Your Ultimate Guide to Travel Cards in London

29th April 2024 Ellen Conning London Life, Travel

Ah, London—the vibrant heart of the UK, where every street corner tells a tale, and every Tube ride is an adventure waiting to happen. But let’s face it: navigating through the city can feel like a whirlwind, especially when it comes to transportation. There’s a ton of options for travel, and a bunch more for paying. You’ve likely heard of the Oystercard, or how you can use contactless throughout, but what about the humble travelcard?

What is a travelcard, anyway?

So, what’s the deal with travelcards? Well, think of them as your golden ticket to unlimited travel across the city. Whether you’re in town for a day or planning to stay for a year, there’s a travelcard to suit every itinerary. Here’s a quick rundown of the options:

  • Anytime Day Travelcard
  • 7-Day Travelcard
  • Monthly Travelcard
  • Annual Travelcard
  • Group Travelcard (perfect for wrangling over 10 pals for a day out)

They can also be useful for students looking to stick within a set budget during a certain period or for friends and family visiting while you’re down in the capitol. After all, thanks to the discounts, you can get seven days’ worth of travel for the price of just five! Meanwhile, monthly travel cards offer an 11% saving compared to purchasing four consecutive 7-day travel cards.

As a student though, you’re likely there nearly year round. So, it may be worth considering an annual travelcard – they give a huge 13% discount compared to monthly travelcards. Essentially, you’re getting 12 months of travel for the price of just 10 and a half! Plus, if you compare it to continuing with 7 day travelcards, you’re looking at a hefty 23% saving, meaning 52 weeks of travel for the price of just 40.

What transport options in London do travelcards work with?

Get ready to embark on a journey through the city’s transport wonderland! With a trusty travelcard in hand, you’ll have access to a whole smorgasbord of travel options, including:

  • Buses – Free within your zone!
  • Trams (if your card covers zones 3, 4, 5 or 6)
  • The iconic London Underground
  • DLR (Docklands Light Railway)
  • Overground
  • Elizabeth Line
  • 1/3 discount on river services? Splish splash!

What’s the benefits of a travelcard?

Well, the obvious one is the unlimited bus adventures through the city’s winding streets, discounts aplenty, and the peace of mind knowing you won’t blow your budget because, hey, you can’t be charged more than you’ve already paid. Plus, depending on the zones, it gives you a huge amount of flexibility on how to travel around. If there’s an issue with the Tube, for instance, just hop on a bus – or vice versa!

Where can I buy travelcards?

Ready to snag your ticket to ride? You can grab a travelcard faster than you can say “Mind the Gap” at ticket machines in almost every train station. From the Underground to the Overground and even the DLR, these handy machines are your one-stop shop for all your travelcard needs. Sadly, you can’t buy them online and get them sent your way beforehand, so make sure to make this stop before you take the journey.

How much are the different travelcards?

As of publishing, these are the prices:

Zone(s) One Day Anytime One Day Off-peak 7 Day Monthly Annual
Zone 1 only £15.90 £15.90 £42.70 £164.00 £1,708
Zone 1 and 2 £15.90 £15.90 £42.70 £164.00 £1,708
Zone 1, 2 and 3 £15.90 £15.90 £50.20 £192.80 £2,008
Zone 1, 2, 3 and 4 £15.90 £15.90 £61.40 £235.80 £2,456
Zone 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 £22.60 £15.90 £73.00 £280.40 £2,920
Zone 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 £22.60 £15.90 £78.00 £299.60 £3,120

Remember they can change over time, so check out the TFL’s page about fares for reference!

Is a travelcard cheaper than an Oystercard?

Now, onto the burning question: which is cheaper, the trusty travelcard or the well-known Oystercard? Generally speaking, if you’re not planning to rush around the city like a mad hatter, the Oystercard might be your best bet. But if you’re planning three or more journeys for six days or longer within a week, then it’s all aboard the travelcard express!

And there you have it, folks—the definitive guide to mastering travelcards in London! Armed with this newfound knowledge, you’re ready to tackle the city’s labyrinth of streets and transport options with confidence.

Ellen Conning

Ellen Conning

For more great posts from Urbanest about accommodation, London life, study tips and much more, visit the Student Journal.