Fed up with topping up your Oyster Card or finding you have zero balance when you're running late? Well there's good news for all of you frazzled London commuters out there – payments have now gone contactless, so you won't ever have to worry about topping up your Oyster Card again.
Yesterday, Transport for London (TFL) launched contactless payments for journeys made on the London Underground, DLR, London Overground, tram and on certain National Rail services. This promises to make paying for journeys easier and hassle-free, as an instant and direct payment will be made with a "simple flourish" of a contactless-enabled card.
A contactless payment will work in a similar way to an Oyster Card. An adult-rate fare will be charged when you swipe your card at the beginning and end of a journey, but unlike an Oyster Card, the funds will come directly out of your bank account or credit limit.
Paying with a contactless card will give certain benefits to users; fares will be capped for travellers using this payment method, so you can always be sure that you have bought the best value ticket for your journey.
It also means that you don't have to have separate cards to pay for your morning coffee, your tube ride into work and your lunchtime sandwich – your contactless payment card will cover them all! As Tami Hargreaves, head of contactless at Barclays, points out, TFL's announcement makes the "'contactless day' a true reality".
Contactless payment cards are debit, credit, charge or pre-paid cards that allow you to make payments of up to £20 without having to enter a pin or scribble your signature. The majority of banking providers offer contactless payment cards, and around half of Londoners already have one, which are already used for 700,000 payments for London bus journeys every day.
London is the first city in the world to fully integrate contactless payment into the travel system. Commenting on the innovation, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "This is a great leap forward for our transport network and a world first for a capital that's leading the way by using the latest technology to help people get around."
So, if you want to get in on the contactless action, now is the perfect time! One word of caution though – make sure you only use one card to pay. Touching more than one card onto the reader could mean that you pay from a card you did not intend to, which could be awkward when the credit card bills come in!
A novel solution to this problem has come from Barclays, who have designed a payment wristband called the bPay band. Wearing this band like a watch means that you can forgo all of the hunting and digging to produce your card at a reader. "Every second counts to Londoners when commuting and having to rummage around for your wallet [or] hunt down your purse… can feel like its adding ages to the day," commented Tami Hargreave.
Another benefit of wearing the bPay band is that you don't have jump fully onto the contactless payment bandwagon by procuring a contactless-enabled card. Any UK Visa or MasterCard credit or debit card can be linked to the band, so you get all the benefits of contactless payment without any of the hassle of changing providers or card.
The bands are officially launching next year, but for now, 10,000 London commuters will be getting their hands on one for free.
So, if you're tired of fumbling for change or swiping an empty Oyster, why not give your contactless card a try on your journey to work today?
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