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Oyster Card - How much to prepay

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Wisconsin Rapids...
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Oyster Card - How much to prepay

My wife and I will be in London for 6 days. I'm wondering how much we should prepay on Oyster Cards when we arrive. I know unused balances are refundable, but should we prepay 20, 40, 50 pounds? I don't want to be short as we travel around. Also, should be order online (we leave in 3 weeks from the U.S.) or wait until we arrive - is there a better price to purchase ahead of time? Thanks for any advice and recommendations.

San Francisco Bay
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1. Re: Oyster Card - How much to prepay

Wait til you arrive, it's an easy walk from the arrival gates to the Transport for London ( TFL) booth on the left side at the airport, and load up at least 25+ pounds. BE SURE to get yourself a bunch of bus maps, and tube maps. The buses are actually more fun than the tube, because you can ride up on the 2nd level at the front and view all of London. It may be slow traffic, but you'll be in the catbird seat. Get down from the 2nd level a stop or two before you need to, as the stairs are treacherous. Ask anyone for help if you don't know the stops to get off - they do not have an LED sign system to show you the next stops.

There is no advantage to preordering. It takes only 5-10 minutes at the TFL booth, depending on the size of the queue.

If you have any money left over on the Oyster Card, they will refund your deposit and money at the airport TFL booth. But we like to keep it as insurance that we'll come back again! And we always do.

Later, Depending on how much you use the card, you can top it off with your credit card at a manned ticket booth (if you have a credit card with a magnetic strip like most of us in the U.S.) or if you have a chip and pin card, you may use the automated machines.

To check how much you have left on your card, go up to an automated machine and follow the directions on the screen. You touch your card to the yellow round device on the machine, and it reads your balance. You can then cancel the session, or add money to the card.

The Transport for London website has a Journal Planner. You can download a few trips to your printer to get yourself started. http://www.tfl.gov.uk/

You'll have a great time!

Vancouver, Canada
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for London
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2. Re: Oyster Card - How much to prepay

For a six day stay, you will pay over the odds if you use PAYG on Oyster.

Six days of off peak PAYG use in zones 1 and 2 will cost £7 each day, or £42 for a six day stay. In comparison, seven day Travelcards for zones 1 and 2 cost just £29.20 and have no time of day constraints in place: use them at any time, peak and off peak hours.

Please let us know the airline with which you'll fly, the day of the week and time of day you'll arrive. Heathrow has four terminal buildings and three Underground stations, with the one to choose dependent on the airline you use.

Have you seen the offers at www.daysoutguide.co.uk ? If you would like to use them, you will need paper Travelcards (not seven day cards loaded on Oyster as TfL sell them) along with the necessary vouchers.

Those paper Travelcards must be purchased at a National Rail ticket office; there isn't one at Heathrow, but if you let us know where you've booked we can direct you to the nearest station.

You will need free National Rail Photocards to purchase seven day Travelcards at a rail station. The Photocards will be made for you, but you must supply passport size (not quality) pictures.

If you do not wish to use the two for one offers, buying seven day Travelcards at Heathrow along with extra PAYG money to cover the journey from the airport to city centre will be the business. If you do buy Travelcards loaded on Oyster, let us know if you'll leave London by air from LHR, another London airport, or plan to depart by rail.

Wisconsin Rapids...
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3. Re: Oyster Card - How much to prepay

Thank you. This is very helpful. May I ask you another question? Where would you suggest having U.S. dollars converted to British pounds or Euros (we will be taking a day trip to Paris)? My local bank quoted a conversion rate of $1.34 US to 1 Euro. An online converter calculated $1.25 US to 1 Euro. That's quite a difference. The bank charges $25 fee on top of that. Would we be better off waiting until we get to London? If so, is it true that one should avoid converting currency at the airport and train stations? Thanks for whatever information and recommendations you can make.

london
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4. Re: Oyster Card - How much to prepay

Hi, where are you staying in London?if you are staying in the centre buy a weekly zone one and two oyster card and add a small amount called pre pay which is the supplement you pay to leave zone six which is the zone that heathrow is located. You will pay a five pound deposit which is refundable at any London underground station. You'll pay£5.00 deposit, 29.20 for the weekly ticket and add £3.00 prepay. The ticket can be used for unlimited travel on all public transport and at any time of day.

Convert sterling to euros when you reach London. Go to a post office for the best rate and the post office is government regulated which means you exchange with confidence. Any other queries please ask. Have a great holiday.

Cotswolds
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5. Re: Oyster Card - How much to prepay

One tip - you cannot change US$ for euros in the UK.

Well you can - but it's two transactions with two lots of fees/loadings.

So wherever you do it make one transaction do. Using your debit card in an ATM is often the least bad solution for getting cash

Vancouver, Canada
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6. Re: Oyster Card - How much to prepay

Gary, your bank is quoting a pitiful rate of exchange, and to charge $US25 on top of that is something that C Montgomery Burns might think a bit OTT.

Use your bank card to withdraw £ and € in London and in Paris. You'll get a more preferential rate by doing so, and the small service charge you'll pay will be less than $US25.

Walk up (as opposed to pre-booked purchases) rates at airport bureaux de change are usually dire, and there will be a service fee involved as well.

If you haven't yet booked the trip to Paris, do so now at www.eurostar.com

Illinois
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7. Re: Oyster Card - How much to prepay

If you want to have some € or £ before arriving, you can get small amounts from AAA offices or order larger amounts, but then you'd be carrying a lot of cash which I've only done when I had to pay for an apartment up front. I like to have about £100 or €100 on arrival so as not to have to deal with ATMs immediately or in case there's a problem with my ATM card. That usually works out to 1 or 2 AAA TipPaks.

Wisconsin Rapids...
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8. Re: Oyster Card - How much to prepay

We will be staying at the Lancaster Gate Hotel on Bayswater Road. Thank you for the information. You've been very helpful.

Gothenburg, Sweden
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for Gothenburg
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9. Re: Oyster Card - How much to prepay

I'll hi-jack this topic instead of starting a new one. I and the Mrs. will do a London long weekend from a Friday to a Monday, arrive around noon on Friday and depart around noon on the Monday (LHR). We will stay close to London Bridge station.

As I figured out all of our trips would be off-peak, we plan to the take the Tube from LHR to London Bridge (via Green Park) and back. I reckon a suitable amount to load in to the Oysters would be £35 each, am I doing my math correctly?

EK

Bingley, United...
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10. Re: Oyster Card - How much to prepay

< I reckon a suitable amount to load in to the Oysters would be £35 each, am I doing my math correctly? >

It's double of what you need (in fact it's more expensive than a 7 day Travelcard). I'd put £15 on each and add more as needed