Transport for London issues reusable electronic passes called Oyster cards for travel on public transportation services within the Greater London area. It's possible to obtain discounted rates on the cards, though as of November 2010, travellers don't need discount codes to take advantage of promotional offers.
The Oyster card applies to rides on the London tube, but it can also be used on city buses, trams, national rail, boats and the Docklands Light Railway. Travelers can consult Transport for London's official website (see Resources) for a complete list of participating transportation entities and restrictions.
Where to Buy
Ticket counters at tube, bus and train stations sell Oyster cards. Users pay a one-time fee of £5 to buy an Oyster card, including a refundable £3 for the card and an automatic £2 credit for the first ride. Consumers can also buy an Oyster card online from the Transport for London's website. The Oyster online shop (see Resources) allows travellers who live outside of the country to buy the card in advance so they have the card when entering the country. The Oyster card is also available for purchase at the airports within the London area.
The London public transportation system covers six zones in the Greater London area. When visiting London, travellers should be aware of peak and off-peak times as they affect the amount of the fare. In 2010, a one-day off-peak travel card cost £5.60 for an adult travelling in zones one and two, compared to a peak fare of £7.20.
The Oyster card automatically caps daily fares, keeping prices below single-use rates. Disabled users and war veterans can purchase a discounted Oyster card. Students and children are also eligible for a special-rate Oyster card.