MasterCard introduces “Fare Free Friday” for contactless users

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MasterCard users can look forward to several days of free London travel – if they opt to pay using a contactless card.

This Friday November 14th, MasterCard users will have their fares refunded if they use their contactless cards to pay for the tube, train, tram, bus or DLR in London. Another “Free Friday” will run on November 28th, as Mastercard attempts to encourage people to use their contactless payment cards to pay for travel, rather than relying on Oyster cards or tickets.

Daily spends will be capped at £21.80 (the price of a full day of unlimited travel on TfL services), and this will be automatically refunded to the user’s Mastercard account.

All MasterCard customers can take advantage of the offer this week if they use their contactless MasterCard before 1am on 15th November.

TfL has introduced a weekly cap on contactless card payments, but not on Oyster, which retains only a daily cap. Analysis by the London Assembly Labour party found passengers using pay-as-you-go fares, who travel between zones four and seven during peak-time seven days a week, could spend £91.40 more on their travel than contactless users.

Labour’s research goes against London Mayor Boris Johnson’s claims that Oyster will always be the cheaper option for travel. TfL is considering introducing weekly capping once the technology can be updated, as the move would involve significant changes to card readers, back office and retailing systems.

A recent survey for TfL found only 26 per cent of Londoners have made a payment using a contactless card. Some have experienced problems with contactless payment, with confusing fees or complete card failure. At this point, they are forced to switch back to Oyster for a time, and it may take more than two days of free travel to tempt them back.

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