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Zip Oyster Card: free & discount travel for 5-15 year olds


What is a Zip Oyster Card?

I’ve just got my children a Zip Oyster Card each. Available for ages 5-10, 11-15 and 16-17 year olds, they offer free and discounted travel across the capital and beyond (including areas of Surrey) as well as independence for older children.

Like all Oyster cards, Zip cards can be preloaded with credit for pay as you go and enable users to easily touch in and out anywhere where there’s an Oyster yellow card reader (you only have to touch in on buses and trams).

Applying for a Zip Oyster photocard online

A parent or guardian needs to apply for the photocard for under 18s and you do this by creating a free account in your own name: https://photocard.tfl.gov.uk/

By entering your child’s date of birth, the system automatically recognises which card you’re applying for. You’ll need digital photos of each child you’re applying for and their passport details to verify their age.

It’s all very straight forward. Make sure you use a clear head and shoulders shot though as two out of three of my pics were rejected. I think this was because they were too heavily cropped and therefore pixelated. The communication, which is via texts and emails, about the progress of the application was great and the cards arrived 2-3 days after application, even the ones where I needed to upload alternative pics.

Zip cards for 5-10 year olds

These cards cost £10 on application and with it your child gets free travel on all London transport services (under-11s can travel free at any time on London buses and trams without a ticket/Oyster Card).

  • Free travel on Tube, DLR, London Overground and TfL Rail
  • Free travel on most National Rail services* that accept pay as you go
  • 50% off adult rate tickets on the Thames Clippers River Bus services
  • Pay as you go at a child rate on the IFS Cloud Cable Car (formerly Emirates Air Line Cable Car)
Zip oyster card
Flying Emirates over London

Zip cards for 11 -15 year olds

For children aged 11-15 the card costs £15 and offers free and discounted travel.

  • Free travel on buses and trams
  • Child rate pay as you go fares on Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and Emirates Air Line
  • 50% off most fares on National Rail services *
  • 50% off adult rate tickets on the Thames Clippers River Bus services.

Topping up

You can top up ad hoc easily from your account by clicking the link shown.

However, there’s also the option to auto top up. This Tech Advisor article provides a useful step-by-step guide: https://www.techadvisor.com/how-to/internet/top-up-zip-oyster-3803620/

Enjoy your travels!

You might also like:

Diary of 43 Days of School Holidays – Part I

Summer Holiday Challenges

* check website for exclusions


About Author

I’m Fran: wife, mother-of-three and freelance publicist. My love for communicating and writing mirrors my passion for trying to be the best mum I can be. I love good food & wine, Italian culture and football and have a keen interest in personal finance. I also blog over on Epsom & Ewell Families and Habyts, and write sporadically for a number of other sites.


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