Difference Between Oyster Card and Travel Card

Visitors to London are familiar with these terms but they also tend to get confused at times. Both the terms refer to payment methods for public transport in London, United Kingdom.


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Buying a ticket for a single journey might seem financially penalizing, to mitigate this problem London has introduced these payment methods. 

Money in oyster cards gets debited only when used and the travel cards are based on an off-fee which means they are valid for a certain period.

Oyster Card vs Travel Card

The difference between an oyster card and a travel card is that oyster cards are contactless payments made on a journey basis with a daily limit and a travel card offers flat prices and you have access to the card for the period purchased.

Oyster Card vs Travel Card

An Oyster Card is a prepaid card that can be used on London public transportation. You load credit onto it, and all train stations and buses have readers where you can touch your card.

There is a daily cap after which you will not be charged for any additional journeys, although this varies depending on how far out you are traveling and what time of day it is. Outside of London’s fare zones, the cards aren’t valid.

A travel card is a card that may be loaded with foreign currency and used to withdraw cash from an ATM, in-store, online, or over the phone while traveling.

It may be used in over 36 million locations around the world. When you travel, you may be eligible for perks such as participation in a program that allows you to pass through airport security more quickly, access to airport lounges, and so on.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonOyster CardTravel Card
What is it?A means of payment method that is used in London for one-off trips, traveling around the city’s public transport is known as oyster cards.A travel card is a payment card that gives unlimited access to travel at any time via bus, tram, and national rail in London. 
Introduced in the yearIn 2003In 1958
ColorA standard card is in blue.Available in multiple colors.
UsageThe card can be used as long as it is preloaded with money. Unlimited Usage.
ExpiryNo specific expiration date and can be returned anytime.These cards come with a specific expiration date.

What is an Oyster Card?

An Oyster card is a contactless prepaid payment card that can be used to pay for public transportation in London. You can also get the same discount by using a contactless debit card, but it must be the same card at each touchpoint. 

Rates for buses and trams are charged a constant fare per journey, but train and underground fares vary depending on the time of day, distance traveled, and frequency of use.

In a nutshell, you create an account, pay a deposit for the card, add credit from your bank account or cash, and then touch your card to the reader to have the fare deducted from your balance when you board a bus or tram or enter or exit a station in the scheme’s service area.

Pre-loading money into Oyster cards is possible. You then use them to board and exit any tube or suburban train, as well as to board any bus (buses are flat fare). 

The card will continue to charge you until you reach the equivalent of a day travelcard, at which point it will convert what you’ve paid into a day travelcard and the rest of your days’ travel will be free.

It’s best not to use the tube before 9:30 a.m. on weekdays if you’re a tourist. This has the advantage of not being squeezed like sardines into a horrible tube, but it also has the advantage of allowing you to purchase an ‘off-peak day travelcard’ that allows you unrestricted travel throughout all zones for a day.

What is a Travel Card?

A travel Card is often a prepaid card that can be used in foreign destinations. You can load single or many currencies onto this card depending on your trip plans and destinations.

It’s also a prepaid card that allows limitless bus travel, metros, or trains for a set time that must be checked for usage and acceptance before going on any travel card for your destination country.

Because it’s preloaded with your convenience and travel budgets, it’s usually safer than carrying cash or traveler’s cheques. When it comes to carrying money abroad, travel cards are the greatest option. 

The following are the purposes of the travel card:

  • Travel cards are simpler to obtain and do not necessitate a bank account.
  • Acts as a financial institution
  • They can store different currencies on a single card.
  • Travel cards have pre-determined currency rates and do not require conversion charges.
  • In the event of theft or loss, travel cards have chip and pin security.
  • When compared to debit/credit card alternatives, they have reduced transaction fees.
  • Travel cards are virtually universally accepted.

Many banks, such as Axis Bank forex card, Indusind Bank forex card, and HDFC Platinum forex card, offer travel cards with low rates and excellent services.

Main Differences Between Oyster Card And Travel Card

  • You need to have a deposit if you want to avail an oyster card whereas you don’t have to deposit if you want to avail yourself of a travel card.
  • Oyster cards have restrictions in certain places and can’t be used where there are no set fixed reading machines. But, travel cards do not have such restrictions.
  • In case you lost your Oyster card, you can get your money back while you cannot have this facility in case of a travel card and cannot get your money back.
  • Oyster cards work expensive if used for a long traveling period whereas travel cards work cheaper for a long traveling period.
  • You cannot switch from an oyster card to a travel card when your travel pattern changes. But you can switch between a travel card and an oyster card when your travel pattern changes.


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