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The transport system in London may be one of the most effective in the world, but it’s still a little confusing for a first-timer visiting the city. If you don’t know the ins and outs of the best ways to pay for public transport in London, then you’ll probably end up spending a lot more than you need to. There are three main ways you can pay for transport in the city: Oyster card, debit or credit card and Apple or Google Pay; in this article, we will break each one down for you. 

It’s also worth noting that everyone needs to have their own payment method, otherwise, you might get charged more than you should.

How to Pay for Public Transport in London - Can I pay with a contactless card on the underground London

Contactless Payment

The contactless payment method is for people with a credit or debit card with a contactless form of payment. If you’re unsure if your card has it, check for the “contactless” icon on the front of the card (shown above) or ask your bank or card provider. 

If you do have it, this is certainly the easiest and most convenient way to pay for public transport in London. All you need to do is tap your debit or credit card on the yellow card reader at the ticket barrier or the front of the bus next to the driver, and your fee will automatically be calculated based on the journey you have made. When travelling by tube, you must always tap it right at the start of your journey and again at the end to ensure that you pay the right fare and aren’t overcharged. For buses, you only need to tap in at the start of the journey.

How to Pay for Public Transport in London - Ins and outs of public transport in London

Apple Pay or Google Pay

Next in our guide about how to pay for public transport in London is Apple or Google Pay. This payment method is more or less the same as the contactless payment method, except it is done on your phone. For those who have their credit or debit card set up in their Apple Pay or Google Pay wallet, you can simply tap your phone on the yellow card reader in the same way that you would a physical card.

How to Pay for Public Transport in London - Should I get an Oyster when I arrive in London -by TfL

Oyster Cards

When it comes to working out how to pay for public transport in London, these handy little cards make getting about the city straightforward. You can pick them up at the airport, at certain train stations and at convenience stores dotted around the city. They cost seven pounds to purchase, and you can top up your card as many times as you need to.

You load credit onto your card, and then, in the same way that you have to tap in and out of train journeys with the contactless method of payment, you also have to do so with the Oyster card method of paying (but again, only once when you embark on a bus). 

If you need to check how much credit you have left on your card, the self-service ticket machines can tell you this, and you can top up there with more credit if and when you need to.

You know, it’s not just the Tube and our double decker buses here in London. We have a few other great public transport options. Learn about them all and get a comparison on pricing, timings and more in the video below.


We hope this helps you when it comes to figuring out how to pay for public transport in London. Make sure you tag us in your pics and videos of the places you explore @loveandlondon, we love to see what you get up to in the city! 

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How to Pay for Public Transport in London
Jessica Dellow

Jessica Dellow is an East Londoner who loves to travel the world and eat her way around the city. When she's not eating, cooking or hanging out in the local pub, you’ll probably find her walking one of her BorrowMyDoggy dogs in Victoria Park with a coffee in hand.

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