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Oyster or Contactless Card to travel in London

Spending a holiday in London is a thrilling experience as there is so much to do and explore in this ancient city. With loads of tourist attractions, plenty of entertainment and great shopping experiences, London is a dream holiday destination.

While the city is certainly expensive it is possible to strike some great Central London hotel deals. They are a great way to save on accommodation expenses and can be had at all times of the year. All it takes is a bit of research to find the best deals online.

For those who want to live in luxury and style in the centre of the city a great option is the Shaftesbury Hyde Park International Hotel London. It is a stone throw’s away from the best attractions, with great transport links and affordable in cost. While in London it is best to use its efficient public transport network to get around the city. Visitors could choose to either use an Oyster or Contactless card for travel on the public transport system.

Oyster Card
Some services which accept Oyster PAYG (Pay as you go) cards are the London Midland between Euston and Watford Junction, intermediary stations,  from Watford to Clapham Junction & intermediary stations, London Overground, DLR, Tube tram and bus services. It also is accepted on most National Rail services in the city, with the exception of a few.

The Oyster PAYG makes it convenient to buy and use. It can be topped up to £90 to use on recognised Oyster travel routes.  It can also add on a Travelcard or bus pass season ticket. The card can be used both for adults as well as children upward of 5 years.

Some of its benefits are:
- It is much more convenient without the need to queue for tickets
- It is cost-effective as it automatically calculates the cheapest fare for trips made in a day. Oyster single fares are mostly more budget friendly than cash single fares
- Can be used when required and does not expire

The cards can be purchased from Oyster Ticket Shops, the London Overground ticket station, some National Rail stations, Vending machines at Tube stations or online at www.tfl.gov.uk/oyster.  To get a top up or PAYG value you could have it done at London Midland ticket offices at Euston and Watford stations. There are also are 7 day Travelcards at the vending machines at Euston and Watford stations. Top ups can also be done at more than 2,200 ticket kiosks and at most Tube and Overground stations in London.

Using the card
Visitors need to swipe at the ‘Touch in’ points at the starting station and ‘Touch out’ at destination they get off. This can be done on the yellow readers at the station. It ensures that the right amount is calculated. Some of the newer readers at some stations display the amount deducted and the balance remaining on the card. When the National Rail Services are used an automatic charge of up to £8 is charged, which is adjusted when the card is swiped out at the destination. Swiping out is important to pay a cheaper fare and the daily capping ensures value for money. Not swiping could also incur a penalty charge. If there is no ticket gate then alternately the validators are to be used to avoid paying a higher fare.

As there is a daily price cap visitors can travel multiple times in a day (04:30am to 04:30am) and the maximum charge will be of a day travelcard. There also are special discounts available when an Oyster card is used at certain public places. Some of those who benefit from the daily cap include Senior citizens, members of the Armed Forces, Disabled individuals and students between 16-25 etc.

Contactless Payment
Apart from the Oyster card there is the option of using the contactless payment card (CPC). It can be used for ‘Pay As You Go Travel’ within select travel zones in London zones. Of course visitors need to check the details before they plan to use the CPC system at the destination they plan to travel to. In simple terms the contactless payment involved the use of credit, debit, charged or pre-paid cards all of which are used to make secure and convenient payments for purchases under £20. As there is no need to sign or insert a PIN it is hassle free. All it takes is to swipe the card on a contactless card reader.

Remember that CPC ‘Pay As You Go’ is not valid for use on London Midland services to the north of Watford Junction.

For those already using pay as you go, the use of a contactless payment card is a great alternative. While the adult-rate pay is still applicable there is no worry about falling short of credit and an added benefit can be derived from the daily capping limit. And in case an Oyster Card runs out of credit late at night or it is forgotten at home the CPC can be used as a useful alternative.

For those having to use a 7 Day Travelcard on Monday the CPCP (contactless payment card) is a useful alternative. If the same is used to commute for multiple trips made in a week till the following Sunday, the fare that will  be charged is the same as a 7 Day Travelcard.

The only thing is those individuals who qualify for discounted travel, have to necessarily keep their current Oyster card or their Oyster photocard. The reason is that at the moment discounts are not added to contactless payment cards.

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