Contactless cards & Apple Pay on London's public transport in 2024

Be informed and in control using Contactless technology on London public transport

Credit Card With The Contactless Symbol
Credit card with the Contactless symbol

In 2014 contactless payment technologies were implemented as another payment option on London's public transport. It is very similar to the Oyster card, the smartcard based travel solution currently used by the vast majority of passengers.

The big potential for contactless payment cards is that the cards are not specific to London public transport, you are using your own debit or credit card that you use every day for countless other purchases. As long as your payment card supports contactless technology they are an option for you to pay for public transport in London.

Using a contactless payment card is almost identical to using an Oyster card. You simply swipe your card at the ticket barriers just like an Oyster card. If you are not familiar with Oyster, please read the Oyster card page to bring you up to speed.

You can add supported payment cards to Apple Pay and then use your iPhone or Apple Watch to make contactless payments.

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Oyster v Contactless cards - Summary of the differences

  • The fare structure of using a Contactless card is almost identical to using an Oyster card. However, the contactless card has a 7-day cap running Monday to Sunday not available with Oyster as well as the daily cap.

  • Visitor Oyster cards have a non-refundable activation fee of £5. Newly issued Oyster cards cost £7 which is refundable. You can get £5 back from your Oyster Card if it was purchased before 23 February 2020. Contactless payment cards have no similar charges.

  • With Oyster you add credit to your Oyster before you travel and fares are deducted from your Oyster card immediately. With contactless cards the total cost of all the journeys that you make in one day is calculated at the end of the day and a single charge is made to your contactless payment card account. If you are from overseas and have a credit/debit card that you use for contactless payments remember you may incur foreign exchange charges by your issuer like any other purchase in British pounds.

  • Unlike the Oyster card the contactless facility has a 7 day cap as well as the Oyster daily cap used by Oyster. The price of this cap is exactly the same as a 7 day Travelcard. The only difference to a 7 day Travelcard is that a 7 day Travelcard can start any day of the week for 7 days, the contactless card 7 day cap runs from Monday to Sunday only.

  • Discount entitlements can't be added to a contactless payment card like an Oyster card. So if you are eligible for free or discounted travel, you should continue using your existing Oyster card. This in effect rules out children using contactless payment methods.

Contactless payment cards - is my card valid?

Contactless Payment Symbol
Contactless payment symbol

Most contactless payments are made with cards. However, mobile phone payments, key fobs, stickers and other methods of contactless payment are becoming more common using the technology.

The contactless payment symbol denoting a device supports the technology is displayed right, an example also is seen on the credit card image at the top of the page.

Contactless payment cards issued in the UK

If your card was issued in the UK on Visa, MasterCard, Maestro or American Express and displays the contactless payment symbol, you should be able to use it to travel on bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground and most National Rail services in London.

Contactless payment cards issued on other platforms, such as Diners Club, JCB or Union Pay are not accepted.

American Express (AMEX) issued anywhere

All American Express contactless payment cards with the contactless symbol should be valid.

MasterCard issued outside UK

Nearly all MasterCard and Maestro contactless payment cards issued outside the UK are accepted. The majority of cards that aren't accepted are issued in the USA, Canada and the Netherlands.

Visa issued outside UK

Some Visa and V PAY contactless payment cards from countries other than the UK are not accepted for contactless travel on our services. Visa expects all its contactless payment cards to be accepted in the near future.

Others like Diners Club, JCB or Union Pay

Contactless payment cards issued on other platforms, such as Diners Club, JCB or Union Pay are not accepted.

Understand the differences between Travelcard, Oyster Card and contactlessd card. Ask bob if still confused.

Apple Pay

You can add supported payment cards to Apple Pay and then use your iPhone or Apple Watch to make contactless payments.

Setting up Apple Pay to work with Contactless Payment - full details

Important aspects of using contactless payment cards

Overseas transaction fees

You should be aware that as for other purchases, overseas transaction fees or charges may apply for visitors to London for travel made with a card issued outside the UK. Please do check with your card issuer as charges levied are variable, even between cards from the same issuer.

Watch out for card clash

Use the same card for all of your transport in London using contactless payment cards. If you use a different card at the end of the journey to the one at the start both cards will be charged the maximum fare on the transport system for that journey. Take care that no other contactless payment cards in your possession are not in the vicinity of the card reader, the card reader may pick-up the wrong card as a result.


Contactless payment fares

Every time you make a journey on London's public transport your contactless payment card is charged a fare, the same fare as Oyster cards. Once you reach the daily cap (see below) in a day that is the maximum you will be charged for public transport that day.

Oyster Card & Contactless Payment Card Fares -
Compared to Single Cash Fares from 5 March 2023 - March 2024


Fare 1 Journey Oyster/Contactless





Cash Fare at any time

Within One Zone

Zone 1




Zone 2




Across Zones

Zone 1 to 2




Zone 1 to 3




Zone 1 to 4




Zone 1 to 5




Zone 1 to 6




Zone 2 to 6




Gatwick Express Train - Anytime Single from £18.50

Heathrow Express Train £25.00

Southern/Thameslink trains zone 1 stations from £18.30

No return fares.

ANY BUS JOURNEY: £1.75 (no fare zones)

* Peak fares apply Monday to Friday between 6.30am and 9.30am and 4pm to 7pm except public holidays

Should your journey not use TFL services (London buses/trams, Underground, Overground, DLR and TFL Rail), completely, for example part of your journey is via a different operator, most likely a railway company, then the standard Oyster/Contactless single fare based on zones may not be followed.

Children travel free if under 11 year old or are between 11 and 15 years with an Oyster 11-15 Photocard. On services operated by the railways such as Gatwick trains for example, only children under 5 travel free, child rate fares are available with the appropriate age Oyster Zip card.

Children's fares (11-15 yrs old) with an Oyster 11-15 Photocard on Oyster for any trip within zones 1 to 6 is £0.85 off peak, £0.90 peak

Fare zones

The London public transport system is divided up into zones that radiate from the centre. Nearly all the hotels and the main sights are in Zone 1. Heathrow Airport is in Zone 6 and the furthest zone out is Zone 9.

The majority of visitors will only travel in the two most central zones 1 and 2. The Underground Map has the stations and their zones marked. You can also view the rail and tube services map.

Some stations like Turnham Green are in two zones, you use whichever zone for these stations is most beneficial in working out your fare.

The fare you pay is set by which zones your departure and destination stations are in. Your journey starts when you go through the ticket barrier of the station entrance you depart from and finishes when you pass through the ticket barrier at the exit of your destination.

You cannot break a journey on a single fare, once you go though an exit barrier of a station that is journey completed. You can change trains at an interchange station and as you do not go through an exit barrier at the station your fare is not calculated until you exit through a barrier at your ultimate destination after switching trains.

London's red buses do not have zones. With Oyster or a contactless payment card, a flat fee per bus journey is charged wherever and whenever you ride.

You can now use contactless payment cards for a single fare on the high speed trains between St Pancras and Stratford, meaning you no longer need to use ticket machines. However, do note that special high speed fares apply and these fares fall outside the usual capping. The daily cap here may be more expensive than a rail-only paper ticket.

The Oyster / Contactless payment card daily price cap

Price caps are the maximum you will pay in a day, a price ceiling. No matter how many individual trips you make in any 24 hour period between 4.30am and 4.30am you will not be charged more than the price cap amount. This price cap spreads across all modes of transport, so if you mix bus, underground and DLR in one day the same price cap applies.

Fare capping & using Contactless cards on buses

Using a contactless card on the buses is the same as an Oyster, just swipe your card over the pad on entry and the machine will confirm your fare has been taken. That's it, you don't get a ticket and you don't swipe it again on exiting the bus.

If you use only buses to travel on a calendar day, there is a special lower daily cap than the daily cap stated below which is for when you use other transport in London in your travel mix. Check the London bus page for the current bus only cap. There is also a 7 day bus only cap available on contactless cards lower than the 7 day cap stated below, again look at the bus page for the current rate.

Price caps for Oyster & contactless card payments, compared to Travelcard prices

From 5 March 2023

    1-day Travelcard  
Zones Oyster daily cap Peak* Off-peak 7-day cap**
Zone 1-2 £8.10 15.20 15.20 £40.70
Zone 1-3 £9.60 15.20 15.20 £47.90
Zone 1-4 £11.70 £15.20 £15.20 £58.50
Zone 1-5 £13.90 £21.50 £15.20 £69.60
Zone 1-6 £14.90 £21.50 £15.20 £74.70

* Travelcard peak fares apply for any travel made Monday to Friday before 9.30am. All other travel is off-peak.

** Prices for a 7 day Travelcard. Also the 7 day cap for contactless payment cards between Monday to Sunday - not available on Oyster.

SPECIAL CAP FOR BUS TRAVEL ONLY: £5.70 (When you only travel on London's buses on 1 day).

CHILDREN'S OYSTER CAPS: Off-peak: £1.70 (zones 1-9). Peak: approx half of adult cap.

Child concessions with Contactless Payment cards

Discounts for children are not available on contactless payment cards - use another method like Oyster or Travelcard.

Transport for London


London Travelcard & Oyster Card

Visiting London? Save time and money on London public transport

• Visitor Oyster Card • Travelcard for 1 day anytime / off-peak or 7 days anytime • Group day travelcards available

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