Sticking with the theme of travel, I’ve picked something that’s a bit closer to home. If you’re in London, then there’s a fairly good chance that you’ll be taking the London Underground to get around the city. Here’s a few tips and tricks to help you save money, and get around easily.
Delayed by 15 minutes? Get a refund
If you’re delayed on the underground for more than 15 minutes, you can claim back the single Oyster fare for that journey. You just need to keep track of where and when you were delayed, and fill out an easy online form. If you use a form filling tool in your browser, it only takes a few seconds, and you’ll get a voucher in the post valid for 13 months which you can apply towards your Oyster PrePay balance, or towards the cost of a travelcard.
There’s even a free website which claims to detect when your commute is late: mytubewaslate.com, although it doesn’t seem to have detected anything for me, it has an automatic form filler tool.
There are some exclusions, such as strikes and planned closures, but in general, I’ve gotten money back for every journey I’ve claimed for.
Have an annual pass or a railcard? Get a third off on your off-peak fares
If you’ve got a 16-25 railcard, you probably know that you save 1/3 on your off-peak rail fares, but the discount is also valid on the Underground too.
If you’ve got an annual tube pass, then the ‘gold record card’ that comes with it acts as a railcard within the South East: and also enables you to get the railcard discount.
To get this enabled, pop down to your local underground station: I’ve found that not all of them seem to know about the annual pass (gold card) discount, but the main train stations should be able to help you out. It would be much easier for TfL to automatically load the discount when you buy an annual ticket, but sadly they don’t do this.
Auto top-up your Oyster
It’s a pain to have to top up your card every time it runs out of cash, and there’s often a queue at peak times. Plus, if you run out of money on the bus, you’re going to have to pay the cash fare (unless you use your contactless credit or debit card).
According to a TfL report, only a third of Oyster users are aware of this useful feature – and only 7% have it enabled. It’s easy enough to do on the website after you’ve registered your card online: just choose the station and your top up amount.
A few caveats: it tops up £20 or £40 when your balance falls below £10, which might be too high an amount for some people, and it doesn’t work on buses: you’ll only get the auto top up when you’re on the tube.
Sign up on the TfL website