It's easier than you think
While pay-as-you-go is cheaper due to daily capping than travelcards, there are exceptions. If you are eligible for any of the following photocards you can either be entitled to free or discounted travel. We have compiled this list so that you can easily (and quickly) know all the options available. Remember, in some cases, pay as you can still be cheaper than these travelcards! Also remember to double check pricing if you’re a student or apprentice.
5 - 10 Zip Oyster Photocard
Children under the age of 10 are allowed free travel on the Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail, and most National Rail servies. They’ll need this photocard if they are going alone, as they are automatically allowed transport when accompanied with a fare-paying adult. They will need one to get through the barriers of the Tube, for instance, and also if they look over 10. You don’t need to live in a London borough to apply for this card.
11-15 Zip Oyster Photocard.
This card is still valid when you turn 16, despite its name. It’s very similar to the 5 – 10 Zip Oyster Photocard, with the exception that some services will charge the child-fare, rather than allow you to go for free. This photocard will still allow you to travel free on buses and trams, and half the adult rate on the Thames Clipper River Bus service. The child rate applies on the Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail, Emirates Air Line, and most National Rail services. Like the 5 – 10 Zip Oyster, it must be applied for online, but doesn’t require you to live within London.
16+ Oyster Zip Photocards
If you are a teenager, never fear, because there are significant discounts to help you get around London at your leisure. This Photocard is available to those aged 16 or 17, and in some cases some who are 18 can apply. You only need to live in a London borough and you will get the child-rate 7 Day or Monthly (and longer!) travelcards and Bus & Tram Passes. The child-rate is half the adult rate.
Student 18+ Oyster Photocards
If you are 18+, live in London, and are a full-time student at a participating higher education institution, or are in London for a mandatory work placement, you can apply for this photocard. You receive 30%. Note, if you are 18 you might be able to apply for the 16+ photocard, which offers greater discounts!
Apprentice Oyster Cards
If you are 18+, live in a London borough, and are enrolled in an SASE apprenticeship that lasts for longer than 12 months, you can apply for this photocard which will discount all travelcards by 30%. You will need a ULN and a UKPRN to apply.
Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card
You can get this discount card which will allow you to travel in London paying half the adult-rate on pay as you go fares and the child-rate for 7 Day, Monthly or longer travelcards and Bus & Tram passes. This pass is only valid for three months and can only be granted if you’re on Jobseekers Allowance, and have been unemployed for at least 3 months, or on the Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance, or Income Support, and are working with an advisor. Depending on your circumstance, you might even be eligible for this discount card if you have a new job. You will have to visit a Jobcentre Plus office for more information.
The Freedom Pass is a London Councils Scheme that will allow you to travel around London for free, providing you meet their criteria. The eligibility age for the Older Persons Freedom Pass rises in line with the women’s state pension age. If you are born on or after 6 October 1954 you will be eligible for the Freedom Pass (whether you are working or not) at 66. You can apply for the Disabled Persons Freedom Pass if you have a disability that hinders your ability to get around, i.e. blindness, deafness, have a physical disability, or mental disability (among others). This Freedom Pass in both cases enables you free travel the Tube, Overground, DLR, TfL Rail, trams, and on buses with the red roundel sign. You can also take up to four under-11s with you for free on the Tube, Overground, DLR, and TfL Rail services. There are also some National Rail services you can ride for free, with exceptions.
60+ Oyster Card
If you live in a London borough, and are over 60, you are eligible for this photocard that will enable you to travel for free on the buses, trams, on the Tube, on the Overground, the DLR, TfL Rail, and most National Rail services in London. You may also qualify for the Freedom Pass or the Veterans Oyster Photocard, but you can only have one (they all provide similar benefits, so no worries).
Veterans Oyster Photocard
You can apply for this photocard if you receive ongoing payments under the War Pensions Scheme or the Guaranteed Income Payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Schemes. You can travel for free on the Underground, Overground, bus, tram, TfL Rail and most National Rail services in London. If you’re eligible for other photocards that offer you similar benefits (such as the 60+ photocard or the Freedom Pass) you will be given either of those instead.