02 September 2015

Why Oyster is better than Contactless

Yesterday I wrote about how using Contactless on Transport for London is more expensive than using Oyster in two important ways.

Even if you Contactless is the same price as Oyster for your usage, there are other differences which are important to understand.

Contactless does have some advantages:
1) You don't spend time buying ticket / loading credit onto Oyster
2) If you're unsure how much travel you will be making (and so don't want to buy a weekly Travelcard), you may be able to take advantage of Mon-Sun cap
3) Instead of payment (for Travelcard or Oyster top-up) hitting your credit card bill at the start of the week/month, the payments are deducted each day (although for most this is a minimal saving)
4) You can earn interest on your money from not keeping credit on Oyster card (again minimal, approx. 5p per year)

The disadvantages of Contactless (apart from being more expensive) are even bigger:
1) The yellow readers take longer for Contactless than Oyster - which isn't surprising, but definitely slows you down
2) The embarrassment of waving your fancy credit card at the yellow reader - and risk of dropping / losing it (depends of your embarrassment tolerance and the fanciness of your card!)
3) Loss of credit card loyalty points - with Contactless your card is debited with your daily total spend (rather than a single debit for your weekly/monthly Travelcard or Oyster top-up amount). Many credit cards round down to the nearest pound (or 8 pounds if you have a Tesco reward card) for points calculations - so if you have a Tesco card you probably won't earn any loyalty points at all, and others may also lose out
4) To check that you have been charged correctly with Contactless you have to look at all your transactions for the week - and compare the total to the prices on the TfL website - and then do the calculations to see if you have been charged more than the weekly Travelcard price plus travel outside your core zones.  With Oyster, you only have to see how much has come off your Pay As You Go balance - this should just be your travel outside your Travelcard zones - much more simple.
5) Contactless makes spending money too easy / hidden - where as your Oyster Pay As You Go balance is much more visible (it shows on the bus / modern tube exit each time you pass through).
6) If you miss tapping out at the end of a journey, with Contactless you will instantly be hit with a penalty fare which you will only notice if you check your credit card statement.  But with an Oyster Travelcard the system may assume that you exited at a valid station.  Even if you are hit with a penalty fare - it is easier to spot as your Oyster PAYG balance will reduce dramatically, and can be easily fixed at any of the TfL ticket machines.
7) If you are due a refund on Contactless you may have to phone up TfL (although this may just be for American Express cards), whereas you can collect a refund on Oyster at any nominated station.

The moral of the story - use Oyster!

1 comment:

independent traveller said...

info about the extent of incomplete journey penalties