We often get asked about how to pay for kids on London’s public transport, and although it’s actually pretty straightforward, it differs depending on the child’s age. So, we’ve broken down some of the most commonly asked questions so that your next trip with the kids in the city is as seamless as possible. Please note that this article is relevant to London transport only and not trains outside the city.
Do kids have to pay to use public transport in London?
It depends on how old they are.
Under the age of five
If your child is under the age of 5, they can travel for free at all times on London’s transport system. This covers buses, the London Overground, the Tube, DLR, Uber Boats and the IFS Cloud Cable Car (formerly Emirates Air Line Cable Car), which offers aerial views of the city’s skyline. But, they can only travel for free if they’re travelling alongside a fare-paying adult.
Aged between five and ten
Again, children aged 6 and 10 can travel at no cost on London’s Tube, DLR and London Overground, as long as they travel with a fare-paying adult. They do not need an Oyster card, and up to four children can travel at any time with one paying adult. However, if you want to see London from up high on the IFS Cloud Cable Car, children between 5 and 15 will only need to pay child rates.
If you plan to travel by Uber Boat at least a couple of times in a day, you’re best off purchasing a Family River Roamer ticket, where you can hop on and off an unlimited amount of times; it’s valid for two adults and three children aged 5 to 15 years.
Aged between 11 and 15
Kids 11 to 15 do have to pay for transport, but they can get 50% off their fares for up to 14 days with the Young Visitor Discount. To get this, you’ll need to buy an Oyster card, a transport card that costs £7 (non-refundable), and can be topped up at stations with credit which allows you to travel. Once you have your card, ask a member of staff at any tube or train station to add the Young Visitor Discount to it. Just be sure to have your kid with you when you ask for this.
This works in the same way as any regular paying adult. However, if they don’t have a contactless card or Apple Pay/Google Pay, then it’s best to purchase them an Oyster card that they can then top up.
Does every kid need a payment card?
Kids under 11 do not need a payment card. But aged 11 and above do, and as mentioned above, Oyster is usually best.
How do you take kids under 11 onto the tube without their own card?
At all stations, there will be a row of narrow ticket barriers where you can enter in and out using your contactless card, Oyster card or paper ticket. Alongside these narrow barriers, there will always be wide barriers (usually two) at the end of the rows designed for people travelling with suitcases, kids, dogs and larger items, so use those (see the picture above). These are made so that people can go through the barriers without getting accidentally trapped on the way through.
For the bus, just take the kids on, pay your own fare and find a seat.
Do adults need Oyster cards to travel in London?
There are three main ways that adults can pay for public transport in London: Oyster card, debit or credit card and Apple or Google Pay. Oyster cards are not required when using the city’s transport system, but there are some things that you’ll need to familiarise yourself with before visiting. Take a look at our recent guide on how to pay for public transport in London to get an in-depth understanding of the best ways you can pay for transportation in the city.
Hope we helped you figure out how to pay for kids on London’s public transport. Have a great time!