Free train, bus and tube travel in London on Friday with MasterCard contactless

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MasterCard is running a very low key promotion on Friday which will get you free travel to work and back if you live or work in London.

MasterCard has announced that Friday is ‘Fare Free Friday’.  To promote the new contact-less travel service on London buses, train and tube services, MasterCard will refund 100% of the contact-less charges you incur on Friday.

Priceless London

You must, of course, use a contact-less MasterCard credit or debit card when making your trip and pay via contact-less travel.

Full details can be found here on the MasterCard Priceless London website.  Despite the ‘register now’ button on the site (which only seems to register you for the TFL website) no specific registration appears to be needed for this promotion.

Press reports suggest that this will be repeated on November 28th although I have no independent confirmation so far.

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  1. Im not sure you have to /live/ in London; i couldn’t see that on the page.

    • I live in London, but I don’t work there, so no free travel for me either!

      • Read the link that Raffles provided. This is not just for getting to/from work, it’s for using the card.

  2. Metatone says:

    None of my Mastercards are contact less. Perhaps if they took that up with their suppliers they would get more contact less use.

  3. My Metro Bank debit card is a contactless MC. I almost never use it, but I’m happy to have it available for this promotion. Other than that, my MC issuers have let me down!

    I also have a very large number of MasterCards issued in the US. Contactless started much earlier over there, and 5 years ago most of my cards were contactless, but today sadly none of them are. Maybe the US banks have decided it’s not worth the money? I lived in NYC and I recall in 2006 or so the subway system started a pilot program to accept contactless cards on one line, but it must not have gone well as it’s not been expanded. I guess TFL have figured out a way to make the numbers work out differently!

  4. Julie Dudley says:

    This is great news! I hope this will encourage more people to use public transport.

  5. From an HfP perspective this is disappointing.
    I have a fairly new Post Office mastercard but it’s not contactless. I would have thought any card issued in the last couple of years would be contactless but it seems not.

  6. Jacqui March says:

    I have one contactless Mastercard – issued by MBNA recently to replace the defunct Amazon credit card. I was going to cancel it, but am now glad I didn’t. However, of my other 7 or so cards, none is contactless. It seems as though Mastercard are dragging their feet with the technology, as most of my Amex/Visa cards are contactless.

  7. Thywillbedone says:

    A small issue with this (as far as I’m concerned) is the lengthy bills I would be receiving using my card in this way…with each tube journey a line item on my bill!! Makes reading through/checking for errors a little less easy.

    • I’m pretty sure that charges will be applied once daily. This is how they operate the cap – the maximum that can be charged for one day’s travel.

      • Exactly, only one charge per day on my contactless Amex and VISA. As others have said it only seems to be my Metro Bank Mastercard that is contactless, all my other MCs aren’t.

        • My CapOne MC is contactless and that is over 18 months old.

        • Don’t know about the rest of mine, but my old BMI MC is contactless! I have a travelcard so this offer is useless to me (and most people I know) so contactless or not is irrelevant in this instance. It’s only good for those who don’t travel frequently in London but will be on the day.

        • Oops don’t know how I forgot to mention that one! Yes, same here – love that card!

          Just had an email from Metro Bank advertising this, shame I won’t be in London to make use of it.

        • I travel frequently in London and contactless works out better than a weekly travel card as it will always charge you the lower of a 1) a weekly travel card and 2) The combined sum of your daily journeys. Most people don’t seem to realise this. For example a zone 1-2 weekly travel card only makes sense if you use it Mon to Fri for peak returns on the tube and at least 1 other journey. If you touch in after 7pm even 1 day (day after drinks or woking late) you will struggle to get value out of a prepaid weekly travel card…I appreciate some people may have an annual travelcard but I would image the majority don’t.

          Also I believe whether or not you get a contactless card is down to the institution issuing them, not Mastercard per se, so if you don’t have a contactless card blame your issuer!

        • Contactless only works out better than a weekly if your week runs from Monday to Sunday, and the only travelling you do is 1 journey to work and back plus a day out on Saturday.

          If you need to take a bus then a weekly starts to become cheaper. If your days off are variable each week, and the zones you require change, then it’s better to work it out yourself – though I appreciate that for most people who have this sort of working pattern, will not have the skills to be able to work it out – or if they did they would be able to land a better job 🙁

        • Lady London says:

          “It’s only good for those who don’t travel frequently in London but will be on the day.”

          Erm…. I will be now 🙂

  8. Some misunderstandings above, methinks.

    The promotion is for using a contactless MC as an Oyster card. TfL has allowed contactless cards for bus fare payment for a while and recently extended this to Underground travel – possibly Overground too.

    It’s a nobrainer for anyone using London bus or Underground on Friday who does not use a stored value Oyster card.

    • … and who uses PAYG.

      And yes, as of about a month ago, it’s valid on trains too, hence the new drive to use and provide a full service with price capping on any contactless card.

  9. thesaver79 says:

    It’s a shame my travel card is valid until tomorrow!

  10. Shame – my Tesco Mastercard is not contactless, but my other Visa debit and credit cards are.

    But this has just reminded me that I must get my annual train season ticket (gold card, effectively a network railcard, just renewed) added back to my oyster card. Thanks!

    • carpentr says:

      Have you seen that changes are afoot for Gold Card benefits – some good, such as an extension of their geographical range, and some not, such as the withdrawal of the £5 First Class supplement?

      • And a 900% increase in price for the supplementary Railcard and no child flat fares.

    • Slightly ot but if you renew your gold card with a gold amex, does it trigger double points as ‘travel spend’? Thanks

      • Anything bought from a station ticket office (incl standard train tickets, season tickets, railcards) typically posts as double points – but this could vary depending on which train company you buy from.

        Anything bought from the TFL Oyster website (incl Oyster credit topups and Oyster season tickets) posts as TRIPLE points. Not sure why but it’s a nice bonus especially if buying a £1000+ annual Oyster travelcard!

        • Thanks David. My Gold Card is over £5k so the only silver lining is maxing the points….

        • Thanks for the note about changes to gold card benefits. Not so good.

          Missed a trick here: renewed my season ticket with employer cheque (season ticket loan), but could have used a credit card instead (hmm – easy way to trigger £3,000 BAPP bonus, and chunk towards £10k spend), and then reclaimed from employer instead. Note to self for next year!

  11. Will it work with cards issued abroad? I have a few UK Visas and Amexes but sadly no Mastercards. I do, however, have a Mastercard issued elsewhere.

    • T&C does not say anything about UK issued cards. Simply try, you don’t have much to lose anyway.

  12. A big problem for customers using credit cards on Tfl is that the touch-in touch-out machines don’t indicate the cost (as they do with Oyster cards) So, if a machine fails to read – or you forget – you don’t know you’re charged a penalty fare , until you receive your card statement. Of course it’s a win-win for TfL but not for the customer.

    • so yes it’s great, do use the free travel and £5 rebates on Amex but don’t get addicted to using your card afterwards! Thanks for the tip Raffles

    • I believe if you register your card online like your oyster card, then you can check journey history and charges.

      • Yes I’ve registered all my contactless cards with this and it works really nicely, was pretty impressed!

  13. Talking of Amex cards, has there been a change to referring a friend to get a card?

    I was looking today and you now need to tell them what card you already have or they will not credit you or the person you refer a bonus.

    Additionally, my British Airways (non-premium) Amex will only let me refer for other British Airways Amex Cards. Likewise my wife’s Gold Charge Card will only allow referrals for Green, Gold and Platinum charge cards.

    This is a real nuisance and seems a strange turn of events as you may want to refer for a different type of card and you can’t now it seems.

    PS I posted this on another thread but there are more comments on this one so I’m putting it twice sorry as seems important.

    • How do Tfl distinguish between different cardholders with the same number e.g primary and supplementary cardholders when applying weekly caps?

      • My guess would be that the contactless chip in the card has a unique ID and they base it on that rather than the card number. However I don’t know how that then works for trying it up with the website. I think only MBNA issue additional cards with the same number, but it’s an interesting question!

        • Same goes for viewing your journey history online…must be the card name or cvv?

        • Nationwide issues cards with the same number too.

          If this worked, you could use it to get the same cap for multiple people, but you wouldn’t be able to travel at the same time on trains.

          Might try it on a bus with my wife one day.

        • Nationwide issues VISA cards. This is a MASTERCARD promotion. 😉

    • How would Amex know where to put the reward points if you do not give them your card details?

    • This is how it has been for quite some time now I think?

      Well over a year at least!

      • The Plat/Gold/Green referral bonus is MRs so of course you have to have an MR card to do it.

        BA card referral bonuses are Avios so again they have to go on an Avios earning card for obvious reasons.

    • It has been this way for months, the referral system was rebooted in June-ish.

      • Ah, ok. It’s just I referred my wife for the Gold Charge card from a British Airways card in Feb and it was fine so knew something had changed some point this year.

        Never noticed in July when she referred me for platinum for obvious reasons. It rather messes up referrals between us in the future, though I’m sure you’ll give me a boost when needed Raffles 😉

        • May have been some sort of legacy arrangement that allowed you to refer for Gold from BA as I have only been able to refer for another BA from my BA (and refer Plat/Gold/Green from my Gold) for well over a year now. My folks had similar restrictions on what they could refer as well so I know this arrangement has been in place for some people since at least 2013.

  14. Received this from Metro Bank, which confirms the Nov 28th as well:

    On Friday 14 November Metro Bank Customers will be able to benefit from Mastercard’s Fare Free Friday.
    Travel free in London with your contactless Metro Bank MasterCard Debit or Credit Card

    On Friday 14 November, Metro Bank Customers will be able to benefit from MasterCard’s Fare Free Friday. Touch in and out with your contactless Metro Bank debit or credit card between 04:30am on Friday 14 and 01:00am on 15 November and your fare will be refunded. Please note refunds will be capped at £21.80 and may take up to 28 working days to appear in your account.
    To qualify for a refund, all you need to do is use your contactless Metro Bank card to travel on London Underground, London Buses, London Overground, Docklands Light Railway, participating National Rail services in London and the Tramlink on Friday 14 November.
    Fare Free Friday will also take place on Friday 28 November. Details about MasterCard’s Fare Free Friday can be found at
    We love to hear from you – if you have any questions visit any store 7 days a week, call 24/7 on 0345 08 08 500 or visit
    Aisling Kane
    Customer Services Director mastercard contactless
    T&Cs: MasterCard Contactless – TFL – Fare Free Friday
    MasterCard Contactless card and device holders only. Offer available from 04:30am 14/11/2014 to 01:00am 15/11/2014. The refund, to a maximum value of £21.80, will take up to 28 working days. Under 18s will require guardian/parental consent to take part. Offer subject to normal availability. Offer excludes travel on London River Bus and Emirates Air Line. Journeys must be paid for using a MasterCard Contactless card or device. Visit for full terms and conditions.

  15. IslandDweller says:

    Robin at 13:50 in 13Nov “So, if a machine fails to read – or you forget – you don’t know you’re charged a penalty fare”
    It’s true that you don’t see the fare at the time of usage (because your usage is tracked over the day and then charged as a single payment at end of day). But using your contactless card on the entry barrier or bus reader generates the same success “beep” as using Oyster – and the display shows “accepted”. So you do know that your card has been read by the system.

  16. Has anyone managed to use the Lloyds Avios Master card for this promotion?
    For some reason, it shows up as card not accepted when I tried to touch in…

  17. Has anyone managed to use the Lloyds Avios Master card for this promotion?
    For some reason, A error message displayed as card not accepted when I tried to touch in through the gate..

    • Have you used the card for a chip and pin payment before? This needs to be done to “activate” the countless part.

      Your bank is refusing the card/there is an unpaid debt to TfL

      Or there is a general fault with your card…

      • Thanks for the reply Paul.
        I think I have not used this card on a chip & pin payment before, so this might be the reason.

    • I had the same issue with my Lloyds mastercard – not accepted on bus or tube. Very annoying.

      • After reading Paul’ s reply above, I am guessing Master card has yet to be activated for the contactless part therefore it was not accepted.

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