Can I Use Oyster Card on Southern Trains to Gatwick?

Oyster is a versatile smartcard, a staple for many travelers in London. Primarily known for its use in the London underground, many wonder if it can be used on the Southern Trains to Gatwick. Let’s dive into the details.

Can I Use Oyster Card on Southern Trains to Gatwick?

Yes, you can! London’s Oyster Cards and contactless payment options can be used to pay for fares on the Gatwick Express, Southern Trains, and Thameslink trains between London and Gatwick Airport. However, note that Travelcards are not valid for this journey.

The Key Facts

  • Oyster PAYG (Pay As You Go) is applicable on all National Rail routes for journeys within the London Zones 1-6.
  • Using Oyster on the Gatwick Express isn’t always the most cost-effective. Purchasing tickets directly from the Gatwick Express website is often cheaper.
  • The Thameslink and Southern services offer more competitive Oyster rates.
  • Oyster Cards are a common means of transport payment in London, making them a worthy investment for visitors.
  • Important: There isn’t a machine at Gatwick to cancel and refund your Oyster or Visitor Oyster card. This facility is available at Underground Stations in London like Victoria, London Bridge, and others.

Southern Trains between London Victoria & Gatwick

Offering a pocket-friendly alternative to the popular Gatwick Express, Southern trains take you between Gatwick Airport and London Victoria efficiently, albeit slightly slower.

Where does it run?

Southern Trains serve the commuter community, making several stops, with Gatwick Airport being one of them. These trains inevitably pass through Clapham Junction, the UK’s bustling railway hub. From Clapham, trains are available every couple of minutes to London Waterloo. This route is more convenient for some, being close to attractions like the London Eye. Besides Southern trains, Thameslink also runs through the City of London, largely bypassing the primary tourist attractions. The only exception might be St Pancras, an essential area for budget travelers and the Eurostar train terminus. Overall, both services offer a more affordable travel option than the Gatwick Express.

How Much Does a London to Gatwick Train Ride Cost?

Train OptionCost with Oyster CardRegular Ticket Cost
Gatwick Express£21.80£19.50 (10% discount online)
Thameslink (Peak)£9.50 – £21.80 (depends on time)£13.20 from London Bridge, £13.70 from St Pancras
Southern TrainVariable (Typically cheaper than Gatwick Express)Depends on promotions and peak timings

Note: Buses might be the cheapest transport option to and from Gatwick, but they can take 2 to 3 times longer than trains.


Oyster cards offer a convenient way to traverse London’s transport system, including the journey between London and Gatwick. While it’s a viable payment method on the Gatwick Express, Southern, and Thameslink trains, it’s essential to weigh its cost-effectiveness based on your journey and timings.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is Gatwick in Zone 6?

Yes, Gatwick Airport is situated in Zone 6 on the London Transport fare zone map. While there isn’t a direct London Underground line to Gatwick Airport, various train options are available. Notably, the Gatwick Express Trains operate between central London from London Victoria train station and Gatwick Airport. TfL Oyster cards can be used for train journeys that commence or end in London. Additionally, there are opportunities for discounted tickets with the Visitor Oyster card, with maximum day fare caps potentially applied.

Yes, you can! Using the Oyster card on Thameslink trains is straightforward. Simply touch in on the yellow card reader at the start of your journey and touch out at the end. The appropriate fare is then automatically deducted from your card. Oyster cards can be used on all Thameslink trains within London Zones 1-6. Additionally, they are valid on buses, Tubes, Trams, The Docklands Light Railway, London Overground, TfL Rail, and most National Rail services in London.

Is it cheaper to use an Oyster card or a contactless one?

Both the Oyster Card and contactless payment methods utilize the Pay As You Go system provided by Transport for London (TfL). The primary distinction lies in the type of card, and it’s worth noting that Oyster Cards should be preloaded with credit prior to travel. While both cards are remarkably similar, Visitor Oyster Card holders might get exclusive deals only accessible to cardholders. Both cards are also compatible with the TfL Oyster & Contactless app, ensuring that costs are comparable. For tourists visiting London, obtaining an Oyster Card, especially as part of the London Pass, can be advantageous. Furthermore, Visitor Oyster Card holders may receive exclusive offers and discounts.


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