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Using an Oyster card

How to use your Oyster card for train travel on Southern services, plus details of stations where you can buy or top up your card.

Oyster on Southern services

Oyster is a smartcard which can hold credit to pay as you go, as well as Travelcards.

Using pay as you go with an Oyster card on the train is simple. Just touch in on the yellow card reader at the start of your journey and touch out at the end. The correct fare is automatically deducted from your card.

You can use your Oyster card on all Southern trains within the London Zones 1-6 – as well as on buses, Tubes, Trams, The Docklands Light Railway, London Overground, TfL Rail and most National Rail services in London.

Buying and topping up your Oyster card at a Southern station

You can buy or top up your Oyster card at:

Top up your balance at any self-service ticket machine at our stations within the London zonal area, as well as stations between Merstham and Gatwick Airport and Epsom. You can also top up at London Underground, London Overground and TfL Rail stations and many newsagents across London, or use the TfL Oyster and contactless app as well as online at the TfL website.

Oyster cards will no longer be available at some of our ticket offices

From 1 March, these ticket offices won't provide Oyster services:

  • Blackfriars
  • City Thameslink
  • Drayton Park
  • East Croydon
  • Farringdon
  • Finsbury Park
  • Gatwick Airport
  • London Victoria
  • St Pancras

You can top up at a ticket machine, at a newsagent, the TfL Oyster and contactless app, or at

From 29 March, Oyster cards will no longer be available at Essex Road station. As this station doesn’t have ticket machines, you can top up at a nearby newsagent, the TfL Oyster and contactless app, or at

Find out more about Oyster.

Oyster PAYG to Gatwick Airport, and Epsom

PAYG is also available at the following Southern stations:

  • Merstham
  • Redhill
  • Earlswood
  • Salfords
  • Horley
  • Gatwick Airport
  • Epsom

These extensions allow you to use either a contactless card, mobile device or an Oyster card to pay for travel.

As Oyster PAYG is based on single fares, there are occasions when Oyster may not be the cheapest option for your combination of journeys. Details of PAYG single fares can here found on the TfL website here. Details of caps for extension stations can also be found on the TfL website.

There are some important differences to be aware of:

  • These stations will not be included in the advertised London zonal area; instead it offers customers an alternative way to pay for their travel using PAYG
  • Season tickets will not be available on Oyster along the extended route. If you normally buy a season ticket you are advised to continue to buy this using the Key Smartcard or a paper ticket
  • Whilst a daily cap will apply; it is important to be aware that it will not always be cheaper than buying a return paper ticket. There will also be a weekly price cap for those using a Contactless card or mobile device; but it will still be cheaper to buy a season ticket on the Key Smartcard or paper
  • Children’s ZIP Oyster cards, London Freedom Pass, 60+ London Oyster photocard and Veterans Oyster photocard holders can NOT travel free on the these routes
  • If you’re travelling between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria, please be aware that there are two fares in operation. If you travel on the Gatwick Express you will be charged the more expensive but flexible ‘any permitted’ fare. If you travel on Southern you will be charged a lower fare. The fare charged is determined by the gateline which you enter or exit through at London Victoria. Gatwick Express services generally arrive/leave from platforms 13 & 14 and Southern trains generally arrive/leave from platforms 15 – 19. Please make sure you touch in or out at the correct gateline.

Capping costs

If you use your Oyster card on the train the amount you’ll pay per day will be capped, so you won’t be charged over a certain amount.

This will mean you can catch a few trains or jump onto the Tube or bus without paying over the odds for your ticket.

You won’t normally pay more than a daily pass or Travelcard if you make lots of trips using your Oyster card in one day.

Find out more about Oyster capping

Oyster Travelcard Season Ticket

If you want unlimited travel you can buy an Oyster Travelcard Season Ticket.

This will let you travel as much as you like on any National Rail, London Overground, London Underground, buses, Docklands Light Railway and Tramlink service within London Zones 1 - 9 (depending on the zones you purchase).

You can use Oyster PAYG on all National Rail routes for journeys wholly within the London Zones 1-6 and certain other locations.


You can also use your contactless card for travel in London.