A few weeks ago, I covered the major price jump in London transport rates, and thanks to a savvy reader, I can now follow up—and correct myself—to bring you a bit of good news about the Oyster Card. In the post, I mentioned that it was a real pain to get the Oyster card refund when you're finished with it because in January 2006, that had been my experience.
But reader Kelly T. wrote to me to share her experience using the Oyster Card in September 2006, and said that she had no problem trading her card for the £3 deposit when she was finished. She wrote, "We found returning the Oyster card just as easy as getting it." Intrigued and full of hope, I wrote to London Transport to get the full story.
James S. at London Transport replied with an outline of the refund process. The good news is not only can you recover your £3 card deposit, but you'll also get back any outstanding credit you have on the card when you surrender it. As long as the amount on the card is less than £250, ticket offices at Tube stations will reimburse your credit/debit card or give you cash, depending on how you purchased your Oyster. The process is more complicated if you have a more than £250 on the card, but that seems like more of a commuter thing anyway, which shouldn't affect most travelers.
Kelly also wrote about her good experience using the Oyster card, reporting that it was, "so easy to use and 'smart' too. We weren't there long enough to buy any of the longer passes, so we just put credit on our cards and it worked everything out making sure we didn't get charged for anything over what a day pass would have cost."