16-25 vs 18+ Student Photocard
If you’re 16-25 or a student above those ages, you are eligible to buy a 16-25 (Young Persons’) Railcard and get 30% off of all rail travel. You can buy a 3 year one when you’re 25 and get the discounts till you’re 28! There are also other types of railcards issued by National Rail Services which let you have discounts on Oyster travel within London. In order to get the discount, you need to have the railcard (which you can get discounts on if you order online – do a google search before ordering it) and get an Oyster card and have a member of staff at an Oyster Ticket Stop or Visitor Centre set it for you.
If you’re a student in London you may be eligible for a 18+ student photo card, but if you travel out of peak hours and less than 5 days a week, it’s actually not worth it to have an 18+ Oyster Card, it’s a better deal to use an Oyster Card linked to a 16-25 card.
The 16-25 caps off-peak travel at £4.30, and peak travel at £6.50. The 18+ Student Photocard has one cap at £6.50.
The 16-25 linked to Oyster card doesn’t let you get travel cards, but the 18+ Student does.
But it won’t actually save you money to use a travel card unless you travel before 9:30 Monday-Friday and more than 5 days a week or more than 20 days a month.
You can add your 16-25 discount onto your 18+ Student Photocard as well and save 34% instead of 30%.
16+ Zip Oyster Photocards are only for children who live in London boroughs.
Discounts for Under-16s
5-10 year olds can travel free and don’t need Oyster cards when accompanied by a full fare-paying adult. If they have a 5-10 Zip Oyster Photocard, which costs £10 admin fee to produce, they can travel for free by themselves.
11-15 year olds regardless of where they live can get Zip Oyster Photocards, it makes busses and trams free, gives child rate on other modes of TFL services and the cap in Zone 1-2 is £1.50!
There are other ways of getting discounts if you’re travelling with children (or if your child has lost their Zip Oyster Card and you don’t want to pay for full-fare travel while waiting for a replacement to be sent).
If you’re an adult (who’d have to pay full adult fare) and you’re in London for a week and you have a contactless card issued by a UK bank
Use the same card all week; you won’t be daily capped, you’ll be weekly capped, at the same price as getting a 7-day travel card.
Edit 2018: there is now a 26-30 Railcard which can be linked to an Oyster card – the timings are slightly different from the 16-25, but still very competitively priced.