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|Buses||Cash||Oyster||Travelcards (Buses only)|
|Aged under-11 (no need to be accompanied, and no need for a photocard)|
|Aged 11-15 with a Young Visitor Discount applied to their Oyster card|
|All zones||–||Half the adult fare||–||–||–||–|
|Aged 11-15 with an 11-15 Zip Oyster photocard|
|Aged 16-17 with a 16+ Zip Oyster photocard|
|Aged 11-17 without any kind of discount or photocard|
|All zones||–||Same as the adult fare|
Adult fares? See our adult bus fares page
Return fares? There are no return fares. You just pay for two single journeys
Young Visitor Discount? Buy your child a normal pay-as-you-go Oyster card (not a travelcard), load some credit onto it, and then ask a member of TFL staff to apply the ‘Young Visitor Discount’ to it. It will then automatically charge them the child-rate for the next 14 days (after which it will revert back to charging adult fares again)
Contactless fares? Children cannot pay contactless fares
Daily cap? If you make multiple journeys then the computer will stop charging you once your total amount reaches the daily cap
Aged under-11: Children under 11 can travel for free on London’s buses. They don’t need a photocard and they don’t need to be accompanied by an adult.
Aged 11-15: 11-15 year olds travel for free with an 11-15 Zip Oyster photocard, or they can pay a child rate with a Young Visitor Discount applied to their Oyster card.
Aged 16-17: 16-17 year olds get cheaper fares and travelcards with a 16+ Zip Oyster photocard.
Oyster cards look like a blue plastic credit card. You load them up with money and the correct fare is deducted every time your child touches it against a yellow Oyster card reader. You can top them up again at a train station ticket machine. Read more about Oyster cards.
Visitor Oyster cards are aimed at tourists and work in exactly the same way as normal Oyster cards. The main difference is that they come with some money pre-loaded on to them. Read more about Visitor Oyster cards.
Travelcards are valid for 1-day, one week, one month, or one year. Depending on which type you buy it will either come as a paper ticket or be loaded on to an Oyster card. Bear in mind that not all travelcards have a child rate, so you may have to buy them an adult one instead. Read more about travelcards.
If your child is aged between 11 and 15 and you don’t want to spend money on a Zip Oyster photocard for them, then you can still benefit from the Young Visitor Discount. This entitles your child to get 50% off the adult bus fare for a maximum of fourteen days. (Note: This only applies to single Oyster fares, not travelcards.)
To get the Young Visitor Discount all you have to do is buy your child a normal blue Oyster card (not a travelcard), load some money on to it, and then ask a member of the TFL staff to apply the Young Visitor Discount to it. You can do this at a London Underground station, a National Rail station (within London), or a London Visitor Centre (there’s one at Euston station, King’s Cross, Liverpool Street, Paddington, Piccadilly Circus, Victoria and Heathrow airport).
Bear in mind that your child must be present when you do it, and each adult can only do it for a maximum of four children.
As soon as the fourteen days are over the card will revert back to charging adult fares again.
The ‘daily cap’ is the maximum amount of money that will be taken from your child’s card each day. It doesn’t matter how many buses they ride during each 24 hour period, the total amount of money taken from their card will never amount to more than the daily cap. Any extra journeys they make after reaching the cap will be completely free.
Bear in mind that they have to stick with the buses all day. If they use a mixture of buses and trains (or just the trains on their own) then you’ll pay the train daily cap instead, which is slightly more expensive (see our child train fares page).
There is only one way to obtain a Zip Oyster photocard, and that’s to order it from the TFL website at least four weeks before you need it. They can either be posted to your home address or picked up from a Travel Information Centre when you arrive in London.
Unfortunately all of the photocards cost £10 or more, which will likely wipe out the savings you’ll make on the child fares – and it’s for this reason that we don’t recommend them to tourists. Tourists will probably find that they’re better off just buying their child a normal Oyster card instead, and applying the Young Visitor Discount to it.
5-10 Zip Oyster photocard: Unaccompanied children aged 5-10 can travel for free on the bus, but they will need a 5-10 Zip Oyster photocard to travel for free on the train.
11-15 Zip Oyster photocard: 11-15 year olds can get free bus travel and a reduced rate on the train if they have an 11-15 Zip Oyster photocard.
16+ Zip Oyster photocard: 16-17 year olds get cheaper Oyster fares and travelcards if they have a 16+ Zip Oyster photocard. If they don’t have a photocard then they will have to pay full price instead.
You use Zip Oyster photocards in exactly the same way as normal Oyster cards. You load them up with money and when you touch them against the big yellow Oyster readers the computer will automatically deduct the correct fare. (You still need to touch it against the reader if you’re travelling for free, but no money will be deducted).
If the card starts running low on money then you can top it up again at a ticket machine or an ‘Oyster stop’. (How to top up Oyster cards.)
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