Travel hacks – the cheapest ways to get around in London

10 tips that will help you save money when travelling in London

Article

4 minute read

2021-08-11

We all know that life in London is expensive. And so is travelling. If tubes and trains are draining your budget, you just need to know the right tricks to save money. Because let’s face it, spending money on things you enjoy is much more fun than topping up your Oyster card.

For everyone who lost track of all the different types of ticket and discounts, here is a summary of the most important facts you need to know:

1. Avoid paper tickets!

First and foremost for all the newbies in London: Don't ever buy paper tickets or else you will end up paying an eye-watering £4.90 for a single journey. In many cases, that’s more than double what you would pay with an Oyster card or “pay as you go” by simply tapping with your contactless credit card.

2. Travel off-peak

Try to tap in during off-peak times. This will save you 50% for each journey. Peak times are usually 6.30–9.30 am and 4.00–7.00 pm, though they might in some cases vary depending on your route and mode of travel. Use the Single Fare Finder to check.

3. Consider capping

By using the same contactless card for the entire day/week, the cost will automatically be capped by the pay as you go caps. This makes it cheaper than

buying a daily travel card. If you use an Oyster card, you can get a daily cap as well. However, the weekly cap only works for bus and tram journeys.

4. Travel card vs. pay as you go

In general, travel cards are expensive but can pay off for people travelling frequently and on a regular basis. In this case, a monthly ticket might make sense. However, with monthly prices of up to £244 you really have to travel a lot to make up for this. Otherwise, capping is the better option as prices are cheaper on a daily basis and the same on a weekly basis. Here is a good overview of all capping and travel card prices throughout all zones. 

5. Avoid zone 1

As soon as you enter zone 1, prices jump up. While you only pay £1.50 for single tickets throughout zones 2–6, this leaps up to £2.40 as soon as you enter zone 1.

6. Get a student Oyster card

If you’re a student, make sure to take advantage of your 30% discount for each ride. You will need an Oyster photocard, which costs £20, but this will pay off quite quickly.

7. Take the good old London bus

If you are not in a rush, why not take the bus? This is not only cheaper than the tube, but also less noisy and the view is certainly better than in the underground, with plenty of sightseeing opportunities along the way. Unlike the tube, the bus will only cost you £1.50 no matter how far you go and changing buses won’t add any cost if you take the next bus within 60 minutes. Plus, the daily cap for buses limits costs to £4.50, no matter how often and far your journeys are that day. You can also travel whenever you want, as there is no peak or off-peak rate for the daily cap on buses.

8. Check for Oyster refund

You might be due an Oyster refund if you forget to tap in or out (in which case you pay the maximum fare) or if your train is delayed by more than 15 minutes. You can claim up to one year’s overcharges and get quite some money back.

9. Use Santander Cycles for free

Did you know that the first 30 minutes of your ride on a Santander Cycle is free? You pay just £2 for 24-hour bike access and pay nothing extra for journeys under 30 minutes. With hundreds of docking stations spread through London, cycling is not only cheaper, but for some journeys it can even be the faster option.

10. Make use of TfL discounts

Last but not least, there are all kinds of discounts, not only for students, but also for minors, seniors, apprentices, people without employment and more. So check out if you are eligible for a discount too. You can find all available discounts here.

With those hacks in mind, you will surely save some money for more pleasant things than transportation. And keep your belongings safe while out and about, we offer Personal Possessions insurance.

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Author: Jacob