Now you’ve enrolled in your course in London, it’s time to think about how you’re going to travel around. The three most common types of transport in London are the bus, underground trains (the tube) and overground trains. As you’re a student, a good option would be to get an 18+ Student Oyster Card.
How do I apply?
You apply online and will need the following things for your application. Firstly, you’ll need a colour, digital photo to upload and this is the photo that will be on your oyster card. Click here to see the photo guidelines. You’ll also need your course enrolment number as well as your course start and end dates. You’ll need to provide your email address and pay the £20 administration fee on either a credit or debit card. Once you have those things, click here to apply.
Once you have your card, you can get 30% off daily or weekly travelcards (unlimited travel throughout the city for a fixed price) or top up your card with money to pay as you go (this option is not discounted, but is still cheaper than getting a regular paper ticket). You can do this online or else at any Oyster ticket stops, which include train/tube stations and places like newsagents. To find your nearest Oyster ticket stop, click here.
Now your card is loaded up with money, you simply need to use it to tap on & off by holding your card over the yellow card reader. The yellow card readers are on the barriers at tube/train stations as you enter. On a bus, the yellow card reader will be just inside the door of the bus and you don’t need to tap off on buses.
Bear in mind, the 18+ Student Oyster Card is best for students who’ll be traveling frequently across zones. London’s tube/train network is divided into travel zones; the more zones you travel across, the more expensive your journey will be. If you’re going to be living close to your place of study or won’t be traveling a lot, a regular Oyster card or contactless may be better options as you won’t have to pay a £20 fee. Keep reading for more details on these.
What if I’m not eligible for an 18+ Student Oyster card?
Let’s say you’re studying at a private language college which isn’t on the list of approved institutions for an 18+ Student Oyster card, you can still get a regular Oyster card. This means you won’t be able to get 30% off travelcards, but it’s much cheaper than buying paper tickets at the station. You’ll need to pay a £5 deposit which you can get back if you decide you no longer want to use the card. Click here for info. on where to purchase an Oyster card. Buses do not accept cash, so you’ll need to use an Oyster card or else contactless.
What do you mean by ‘contactless’?
Contactless is the UK name for using your bank card (or phone if your bank card is attached e.g. on ApplePay) to instantly pay for items without having to insert your card. You use this function in the same way as you would your Oyster card; simply hold your card or phone over the yellow card reader.
All the best traveling around; London really is your oyster!