Holders of the above National Rail discount railcard can have their entitlement registered on their adult* Oyster card. This then gives them 1/3 off the price of all single rail fares and caps (NR, tube, DLR and Overground). There are no discounts for bus or tram single fares. Also, while the railcard will only discount the purchase of zone 1-6 and 1-9 paper travelcards, on Oyster you also get reductions on the zone 1-2, 1-3, 1-4 and 1-5 caps as well. Plus the Oyster caps are cheaper than the related travelcards. An adult companion travelling with a disabled railcard holder can purchase a discounted off-peak day travelcard.
16-25/26-30/HM Forces/Senior/Veterans Railcards and the Annual Gold Card
Holders of the above National Rail discount railcards can have their entitlement registered on their adult* Oyster card. This then gives them 1/3 off the price of all single off-peak rail fares (NR, tube, DLR and Overground) and also the off-peak price cap. Remember that the off-peak cap applies during the evening peak between 1600-1900. There are no discounts for bus or tram single fares. Also, while the railcard will only discount the purchase of zone 1-6 and 1-9 paper travelcards, on Oyster you also get reductions on the zone 1-2, 1-3, 1-4 and 1-5 caps as well. Plus the Oyster caps are cheaper than the related travelcards.
*Note that only adult and student 18+ Oyster cards can benefit from the railcard discount. 16+ zip cards get 50% discount on all fares.
How to get the discount
You need to take your Oyster card and your National Rail discount card to an Underground station*, or a National Rail ticket office listed on this page. You then ask the clerk to add your discount entitlement to your Oyster card. It will be valid until the expiry of the railcard. Once your Oyster has a discount attached to it you can no longer share it with other people as it is only valid with the associated discount card.
*At an Underground station you should ask one of the visible members of staff who will use a special menu on one of the ticket machines.
And that’s all there is to it. Logic says that if you buy an annual travelcard season the Gold card discount flag should automatically be set, but it won’t be. Just ask the clerk to ensure that it’s set.
Others (inc Family & Friends/Network/Two Together Railcards)
If you have other railcards then it is often cheaper to use them, along with paper tickets, rather than use individual Oyster cards. You can use the family & friends and two together railcards after 09.30 Mon-Fri, plus anytime weekends and public holidays. The Network Railcard cannot be used in the Oyster area on Mon-Fri because of the minimum fare.
The January 2015 fares revision has made things much more complex. The increase in the price of paper off-peak travelcards means than many simple single and return journeys will now be cheaper using full price PAYG. One thing is certain though, with child off-peak fares and caps frozen yet again, they are almost always better off with Oyster as long as they have a zip card, of course.
You also need to remember that children aged 5-10 travel free with a zip oyster card (except between Coulsdon South – Gatwick Airport, Epsom – Ewell East/West, Crews Hill – Hertford North, Hadley Wood – Potters Bar, Elstree & Borehamwood – Radlett and St Pancras International – Stratford International).