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You can use an Oyster card to get between London and Gatwick, whether you take the Gatwick Express, Southern or Thameslink. Read below to find out how much you'll pay and expected travel times on each. Plus find out when you shouldn't use an Oyster card to get to/from Gatwick.
- How to Use Your Oyster to Travel Between Gatwick and Central London
- When Not to Use an Oyster Card to Get to Gatwick
Can You Use an Oyster Card to Gatwick?
Yes, you can use an Oyster card to get to Gatwick Airport— just make sure you have enough PAYG (pay as you go) funds on your card (see below to find out how much fares cost). To use your Oyster card to go to and from Gatwick, you simply need to and to touch in and out at the yellow card readers at the stations. Oyster is available to Gatwick on the following train lines:
- Gatwick Express
Can You Use a Bank Card at the Gatwick Train Station?
Yes, you can swipe your bank card to travel between London and the Gatwick train station—contactless is available and subject to the same fares and daily caps as Oyster PAYG. As with an Oyster Card, PAYG may not be the cheapest option for your journey because contactless PAYG is based on single fares.
How Much Does a London to Gatwick Train Ride Cost?
It costs between £8.30 and £19.80 to take a train one way between London and Gatwick using an Oyster card, depending on the time of day and train company.
What's the cheapest London to Gatwick ticket during "peak" times?
If you're in a hurry and want to take the train, the cheapest train trip between London and Gatwick during peak times (i.e., Monday to Friday from 0630 to 0930 and from 1600 to 1900) is travelling via Thameslink (National Rail), using a regular train ticket (not Oyster), at a cost of £11.40 from London Bridge and £12.40 from St Pancreas for a one-way ticket. While a bus is the cheapest way to get to and from Gatwick, they take 2X to 3X as long as the train.
What's the cheapest London to Gatwick ticket during "off peak" times?
During off peak times, the cheapest train ticket between London and Gatwick is travelling via Thameslink (National Rail) using an Oyster card—this costs £8.50 from London Bridge and is comparable in price to taking the bus, despite being much faster. The Southern rail from Victoria (National Rail using Oyster) and Thameslink from St Pancreas (National Rail using Oyster) are the next cheapest and cost £10.90.
Thameslink and Southern to Gatwick
A single adult fare from Victoria or London Bridge to Gatwick using Oyster costs £15.50 during peak times and £8.50 off peak. Peak travel for these companies is Monday to Friday from 0630 to 0930 and from 1600 to 1900. Pricing on the Thameslink and Southern lines is comparable—not surprising as they're both part of the National Rail.
For comparison sake, an Anytime Day Single fare (e.g., a regular train ticket, not paying with an Oyster card) is £11.40 to London Bridge Station and £12.40 to St Pancreas—during peak travel times, regular train tickets are usually cheaper but during off peak times, Oyster is usually cheaper.
A single adult fare on the Gatwick Express to Central London is £19.80 when using an Oyster card. Note: you'll pay 10% less buying a Gatwick Express ticket online, but you'll need to set up an account to do so.
The Gatwick Express is about 30% more expensive than Thameslink or Southern during peak times and a whopping 139% more expensive off peak. The Gatwick Express doesn't offer off-peak discounts so you always pay the same, regardless of the time of day. So, if you're travelling off peak (basically, not during rush hour) then it's a lot cheaper to take a National Rail train (Southern or Thameslink) than the Gatwick Express—and they are nearly just as fast!
|Adult Fares: Central London to/from Gatwick Airport||Destination||Peak||Off Peak|
|Southern (National Rail)||Victoria||£15.10||£8.30|
|Thameslink (National Rail)||St Pancreas||£17.50||£10.90|
|Thameslink (National Rail)||London Bridge Station||£15.50||£8.50|
|Southern (National Rail)||Victoria||£17.20 - £19.90|
|Thameslink (National Rail)||St Pancreas||£12.40|
|Thameslink (National Rail)||London Bridge Station||£11.40|
|Gatwick Express||Victoria||£17.80 - £19.80|
|Car Fare Estimates|
|National Express Bus||Victoria||£10||£8|
Discounts on Transit to Gatwick
Discounts are available when paying for a Gatwick trip by Oyster card if you travel during off peak times. Those looking for the cheapest fare during peak travel times might find a cheaper ticket for Southern or Thameslink direct from National Rail (e.g., group tickets or returns) or buying direct from Gatwick Express online (e.g., cheapest fares plus a 10% discount) as opposed to using an Oyster.
For example, buying a return ticket ahead of time from Southern and Thameslink can save you a few quid on the return trip (£19.50 for a return trip on the Thameslink vs. 2 x £11.40 one-way tickets).
How Long Does it Take to Get to Gatwick from London?
Train rides between central London and Gatwick take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour or so, depending on the train company and your London stop. The quickest trip is usually the Gatwick Express. As you can see in the table below, trains are usually much faster than taking a bus or car.
|Train Ride Durations Between Central London and Gatwick||London Stop||Approx. Time|
|Southern (National Rail)||Victoria||28m to 34m|
|Thameslink (National Rail)||St Pancreas||44m to 1h 6m|
|Thameslink (National Rail)||London Bridge Station||30m to 50m|
|Gatwick Express||Victoria||30m to 32m|
|UberX||Victoria||55m to 1h 45m|
|Black Cab||Victoria||55m to 1h 45m|
|National Express Bus||Victoria||55m to 1h 45m|
Where do Gatwick Trains Stop in London?
The Gatwick Express and Southern travel on the same tracks and terminate in London at Victoria Station. From Victoria you can take the Victoria, District and Circle lines to transit elsewhere in London.
The Thameslink takes a different route in and out of town, making stops in London between London Bridge and St Pancras and beyond. From London Bridge you can take the Northern and Jubilee lines; from St Pancras you can catch the Circle, Metropolitan, Piccadilly, Hammersmith & City, Northern and Victoria.
|Trains To/From Gatwick Airport||Termination Point in London|
|Southern||Green Line||Victoria Station|
|Gatwick Express||White Line||Victoria Station|
|Thameslink||Purple Line||Travels through London, stopping at London Bridge, London Blackfriars, City Thameslink, Farringdon, St. Pancras, West Hampstead|
You can see the routes (green for Southern to Victoria, white for Gatwick Express to Victoria and purple for Thameslink to London Bridge) in the embedded Google map below. Click on the blue "More options" link to go into the map to alternate between the different train options (Southern, Gatwick Express and Thameslink).
Once you're in the map, clicking on the blue "Schedule Explorer" lets you view the train options for the date and time of your choice, as you can see in the image below. This may be useful to help you decide which train to take.
Tip to Transit Between Central London and Gatwick Airport
When you pay for your train fare using an Oyster card, you must touch your Oyster card on a yellow card reader at the start and end of your journey. If you fail to do so, you may be charged the maximum journey cost on that line. (In the same way, you can pay via contactless credit or debit card.)
Disadvantage of Using an Oyster Card
When travelling during peak times (Monday to Friday from 0630 to 0930 and from 1600 to 1900), Oyster is more expensive than a regular train ticket. So those who are very budget conscious might secure a cheaper fare by not using their Oyster card but it depends on the time of day and train line.
Also, the Gatwick Express is generally cheaper when you buy a ticket online (securing a 10% discount and the cheapest fare) than using an Oyster. To buy online you'll need to open an account at Gatwick Express. If you'd rather not do that then paying by touching in and out with your Oyster card might be preferable. If price is your priority and you want to open an account and buy online, here's how you actually get your tickets:
- Collected from a Gatwick Express or Southern station (ready 2 hours after you book)
- Delivered to you as a pdf e-ticket (you either need to present the ticket image on your smartphone or print the pdf up until the day before your journey)
Also, those travelling in a group or family can secure discounts when buying online from Gatwick Express—there are no fare discounts available when using the Oyster card. An Oyster card, however, offers convenience (so long as you have enough pay as you go funds on your card).
Getting an Oyster Refund When You Depart from Gatwick
If you were just visiting the UK and no longer need your Oyster card, you can get a refund for any pay as you go credit (but not the deposit on Visitor Oyster cards). Refunds at Gatwick are only available at the rail ticket desk in the Onward Travel area in the South Terminal. If you don't have time to do this before your flight, those with a UK bank account can post your card to TfL or apply online for a refund.
If you don't have an Oyster card yet, read how in our article Where Can I Get an Oyster Card?
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