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Child Fares on London’s Underground, Buses & Public Transport 2016

Author: Bob Handford
Child fares on London\’s Underground and Buses are very complicated and fragmented. Every year on January 2nd ticket regulations and prices are reviewed and normally the authorities tinker around to a lesser or greater degree with the child travel concessions.

This piece tries to explain as simply as possible the situation for your child, some workarounds to get around some of the restrictions and if you still don\’t understand an opportunity to discuss and perhaps add to this piece.

At one extreme your child may travel free everywhere, at the other end of the spectrum if unprepared you may end up paying adult fare – so its worthwhile making sure you understand the following:

Free & Reduced Child Fares Entitlement By Ageband

Under-5s

Children under five can travel free at any time on the Tube (underground), DLR, buses and trams in London as long as they are accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket. Simple

Children 5-10

Under-11s can travel free at any time on buses and trams. Simple

They can also travel free at any time on the Tube and DLR (Docklands Light railway) when they are traveling with an adult who has a valid ticket. Up to 4 children under 11 years old accompanied by a paying adult travel free on the London Underground. Simple

Unaccompanied children between 5 and 10 must have a valid Oyster Photocard for free travel. (Ah yes, the Photocard we\’ll come back to these)

Children 11-15

Children aged 11 to 15 years must get an 11-15 Oyster photocard to travel free on buses and trams and at child-rate on Tube, DLR and London Overground services.

(Simple? – its the two words Oyster Photocard that creates the problems for visitors – see below.)

But wait! – if you are only visiting London for 2 weeks or less and have a child between 11 and 15 there is a scheme aimed squarely at you and its called the Young Visitor Discount. which enables you to skip the need for an Oyster ID card.
If you are visiting London for up to 14 days and have a child between 11 and 15, do read the Young Visitor Discount section below..

Children 16-17

In the UK you become an adult when you are 16. However in London it is possible to get child fares by getting an Oyster 16+ Oyster ID Card.

It is very similar to 11-15 Oyster Photocards, but you cannot use it to buy 1 Day Travelcards.

Simple? – again, its the two words Oyster Photocard that creates the problems for visitors – see below.

Student 18+

If you are studying at a recognised educational establishment in London that is registered for the scheme and you are residing in London you can apply for a Student card

This enables you to get 30% discount off bus and Travelcards of 7 days or longer

Only for students studying and residing in London, first step is to check with your educational place to see if they are registered.

The Young Visitor Discount - For Children Between 11 & 15 In London < 15 days

The Oyster ID Card required by children between 11 and 15 to get child rate fares on Oyster is for most short-term visitors not a realistic proposition. The cost, hassle and time to process the ID card is just not worth the effort for most visitors.. The Young Visitor Discount scheme has been created as the answer for short term visitors who have children between 11 and 15.

If you are visiting London and traveling with children aged 11 to 15 that haven\’t got an Oyster photocard; and are in town less than 2 weeks then the Young Persons Discount is probably your solution. The Young Persons Discount loaded onto an adult Oyster Card gives you  half adult rate Oyster fares and caps for up to 14 days.

The official rules read.
The Young Visitor discount can only be set onto Oyster Cards and Visitor Oyster Cards at:
– Any Underground station – note manned ticket offices are closing fast, the last ones are due to close by April 2016.  Members of staff will be available in the ticket hall with the ticket machines – make contact with a member of staff to have the Young Persons Discount loaded onto the Oyster.
– TfL Rail station ticket offices
– Visitor or Travel Information Centres (Gatwick & Heathrow Airports, Liverpool Street, Euston, Paddington and Kings Cross Railway Stations and Piccadilly Circus Underground Station)
– Victoria Station National Railways Ticket office

To get the Young Visitor discount::
You and your child must be together at the ticket office when asking for it to be set
No proof of age or identity is required, but you might be asked to confirm the child’s age. One adult can get the Young Visitor discount set for up to four children

The Young Visitor discount gives half adult rate pay as you go fares on bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground and most National Rail services for up to 14 days and also gives your child a daily cap half that of an adult.
After 14 days the discount will expire and the Oyster card will charge full adult rate fares.
The discount can be set on both regular Oyster Cards and Visitor Oyster cards.

Child Rate Oyster Cards & Oyster Photo ID Cards

In Bob\’s day you became an adult when you were 16. If you were 18 but looked 14, many asked for a child fare got a knowing look but got a child ticket. If you were 14 and looked 18 you made sure you had some documentation on you that proved you were entitled to child fares.

Today with Oyster Cards, age bands, automated ticket barriers and such like much stricter controls are needed to avoid fraud.

The system is no real problem if you are a London resident with a young child. Take a little time for the initial registration process to get your Oyster Photocard and thats your passport to free and half price public transport until you are an adult. When you want a child travel product, just produce your Oyster Photoard. If a ticket inspector see\’s you are using a child Oyster and you look a little old for it, the Oyster Photocard is demanded as proof.

For visitors its a hassle you can do without and often its too late when you do find out the hoops you have to jump through to get child fares via the Oyster Photocard.

First of all, the recurrent question from visitors – my child has got a passport with his/her age on it, isn\’t that good enough as ID?.

I\’m afraid the answer is no, you need London\’s unique Oyster Photocard, nothing else.

How Do I Get An Oyster Photocard?

If you are a resident of London, its quite straight forward. Get a form from your local Post Office and fill it in, then return to the Post Office with the fee, a passport size photo plus birth certificate or passport and you should get it in 2 weeks.

If you are resident in the UK then you have to do the process on-line, you\’ll get the Photocard within 4 weeks.

Now the aspects of Oyster Photocard that works against visitors from overseas. The Oyster Photocard costs between £10-£20 per child and you need to order the Oyster Photocard at least 3 weeks ahead on-line.

It won’t be sent to your home address, you have to collect it from a small number of visitor centres in London, (Heathrow Airport or Liverpool Street, Victoria, Kings Cross or Euston Stations)

The application web page is: https://photocard.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/gotoApply.do?type=under18&res=false&from=home

Can I Get Around The Child Oyster Photocard Requirement

There are four main ways of getting around the need for an Oyster Photocard to get half price child fares if your child is under 16 and isn\’t entitled to free travel.

1) Use the Young Persons Discount facility (see section above) loaded onto an Oyster card.

2) The first is to buy a 1 day child Travelcard, (it doesn\’t need Oyster Photocard), but a 7 day child Travelcard does.

3) The second is to buy Travelcards from a railway (not Underground) ticket office. The railways have their own ticketing system but sell Travelcards at their Central London stations. Perhaps bizarely the railways issue their photo id cards free of charge, but they can only be used to buy tickets sold from a railway ticket office. So for a 7 day Travelcard you can walk up to a railway ticket office with a passport size photo of your child, buy a 7 day child Travelcard and a railway photo id will be issued on the spot. Note: only railway stations in Central London sell Travelcards (e.g. Paddington, Euston, Kings Cross, St Pancras, Liverpool Street, London Bridge, Charing Cross, Waterloo and Victora), they do not sell Travelcards at the railway station ticket offices of London\’s airports.

Another minor complication is that at railway ticket offices adults need a photo id card to buy adult 7 day Travelcards, whereas this is not a requrement at TFL outlets like Underground Stations.

The other bonus with buying Travelcards from a railway station is that it qualifies you for the railways 2 for 1 sightseeing promotion.

4) The third work around is that you can buy 7 Day Child Travelcards without any photo id on-line from the TFL / Visit Britain on-line shop and have them delivered to your home, including overseas. There is a delivery charge.

TFL / Visit Britain On-Line Shop

5) Use the Young Visitor Discount applied on Oyster Cards. This gives you up to 14 days half price travel on an Oyster Card for 11-15 year olds who do not have an Oyster ID card. Its not the golden bullet solution the headline suggests, so read the section above this carefully.


Free Travel - How Do I Get my Child Through the Ticket Barriers Without A Ticket?

If your child is entitled to free travel, you do not obtain a ticket

London\’s buses are ticketless, so no problem there.

On the Underground and DLR and suburban railways you have to pass through a ticket barrier where you need to insert a valid ticket for verification before the barrier is raised. If your child is entitled to free travel you do not get a ticket that costs nothing, instead you need to get a member of staff to let your child through the manned barrier onto the platforms.


London's Urban Railways

The National Railways in the UK as well as running inter-city trains into London also operate many of the  commuter lines of London, especially south of the river.
For visitors  it can be very confusing as the national railways only offer free child travel to children under 5 years.
The London Underground and the DLR (Docklands Light railway) use the TFL ticketing rules where children under 11 travel free without a ticket.
Rail services designated as the Overground or TFL Rail also use TFL ticketing rules.
The rest of the train services are run by the railways where only children under 5 travel free. To complicate things further, in the last few years many lines have transfered from railways operated to the Overground or TFL Rail networks.
The good news is that a simple map has been produced depicted which suburban lines a child under 11 can travel free and which do not.
Map Of Suburban Railways Offering Free Travel For Those Between 5 and 11 Years Old

London Underground – Fares, ticketing and how to use

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Travelcards – Full details including prices

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Public Transport Passes – Travelcard or Oyster Card?

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Still Confused - Discuss With Bob

If you are still confused about child ticketing in London just make a comment below and I\’ll normally get back to you within 24 hours
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  • Marianne Kramer

    Hey Bob, We’re two girls of 17 and we will visit London in about 20 days. We don’t know if we can still get that discount, since we’re short on time and live abroad. Or is it still possible somehow? Also, we’re staying 4 days; what option would you recommend?

    • Bob

      Your best option is an adult Oyster Card each

  • Michael

    Somehow I think this will be the biggest adventure of our trip. Please validate my understanding of the strategy. We are two adults and a 15 year old arriving at Heathrow and staying in central London for 9 days.

    Upon arrival at the airport we can get 3 standard adult oyster cards, for the adults we will get a 7 day travelcard added for zones 1&2 and enough credit for the trips to and from the airport on days 1&9. For the child we will add a Young Travelers discount and a 7 day child travelcard. When we hit the airport on our way out of town we can turn in the cards and get the deposits and any remaining balance back if we want.

    Is this possible and do we need a picture for the child when we get his card?

    • Bob

      You have understood correctly bar one aspect – you cannot buy a child 7 day Travelcard to go on an Oyster with a Young Persons Discount loaded onto it so you will have to go Oyster PAYG every day for the 15 year old

      You do not need any pictures – though if your 15 year old looks older might be an idea to have their passport ready when having the YPD applied.

      To clarify there are no ticket offices in the Underground, purchase and cancel/refunds are all done through the ticket machines – only the applying of the YPD needs a member of staff who hang around the ticket hall.

  • Janet Ellis

    Hi, we will be travelling to London again soon and each have registered our contactless card witgh TFL and have used it on many occasions saving a lot of money but this time we will be taking a 13year old with us and we don’t know what to do about him paying, have read the above and still c ant understand it, we don’t have an oyster card so don’t know how we will manage it. Any help most appreciated.

    • Bob

      You just need to get an adult Oyster Card and get a member of staff at an Underground Station to load a Young Persons Discount onto the Oyster which gives half price adult fares for 2 weeks

      Details of Oyster at:
      https://www.londontoolkit.com/briefing/oystercard.htm

      • Janet Ellis

        thanks for the reply will look into it then.

  • Jodi

    Hi Bob,

    We will be travelling as 3 adults ( one of us is > 65 years of age) + 2 kids ( age 11 & 8). I’m still confused with the type of passes to get as we would like to get 2for1 for many London attractions. Here’s our proposed itinerary:

    DAY 1: All arriving at Gatwick airport late in the evening (planning to get a blackberry car to hotel near Bayswater tube as we are arriving late)
    DAY 2: Bayswater-> Paddington -> Windsor (return same day): Dad and 8yo son travel to Legoland (would like to get 2for1 for this attraction) Q: What return rail ticket should I buy for the boys and where can I buy them; other 2A with 11yo travel to Windsor Castle (there is a discount combo rail + castle ticket avail at Paddington Rail station I think). Will still need tube ticket to Paddington station for all 5 of us.
    DAY 3: Bayswater-> Waterloo-> Salisbury (return same day) Private Bus tour to Stone henge starting from Salisbury. Will need return tube tickets to Waterloo and return rail tickets to Salisbury of 5 of us. Q: How many tickets do I get for 5 of us?
    DAY 4: Hampton Palace (All of us)
    DAY 5 to 11: London attractions within zone 1-2 ideally pre book 2For1 vouchers for attractions wherever possible. Q: can a 7day travel card be loaded into an Oyster card at Day 2 but activate only on Day 5 so that I can apply 2for1 voucher on the Legoland above (if not, I’ll consider if I need to move Legoland days around) ; Q: do I need to get 7day travel card for the kids to qualify for the 2for1 attractions vouchers?
    DAY 11 evening: blackberry car to Heathrow

    It’s very tricky with the kids. Could you suggest what travel cards/ railcards / tickets we should get? Many thanks !!!

    • Bob

      Personally I’d drop the private car to and from the airport, a return train ticket between Gatwick and Victoria is faster and less strssful and then get a taxi, Uber or the Underground from Victoria to Bayswater
      Taking the train, retaining the outward tickets also qualifies you for 2 for 1 in Central London leaving you to buy the best pases for your needs rather than jumping through hoops to qualify for 2 for 1

      In London on the red buses, Underground and DLR kids under 11 travel free without a ticket.
      On the trains to Gatwick, Hampton Court, Windsor and Salisbury only kids under 5 travel free.
      On both child fares are for under 16’s

      If you get the train from Gatwick looking to take advantage of Groupsave or similar fares its an Oyster Card for everone but the 8 year old for travel around London.
      For the 11 year old ask a member of staff in an Underground Station to load a Young Persons Discount onto the Oyster for half price Oyster fares and caps
      For the adults only buy/load a 7 day Travelcard zone 1-2 losded onto the sdults to cover a 7 day span that you will be travelling in the Centre of London.

      If you go for the airport car same as above with the Oysters but buy the 7 day Travelcards zone 1-2 from Paddington Railway Station ticket office for 7 days that cover the 2 for 1’s in Central London. You’ll need passport size photos for each person.
      Obviously you don’t use Oysters these 7 days.
      It gets a bit messy if you want to go outside zones 1-2 on these 7 days.

      For Windsor as an alternative to Paddington you can take the Tube to Ealing from Queensway retaining the free travel for the 8 year old and buying the train tickets to Windsor at Ealing.
      (Or Paddington Station is only 10 minutes walk from most Bayswater Hotels)
      During the week travelling after 9:30 will mean you qualify for off-peak day return tickets on the trains (any time weekends)

      Hampton Court is in zone 6 and you can use Oysters on the train to Hampton Court but they don’t qualify for 2 for 1.
      Also remember the 8 year old requires a child fare on the Hampton Court train.
      To qualify for 2 for 1 you need a railway ticket to Hampton Court.
      I would suggest instead of getting the Hampton Court train at Waterloo you take the Underground to Wimbledon and pick-up the train there.
      One-way railway tickets Wimbledon to Hampton Court will qualify you for 2 for 1 at Hampton Court.
      After Hampton Court you can return to London using the Oysters or you could take a boat along the river to Richmond and catch the Underground from there.
      There is also a bus from Hampton Court to Richmond Underground Station, the 8 year old travelling free and as the buses are zoneless you are not hit for the Oyster fare cap for Hampton Court but Richmond

      For the Stonehenge trip check out the Megabus/Megatrain web site for cheap train tickets Waterloo to Salisbury
      If you want to visit Salisbury this option is fine, but if you just want to visit Stonehenge I’d recommend you benchmark it against a Stonehenge and Bath day tour from London for value and interst
      https://www.londontoolkit.com/tours/premium_stonehenge_bath.htm

      • Jodi

        Hi Bob, I’m so glad I found this website with you to answer my questions and so promptly.

        After reading all your suggestions and website, I guess it would be less stressful to do the following if I understand correctly :
        1) buy a Groupsave Return Southern Rail ticket for Gatwick to Victoria (will not use the return ticket since we will depart from Heathrow, but will use it as decoy for 2for1 deals throughout our stay in London). Will buy Oyster for 3A and 1C (Child Oyster loaded with Young Person discount) available at Gatwick (?) and use whenever during our 11 days stay in London

        This way I can spread my long distance destinations during my stay rather than packing within first few days?

        With the above, we don’t need a 7 day paper travel card anymore since the airport return ticket cover us for 2for1 deals? Or do we still need to get the travel card to save us further logistically than using oyster alone?

        I like your suggestions with going to Windsor, as well as Stonehenge and Hampton Court : )

        Thanks again for the much needed advice !!!

        • Bob

          I think you have misunderstood this …
          There are no Group products on Oyster, just the railways offer Groupsave on railway tickets
          Anything on an Oyster doesn’t qualify 2 for 1, so you buy Groupsave tickets from the railways exclusively for the Gatwick – Victoria leg

          Best check availability for Groupsave tickets on a train planner on Southern as they are often not available especially peak hours or there are other promotional fares that are cheaper.

          Usage of Oysters on the Gatwick trains was only introduced at Gatwick this year.
          I’m told that you can buy standard Oyster Cards from a ticket machine at Gatwick Railway Station, but you cannot get the Young Persons Discount loaded here
          Visitors Oyster Cards are available at Gatwick and these are pushed by various agencies looking for the commission, but they’re not as good as the standard Oysters and you cannot load 7 day Travelcards on them like the cheaper standard Oysters

          • Jodi

            Thanks for clarifying bob.

            If now we decided to arrive at Heathrow and oyster tube it to and fro (either normal tube or Heathrow express hence can’t get rail now). Can we get an open rail return to Hampton Court and not use the return portion to qualify for 2for1 deals during our entire stay? Would that work too?

            Thanks

          • Bob

            You cannot use Oyster on the Heathrow Express or Heathrow Connect

            For 2 for 1 at Hampton Court you just need a one-way railway ticket to Hampton Court, valid for the day of entry.
            If you are not planning on using the railway ticket for travel the cheapest qualifying fare is one-way Surbiton to Hampton Court on the day of travel

          • Jodi

            I think ive got it, thanks again Bob! I really really appreciate your advice !!

  • Cecile

    Hi Bob
    My daughter is 16 turning 17 in November. She will be studying at Kings college as an undergraduate and will stay near Denmark Hill Station. So this is zone 1-2. My question is : what is the best fare to get for her everyday traveling using London tube? Oyster card? 16+ oyster? Can I get it already then through Internet and collect it when we arrive on the 19/09?
    Thank you so much for your help

  • Nick Fernley

    Hi Bob
    I am travelling to Wembley from Cardiff on 8th Oct with my two boys 14 and 12 as I have tickets for England v Malta game. I will be arriving at Victoria by coach and need to travel from Victoria to Watford junction where my hotel is booked, i will then need to travel from Watford Junction to Wembley and then back to Watford junction after the match, what are my best options as i have found it very difficult to find information on travelling as far out as zone 9 for Watford Junction

    • Bob

      Watford Junction has its own zone, you can think of it as zone 10 of the London Transport public transport system
      Buy 3 Oyster Cards at Victoria Underground Station ticket machines and ask a member of staff to load Young Persons Discounts on the kids Oysters (may need to show age id) for half price Oyster fares)

      At the end of the trip cancel the Oysters at Victoria to get your deposits and any cash left on the Oysters refunded

      You can use the Oysters on both the fast Midland trains between Euston and Watford and the slow Overground stopping trains

      At Euston you have 15-30 minutes between exiting the barriers of the Underground Station and the barriers to enter the platform of the Watford train for Victoria to Watford to count as one journey/fare

  • Matt Handy

    Hello from Texas Bob.
    My family (2 adults, 1 child (6yr old)) will be traveling and staying in the Arundel area the first week in October. I am renting a car for work purposes, however I have heard the transportation is much quicker to get around. Besides wanting to see all the major sites in London, my wife is fascinated with Harry Potter, so we will make a trip to the train platform and likely whatever else is related. I was looking to purchase the Oyster card online for my son, however after reading the comments below, I am now second guessing myself. Would you please provide me the best options I would have getting my family in and out of London to see the sites?
    Thank you,
    Matt

    • Bob

      Arundel is quite a long way from London, about a 90 minute drive?

      Train is the relatively expensive, stress free option, taking the car is the option that most people would take with one eye on the wallet.

      If you are working I’m assuming the visit to London will be at the weekend in which case the car becomes a real good option.

      Harry Potter is on the edge of London right next to the London orbital motorway so I would definitely take the car to this bypassing London, if you want to twin it with something else then Windsor, Legoland or Hampton are close by your route

      On a Sunday there is plenty of free street parking at many places, I’d suggest Earls Court and Gloucester Road area of Kensington.
      Then get Oyster cards from the Underground Station (your 6 year old travels free) to travel around London

      Your train option is an off-peak day return to London bundled with a Travelcard to cover travel around London, so find the price and if you can swallow it this is the stress free option without the car.
      (On the railways only under 5’s travel free),

    • Nick Fernley

      Hi Matt, I have stayed in Arundel many times in the past and it is a lovely area to visit, make sure you visit the castle and cathedral while you are there. for travelling to London by train, the best option would be to purchase a family travel card for £56.80 from the train station (there is one in Arundel which is a very short walk from the high street). this ticket will give you train travel to and from London as well as unlimited travel on the London underground and London Busses. At Kings Cross station there is a shop called platform 9 3/4 which sells Harry Potter memorabilia, however, the best place to visit is the Making of Harry Potter at Leavesden studios which is near Watford, I would highly recommend visiting this attraction as a massive HP fan myself i was in my element. they have all of the props and sets used in the making of the films and there is much to see and do there. the tour is quite busy and needs to be booked in advance on the website https://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk/ where you will need to book a date and time for the tour which will last about 4 hours, you can purchase souvenirs there including wands (£26 my daughter gladly paid for a replica Harry Potter wand in box, there are other wands available too including the Elder wand), chocolate frogs and every flavour beans, videos and photos of riding broomsticks are also available and Butter Beer at £6 a glass (plastic) or £5 for a Butter Beer ice cream. I would recommend driving to HP as it is just off the M25 and a much easier journey than train, make sure you have plenty of battery and space on your camera as you will be taking many Photographs. Enjoy 🙂

  • Kshitij Kulshreshtha

    Hi Bob,
    I will be 17 years old and I will be studying in Queen mary, London. I want to take the 16+ oyster with free bus and tram services but as my parents live overseas their adress will be not of london. So what should I do to get the free bus and tram service?

    Thanks in advance.

  • David Matthews

    Hi Bob
    travelling mon tues and wed in London next week.
    2 adults (each has an oyster visitor card),
    1 child (9yo) and
    1 child (14 yo).
    travelling from Kenton each day after 0930 into central London and touristy bits during the day.
    Oyster with a young visitor added is usually the best option for the 14yo with free for the 9yo.
    I also have a Family Railcard so am I able to combine to discount further or is the railcard use not the cheapest option.

    • Bob

      With Friends and Family Railcards you can buy 1 day off-peak Travelcards zone 1-6 at a discount, normal price is £12.10 so with the discount it should be about £8 each

      If you used the Oysters, Kenton is in zone 4 and there is a daily cap of £9.30 (no discounts with the F&F cards)

      Children aged 5-15 can buy an Off-Peak Zones 1-9 Day Travelcard for £2.30 if the adult travelling with them has a valid: Family and Friends Railcard

      Obviously your 9 year travels free anyway on the Underground, buses and Overground anyway without a ticket.

      • David Matthews

        thanks bob. I always thought oysters were the best option but obviously not against a F&F and travelcard.

  • Tracy Usowicz

    Hi Bob
    We are planning a one day visit to London on 27th August with two adults, 16 year old and 10 year old. Myself and my husband have contactless payment cards so we plan to use those, 10 year old is free, what is the best option for 16 year old? Can he use my contactless card if I pass it to him once I’m through barrier or does he need his own ticket? Travelling from Park Royal to Knightsbridge. Hope you can advise.

    Thanks

    Tracy

    • Bob

      You’ll just incur a penalty fare handing contactless over the barrier, just like an Oyster
      Unless your 16 year old has their own contactless card buying an Oyster is the obvious solution

  • Trima Burg

    Hey Bob
    I keep losing my post so i apologize if this is the second time. Traveling with 12 yo 14 yo will be there 8 days. I want easy. Can I just purchase a Travel card for all four of us? Thanks this is the best source of info I have found.

    • Bob

      You have to buy individual tickets, you cannot buy one ticket covering the group

      I do not know where or how often you will travel but I suspect the core of your requirement is 4 Oyster Cards and for the 2 adults they will probably want to load 7 day Travelcards 1-2 onto them, whilst the kids have Young Persons Discounts loaded

      But this really depends on how/where you arrive in London, where you are staying and where you are travelling in the days you are in London

      • Trima Burg

        Bob Thanks so much. Yes I was thinking I would purchase four 7 day travel cards for zones one and two. I can do that right? Or do I have to have an oyster for the kids…that is what is confusing??? We arrive in Heathrow and will take express, get the picture id/travel cards on the following day bc we get in late and are staying Regents Park area. Of which I just realized, where is closest real railstation for obtaining picture cards. Again, thanks loads!

        • Bob

          You only need pictures if you want to qualify for the railways 2 for 1 promotion, in which case you need the photos and you need to buy the 7 day Travelcards zone 1-2 from the railway station ticket office at Paddington.
          This is straight forward, £32.40 for the adults, half that for the kids and throw the tickets when you have finished with them
          If you are travelling outside zones 1-2 its a bit of a pain though.

          The alternative is to buy 4 Oyster Cards at either Heathrow or Paddington Underground Station ticket machines
          For the 2 adult Oysters you select the 7 day Travelcards which get loaded electronically onto the Oyster (same price – £32.40)
          The kids cannot load child 7 day Travelcards onto their Oysters instead you get a member of staff hanging around the ticket machines to load a Young Persons Discount. This essentially means the kids pay a maximum £3.25 per day in fares
          No photographs, but the hassle here is you have to pay £5 per card deposit and then cancel them at the end at a ticket machine to get your deposits refunded plus any cash left on the kids Oysters.

          Regents Park is a big area, but essentially the Underground runs until around midnight from Paddington and after that there is plenty of night buses
          I guess you’ve worked out that Heathrow Express tickets are free for the kids and there are deep-discounted advance purchase fares on the Heathrow Express web site

          • Trima Burg

            You are an absolute gem! And I didnt buy the Heathrow express tickets because I was nervous if my flight is delayed…..I wasnt sure how much of a stickler they are if I get stuck en route!
            Thanks so much!

          • Bob

            The Heathrow Express tickets are not for a particular schedule you just take the first train along – there are no seat reservations or anything

  • Hami

    Hi Bob,

    we are a group of 10 from Germany and we would like to spent 3 days in London. Our hotel is close to Hyde Park, the nearest tube station is Bayswater. Our aim is to show the kids the sightseeings.
    We are
    5 adults
    4 13yr
    1 10 yr

    I guess I have to order 5 Oyster cards for the adults and when we arrive in London (King’s Cross) we buy 4 discounted Oyster cards and the child under 11 will be connected to a adult’s card. Is that right?

    I hope you may help because we are really confused.. Thanks a lot.

    Cheers,
    Hami

    • Bob

      You have to buy 9 Oyster Cards from the machines at Kings Cross Underground Station
      For the 4 x 13 year olds Oysters you get a member of staff to load the Young Persons Discount that gives half price Oyster fares and caps

      The 10 year old travels free without a ticket so will have to go through the manned ticket barriers – be ready to show age id in case challenged

      At the end don’t forget to cancel the Oysters on the ticket machines to get back your deposits plus any cash left on the Oysters

      • Hami

        Hi Bob. Thank you very much. I thought tourists can’t buy the oyster card and they have to buy a visitor oyster in advance. Now we know that it is possible to buy the cards in London and we feel reassured. Thanks again!

        • Bob

          Anybody can buy an Oyster Card in London

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