Contactless Pay-As-You-Go is being extended to the branchlines off the Great Western mainline between Reading and Paddington. Starting on Monday 28th March you can use PAYG from Windsor and Eton Central, Wargrave, Shiplake and Henley-on-Thames. The Bourne End and Marlow branch will follow later this year.
The fares and caps follow the same pattern as on the mainline so peak single fares apply in the morning 0630-0930 and in the afternoon (1600-1900) for journeys away from London. Caps are set at the anytime travelcard rate before 0930 and the off-peak travelcard rate afterwards.
There are two big differences between day travelcards and the PAYG caps. Day travelcards only allow one return journey between the outboundary station and zones 1-6 but the caps allow unlimited journeys. And if starting in London and making a journey outside the zones you need to buy a boundary zone 6 to your destination ticket to go with the day travelcard, but with PAYG it just works. Plus there is no need to know in advance if a travelcard is worthwhile because the system will only apply the cap if you reach it.
Finally it’s worth noting that Twyford and the Henley branch all have higher fares and travelcards that allow travel via Reading and a fast train to London. With PAYG you will not pay the higher fares as long as you don’t leave the paid area at Reading.