Get An Oyster Card Before You Hit London

Get An Oyster Card Before You Hit London
If you’re ever going to spend more than half a day in London, having an Oyster card (the smart card used for the Underground, buses and trains) is absolutely essential. Save yourself queuing and hassle by ordering one before you head off.

As a tourist, it’s often tempting just to buy individual tickets in a foreign city, but in London, that’s a costly exercise. A single Zone 1 tube trip costs £4 with a paper ticket, compared to £1.60 on an Oyster. The system also has an intelligent pay-as-you-go module: if you spend more than the value of a daily pass in a single day, the value gets capped at that amount.

There’s a £2 activation fee, and delivery to Australia takes around 12 days, according to London Transport. Arm yourself with one of these and you can jump straight on the tube at Heathrow, rather than queuing with your luggage and cursing the world at large.

Transport for London Online Shop


  • I spent a week and a bit in London (travelled around Europe as well) during last Feb, got an Oyster card and it’s pretty good (don’t forget, most of the time you need to swipe it twice, once on entry at one station, once on exit at the other station).
    I think it’s subsidised (if i’m not using the correct word, of course feel free to correct me) by IKEA, as there are a bunch of IKEA ads around the stations, a logo on the cards (iirc) and some of the holders for the cards you get are also IKEA’d.

    It’s practically the same system as the Octopus card in HK, and the failed T-Card system we had here in NSW.

    I think the biggest reason it didn’t work in Australia was cost, which is a bummer, travel would be so much easier.

    • Also, I forgot to add, I bought my Oyster card after landing in London, practically all of the newsagents at the stations (there’s literally one at every station, and the food they sell isn’t half-bad either) sell the Oyster cards, and they usually have a stack of them too. Ticket offices and some specialised vending machines sell them too.

      If you don’t think you’ll visit London again, then you can refund the card (for the whole price) if you kept the receipt. Also, I don’t recall the vending machines having receipts, so it’s safer to just buy from the newsagents/offices.

  • Brisbane has the Go Card which is great & copied off the London Oyster card. Sydney will get the Opal Card hopefully some time this year. Swipe on and swipe off and you can top up your account online at home or work. You just have to set up an account for yourself and you can also follow your travel dates. I thought Sydney would have had this card long before Brisbane.

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