Peak or Off-Peak

This is an old page.  The current version can be found here.

One of the real complications with the new system concerns the difference between peak and off-peak.  The daily price cap operates between 0430 in the morning and 0430 the following morning.  Obviously Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays are off-peak all the time.  For Monday to Friday the day is split into five periods with four different meanings as follows:

Time of Day Actual Rate Charged Counts towards which price cap
04.30-06.30 Off Peak Peak
06.30-09.30 Peak Peak
09.30-16.00 Off Peak Off Peak
16.00-19.00 Peak Off Peak
19.00-04.30 Off Peak Off Peak

If you build up travel in the morning peak (before 0930) then the most you will pay will be the peak price cap for the zones that you travel within.  This will apply to all travel that day (up to 0430 the next day).  If you do not start to travel until after 0930 then the most you will pay will be the off-peak price cap for the zones that you travel within.  If you travel in the morning peak but do not reach the value of the peak cap minus the off-peak cap, your peak travel is frozen at 0930 and you start building up to the off-peak cap from zero.  This way you will never pay more than the appropriate travelcard for your journeys during the day.


As with all rules there are a number of exceptions.

  1. If you start a journey outside zone 1 between 1600 and 1900 and finish it inside zone 1 using any of the modes of TfL rail (see definitions page) then the off-peak fare applies.
  2. All travel between Euston and Watford Junction before 0930 is considered off-peak as is travel the other way between 1600 and 1900.
  3. There are a number of earlier starts to the off-peak from stations at the extremeties of the Oyster area.  Touch in after the times given in the following table will count towards the off-peak price cap, but note that the single fare charged will still be the peak fare until after 0930:
Station Time of Touch In
Chesham 09:00
Amersham 09:10
Chalfont & Latimer 09:15
Chorleywood 09:15
Watford High Street 09:10
Bushey 09:20
Carpenders Park 09:20
Rickmansworth 09:20
Caterham 09:00
Whyteleafe 09:10
Whyteleafe South 09:10
Kenley 09:10
Purley 09:15
Purley Oaks 09:20
South Croydon 09:20
Tattenham Corner 09:00
Tadworth 09:00
Kingswood 09:10
Coulsdon South 09:20
Carshalton Beeches 09:20
Wallington 09:20

119 thoughts on “Peak or Off-Peak”

  1. And as of the 2nd of January 2011 a journey from outside zone 1 ending in zone 1 during the evening peak counts as off-peak.

  2. Indeed it will, but only if it is a wholly TfL rail (tube, dlr, overground plus a few NR lines) journey.

  3. It also applies if there are alternative routes on that journey (you can see these by clicking on “alternative routes” on the TfL fare finder.
    If a TfL route applies the rule, then all other routes for that journey will as well.

    Wimbledon Tube via Victoria Tube to Oxford Circus Tube (TfL Fare scale)
    Wimbledon NR via Waterloo NR – OSI – Waterloo Tube to Oxford Circus Tube (Through Fare scale)

    Both of these will be on the Off Peak single price as well.

  4. The new 2011 rule that a journey from outside zone 1 ending in zone 1 during the evening peak counts as off-peak is applied very literally. Whilst a Z5 to Z1 Tube journey at 5pm is off-peak (£2.70) under this new rule, if you alight one stop earlier in Z2, you get charged the PEAK fare of £2.50 (rather than £1.40 off-peak)! Seems crazy and illogical. It’s the same journey at the same time, just slightly shorter. It just adds insult to injury following the withdrawal of the Z2-6 Travelcard and cap, of which I was a regular user.

    • Yes, I miss the zone 2-6 cap too. And I agree that the end in zone 1 only rule does provide some anolmalies, but it must be worthwhile for some users. At least it doesn’t cost more to alight earlier!

  5. Hi thanks for this info.

    Just to clarify, what if you start your journey within zone 1 between 1600 and 1900, and finish it at a zone outside zone 1? Will this still count towards the off-peak price cap? Thanks

    • Yes it will. All travel after 0930 Monday to Friday counts towards the off-peak price cap unless your travel before 0930 was more than the peak cap minus the off-peak cap, in which case it is the peak cap which applies all day. You only have one cap each day, either the peak cap or the off-peak cap.

  6. Quick question. Am I right in guessing that on a weekday if you make a bus journey before 9.30 and then other travel (be it underground,NR,whatever) AFTER 9.30 the peak cap applies?

    • Probably not. The bus journey (£1.30) will stay as a separate entry and the rest of your travel will count towards the off-peak cap. You only get the peak cap if your travel before 9.30 accounts for more than the peak cap minus the off-peak cap. Other bus journeys will still count towards the bus daily cap in case your rail travel plus off-peak bus travel doesn’t exceed the off peak cap.

  7. Re Amy’s question above, does this apply to NR journeys, namely London Bridge/Victoria to East Croydon?

    Trying to work out if I travel in the other direction after 9.30am by NR, scoot around Central London all day on the tube and then return to East Croydon during evening peak whether my cap will be £8 or £15 (as at June ’11).

    • As long as you start travel after 0930 then the off-peak cap is the one which applies. This is true for any combination of rail or bus/tram journeys.

  8. Once a month I am on the early shift, so travel from zone 6 on Southwest Trains to Waterloo on the 0618. From there I get the Waterloo and City to Bank usually exiting just after 0700. Then in the afternoons I do the reverse, on the Waterloo and City around 1540 and try get the 1550 out of Waterloo.

    How would this journey be classified? Off peak? Or Peak?

    • Hi Marcel,

      The time of touch in at the start of those journeys is the key. The morning one is before 0630 so that will be charged at the off-peak rate. Likewise, the afternoon one is before 1600 so it will also be charged at the off-peak rate. Unfortunately the morning one counts towards the full anytime (peak) cap, so even though the sum of the two journeys is more than the off-peak cap you will get charged for both single journeys in full.

      Hope that helps.

  9. Thanks Mike, thought I might save myself a few quid going PAYG for that week, but no such luck.

  10. Hi,

    If I start my journey on a weekday after 09.30 from zone 5 , and travel around london all day (between Zone 5 – Zone 1) using a combination of tube, NR and buses, including the peak evening hours, what will my price cap be 15? or 8?

  11. Hi,

    I can’t seem to find this information anywhere online, but maybe I’m being stupid. My basic question is: is a bus journey made as part of one single journey (from a bus stop outside a station) charged as a separate journey (£1.30) or is it included within the appropriate zonal fare for the rest of your journey? Similarly, if making multiple journeys in a day which take you to the tube/NR cap rate, do any bus journeys just count towards that cap rate or are you charged the separate bus fare/cap rate as well?

    I live in Erith and work in Dagenham which has multiple variations of journey usually involving at least three of train/DLR/tube/bus. I usually cycle as it is much quicker, but if I do use public transport, start after 09:30 and need to make additional bus journeys within Dagenham on the day (my work takes me to different locations in the town) would I be better getting an Off Peak Z1-6 Travelcard for £8.00 at the station or would the most I was charged be £8 on Oyster anyway? Hope that makes sense!


    • Hi Geoff,

      I think I get what you mean. Firstly, a bus journey will never form part of a rail journey. It is always a separate journey. However, bus travel is included within the appropriate daily cap. Therefore if all your travel is after 9.30am and within zones 1-6 then the most you will pay is £8.00. Remember also that the most you will pay on buses in one day is £4.00.

      Hope that helps,


  12. So a question. If I travel before 9.30am, from say z4-z6 but then during the day, goto z1-z4, will the cap be £7.30 during the day? as long as I stay within z4 or will it be £8 as i’ve started my day in Z6 or will it be £15 as it started before 9.30am in z6?


    • Hi Rob,

      That’s an interesting question. If you make one journey from z6-z4 before 9.30am and then keep within zones 1-4 afterwards then I would expect the off-peak cap to apply to your post 9.30am travel and it should be £7.30. You are only capped at the peak rate if your travel before 9.30am exceeds the peak cap minus the off-peak cap (ie £7 for zones 1-6). If you took a bus and a z6-z1 NR+TfL journey before 9.30am you would be charged £7.80. If you then spent the off-peak time only in zones 1-2 and finished up coming home by bus then I would hope you’d only get a £6.60 z1-2 off-peak cap, but I don’t know for sure. I’ll see if I can find out.

  13. Perhaps it’s my sleep-deprived brain, but when I touched in at Amersham today I saw a hand-written TfL notice that said ‘for off-peak price cap, touch in after 0911; for off peak fare touch in after 0930’.

    It may have been the other way round – as I said, sleep-deprived – but it was definitely there. What’s going on?

  14. Hi there,

    I’m trying to figure out why a colleague of mine is being charged £2.50 per single fare for her journey every day. West Hampstead to Watford junction for her, both in the morning (arriving 8.45 roughly) and the evening (leaving 5.21) on the overground is never more than £2.50 despite the fact that this should be peak(?). tfl says that this should be £4.00. I live in Shepherd’s bush and pay for the montly 2-9+watford junct ticket. She says that there is an exception in the oyster system that only charges £2.50 to those who get on and off at a rail station. Is this true? This would just save me a lot of money!

    • Hi Sue,

      There is an exception on the line between Euston and Watford Junction, but according to the single fare finder that doesn’t apply to either West Hampstead or Shepherd’s Bush. It might be an error in the system. Can you get a screen print of your colleague’s journey history? It might be worth trying your journey on PAYG next time your season runs out to see what it charges. Another alternative would be to touch out and touch back in again at Willesden Junction. This would charge you £1.40 + £1.40 = £2.80 per journey. Note that you would have to touch on yellow readers at Willesden Junction, possibly going through the gate and back in again. The pink readers won’t help you.

      If you get a screenprint I’ll send you an email so you can forward it to me.

  15. Hi Mike,

    That info re Willesden is excellent! Although, I have just looked at tfl and it is saying that peak from Willesden to Watford J is 3.50. I’m more than a bit confused!

    Thanks, i’ll see if we can investigate it further.

    • Hi Sue,

      Yes, it is £3.50 in the peak, but peak on that line is only one direction at a time. You are going the other way so you benefit from the off-peak fare.

  16. @Jack: The notice is correct. The off-peak cap starts early from Amersham but peak single fares are still charged. I’ve stressed that point in the page above now. Thanks for raising the issue.

  17. Just noticed on the TfL website daily price capping page that three more stations have been added to the early touch in times for the off peak cap.
    These are Watford High Street after 0910 with Bushey and Carpenders Park after 0920.
    Unsure though when this was first introduced.

  18. Are the before peak (i.e. before 6:30am) touch in times different for the stations north of Moor Park as well?

    • Hi Mo,

      No they are not. Remember that the fare charged remains peak until 9.30am, it’s just the cap which changes early. The peak cap starts at 4.30am even though peak fares don’t get charged until 6.30am.

  19. According to the TfL single fare finder, Wood Street (Z4) to Liverpool St (Z1) is peak rate (£3.30) from 1600 to 1900 (as well as from 0630 to 0930). How does this square with the new rule that travel into Zone 1 during the evening peak counts as off-peak? Walthamstow Central to Liverpool St, on the other hand (same line), is shown as peak rate ONLY from 0630 to 0930, NOT from 1600 to 1900. So does the new rule apply if you start in Z4 but not if you start in Z3?!

    • Hi Jake,

      The difference is that between Walthamstow Central and Liverpool Street the fares charged are TfL rail fares and thus the ending in zone 1 in the afternoon peak rule applies. Further out than Walthamstow Central the fares charged are National Rail fares and there is no relaxation in the afternoon peak. It’s all down to when the stations started accepting Oyster.

  20. Hi Mike. I took a tube from zone 3 to zone 1 at 09:25 one day last week, but the fare charged was off-peak price. Is it the system error or anything else? I do think the time of touch in at the start of journey is the key to sort peak time and off-peak.

    • Hi Guo,

      It certainly should be. Can you expand on exactly what the journey was? And if you can see your journey history, tell me what that says. It’s possible that the system thought you started just after 9.30, or maybe there is a special arrangement for the journey you made, although I can’t think of any at the moment. Also, was it the first journey you made that day?

  21. Hi Mike,
    It was the first journey I made that day. I am sure it’s weekday and I touched in before 9:30 am. My journey was from Neasden to Euston squire. Fisrtly took the Jublee line then changed for Metropolitan line at Finchely road station. I touch out at 10:00 am. So I don’t know what happened.

    • Hi Guo,

      It’s close. The journey planner reckons that should take about 22-25 minutes. Obviously it depends on how long it takes to walk between gateline and platforms and how long you have to wait. I’d say it’s possible that the system had you touched in at 09.30.

  22. Made a journey from London Bridge to Raynes Park (Whole journey on direct BR route). Journey was charged off-peak (£2.30 in total)! See extract from “Journey History”. Any idea why this was not charged at peak rate? Many Thanks.

    Monday, 21 November 2011
    16:21 – 16:47 Waterloo (platforms 1-11) [National Rail] to Raynes Park [National Rail] £0.80 £18.40
    16:03 – 16:14 London Bridge [National Rail] to Waterloo East [National Rail] £1.50 £19.20

    • No idea at all. I’d say that should have been charged as peak. Were there any other journeys that day?

  23. Hi Mike, The only journey made earlier was the reverse on the way up into London. This was commenced at 9:40 and was correctly charged at £2.30 i.e. off-peak.

  24. I recently made a return journey using Oyster on National Rail from Twickenham to Waterloo, plus 4 bus trips – all at peak times. The daily peak price cap is quoted as £15 but I was capped at £12.40 – do you know why this would be?

    And if you travel one journey during peak and another journey during off peak, which price cap applies?

    • Hi Liz,

      Bus and tram journeys are capped at £4.00 all day. Generally, one journey in the peak would be set aside for capping and the rest of your journeys would count towards the off-peak cap.

  25. Just need confirmation of this, I am sure I have worked it out correctly.
    My intention is to travel from West Drayton (zone 6) to Orpington (zone 6) via zone 1 starting before 0930 Monday to Friday via Paddington and Charing Cross.
    The peak fare for this through journey is £6.50, my first OSI would be at Paddington but after 0930.
    I am presuming the full peak fare would be charged for that journey (with no element of it counting towards the off peak cap) but if I break the OSI at Paddington by touching in on a bus the most I would be charged would be the £4.50 peak fare to Paddington then counting towards the off peak cap would be the £1.30 bus fare and the £4.40 off peak fare from Paddington LU to Orpington.
    I would be making other off peak journies during the day which would more than see me exceed the off peak cap of £8.

  26. Hey, I just wanted to say that this website is great! I have just moved out to zone 5 and was taking the train back from central London one evening and got charged peak fare. I was so confused why that happened until I saw this page. Thank you 🙂

  27. Hi
    What a useful site this is!
    My question is..if i start my journey during off peak but end it during peak time, what fare will be charged?
    I am travelling from Watford Junction to Gospel Oak via Willesden Junction. I always thought that i needed to start and end my journey during off peak to ensure i only pay the cheaper fare, but maybe I’m wrong?

    • Hi Jo,

      You are always charged the fare applicable at the time of touch in. Therefore, if you touch in before 0630 (or before 1600) the whole journey will be charged at the off-peak rate.

  28. Hi Mike,
    Gunnersbury to Zone 1 in the afternoon peak is charged at the off-peak rate, but getting off in Zone 2 is not. But what about stations that are in both zones, such as Earl’s Court and Notting Hill Gate? The journey planner says the peak fare will apply, but is there not an argument to demand from TfL that we pay a Zone 1 fare for such journeys?

    • Hi Michael,

      Be careful what you wish for! The fare from Gunnersbury to zone 1 is more expensive off-peak than either fare from Gunnersbury to zone 2.

    • Hi George,

      It’s the difference between pricing and capping. Although peak prices are charged on many journeys in the afternoon peak, the cap applied is the off-peak one. Conversely before 06.30 off-peak prices are charged but the cap applied is the peak or anytime one.

  29. Is there a cost advantage in getting two oystercards?

    One for use before 9:30 at peak rate travel. One for use before 16:00 off peak rate on the return journey.

    • Hi Pete,

      In almost all cases I would say no, there is no cost advantage. There are some quite obscure cases where a small number of journeys might be cheaper split between two cards, but as soon as you get close to capping it rapidly becomes more expensive. The oyster system is quite good at calculating splits between the peak cap and the off-peak cap. Just because you make one journey before 0930 doesn’t mean that the off-peak cap won’t apply for your travel after 0930.

      Hope that helps.

  30. Hi Mike.
    Touched in at Tadworth for the 09:24 (first off-peak service) and got the seek assistance message. All seemed OK when I got to Victoria so went on my journey. Now seems there was a problem and a charge of £11.20 was incurred for the day; a zone 6-1 train and tube return trip, approx 90 minutes each way, return journey started 16:00. I have emailed Oyster but I’m not even certain what the max daily off-peak should be. Grateful for an update. Many thanks

    • Hi whistler,

      It looks like it failed to touch in at Tadworth so your first touch was the off-peak un-started journey at Victoria. That is £4.60 and does not count towards the off-peak cap. Then you’ve had a £2 charge to make a zone 1 tube journey and a £4.60 off-peak journey from zone 1 underground back to Tadworth. You should have been charged £8.50 total as that is the off-peak cap. Your return journey must have started just before 1600. If you have an online account then you should be able to see all this on journey history as there is now no requirement to have purchased top up online. The helpdesk may agree to a refund of the overcharge.

  31. Hi
    Thanks, I’ll chase a refund. For future travel, when the “seek assistance” message appears with the touch in beep, is it best to touch in again? Or do you have to get help at the end of journey? This has happened 3 or 4 times now so it would be nice to get a steer. Oh and the return journey started 16:04, with a £4.60 charge.

    • Getting seek assistance can be a real pain, especially where validators rather than gates are involved. If it’s a gate then if the gate has opened the touch has worked but you probably left it on the reader slightly too long. Just walk through and it will be fine. The same thing can happen at a validator as well, but then there is no gate to help. If you are reasonably sure what your balance is and there is a ticket machine nearby then you can check the balance on the machine. If it worked then the maximum journey charge will have been deducted and your balance will be significantly lower. In either case if it didn’t work then yes, do try again.

      Wherever possible it is best to resolve the issue at the time because if your card is not validated and you are checked by RPIs along the way then you might be liable to a penalty fare.

  32. Thanks, I’ll keep eyes peeled and touch in a second time if necessary, fingers crossed. It may have helped on an earlier occasion when an online credit was added at touch in but not journey start; I asked at the station whether a second touch in would have fixed it but was told that might cancel the first, sounds like that needs clarification.

    • As far as I know, accepting a credit is always just tagged on to either entry or exit. You never need to touch again for the top up, it just happens.

  33. Hi Mike
    Yes the Oyster Helpline guy was surprised, the credit and journey swipe should be one touch but not on that occasion, resulting a in a max charge for which a refund was offered. Since then I’ve tried to avoid using online topups.

  34. Hi,

    I’ve travelled today already off-peak, and I am going from zone 5 to zone 1 at 6pm. Will I be charged a peak-price on my pay as you go oyster card?

    • Hi Ife,

      It depends what route you use. If it is a TfL-Rail route then it will be off-peak. If it is a NR route then it will be peak, but note that the off-peak cap will apply limiting your overall charging to £8.50 for the day. Check the single fare finder on the TfL website to see what charge you can expect.

  35. If I travel from Carshalton Beeches at 9.20am instead of using an Oyster, can I use an off peak day travel card? Does the same logic apply? Thanks

    • Hi Cecil,

      Apologies for the delay replying. Yes, off-peak travelcards are valid on the 0926 from Carshalton Beeches (0928 from Wallington) to Victoria.

  36. Hi, I’m traveling up to london soon. I’ve got an oyster card cause I’ll be maiking quite a few tube journeys. Just to confirm I will only be charged for £7-£8 worth of journeys make durring the day and then nothing after this?

    • After 0930 you will only be charged up to £7.00 if you stay within zones 1-2, £7.70 to go out to zone 4 or £8.50 includes zones 1-6.

  37. Hi, I wonder how much it charges if I touch the oyster card at the right moment of 0930…

    • I’m 99.99% certain that it will be off-peak. The Oyster day runs from 0430-0429 and it would be logical for other switch times to work in the same way. Thus 09:29:59 is peak but one second later it is off-peak.

  38. Mike, One of those days… departed Tadworth, zone 6 @ 1036. Travelled to Victoria and on to DLR then returned leaving Victoria just before 1500. Numerous rail problems en route and got back to Tadworth 1710. Got the Seek Assistance message on touch out. Checked online and been charged £14.60. I thought the daily max should be £8.50? Grateful for your thoughts.

    • Hi whistler,

      If the journey from Victoria to Tadworth was a stand-alone journey (rather than being part of a through journey) then you had 120 minutes to make the journey. If it started in zone 2 on DLR then you would have had 130 minutes for the whole journey. It seems likely that your touch in and touch out have been treated as incomplete journeys, one off-peak at £4.60 and the other peak at £6.90. Neither of these would count towards the travelcard cap.

      Once your journey history is online you’ll see what has happened. You might get an automatic refund, or if you contact the helpdesk after a few days and explain what troubles delayed you they will adjust you down to the appropriate cap.

      As you say, one of those days. The system is getting better at joining up pairs of incomplete journeys caused by disruption though, so you might not need to do anything.

  39. Thanks Mike, the online history shows that I travelled to Custom House, but that I didn’t touch-out? Same on the return journey, shows I left Custom House at 1437 but then no touch-out. The last bit perhaps reflects the “Seek Assistance” at Tadworth, even tho I touched out 3 times. I called Oyster and a refund has been arranged (phone call cost ~75pence), fingers crossed. This is the 2nd time this has happened and 5th or 6th time there’s been a problem of some sort. It’s the last time I use Oyster.

    • Hi whistler,

      I’ll send you an email in a minute. If you can send me a screen print of your history then I’ll try and work out what is going wrong. I’m sure that once you’ve cracked it you’ll be much happier.

  40. Mike
    I looked again at the online record; now realise that when I changed at Tower Hill tube for DLR , there is no record of a touch-in at Tower Gateway. So it’s me or the machine…. All the best

    • Hi whistler,

      Having looked at your statement there are a number of comments. Firstly, on the way in you have walked between Victoria and St James’s Park. Nothing wrong with that, but it does break the trip into two journeys which will cost slightly more, unless you cap of course. Then, as you’ve spotted, you forgot to touch in at Tower Gateway, so when you touched out at Custom House it thought you were touching in and starting a new journey. That £4.60 charge did not count towards your cap.

      On the way back you again forgot to touch out at Tower Gateway, but for some reason when you entered Tower Hill it only added an extra £2 to the maximum journey charge. Obviously it knew you were going in because you used gates, and you were within the maximum journey time from Custom House, so perhaps some special rules apply – I’ll be asking about this next time I’m talking to Oyster. When you touched out at Victoria LU it restored you back to the £4.60 maximum journey charge, and on touch in at Victoria NR it re-deducted the £2 again. I’m not sure what would have happened if you’d got to Tadworth a bit quicker. It’s possible that it would have let you out after giving back the £2 charge again, but because you took too long it tried to start a new journey at Tadworth. As the balance on your card was now negative it wouldn’t let you do that, hence the seek assistance.

      Most of your problems stem from not touching at Tower Gateway though.

  41. Thanks Mike but I find it very difficult to accept that I could have forgotten to touch-in/out on 2 occasions. How many times has the verifier at Tadworth indicated “seek assistance ” and not recorded my start of journey? Several times and I’ve seen it happens to plenty of others, I now tell them to try again.
    But the message is sinking in about Oyster:- it works well for straightforward journeys, especially where there are barriers i.e. if there’s a problem then the gate doesn’t open. Custom House to Tadworth is close to the 120 minute max, without problems Oyster isn’t a replacement for a travel card.

    • Hi whistler,

      If you call the helpdesk again, and I know it costs money, they should be able to tell you whether there were any failed touches at Tower Gateway. Unless the card just didn’t register at all, they should have some recored. Anyway, the good news is that Custom House to Tadworth via Victoria is actually 140 minutes because you count the zone boundaries crossed, not just the number of zones.

      But that’s not all. If you don’t need to go via Victoria then there’s a better way of doing it. Change at Norwood Junction on the train from Tadworth and take the Overground to Shadwell then the DLR from there, or change at Canada Water to the Jubilee line to Canning Town where you’ll have the Stratford to Custom House trains to choose from as well. If going via Canada Water you need to touch the pink validators which are located on the Overground platforms near the escalators down to the Jubilee line. That’s a lot less touching and it only costs £2.30 off-peak each way because you avoid zone 1.

  42. Mike
    Can you advise how the refund will be made.? It hasn’t shown up on my online account and I just checked at the ticket machine at the station. So I guess that means it’ll be added when I touch in in the next 8 days? And should I touch in twice if I’m planning to travel? What happens if I don’t travel in the specified period?
    Many thanks

    • Hi whistler,

      It will be added on either touch in or touch out at the nominated station. If you don’t collect it you’ll get another email telling you how to re-request it, either at the same station or a different one.

  43. I am travelling to London tomorrow from Woodmansterne, Zone 6 at 6.10 a.m. I will then get a train (with a paper ticket) into deepest darkest Essex, and back. Then I will be oystering all day in London then back to WME. Will I be charged the off-peak cap (for the afternoon off-peak travel) plus the £3.40 off peak fare from WME (for the journey in)? Or will the peak cap apply because I travelled first journey in peak-time cap time? BTW – your website is too interesting. I’ve spent far too much time reading it! Thank you.

    • Hi Matthew,

      The initial £3.40 would trigger the peak cap, but the post 9.30 travel will still only be capped at the off-peak rate, making £11.90 in total. The off-peak cap is only ignored if the peak (all-day) cap is hit first.

  44. Thank you so much. Your site is so very helpful – I am very grateful to you for such an informative site, and for answering my question so very promptly. Thank you indeed.

  45. Hi there,

    Just a quick question. If you tap in at off peak time, but you tap out at peak, which fare do you get charged for?

    So basically, do you get charged when you tap in or out?


  46. Are there any plans to extend the exceptions to Southeastern stations eg Bexley, Crayford?

    • Hi Harry,

      Unfortunately not. The exceptions are linked to earlier starts for off-peak paper tickets and there are no such concessions on Southeastern routes.

  47. Hi,

    A little confused here. Heres my situation:

    * I start travel in the morning peak and not reach the cap
    * I continue my travel in the evening at 6pm.

    Counting what I had been charged in the morning, the amount comes up to the offpeak cap i.e I have reached the offpeak cap due to what I spent at peak time in the morning.

    My question, should the cap have come into place for my offpeak travel and not charge anything on my oyster?


    • Hi Kamran,

      Simple answer is no. When you start travel before 0930, the peak (or Anytime) cap is the absolute maximum you will be charged. If your travel after 0930 hits the off-peak cap before your total travel hits the anytime cap then you stop at the off-peak cap. But your pre 0930 travel still remains outside this.

  48. Hi Mike

    Could you let me know if the following journey will be charged as off peak or peak rate for the oyster card;

    London Kings Cross to Charing Cross departing after 9.30
    and then Charing Cross to Bexleyheath Station.

    On returning i will be departing Bexleyheath at around 6pm going to Charing Cross and then onto Royal Albert DLR

    Many Thanks


    • The morning journey is off-peak. The afternoon one is peak although the daily off-peak cap will apply if you make it as described. Do you actually need to return via Charing Cross? If not then take the DLR from Lewisham which cuts out zone 1 and the mixed travel surcharge.

    • Hi shahid,

      I’m not quite sure what you’re asking. The Oyster day officially starts at 0430 regardless of the mode of transport used.

  49. I travelled from Canary Wharf to Sutton Common on a Tuesday. I took the tube to Waterloo then NR. According to the journey history I touched in at 1603. I’m somewhat confused as I expected to be charged the peak fare of £4.90 but was in fact charged the off peak fare of £3.70.

    • Hi Simon,

      This is a common observation. It appears as though there is an undocumented grace period at the start of the afternoon peak, probably to avoid lots of “but the station clock/my watch/the radio said it was just before 1600” type complaints.

  50. I have an Oyster card loaded with zone 1&2 monthly season ticket. I want to go to Chingford Zone 5 for a one off visit. Will it simply charge me a surcharge or do I have to buy a one day travelcard to zone 5. Also, Can I use the bus in Zone 5 using the Oyster card ? Thanks.

    • Hi Paul,

      Yes and Yes! Touch in at the begining of the journey to Chingford and when you touch out it will charge you for a zone 3-5 journey. Buses are free with any travelcard, though do note that you can’t use trams for free unless the travelcard includes at least one of zones 3-6.

  51. Hi Mike

    I have a 16-25 railcard attached to my Oyster and was wondering if it’s worth getting a weekly/monthly pass or not? Will the discount not apply if I get a pass? Thanks so much

    • Hi Yasmin,

      The 16-25 railcard doesn’t get you discounts on seasons, I’m afraid. However, the 16-18 Zip card does give you half price travelcard seasons so it’s as if you’re still a child. The 18+ student Oyster card gives you 33% discount on travelcard seasons. Otherwise it’s full price.

  52. Hi Mike

    With regards to the morning peak 06.30 – 09.30, if I am using my oyster card do I have to complete the journey (touch out) by 06.30 or just ‘touch in’ before 06.30 to qualify for the ‘off peak fare’. Many thanks

    • Hi Tom,

      Touch in at the start of the journey is all that matters. Any intermediate touches up to the end of the journey can occur after 0630.

  53. Hi Mike,

    Evening Peak, Travelcard Z1-2 and Railcard
    (See Dave’s comment, fourth from the top as well)

    I travelled from Woodford (Z4) to Earls Court (Z1/2) and was only charged 95p, which is correct as there is no evening peak fare towards Zone 1. Without travelcard I would expect to be charged £1.70 (Z3-4 offpeak railcard single).

    What will happen if I travel from Osterley (Z4) to Earls Court? In this direction, I will not pass through Z1, hence evening peak fares apply. I would expect to pay £1.50 for this (Z3-4 peak single). However, if I went one station FURTHER to Gloucester Road, there would be no evening peak, so I would only pay 95p! (and then doubling back to Earls Court is covered on the travelcard, and I have a book to pass the extra 5 minutes – but not worth it for 10p saving if you have no railcard)

    Am I correct?

    • Hi Chris,

      Yes, you are correct. You obviously have to exit the station at Gloucester Road and re-enter again to start a new journey.

  54. Hi Mike
    I have previously been using an annual season ticket zones 1-4 and am trying to work out if using Oyster would be cheaper for me over all.
    Most days i start my work Journey at 6 in the morning from Eltham and exit Bond Street Underground station at 6.45 would i be charged the off peak rate because my journey started at 6 or the peak rate because my journey finished at 6.45 I found the information on the TFL site very vague.
    hope you can help

    • Hi Chris,

      Starting at 0600 will definitely charge off-peak rates. I sometimes touch in at just before 0630 for the very same reason and use up the extra time later on having Breakfast. The only slight drawback is that it doesn’t count towards the off-peak cap, but if you only make one return journey a day then PAYG will definitely be cheaper than a travelcard season.

  55. Hi,
    I have to travel from East Ham to Canary Wharf and then to Watford Junction. The travel card and Oyster cap have the same prices, 15.2 for Off-peak and 20.2 for Peak. So if I leave East Ham after 09:30, I would be charged 15.2. However, if I use my Oyster East Ham to canary wharf in Peak, 1.5, Canary wharf to Watford junction, 2.6 if I use route through stratford and 2.6 from watford to east ham via stratford. total 6.7 in off-peak times. Similarly 1.5+4.3+4.3 = 10.1 during peak times. However, the daily price cap and day card rates for Zone2-Watford junction are same as Zone1-Watford junction 🙁 Only help would be is I could use Zone1 in 15.2 if I start after 0930 from east ham.

    • Hi Rahul,

      I’m not quite sure what you’re asking. There are no daily caps avoiding zone 1 anymore. However, you are only charged for your journeys unless the total for those journeys takes you over the cap.

  56. Hi Mike,

    I have to go from Kings Cross to London Heathrow.
    Starting the trip round about 3:30 pm with my Oyster Card.
    When I arrive one hour later at Heathrow, will I get charged
    Off-Peak or peak?
    Thank you for your help!

    Kind regards,

    • Hi Phil,

      It’s the touch in time that counts, so you’ll be charged off-peak.

  57. Hi Mike – perhaps you can clear up this anomaly for me…

    Making a return journey from Brockley to Watford Junction tomorrow, need to arrive WFJ at 10:00 so travelling in morning peak is unavoidable.

    Single Fare Finder gives a peak time fare between Brockley and Watford Junction as £4.30…?!

    Confusingly, looking at the extra fares it says travel through Zone 1 costs £8.20??!

    What route could it be suggesting in order to get the £4.30 peak time single?

    Yours confused!

    • Hi Neil,

      It’s suggesting Brockley -> Crystal Palace -> Clapham Junction -> Willesden Junction -> Watford Junction. Because it can’t tell the difference with no touchouts, you can also go Brockley -> Highbury & Islington -> Willesden Junction -> Watford Junction. Whichever way you go you can reduce the fare to £3.50 by touching out and back in again at Willesden Junction. Just make sure you use gates and NOT the pink route validators. That way the Willesden to Watford section becomes off-peak at only £1.50.

  58. I used a route I don’t normally use last night and don’t understand the fare calculation. I was wondering if anyone can clarify if this is correct.

    – Canary Wharf -> Euston via tube @ 18:50 (Zone 1-2 peak fare = £2.70)
    – Euston -> Watford Junction via train @ 19:25 (Off peak fare = £4.30).

    So I expected a maximum fare of £7.00 (the sum of the two single journeys), but in fact I’ve been charged £8.20 (Canary Wharf -> Watford Junction Peak).

    That doesn’t seem right – it would have been cheaper to use two separate oyster cards!

    Thanks for any light you can shed on this.

    • Hi Stephen,

      That is unfortunately a side effect of the joining together of the two journeys by the OSI between Euston LU and NR. Only journeys wholly on the Euston to Watford line are charged off-peak in the evening. Worse still, Canary Wharf to Euston should have been charged at £2.00 because it’s a TfL journey from outside zone 1 ending in zone 1 and thus off-peak in the evening peak.

      There are three ways of getting round this. One is to wait over 40 minutes between touching out of the tube and touching in at the NR station as this will break the OSI. Another (for this specific scenario) would be to travel to Mornington Crescent on the tube and walk back to Euston from there. You’d pay the peak tube fare (as the journey now ends in zone 2, but there is no OSI from Mornington Crescent so it would again be treated as two journeys. Finally, you could touch in on a bus outside Euston and then get off again. This will charge you £1.35 but the total will still be less than the overall rail fare.

      Hope this helps.

  59. Hi Mike

    Thanks for the explanation. I’ve been looking around the site – it’s an excellent resource. I think I’m beginning to understand the OSI system, which seems to be the root cause. I never appreciated how complicated Oyster pricing is!

    I also found other threads where you mention touching out/in at Willesden Green, and that would seem to be a cheap solution (£2.70 Canary Wharf to Willesden Junction + £1.50 Willesden Junction to Watford Junction = £4.20 total). Would that work?

    Thanks again

    PS. Or Canary Wharf to Willesden Junction via Stratford = £1.50, so total = £3.00!

    • Hi Stephen,

      You seem to be getting the hang of it now. Both your suggestions will work. Just remember that you’ll need to touch the pink validator at Stratford, while at Willesden Junction it will have to be out and in on the yellow readers on the gates.

  60. Hello Mike,
    Thanks for the site. I hope you can answer this. I’m making two journeys (back and forth, if you like) from Elephant & Castle to Heathrow with the first outward journey at around 11am and back within a couple of hours, so that’s off-peak. The second journey will see me head out around 5pm which I believe is peak time and back again to E & C in a couple of hours. What’s the maximum I can expect to pay on my Oyster? Is it GBP 8.50 or the GBP 15.80 since it includes a peak travel element. Thank you

    • Hi Edward,

      That would be £8.50 because the off-peak cap over-rides the peak fares in the afternoon if it is reached.

  61. The amount of TFL staff who don’t know how oyster capping works is shocking. Thank you for making this site, it plugs all the gaps!

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