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A good reason for Londoners to refund their TFL tube or bus season ticket due to coronavirus

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If you usually work in London but are working from home for the forseeable future, you should be claiming a refund on your season ticket.

The reason I’m discussing this on Head for Points is that there is a little extra benefit if you do so.

What are the rules for refunding your Travelcard, bus or tram season ticket on Oyster?

Transport for London has put some guidelines in place.

You can claim a refund if there is at least:

  • 6 weeks remaining on an Annual ticket
  • 7 days remaining on a Monthly ticket
  • 3 days remaining on a 7 Day ticket

Importantly, your refund will be backdated to the day when you last used your season ticket.  The administration fee will also be refunded.

refund TFL oyster season ticket due to coronavirus

Why is this interesting to HfP readers?

For most Londoners, buying their season ticket is a great way of putting a large amount of spending onto a credit card.  It can take you a decent way towards your next British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher or a new credit card sign-up bonus.

Here’s the sad news:

TFL will only issue refunds by bank transfer.


They will not send the money back to the credit card you originally used.  This means that you don’t lose any miles or points and your ‘qualifying spend’ for any bonus is not reduced.  Handy ….

Once you go back to work, you can buy a new Travelcard and put another chunk of spending through your credit card.

There is a catch though

For people who cannot see any way they will be returning to work for at least the next 4-6 weeks, you should be claiming a refund.  This is regardless of the points aspect.

However, do the maths.

Your refund is NOT pro-rata.  TFL will deduct the cost of a travel card for the period you have used.

If you bought a one-year Travelcard on 1st January and started working from home on 15th March (10 weeks in), your refund is NOT 42/52 of what you paid.

It is ‘cost of a one-year Travelcard’ minus ‘cost of 2.5 monthly Travelcards’.

This means that, if you have used your Travelcard in the last few days and expect to be back at work within 1-2 weeks, getting a refund does not make sense.  You will be out of pocket because monthly Travelcards are disproportionately more expensive. 

However, for anyone who will be out of the office for at least two months – which is most of us – you will still make a saving by getting a refund.

Instructions on how to claim a refund on your TFL Travelcard or season ticket are on this page of the TFL website.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – January 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our January 2022 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the top current deals.

There are special sign-up bonuses on both of the BA American Express cards until 28th February 2022. The bonus on the free card is doubled to 10,000 Avios and the bonus on the Premium Plus card is increased from 25,000 Avios to a huge 40,000 Avios.

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10,000 Avios for signing up (SPECIAL OFFER) and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

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40,000 Avios (SPECIAL OFFER) and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

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American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

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Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers.

The bonus on the Capital On Tap card is increased from points worth 10,000 Avios to 30,000 Avios until 4th February 2022.

The bonus on the British Airways Accelerating Business card is increased from 30,000 Avios to 45,000 Avios until 28th February 2022.

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

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40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

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45,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital on Tap Visa card

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For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Apply 31st March 2022 and your cashback will be increased to 2% for the first three months.

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Comments (48)

  • Richard says:

    OT- but Rob could you clarify if the Global Travellor Miles and More Mastercard works free free with HMRC for self assessment tax payments. The article in November (comments by yourself) suggests it won’t but the article in Jan on paying HMRC suggests it does as strategy 4. Confused.THanks!

    • Richard says:

      That was meant to say fee free!

    • Rob says:

      It does, yes. I understood that it didn’t, hence the November article, but I was misinformed. It works fine and I’m currently pushing very substantial sums through it. However, this does involve paying my tax in advance, eg I have broken down my bills in 104 chunks and am making two payments per week.

      They do NOT like you doing this for business tax. I know readers who have been warned off by Diners. Your statement clearly shows which sort of tax you paid. Personal tax appears to be fine however.

      You could do business taxes via Curve onto M&M – this is how I do our PAYE bill.

      • Richard says:

        Thanks Rob. I pushed all my VAT and Corporation tax last year thought the Capital on Tap route which worked very well. I’m very happy to do the self assessment through the M&M route. Thanks for the clarification! Earning opportunities are a bit thin on the ground now so it all helps. Lufthansa are one of the airlines I’m confident will come through this.

      • Richard says:

        BTW – why are you breaking it down into such small chunks?

  • cheng says:

    Anyone know if this works with pay as you go credit?

  • Paul says:

    TfL – please get it right one day!

  • Andy says:

    Im disgusted how TFL set there rules and more or less do as a i like. When i tried apply for a refund, i work i would be £472 worse off pro-rata.
    Even if do the their 10 months 13 days calculation im £266 worse off
    I’m most likely taking this to the Financial Ombudsman to challenge their decision.

    • Alex Sm says:

      It’s a good idea. Please set the precedent and we will follow suit!

  • Alex Sm says:

    Btw, these reviews speak for themselves:

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