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Oyster Card vs National Rail

Tuckahoe, NY
Level Contributor
96 posts
6 reviews
Oyster Card vs National Rail

My husband & I are traveling into London (Heathrow) staying 5 nights at a hotel in Bloomsbury. I noticed that there is a National rail 2-1 offer. I am a newbee to London so very confused. Is the national rail card used on the tubes as well? So I am not sure if we should go with Oyster card vs National Rail card.

Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Diane

21 replies to this topic
Yorkshire, United...
Level Contributor
1,955 posts
94 reviews
1. Re: Oyster Card vs National Rail

Oyster is an electronic wallet (for holding cash and/or Tickets for travel on all London transportation services).

National Rail is the single brand of all 20+ passenger rail companies across the UK.

Railcards are discount cards that allow you to buy tickets for National Rail services at a discounted rate.

The National Rail 241s have been discussed and explained hundreds of times before. Use the forum search to learn more (so I and the others don't have to type it in all over again!!!) then do come back with specific questions.

London, United...
Level Contributor
11,089 posts
27 reviews
2. Re: Oyster Card vs National Rail

There are a couple of links in the top questions section above right on a computer, one of them is https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Travel-g186338…

A 7 day zones 1-2 travelcard costs £33, the same as 5 days when using oyster in the same zones.

A railcard is a different subject compared with train tickets or travelcards so don't mix them up. Using oyster in conjunction with decoy tickets might work for you.

Don't forget to look at the Days Out in London website for availability of attractions and the vouchers you need to use with the train tickets.

Tuckahoe, NY
Level Contributor
96 posts
6 reviews
3. Re: Oyster Card vs National Rail

Thank you. I appreciate your help!

Surrey UK
Level Contributor
1,998 posts
15 reviews
4. Re: Oyster Card vs National Rail

The 2-4-1s offer good deals on a lot of attractions with paid entrance. But don't focus on them to the exclusion of the national collections which are all free (British Museum, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Wallace Collection, Tate Britain, Tate Modern, British Library, Science Museum, Natural History Museum...)

Taylor, Michigan
Level Contributor
276 posts
100 reviews
5. Re: Oyster Card vs National Rail

You can look online at the 2-4-1 offers (Days Out Guide https://www.daysoutguide.co.uk/2for1-london) and see if the attractions you want to see are listed. We found it very cost effective, and printed the coupons off at home. (For the 2 of us, we saved $100.) Most of what we wanted to see was in Zones 1-2 (a few things out on our 1st visit) So we decided to get the National Rail Pass. (We purchased at St. Pancras Station.) We also had to bring a photo with us, a passport size, for the pass. We printed off at home and brought with us.Not sure if this is still needed?

Our trip was divided...3 days in London, 2 in Paris, then back to London for 7. We used the Oyster Card from the airport and for the 1st few days, then purchased the National Rail Pass when we returned. We found the Rail much more cost effective.

You can purchase the Oyster Card at the airport. It was recommended by TA I put $10 (pounds) on the card for travel to the city (Kensington) from Heathrow. (Each of us did this.) Deciding what is best, you can add money to the Oyster Card in any tube station. The Rail Card is a flat fee, we paid for 7 days, but I think there are other time frames available...it's been a few years since I went! Taking the tube from the airport is very easy...the steps in certain stations with luggage a bit of a pain, but really no big deal.

Yes, they both work on bus and tube.

It IS VERY CONFUSING to read about these options. I was so worried on my 1st visit! It is much easier to use when you get there, then understand these posts..especially if, like me, you come from an area without public transportation! If I may recommend a Tube App for your phone as well...it helped us so much on our 1st visit!

I hope this helps!

Loughton, United...
Level Contributor
6,852 posts
391 reviews
6. Re: Oyster Card vs National Rail

Don't refer to the national Rail Card.

What you want is a Day, or weekly, zone 1-2 **travelcard**

It can be bought at Kings Cross or St Pancras main line stations and yes, you do need a photo for a weekly one, not a daily.

Hampshire, England.
Level Contributor
4,444 posts
13 reviews
7. Re: Oyster Card vs National Rail

"The Rail Card is a flat fee, we paid for 7 days, but I think there are other time frames available"

What you are referring to is a travelcard, a "rail card" is something else entirely.

Yorkshire, United...
Level Contributor
1,955 posts
94 reviews
8. Re: Oyster Card vs National Rail

along0111: Railcards, as per my explanation in post 1, are sold for 1 year only. There's no such thing as a 7 day Railcard. Do you mean a London Travelcard?

Tuckahoe, NY
Level Contributor
96 posts
6 reviews
9. Re: Oyster Card vs National Rail

I don't know why I'm so confused. I live in New York right out side of the city where I can travel anywhere with my eyes closed.😀

What I'm trying to accomplish is to take advantage of the 2 4 1 offer and wondering if it makes sense for the 5 days that I'm there. And, if so how to purchase the right ticket and what trains I would need to travel on.

Like the other poster said I will go back and read through previous posts and figure it out.

Diane

Edited: 23 June 2017, 06:22
London, United...
Destination Expert
for London
Level Contributor
59,347 posts
12 reviews
10. Re: Oyster Card vs National Rail

'what trains I would need to travel on.' You need not step on a National Rail train to take advantage of the two for one offers, but you must hold the correct ticket type.

As above, a Railcard is *not* what you want. Nomenclature is important and a Railcard has nothing to do with with the two for one offers. You have two options: to buy seven day Travelcards as National Rail paper ticket stock and use those for transport in London and for the two for one offers or to buy Travelcards loaded on Oyster and buy decoy rail tickets for use with the offers (and use the Travelcards for transport).

The small extra spend for decoy rail tickets will very likely make it worth your while to use Oyster to pay for transport in London and use the decoy tickets for the two for one offers.

On arrival day in London, presuming you will stay near Euston, St Pancras or King's Cross station, buy two ticket >for travel that day< from, let's say, Alexandra Palace or Finsbury Park to London King's Cross. Buy two more tickets for the day after your departure from London from King's Cross to Finsbury Park or Alexandra Palace. You must buy these at the rail station ticket office, not the Tube ticket office.

With those tickets and the vouchers in hand you may use the two for one offers every day of your stay. There will be a small initial outlay for the decoy rail tickets but you will recoup that straight away by using the offers.

This will be easier (and probably cheaper) than paying cash single fares from Heathrow to central London then buying National Rail Travelcards at the nearest station; you'd also need (free) Photocards made at the rail station for use with those Travelcards. Travelcards loaded on Oyster have much more flexibility and are easy to use; if you don't want to buy seven day Travelcards just use PAYG on Oyster throughout your stay and the decoy tickets for the two for one offers.

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