Using credit/debit cards on the Tube in London, instead of Oyster card

16 replies


Member since 25 Jun 2013

Total posts 46

Travelling to London on Sunday but have misplace my travel card. Has anyone used their credit/debit card to access the underground/transport system in London.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 02 Sep 2018

Total posts 375

Yes. I used my card with Apple Pay, but normal Paywave/tap to pay cards should work as well. It's similar to using them in Sydney instead of Opal cards.

Also slight nitpick, the 'octopus' card is the transit tap card used for Hong Kong's transit network whilst London uses the 'Oyster' card.


Member since 25 Jun 2013

Total posts 46

Thanks for the info. I'm glad you realised my mistake. Do you get a overseas transaction charge for each tap?


Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

Member since 07 Dec 2014

Total posts 55

So I used my ANZ Visa in London in lieu of having to buy an Oyster card. It is treated like any overseas transaction, including a transaction fee for each use. Looking at my statement, I paid between 15c and 50c depending on the cost of the trip (since its a percentage of the value).

ANZ basically charge 3% of the transaction value as an overseas fee on their credit cards. Because it is just a percentage charge (rather than a set fee), I don't think its a big deal; public transport fares are generally small purchases. You should check how your bank charges.

I guess up to you to decide how frequently you'll be using the service, and therefore whether the additional cost is worth the convenience of not having to bother with getting an extra Oyster card. Also, you'd need a fee free way to pay for the Oyster card; otherwise you'd still be paying the transaction fee, just in one bigger purchase! Over 6 days in London, I used the tube or buses 5 times; costing me AU$1.69 in transaction fees. I understand that a (regular) Oyster card costs £5 but that is refundable (if you can be bothered).


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 15 Aug 2017

Total posts 47

I exclusively use my contactless VISA/Mastercard now in places like London and Singapore for the tube and MRT respectively. The small extra cost works out to be nothing as said above and it's less cards to carry around. Much more convenient.

Last editedby PERflyer at Jan 01, 2020, 02:21 PM.


Member since 25 Jun 2013

Total posts 46

Thanks for the info


Member since 18 Nov 2015

Total posts 114

TIP: If you turn on the Express Travel Card option in your Apple wallet, you don't need to authenticate when paying for the tube/bus in London.

When a card is set to be your Express Travel Card, it will work automatically without requiring face/finger authentication to pay for public transport in London.

Go into Settings, Wallet & Apple Pay and select a card for “Express Travel Card”.

Then you can just tap the phone on the reader at the tube/bus and it will automatically charge you. No need to authenticate your iPhone with your finger/face. It's actually more convenient than it sounds especially when travelling in winter with gloves, scarfs etc. More details on the Apple website here:

And remember you tap on and off at the tube, but you only tap on at the bus (no need to tap off since bus fares are flat rate, independent of the distance traveled).

Finally, always use the same card, for two reasons: first if you tap on at the Tube with one card and tap off with another, you'll get charged the maximum distance fare (since your original tap on can't be matched to the tap off on the different card), and second, if you use a different card (for the Tube or Bus) you won't get the advantage of any daily caps that might apply.

Regarding credit card transaction fees: in my experience the various charges each day tend to be consolidated into one total daily charge on your credit card (rather than multiple individual charges). But if you're being charged a % it's irrelevant (and I don't think any card charges a fixed charge per transaction)?

Last editedby traveller99 at Jan 09, 2020, 08:24 AM.


Member since 03 Jun 2014

Total posts 4

If you use a card such as the 28degrees, Citibank Visa Plus, ING everyday, etc. there will be no additional overseas fee added to it and no spread on the Visa/Mastercard exchange rate.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 09 Sep 2013

Total posts 107

We were in London and as described above, it works a treat. The system keeps a running total of the journeys you do daily, and updates them to your account at night.


Member since 23 Feb 2017

Total posts 3

Greetings StewardNurse, the replies you have had already have nailed it I think. My only additional contribution would be to make sure you use the same credit card for all your journeys. The system doesn't simply charge for each journey you make, it will make sure you get the best deal for all the journeys you make - just like the Oyster does.

For others interested in this, I keep an Oyster card on auto top-up for work purposes. Every time it gets topped up, I bang the amount on my expenses, no thinking required.


Member since 29 Jan 2015

Total posts 12

Always Always remember to "tap out" as well as tap in.

Otherwise your journey looks uncompleted, and they ding you for the maximum fare for the day. Not cheap.

Be especially careful in case of irrops make sure you never, ever walk through without tapping on your way out on a trip even though the gate might be open.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 09 Sep 2013

Total posts 107

Good point, well made...


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

Member since 14 Apr 2014

Total posts 46

If you touch in using your Apple Watch but then touch out using the Apple Pay on your phone, it treats them as separate cards. Same goes for physical card in and then Apple Pay card out, etc. Whatever you touch in as, be sure it's the same thing when you touch out.

You can also create a TFL account and register your card against it. Handy if you want to take advantage of Monthly caps, or need a detailed record of your journeys after the fact.


Member since 29 Feb 2016

Total posts 26

Using a (Macquarie) debit card was a no brainer, once it was pointed out - at the first tube station - that we would never be charged for multiple daily trips any more that the usual tube/bus combined day pass fare (which was 14/16 quid from memory). There was no 3% overseas transaction fee either..


Member since 07 May 2016

Total posts 10

I had an Oyster card that was issued before credit cards were accepted and later turned it in as I thought using a credit card would be more convenient. Later I wished I had kept the Oyster card it because having it registered I let me look up details on trips and charges for them. It's harder to challenge an incorrectly charged maximum distance fare put on a credit card.

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