How Does An Oyster Card Actually Work?

By Alphr Last edited 102 months ago

Last Updated 08 December 2015

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.