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London Travel Card / Oyster Card Question

London Travel Card / Oyster Card Question

Old Dec 14, 19, 8:22 pm
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London Travel Card / Oyster Card Question

Hello.

I am planning a 3 day trip to London. Two adults, one 11-year-old, and one 9-year-old. We do have very little knowledge about London travel card.

Day 1 - Eurostar arriving London St Pancras Int'l 130PM.
St Pancras - Pimlico Station (hotel)

Day 2
Morning Pimlico Station (hotel) - Watford Junction (for Warner Bros. Studio)
Afternoon London tour

Day 3
Morning London tour
Afternoon Pimlico Station (hotel) - Gatwick airport


Based on my brief research I think I have two options.

1. London Travelcard - Consecutive 3 Day Off Peak
https://www.visitbritainshop.com/usa/london-travelcard/

2. Oyster Card
Visitor Oyster Card London
https://www.visitbritainshop.com/wor...aign=affiliate

What would you recommend? And what travels are not included from the options? (for example, Watford Junction trip and Gatwick airport trip)

Thank you in advance.
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Old Dec 14, 19, 8:55 pm
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Some other threads on this very popular topic

London: Oyster and Contactless Card FAQ

Confused???? Oyster or Travelcard or neither?

Oyster card: off peak price cap vs. off peak day travelcard

Oyster for 5 days

From January 2016 - Oyster and contactless to Gatwick (2015 2016)
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Old Dec 15, 19, 2:54 am
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Firstly, are you saying that you are only going to make 4 trips on public transport?

1. St Pancras to Pimlico
2. Pimlico to Watford Junction
3. Watford Junction to Pimlico
4. Pimlico to Gatwick

If so, there is no need to get a travelcard - just pay for each individual trip.

All these trips can be done on Oyster, but for Pimlico to Gatwick it may be cheaper to buy rail tickets because of the children. Do not buy Oysters beforehand unless you like wasting money.

If there is going to be no other travel on public transport that day, and you can commit to a specific train time - then book tickets online on Southern Railway from Victoria to Gatwick. This will be 12 for the adults and 2 for the children, however these tickets can sell out and can't be bought just before travel. You must take the train specified on your ticket.

Walk from Pimlico to Victoria or take a bus (free for 9-year-old, 11-year-old see below).

If there are no 12 tickets left the cheapest option is 35.15 in 2019 which will rise to 36.05 in 2020 for all 4 of you but the 11-year-old gets an adult ticket as it is cheaper. With these tickets you can take any train.

If there is other travel that day then you need to specify, as the options will differ.


For the remaining travel, the adults can use a contactless bank card (one each) provided that you have no high fixed fee per foreign transaction. Otherwise they can buy Oysters at Kings Cross St Pancras underground station.

The 11-year-old can get half price travel by asking a member of staff to set the Young Visitor Discount on their Oyster. Or if you are only going making these three trips and you have a third contactless bank card, just pay adult fare and don't worry about the extra cost.

The 9-year-old travels free when accompanied by an adult.


I'm not sure if you can even get a paper travelcard to Watford Junction, which is not in Zone 9 by the way.

Last edited by :D!; Dec 15, 19 at 2:59 am
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Old Dec 15, 19, 3:09 am
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Do not buy any travel tickets for London before you arrive, and don't buy from VisitBritain. Sadly, VisitBritain pushes the products that generate commission for them, and do not offer impartial or complete advice.
The types of travelcard they offer are not the cheapest option. Contactless card (or "pay as you go" oyster if you don't have those) are best option for you. If you intend to use oyster, get it on arrival into London. The version sold by VisitBritain costs more (because you can never get the deposit back, which you do if you buy locally) and is a less flexible product than the regular oyster.
As an aside - have you already bought Harry Potter tickets? This sells out months ahead.
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Old Dec 15, 19, 1:17 pm
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Originally Posted by :D! View Post
Firstly, are you saying that you are only going to make 4 trips on public transport?

1. St Pancras to Pimlico
2. Pimlico to Watford Junction
3. Watford Junction to Pimlico
4. Pimlico to Gatwick

If so, there is no need to get a travelcard - just pay for each individual trip.

All these trips can be done on Oyster, but for Pimlico to Gatwick it may be cheaper to buy rail tickets because of the children. Do not buy Oysters beforehand unless you like wasting money.

If there is going to be no other travel on public transport that day, and you can commit to a specific train time - then book tickets online on Southern Railway from Victoria to Gatwick. This will be 12 for the adults and 2 for the children, however these tickets can sell out and can't be bought just before travel. You must take the train specified on your ticket.

Walk from Pimlico to Victoria or take a bus (free for 9-year-old, 11-year-old see below).

If there are no 12 tickets left the cheapest option is 35.15 in 2019 which will rise to 36.05 in 2020 for all 4 of you but the 11-year-old gets an adult ticket as it is cheaper. With these tickets you can take any train.

If there is other travel that day then you need to specify, as the options will differ.


For the remaining travel, the adults can use a contactless bank card (one each) provided that you have no high fixed fee per foreign transaction. Otherwise they can buy Oysters at Kings Cross St Pancras underground station.

The 11-year-old can get half price travel by asking a member of staff to set the Young Visitor Discount on their Oyster. Or if you are only going making these three trips and you have a third contactless bank card, just pay adult fare and don't worry about the extra cost.

The 9-year-old travels free when accompanied by an adult.


I'm not sure if you can even get a paper travelcard to Watford Junction, which is not in Zone 9 by the way.
Originally Posted by rcspeirs View Post
Do not buy any travel tickets for London before you arrive, and don't buy from VisitBritain. Sadly, VisitBritain pushes the products that generate commission for them, and do not offer impartial or complete advice.
The types of travelcard they offer are not the cheapest option. Contactless card (or "pay as you go" oyster if you don't have those) are best option for you. If you intend to use oyster, get it on arrival into London. The version sold by VisitBritain costs more (because you can never get the deposit back, which you do if you buy locally) and is a less flexible product than the regular oyster.
As an aside - have you already bought Harry Potter tickets? This sells out months ahead.
Thank you very much.

We are going to London in April 2020. Yes. We booked Harry Potter tickets. As you mentioned, 9AM-11AM tickets are sold out even for April weekday tickets.

We are planning to walk to Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace from our hotel.

As you suggested, we will look into paying for each individual trip.

Thank you for the help.
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Old Dec 16, 19, 9:03 am
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"we will look into paying for each individual trip"
Just to emphasise, the cheap option is using "pay as you go" via electronic means - oyster /phone / contactless. This triggers the daily cap facility.
Do NOT buy individual journey tickets within London - this is the worst option. Cash fares (ie paper ticket fares) are substantially more than electronic fares, to discourage people from buying paper tickets. I just did a journey that would cost 1.50 with electronic payment, but a paper ticket is 4.90
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Old Jan 1, 20, 2:15 pm
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Not to create another thread on same topic but I have these questions: Will be staying in Vauxhall, London for 5 days and will see all tourist places.
1. I wanted to check if taking Heathrow airport train will be faster/cheaper as we land at 4.20 pm on a weekday(I saw that prices are real cheap if we buy 3 months in advance), will it cover only from Airport to Paddington and we need to buy separate ticket to Vauxhall?
2. I see with Oyster cards, we can get our refunds back(not interested in promotions on Traveler Oyster card) but for kids(15 & 13 years), I need to get some photo oyster card. I am confused with online directions for kids Oyster card. Can someone please help.
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Old Jan 1, 20, 5:12 pm
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Originally Posted by concordian View Post
Not to create another thread on same topic but I have these questions: Will be staying in Vauxhall, London for 5 days and will see all tourist places.
1. I wanted to check if taking Heathrow airport train will be faster/cheaper as we land at 4.20 pm on a weekday(I saw that prices are real cheap if we buy 3 months in advance), will it cover only from Airport to Paddington and we need to buy separate ticket to Vauxhall?
2. I see with Oyster cards, we can get our refunds back(not interested in promotions on Traveler Oyster card) but for kids(15 & 13 years), I need to get some photo oyster card. I am confused with online directions for kids Oyster card. Can someone please help.
On 1, Transport for London has a good journey planner you can play around with at:

https://tfl.gov.uk/plan-a-journey/

I put in LHR Terminal 5 to Vauxhall at 1630 on a random weekday later this month. The fastest result was 46 minutes: Heathrow Express; Bakerloo Line to Oxford Circus; Victoria Line to Vauxhall.

I then edited preferences to remove National Rail results, and got a 59 minute journey by underground: Piccadilly Line to South Kensington; Circle/District Line to Victoria; Victoria Line to Vauxhall.

To be honest, neither sounds very appealing at that time of day with kids and baggage in tow. Might be worth looking into how much a pre-booked car might be.
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Old Jan 2, 20, 1:18 am
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If I needed to get from Heathrow to Vauxhall, I would never consider Heathrow Express. It takes you to a station nowhere near your destination, and doesn't save any meaningful time over the tube.
If going by tube, change from Piccadilly to District at Hammersmith, which is far far simpler than changing at South Kensington.
Oyster refund. You are correct that - at the moment - you can get the deposit back. It has leaked (in specialist media) that tfl intend to remove that feature during 2020. For the adult, using a contactless card or phone is better.
For the teenagers, speak to a staff member at a tube station (there are no ticket offices, but there will be a staff member roaming by the ticket machines) who will assist with young person discount.
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Old Jan 2, 20, 7:41 am
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Heathrow to Vauxhall by tube = Picadilly to Green Park then Victoria to Vauxhall.

When transferring take the route to the exit then when in the main ticket hall (but without going through the barrier) take the escalator down to the Victoria line - much easier than the 'official' route if you have luggage.

For a more exotic route take a bus (or taxi) to Feltham station then train to Waterloo (final destination) and get off at Vauxhall.
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Old Jan 2, 20, 8:33 am
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Originally Posted by UKtravelbear View Post
Heathrow to Vauxhall by tube = Picadilly to Green Park then Victoria to Vauxhall.

When transferring take the route to the exit then when in the main ticket hall (but without going through the barrier) take the escalator down to the Victoria line - much easier than the 'official' route if you have luggage.

For a more exotic route take a bus (or taxi) to Feltham station then train to Waterloo (final destination) and get off at Vauxhall.
Is the construction on Hounslow Road in Feltham complete? I'd likely pass on your "more exotic route" at the best of times but doubly so if the road works are still going on.
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Old Jan 2, 20, 9:36 am
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Originally Posted by Scots_Al View Post
On 1, Transport for London has a good journey planner you can play around with at:

https://tfl.gov.uk/plan-a-journey/

I put in LHR Terminal 5 to Vauxhall at 1630 on a random weekday later this month. The fastest result was 46 minutes: Heathrow Express; Bakerloo Line to Oxford Circus; Victoria Line to Vauxhall.

I then edited preferences to remove National Rail results, and got a 59 minute journey by underground: Piccadilly Line to South Kensington; Circle/District Line to Victoria; Victoria Line to Vauxhall.

To be honest, neither sounds very appealing at that time of day with kids and baggage in tow. Might be worth looking into how much a pre-booked car might be.
A private hire car doesn't sound particularly appealing at that time of day to me! The kids are 15 and 13 years old so aren't little 'uns.
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Old Jan 2, 20, 2:28 pm
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Originally Posted by rcspeirs View Post
Oyster refund. You are correct that - at the moment - you can get the deposit back. It has leaked (in specialist media) that tfl intend to remove that feature during 2020.
You will still be able to get the deposit back, but you will have to wait for a year after buying the card. The deposit will be added to the card as PAYG credit, so if you hold on to the card for a year effectively there will be no deposit.

I am not sure how this works for TfL as if you play the long game and take sufficiently expensive journeys with the minimum starting balance, resulting in a negative balance you can throw the card away - which was the entire rationale for introducing a deposit in the first place.

The reason they want you to now wait a year is probably partly to do with the people buying Oysters en masse using credit cards and refunding as cash to generate Amex or other CC reward points, without ever using the oysters. The problem is partly TfL's fault because instead of collecting refunded oysters to be reissued, they just permanently deactivate the cards creating a lot of plastic waste.

The only comparable system to my knowledge is Brisbane's, but they avoid the manufactured spend issue as cards can only be refunded in cash if they were purchased with cash.
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Old Jan 21, 20, 3:31 pm
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Originally Posted by rcspeirs View Post
If going by tube, change from Piccadilly to District at Hammersmith, which is far far simpler than changing at South Kensington.
This is the option that I use almost monthly. The connection at Hammersmith is directly across the same platform - no stairs to get to other platforms. Additionally, the Piccadilly Line and District Line trains are timed so that the connection time is minimal when traveling to/from LHR. Eastbound, the Piccadilly Line train ussually arrives moments before the District Line train arrives. Westbound, the District Line train usually arrives moments before the Piccadilly Line train arrives.

While Piccadilly Line to Green Park connecting Victoria Line to Vauxhall looks like the easier option on paper, it isn't. There is a LOT more walking at Green Park (and steps too).

The OP hasn't indicated which hotel they are staying at in Vauxhall. If staying at the HI Express, the rooms on the fourth floor have much nicer renovated bathrooms. However, IIRC, fourth floor rooms only have 1 double bed - no twins and no double + folding sofabed.
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Old Jan 22, 20, 3:04 am
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Originally Posted by ecaarch View Post

While Piccadilly Line to Green Park connecting Victoria Line to Vauxhall looks like the easier option on paper, it isn't. There is a LOT more walking at Green Park (and steps too).

.
I have expained the step free route when interchanging at Green Park . It eliminates a lot of the walking and no steps either. You obviously aren't using the step free route.
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