How Does An Oyster Card Actually Work?

By Alphr Last edited 30 months ago
How Does An Oyster Card Actually Work?

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It’s easy to take the Oyster card for granted. To most Londoners, it’s little more than another card to cram in a wallet — but what’s the tech that makes it tick?

As far as you’re concerned there are probably only two things that anyone needs to know about TfL’s contactless cards — the difference between a good beep and a bad beep.

However, there’s actually some pretty clever technology involved. In simple terms, an Oyster card uses radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology to communicate with the card readers, which is the self-same technology used in modern smartphones.

But have you ever wondered what happens, when you wave your Oyster card near a ticket barrier, where your data goes when you touch in or out; and what’s actually inside an Oyster card? Our friends over at have been doing some digging on your behalf.  

If you want to find out a little more about what makes your Oyster tick, click here to head on over to’s fascinating explanation.

Last Updated 08 December 2015

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It doesn't totally work.

And they know it.

Richmond station changing from SWT trains at Platform 1 to any other for example.

Having travelled southwards from Barnes.

Takes £5.00 off.

Normal Oyster weekend fare £1.90.

Travelling to Haringay Green Lanes Overground ultimately.

Yes, I touched in and out.

So when you arrive 'at your final destination' all your credit has been erased!


This is a bizarre article... it's been here over 10 years... contactless credit/debit cards are common place, and Oyster is in its twilight years. Wouldn't have thought people really need much explanation these days.