Crossing London – Should I use Oyster, Contactless or Paper Tickets?

Traditionally, if you bought a through ticket which needed a journey across London on the tube, the journey would be covered by the ticket. Yes, the underground gatelines do accept your printed National Rail ticket!

But now there’s a few ways you could pay for your journey, so we thought a list might be helpful.

  1. You could buy a through ticket, which would include the tube leg. This is the simplest option, but it’s usually the most expensive. Techniques such as split ticketing and using Oyster can reduce the cost.
  2. You could split your ticket. Sites like TrainSplit, which do Split Ticketing for you automatically, will find the cheapest combination of tickets including the tube journey. Your whole journey is still protected, so if a train is delayed or cancelled, you’re still going to get to your destination, and you may be eligible for Delay Repay on ALL of the tickets for the journey. However – the tube doesn’t accept e-tickets, so you’ll always have to get printed tickets from a machine before you travel. We think this is absurd and are lobbying for e-tickets (which you can print yourself or even show on your mobile) to be accepted.
  3. You could buy tickets to and from London, and use contactless to pay for the tube. Sites like TrainSplit allow you to do this – you add the journey TO London into your basket, then add the journey FROM London. This may be cheaper than 1) or 2), but really you’ll have to try it and see. Be aware that some people claim that you’re no longer covered for delays across London if you do this. We don’t agree, but it’s as grey area.
  4. If you have a Railcard, don’t use contactless. Instead use Oyster. The powers that be have decided that you can’t have railcard discounts when using contactless, rendering the claim that it’s always the cheapest way to be completely false. You can get an Oyster card at the tube station, and you can load your Railcard discount onto it there and then. Just ask a member of staff.

In summary, there are many ways to pay for your travel across London. Generally most people should just allow TrainSplit to work it out for you, and you’ll always have the right tickets. But if you want to save a quid or two, you could try doing it yourself with contactless or Oyster – if you don’t mind potential problems if a train is delayed or cancelled,.

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