Oyster Cards

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Old Dec 9, 17, 11:33 am
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Oyster Cards

i was digging around the oyster website to purchase one. I have an upcoming visit there and will need one for London. It appears you can only buy one online and then have it mailed to you. Is this accurate? Can I not buy one at LHR tube station? If not will they mail to the US? I"m leaving here on the 18th so not sure if that's enough time.
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Old Dec 9, 17, 12:27 pm
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Look here London: Oyster and Contactless Card FAQ
Click to open the wiki
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Old Dec 9, 17, 4:38 pm
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You can buy one at the Underground ticket machines in Heathrow and most other stations. That said, I just used Apple Pay instead with no issues on my most recent trip (most US cards never used to work on the fare readers until this year).
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Old Dec 10, 17, 12:27 am
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You may have stumbled on the website for the "visitor oyster" card, which has frankly misleading information - presumably to encourage you to buy through them,
You can buy oyster on arrival (or at thousands of other outlets across London). That said, oyster is almost yesterday's technology, and using contactless bank card or phone-pay is recommended if you have those.
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Old Dec 10, 17, 10:57 am
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I forgot my Oyster card on my last trip and set up Android pay, which worked well. First use of Android pay for anything, but touching in and out was convenient. Bottom line, Apple Pay or Android Pay apps on phones may be a good alternative.
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Old Dec 11, 17, 7:39 am
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I’m not keen on using phones at the gates - it’s too easy to drop them in the bustle. Just use any contactless card.
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Old Dec 11, 17, 8:12 am
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Oysters can be bought at Tube stations including LHR. I prefer using an Oyster over contactless cards. Losing an Oyster is a much smaller issue than a credit card particularly when overseas.
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Old Dec 11, 17, 8:33 am
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Thanks for the advice. I'll buy the oyster at LHR.

Contactless doesn't work with my iphone and citi MC. I tried it several times--what a waste. Even called Citi and they said sorry we can't offer help as to why.
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Old Dec 11, 17, 9:02 am
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Originally Posted by Badenoch View Post
Oysters can be bought at Tube stations including LHR. I prefer using an Oyster over contactless cards. Losing an Oyster is a much smaller issue than a credit card particularly when overseas.
Agree. Must have six or seven Oyster cards on my account and will continue to use them until they make me change.
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Old Dec 11, 17, 9:44 am
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Originally Posted by enviroian View Post
Thanks for the advice. I'll buy the oyster at LHR.

Contactless doesn't work with my iphone and citi MC. I tried it several times--what a waste. Even called Citi and they said sorry we can't offer help as to why.
Weird, I tried Visa, AmEx and MC with my phone while I was over there and only AmEx had issues. It could very well be a Citi problem as the MC I tried wasn't issued by them.
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Old Dec 11, 17, 10:56 am
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Actually, I found that I had better luck with the phone using it at the handicapped entries... the reader seemed slightly different and worked more consistently with my phone.
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Old Dec 11, 17, 11:48 am
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Originally Posted by VivoPerLei View Post
Agree. Must have six or seven Oyster cards on my account and will continue to use them until they make me change.
I'd amassed a collection too. You can with more recent cards get a refund from the machines if the balance is less than 10. I got rid of a couple on my last trip but the older Oyster although still working didn't qualify for a refund from a machine and the process to get the money back wasn't worth the bother.
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Old Dec 11, 17, 12:31 pm
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Originally Posted by xooz View Post
Actually, I found that I had better luck with the phone using it at the handicapped entries... the reader seemed slightly different and worked more consistently with my phone.
I haven't really noticed a difference. When I was there, however, it did fail once--but using the adjacent gate worked without issue. (I also pre-authenticated before arriving at the gates, if that helps.)
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Old Dec 12, 17, 12:42 am
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Originally Posted by Badenoch View Post
I'd amassed a collection too. You can with more recent cards get a refund from the machines if the balance is less than 10. I got rid of a couple on my last trip but the older Oyster although still working didn't qualify for a refund from a machine and the process to get the money back wasn't worth the bother.
It does seem unnecessarily tedious. I have to get refunds occasionally, in fact happened to me yesterday when I returned to my normal station - the power was out and there was no way to touch out, so the system will probably charge me the maximum amount for the day. The system will process the refund quickly, but I will have to return to the station within seven days to activate it.
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Old Dec 12, 17, 5:20 pm
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Originally Posted by Badenoch View Post
I'd amassed a collection too. You can with more recent cards get a refund from the machines if the balance is less than 10. I got rid of a couple on my last trip but the older Oyster although still working didn't qualify for a refund from a machine and the process to get the money back wasn't worth the bother.
I transferred everything from an older collection to my current one. I prefer Oystercard over contactless since it's easier to replace, less bothersome if someone finds a lost card and uses it and I can get a new one for free if I break it. FWIW I think the Oystercard is marginally quicker than contactless and often much quicker than Apple Pay (which sometimes see to take eternities when the person in front of me is using it). The contactless seems to be somewhat more reliable. With the Oystercard I get 1 or 2 "seek assistance" messages every 2-3 weeks despite having sufficient credit. Never had the issue with contactless cards.
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