TfL launches limited edition Oyster card to celebrate 20 years of the iconic smartcard

Ahead of the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the Oyster card on 30 June 2023, TfL has launched a new limited edition Oyster card to celebrate two decades of the iconic smartcard making travel via public transport around London quicker and easier for everyone.  

The cards will be available from ticket machines in all London Underground stations in Zone 1, as well as at all Visitor Centres and selected Oyster Ticket Stops in central London.

Oyster is one of the world’s most iconic transport smartcards, and more than 125 million people from around the world have benefited from more convenient travel in London since it launched. The card revolutionised the way travel is paid for in the capital as it allowed customers to add money to a smart card, so that they could pay as they go. This meant that paying for journeys became much easier and more convenient, as customers were able to board buses, go through ticket gates more quickly and avoid having to queue to buy paper tickets.  

During the past two decades, Oyster has constantly evolved in response to customers’ needs. In 2005, daily fare capping was introduced, enabling customers to make as many journeys as they like without being charged more that the equivalent Day Travelcard. 2008 saw the Zip oyster card brand for concessionary travel for under 18s launched, and in 2010, pay as you go with Oyster was expanded to include all commuter rail services within Greater London. In 2021, weekly capping on Oyster for adult pay as you go customers was introduced, meaning that anyone travelling on Tube and rail services across London benefit from never needing to buy a weekly Travelcard again.

Oyster has not just had an impact on how people travel in London, but also across the UK and even globally. The success of Oyster in London, which then paved the way for pay as you go with contactless as well, has led to more rail services across south east England, and world cities introducing similar pay as you go technology for travel.

Shashi Verma, Chief Technology Officer at TfL, said: “We’re excited to be celebrating 20 years of the Oyster card as a world leading innovative way to travel. Customers have loved the convenience of pay as you go travel, and we are immensely proud to celebrate two decades of the Oyster card making travelling in London easier. It has cemented TfL’s reputation for being at the forefront of innovation and paved the way for the use of contactless payments on public transport – not only in London, but across the world.” 

Seb Dance, Deputy Mayor for Transport said: “When introduced in 2003, Oyster was a trail blazer for urban travel, streamlining journeys for millions of Londoners who no longer had to queue to buy a ticket for each journey. It is admired across the world, inspiring and setting the standard for world-class public transport networks.

“It’s great to celebrate 20 years of the Oyster card, which demonstrated London’s innovation at its best and has kept evolving ever since then, to meet the needs of a modern, thriving city.”

Amir Dawoodbhai, Member of TfL’s Youth Panel, said: “For many young Londoners the Oyster card is their passport to freedom in this city, rather than learning to drive as is the case in many other cities. That is testament to the impact the Oyster card has had on London’s transport in just under a generation, meaning that young people today are now better able to experience all the opportunities and that London has to offer. The fact that other major cities such as New York and Paris have only recently begun to use smart ticketing shows just how early a pioneer the Oyster card was, helping to cement London’s reputation as a city of public transport.”

Michael Roberts, Chief Executive for London TravelWatch, said: “The Oyster card has become as synonymous with travel in London as the black cab or red bus. And twenty years on, although contactless payment is becoming ever-more popular, many Londoners still rely on their trusty Oyster card.

“Oyster cards help people manage their finances as they can budget how much they top up and they enable railcards to be linked to them, often offering handy discounts. We look forward to working with TfL to make sure the Oyster card continues to work for Londoners.”

Ben Curtis, Campaigns Officer at Campaign for Better Transport, said: “The Oyster card changed the game for urban transport systems worldwide, and its legacy remains the envy of the world. Over the years, the Oyster card has not only transformed the way residents and visitors alike navigate London but has served as symbol of London’s success in creating an inclusive and supportive public transport network for all.”.

Recently, TfL implemented an upgrade to Oyster and contactless online account which requires customers to use multi-factor authentication to log in, which will continue to help ensure that customers’ accounts and personal details are kept safe. Having an online account allows customers to use the TfL website to check their journey history and fares paid, as well as apply for refunds for any incomplete journeys. Customers with the TfL Oyster and Contactless app can also use the app to top-up their Oyster card while on the move. From 6 July 2023, TfL will also be reinstating online refunds for customers, with applicable refunds returned to the original payment card used to purchase the credit or associated with the online account.

The limited-edition design joins others which have been created in previous years, such as for the launch of the Elizabeth line, the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.

For more information about Oyster – please visit


Contact Information

TfL Press Office
Transport for London
0343 222 4141

‘Did you know?’ facts about Oyster:

o   Development of a smartcard ticketing system, that would go on to become the Oyster card, began in 1991 with the first trials of the technology on the Route 212 bus in Walthamstow. This was followed by a more widespread trial in 1994 in Harrow.

o   Three names were shortlisted before Oyster was chosen. In another world, Londoners could be carrying around Gem or Pulse cards to pay for their transport. 

o   In the last 12 months,16.7 million Oyster cards have been used on the transport network.

o   The Oyster card system is designed to allow people to pass through ticket gates quickly and can handle 40 people per minute passing through a set of barriers – 15 more than with paper tickets.

o   Oyster cards never expire. They can be used again after any length of time. Balances can also be refunded on return of the card at any time 

  • A map showing the services covered by the Oyster and contactless payment system is available here –
  • Oyster cards can be linked to an online account on the TfL website at, so that journeys and balances can be viewed, tickets bought and balances topped up. More than 1.7m people have registered their Oyster card online, which also means that if their card is lost or stolen, any credit or Travelcards can be transferred easily to a new card.

A timeline of the development of the Oyster card ticketing system is below:

30 June 2003Oyster pay as you go introduced onto TfL services (buses, London Underground and DLR)
27 February 2005Daily capping on Oyster introduced
11 November 2007London Overground launched, bringing Oyster pay as you go to TfL rail services
7 January 2008Zip card brand launched for under 18s concessionary travel on TfL services
2 January 2010 Oyster Pay as you go extended to cover National Rail services in London and to certain stations outside London (i.e. Chafford Hundred, Grays, Ockendon, Purfleet )
18 May 2012Oyster online accounts introduced
28 June 2012London’s Cable Car opens, offering pay as you go with Oyster
13 December 2012Contactless payments introduced onto London buses
2 January 2013Pay as you go introduced on Greater Anglia services to Broxbourne and Shenfield
6 July 2014Cash payments removed from London buses
16 September 2014Contactless payments extended to cover Tube, London Overground and National Rail services. (Monday to Sunday) Weekly capping also introduced on Contactless
31 July 2015Pay as you go with contactless and Oyster introduced onto high speed services between St Pancras and Stratford International
22 September 2015Oyster Pay as you go extended to cover Thames Clipper River services
19 Oct 2015Pay as you go and introduced on services to Hertford East
11 January 2016Pay as you go introduced onto rail services to Gatwick Airport
12 September 2016Hopper fare introduced onto buses and trams in London allowing two journeys for the price of one within an hour using contactless and Oyster
31 January 2018Hopper fare extended to allow unlimited bus and tram journeys within an hour
20 May 2018Pay as you go with contactless and Oyster extended to Heathrow airport on TfL Rail services (now the Elizabeth line)
10 December 2018Weekly capping for bus and tram customers only launched on Oyster card
02 September 2021Weekly capping on Tube and rail services extended from contactless only to include Oyster cards