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Using an Oyster card

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

Oyster on Southern services

Oyster is a TfL smartcard which can hold credit, for use as Pay As You Go (PAYG) as well as pre-purchased Travel products.

Using Oyster on Southern services is simple. Just touch in on the yellow card reader at the start of your journey, and touch out at the end. The fare is automatically deducted from your card.

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

Buying and topping up your Oyster card at a Southern station

You can buy your Oyster card at East Croydon and London Victoria. 

Of course you can also buy your card at:

Top up your credit using the self-service ticket machines at any of our stations within the London Travelcard area, also stations between Merstham and Gatwick Airport and Epsom. You can also top up at Underground stations and various shops across London, as well as online at the TfL website where you can also set an automatic top-up.

Please note that caps are based on zonal travelcard prices and not rail only fares. Therefore the daily cap may be more expensive than a rail only paper ticket. Details of caps can be found on the TfL website.

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 Travelcard zones; 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 have an Oyster card 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 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 Fare Zones 1-9 and certain other locations.

Railcards and Oyster cards

Do you have a railcard? If so, then make sure you register it when you get an Oyster card.

Your railcard will give you 34% off the price of your tickets if you’re travelling outside the rush hour.

Find out more about Oyster cards

Got a question about using Oyster on Southern? Check our frequently asked questions.

You can read more about Oyster cards on the Transport for London website.

You can also call Oyster customer services:

  • Telephone: 0345 222 1234
  • Textphone: 0800 112 3456

The Oyster Conditions of Use set out your rights and obligations when you use an Oyster card to travel on Southern or other National Rail services. They apply in addition to the National Rail Conditions of Travel.

Contactless

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