As of today, you can board buses and tube trains in London by simply swiping your credit or debit card. Handily for visitors, tourists or anyone who's left their Oyster card in their other pantaloons, you no longer need to buy a paper ticket or top up your Oyster.
The capital's transit authority Transport for London (TfL) on Tuesday introduced contactless payments on the Tube, trams, Docklands Light Railway, the London Overground and any National Rail services that accept Oyster. All American Express, MasterCard or Visa credit, debit and pre-paid cards issued in the UK will be accepted for contactless payments.
Contactless cards are credit or debit card that have a special chip so they can be swiped on the till to pay for things without needing a PIN or signature, up to a limit of £20. You can tell if your card is contactless if there's a Wi-Fi style "airwaves" logo on it.
Up until now, to travel in London you needed to get an Oyster card and load it with pay-as-you-go credit or a travelcard, or buy a paper ticket or travelcard from a ticket machine. Oyster cards are swiped on readers at the ticket barriers at tube and train stations, or at the doors of buses and trams. From today, if you use pay as-you-go simply swipe your bank or credit card on the yellow circle of the Oyster reader as you enter and exit the station or bus, and the correct fare is then totted up and debited accordingly.
There's a daily or weekly limit on how much you have to pay as the total cost of your travelling is totted up, and any journeys you make above that limit are free. Hurray!
Buses have for a while accepted certain credit cards for payment as well as Oyster. London buses no longer accept cash, so you need to use either an Oyster card or contactless card to board the iconic red vehicles.