Overground station, TfL Rail station, National Rail station, Oyster Ticket Stop, or TfL Visitor Centre.
  2. If you find yourself at a station, seek out a ticket machine or a ticket office with staff assistance. At an Oyster Ticket Stop, be on the lookout for the distinctive sign indicating its presence.
  3. When utilizing a ticket machine, choose the option to procure an Oyster card. Follow the instructions on the screen to specify the type of card you desire (standard or Visitor) and include any desired credit or travel/bus and tram pass season tickets.
  4. If you are at a staffed ticket office or an Oyster Ticket Stop, consult a staff member to acquire an Oyster card. They will guide you in selecting the appropriate card type and adding any desired credit or Travelcard/Bus & Tram Pass season tickets.
  5. Make payment for your Oyster card using either cash or a debit/credit card.
  6. Upon completing your payment, you will be given your Oyster card. You can begin utilizing it immediately for your travels on public transportation in London.


How to Top Up Your Oyster Card?

There are numerous methods available for topping up your Oyster card, which encompasses the following options:

  • Online Method: One way to recharge your Oyster card is by accessing your account on the official website of Transport for London (TfL). After successfully logging in, navigate to the section labelled “Add a credit or purchase a season ticket.” Proceed by following the given instructions to incorporate funds into your card.
  • TfL App: Another avenue for topping up your Oyster card involves the utilization of the TfL Oyster and contactless application. Commence by acquiring the app from either the App Store or Google Play. Upon installation, sign into your account and proceed to follow the instructions provided to add credit to your card.
  • Stations: A variety of locations around London offer facilities for recharging your Oyster card. These include Tube stations, London Overground stations, TfL Rail stations, and National Rail stations. Simply locate a ticket machine or a staffed ticket office within these stations. At a ticket machine, select the appropriate option to add credit to your Oyster card and adhere to the on-screen directives. Conversely, at a staffed ticket office, kindly request assistance from a staff member to have your card topped up.
  • Oyster Ticket Stops: You can also top up your Oyster card at Oyster Ticket Stops, which are in many newsagents and small shops across London. Look for the Oyster Ticket Stop sign in the window, then ask the staff member to top up your card.


Prices of Oyster card

A regular Oyster ticket requires a payment of £5, which cannot be reimbursed. Then, you have the option to augment the balance on the card to cover your transportation expenses. The Visitor Oyster ticket, on the other hand, carries the same price of £5 (in addition to postage charges) and comes pre-equipped with pay-as-you-go funds for your travel needs. You have the freedom to select the specific amount of credit you wish to assign to your card: £10, £15, £20, £25, £30, £35, £40 or £50. The funds on your ticket remain intact indefinitely, retaining their value until utilized.


A man holding Oyster Card


Frequently Asked Questions


1. Is it more cost-effective to utilize an Oyster card rather than purchasing paper tickets or making cash payments?

Undoubtedly, using an Oyster card is often more economical compared to buying paper tickets or settling with cash. The card automatically computes the most favourable fare for your journey, considering the time of day and the zones you traverse. For instance, if you pay with cash, a solitary trip on the Tube in central London amounts to £4.90, whereas it costs only £2.40 with an Oyster card.


2. How To Travel In London Without An Oyster Card?

If you don’t have an Oyster card, there are still several ways to travel around London. Here are some options:

  • Contactless payment: In the bustling city of London, the realm of public transportation offers you the opportunity to seamlessly navigate your way through the urban expanse. A splendid alternative to the traditional Oyster card emerges as you can now embrace the convenience of employing a contactless debit or credit card for your travel payment needs. This marvellous innovation allows you, dear traveller, to commence and conclude your expedition with a mere touch upon the vibrant yellow card reader, just like its Oyster counterpart. As if by magic, the intricate calculations to determine the expenditure of your voyage are instantly executed, effortlessly extracting the necessary funds from your esteemed bank account.
  • Mobile payment: In addition, you have the option to utilize convenient mobile payment options like Apple Pay or Google Pay for the purpose of making payments when utilizing public transportation services within London. All you need to do is link your debit or credit card to your mobile wallet and then employ your phone to conveniently tap on and off the designated yellow card reader.
  • Paper tickets: You can buy paper tickets for single journeys or day travel cards at ticket machines or staffed ticket offices at stations. However, keep in mind that paper tickets are often more expensive than using an Oyster card or contactless payment.
  • Travelcards: If you anticipate undertaking extensive journeys in the city of London, it would be prudent to contemplate acquiring a Travelcard. These nifty cards provide an unrestricted opportunity to traverse specific zones within a predetermined timeframe (for example, a solitary day, an entire week, or even an entire month). The acquisition of a Travelcard can be accomplished by either procuring tangible paper variants at the automated ticket dispensers or the staffed ticket offices conveniently stationed at various stations or alternatively, embedding the Travelcard onto an Oyster card should you possess one.

In summary, even if you don’t have an Oyster card, there are still several ways to travel around London, including using contactless payment, mobile payment, paper tickets, or Travelcards.


3. What distinguishes a typical Oyster card from a Visitor Oyster card?

A typical Oyster card is intended for residents of London, whereas a Visitor Oyster card caters specifically to individuals visiting the city. Both types of cards function in the same manner and can be utilized to pay for transportation on public transit throughout London. However, a Visitor Oyster card offers supplementary advantages, including discounts on attractions and dining establishments.


4. Can I employ my Oyster card for all modes of public transportation in London?

Your Oyster card can be utilized on most public transportation options in London, encompassing the Tube, buses, trams, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), London Overground, TfL Rail, and most National Rail services within London. Nonetheless, some exceptions do apply, such as river bus services and select National Rail services beyond London.


5. Am I allowed to share my Oyster card with others?

Regrettably, it is not permissible to share your Oyster card with other individuals. Each person must possess their own Oyster card to cover travel expenses on public transit within London.


6. What is the procedure if I misplace my Oyster card?

If you misplace your Oyster card, prompt reporting of its loss or theft is crucial. If your card is registered, you can report it as lost or stolen online by accessing your account on the Transport for London (TfL) website. Alternatively, if your card is unregistered, you can report it as lost or stolen by contacting TfL Customer Services. Once you have reported the loss or theft of your card, you will be issued a replacement card and the remaining balance will be transferred to it.


7. How to buy oyster cards from the machine? 

A smart card called the Oyster card enables you to conveniently pay for your public transportation fares within London. To acquire an Oyster card, you can visit any Tube, DLR, London Overground, Elizabeth Line, or National Rail station in London and purchase it from a ticket machine. The card itself costs £7, and you must then load it with pay-as-you-go credit or choose to add a season ticket. Here are the steps to obtain an Oyster card from a machine:

1. Go to the main screen and select ‘Oyster cards.’
2. Choose ‘Get a new Oyster card.’
3. Specify the amount of pay-as-you-go credit you wish to load onto your card (minimum £5).
4. Decide if you want to include a 7-day, Monthly, or Annual Travelcard.
5. Make your payment using either cash or a card.
6. Retrieve your Oyster card and receipt from the machine.

If you reside in the UK, you also have the option to purchase an Oyster card online through a contactless Oyster account or obtain one from an Oyster Ticket Stop, available in numerous newsagents across London. Visitors to London can opt for a Visitor Oyster card for short-term use.


 Tips and advice for using an Oyster card include:

  • Remember to touch in and out: Make sure to touch your Oyster card on the yellow card reader at the start and end of your journey. This will ensure that you pay the correct fare.
  • Register your card: Consider registering your Oyster card online to protect your balance in case your card is lost or stolen. You can also view your journey history and apply for refunds online.
  • Check for discounts: If you’re eligible for a discount (e.g. if you’re a student or over 60), make sure to apply for a discount Oyster photocard to get reduced fares.



An Oyster card functions as a savvy card that allows for payment of transportation expenses when travelling on public conveyance within London. It proves to be a convenient and economically feasible means of traversing the city. It demonstrates compatibility with the buses, trams, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), London Overground, TfL Rail, and the majority of National Rail services in London. An Oyster card can be procured online, at various stations, Oyster Ticket Stops, or any of the TfL Visitor Centres. Following the acquisition of the card, one can effortlessly replenish its value through online channels, utilizing the TfL application, at stations, or by visiting an Oyster Ticket Stop.