diamond geezer

 Thursday, January 26, 2017

I've heard this a lot on the tube lately.
Why not use your contactless bank card today? Never top up again, and it's the same fare as Oyster.
Except it isn't always the same fare, is it? Not necessarily.

Here are some occasions when Oyster is cheaper than contactless.

 NotesExample cost
7 Day TravelcardThe weekly contactless cap always runs from Monday to Sunday.
However, an Oyster Travelcard can cover any 7 day period.
Z1-3 travel, Thur-Wed
7 Day Travelcard: £38.70
5 daily caps: £38.50
but 7 daily caps: £53.90
7 Day Travelcard
outside Zone 1
"If all your travel is outside Zone 1, you should continue using a 7 Day Travelcard." (this is official advice)Z2-3 tube travel
7 Day Travelcard: £24.70
5 daily caps: £38.50
Monthly TravelcardNot available on contactless.
A monthly Travelcard on Oyster is cheaper than four weekly caps.
Z1-5 tube travel
Monthly: £215.90
4 weekly caps: £224.80
Annual TravelcardNot available on contactless.
An annual Travelcard on Oyster costs the same as 40 weekly caps, not 52.
Z1-2 tube travel
Annual: £1320
52 weekly caps: £1716
Monthly Bus & Tram PassNot available on contactless.
A monthly pass on Oyster is cheaper than four weekly caps.
Bus travel
Monthly pass: £81.50
4 weekly caps £84.80
Annual Bus & Tram PassNot available on contactless.
An annual pass on Oyster costs the same as 40 weekly caps, not 52.
Bus travel
Annual pass: £848
52 weekly caps: £1102
DiscountsHolders of 16-25 Railcards, Senior Railcards, Disabled Persons Railcards, Gold Cards, etc can claim 1/3 off peak tube travel.
National Railcard discounts cannot be added to contactless cards.
16-25 Railcard
Z1-6 off-peak: £3.10
With discount: £2.00
Overseas transaction feesCharges may apply for travel made with a contactless card issued outside the UK.
Generally, this is only one charge per day.
Z1-6 tube travel, peak
No charge: £5.10
3% charge: £5.25
Child faresChildren who 'look older than 10' pay full fare unless they have a Zip Oyster photocard or an Oyster with Young Visitor discount.
Child fares are not supported by contactless cards.
Z1 tube travel, age 13
Zip Oyster: £0.00
Young Visitor: £1.20
No discount: £2.40

Here are some situations when contactless is cheaper than Oyster.

 NotesExample cost
Weekly cap (tube/rail)Runs from Monday to Sunday.
Approximately 5× daily cap.
Not available on Oyster.
Z1-4 tube travel
Weekly cap: £47.30
5 daily caps: £47.50
7 daily caps: £66.50
Z2-7 tube travel, peak
Weekly cap: £42.70
5 daily caps: £65.00
Weekly cap (bus/tram)Runs from Monday to Sunday.
Approximately 4.7× daily cap.
Not available on Oyster.
Bus travel
Weekly cap: £21.20
5 daily caps: £22.50
7 daily caps: £31.50
Split cappingOyster takes your journeys sequentially and charges the overall cap.
Contactless uses more up-to date technology. At the end of the day it checks for the optimum split of all your journeys and charges that, which can be cheaper.
For example, this Londonist video shows what happens if you travel in from the suburbs, make multiple separate tube journeys in zone 1, then head home.
Z6-1, Z1, Z1, Z1, Z1-6 
Z6-2 fare: £1.50
Z1-2 cap: £6.60
Z2-6 fare: £1.50
      Total: £9.60

Z1-6 cap: £12.00

Help me out with this...

What have I missed, or calculated badly, or got wrong?

In particular, this 7 Day Travelcard thing is wildly complicated, isn't it? TfL have lots of posters up at the moment advising people to switch from 7 Day Travelcards to contactless, but sometimes contactless is more expensive. Can anyone give a simple explanation of which is cheaper when, and why?

At least TfL are up front on their website that contactless isn't for everyone. Why do they keep announcing their over-simplistic message everywhere else?

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