Traveling in London

I'm planning a few days in London next month for 2 adults and 2 kids aged 16 and 13 and I'm really struggling to work out the best way of traveling around the city. We are coming by train to kings cross station, I've read up on the visitor Oyster card but just don't get it, do all 4 of us require our own Oyster card or will 1 suffice? As we are there for a 2 nights 3 days it seems quite expensive, would a travel card be a cheaper alternative and where do I find out about purchasing and using one as checked out tfl website but couldn't find prices. Are there any other alternatives, my bank card is not contactless so unable to use this as a method for traveling.
I can't believe how complex traveling in London is.


  • gt94sss2
    gt94sss2 Posts: 5,605
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    You each need a separate Oyster Card.

    Getting a normal one at Kings Cross on arrival (or online at cheaper than getting the visitor version. Once you end your trip, don't forget to get a refund for any remaining credit as well as the deposit/card.

    As your visit is relatively short, there is no point getting the 11-15 Zip Oyster for the children due to the admin fee charged.
  • JVRMac
    JVRMac Posts: 212
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    Many thanks, can I clarify if I buy a visitor's Oyster card it will cost £5 each but if I buy a normal Oyster card I only have to pay a £5 deposit?
  • gt94sss2
    gt94sss2 Posts: 5,605
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    Basically yes, and you also get the deposit refunded when you cancel the card (unlike the visitor ones)
  • Sharon87
    Sharon87 Posts: 4,011
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    Once you've got oysters card, put some money on it and it'll cap out at the travel card rate for the zones you travel in, so no need to get a paper travel card. As long as you touch in and out on the trains/tubes.

    So if you travel in zone 1 it's £7/day each. If you only use buses it's around £4.50 a day.

    For your 13 year old get a visitor oyster card as they get 50% discounted fares:
    Young Visitor discount
    If you don't live in London and you're visiting with children who don't have an 11-15 Zip Oyster photocard, they can get discounted travel for up to 14 days with the Young Visitor discount:

    50% off adult-rate pay as you go fares and daily caps on bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and most National Rail services
    50% off adult rate tickets on the Emirates Air Line and Thames Clippers River Bus services
    The discount can be added to a standard Oyster card or Visitor Oyster card by a member of staff at:

    Any Tube, London Overground or TfL Rail station
    Visitor Centres (except Gatwick Airport South Terminal)
    Victoria National Rail station ticket office
    The children must be with you when you ask for the Young Visitor discount.
  • alypen
    alypen Posts: 32
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    Won't your 16-year-old count as an adult transport-wise, or has TfL moved the goalposts since I last looked?

    Are you staying centrally, or out in the suburbs? That could make a significant difference with regard to which option is best.
  • JVRMac
    JVRMac Posts: 212
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    Staying in zone 1, I've ordered myself a contactless debit card as I believe these work the same as an Oyster card and it seemed the easiest and cheapest option. My thinking is that I can pay for all the fares with my card, but now wondering if I can do this due to the daily cap? God knows how people from other countries manage to understand it?
  • JVRMac
    JVRMac Posts: 212
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    Scrap the above as my bank account doesn't have contactless unless I upgrade my account, which I don't want to do. So I'm thinking I'll get a normal Oyster card when we get there or a daily travel card.
  • silvercar
    silvercar Posts: 46,732
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    Even if you had a contactless card, you could only use it for one person at a time. So three of you travelling together would need your contactless plus their own oyster or contactless cards.
    I'm a Forum Ambassador on The Coronavirus Boards as well as the housing, mortgages and student money saving boards. I volunteer to help get your forum questions answered and keep the forum running smoothly. Forum Ambassadors are not moderators and don't read every post. If you spot an illegal or inappropriate post then please report it to [email protected] (it's not part of my role to deal with this). Any views are mine and not the official line of
  • alanrowell
    alanrowell Posts: 5,364
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    You don't need to get a Visitor Oystercard for the 13yr old, you can get an ordinary Oystercard and have the young person's discount put on it.

    You can also use contactless credit cards, applepay or androidpay.
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