London Discount Cards
Visiting London can be an expensive proposition. Accommodation can be extremely expensive, then when you factor in transportation, dining, and attraction entry, you might feel you need to take out a second mortgage just for a week-long stay. Given all that, it's just as well there are several ways to save money on your visit.
One way that is increasingly popular is to purchase a discount travel card, offering free or discounted entry to attractions. Some card schemes also discount dining, transportation, and leisure activities such as theatre tickets.
Here are some of the London discount cards you may like to consider:
Not technically a discount card, but a pre-paid pass allowing free entry to many top London area attractions and discounted entry to popular restaurants, theatre, and shopping venues in and beyond London. Here is more information on ordering the London Pass through Britain Express.
- Widely recognized, great coverage. Can be purchased with a wide variety of options, covering users for periods of time ranging from 1 to 10 days.
- The priciest option among discount cards, but the price may save you a lot of money depending on the places you are most likely to go.
A lower-priced competitor to the London Pass, the Ace Card offers discounted entry at over 350 London attractions ranging from restaurants, clubs, shops, theatre, music and comedy venues, exhibitions, cinemas, galleries, fitness clubs, and leisure activities. Typical discounts include two tickets for the price of one at theatres, half-price club entry, and 25% off at restaurants.
One important point to note is that the Ace Card covers few of the big-name London tourist attractions, so if you are a first time visitor to London this may not be the best card for you. On the other hand, if you've already seen the Tower of London and its ilk, the Ace Card may be perfect for you! Visit the Ace Card website for more details.
- Cheaper than the London Pass, only £19.95 as of this writing.
- Covers fewer of the top London visitor attractions.
The LDN Card is useful to both visitors and residents. It offers discounted entry to popular shops, restaurants, gyms, cafes, salons, bars, nightclubs and tourist attractions. To get these discounts you simply have to show your card when paying the entry fee.
An added feature is that you also get online discounts, for which you only have to register the card. You can download a free iPhone or Android app so you can see what is available near you. Discounts range from 10% to 50%, and you can also take advantage of special offers like 2-for-1 and freebies. You can sign up for a free newsletter outlining special deals each week.
One thing that sets the LDN Card apart is that you can get it as an annual subscription. That potentially means you will save much more than a one-off time-limited card like the London Pass. As of this writing, the LDN Card annual subscription is £30.
- Low cost
- Excellent variety of hand-picked discounts
- Phone apps
- You have to carry a card
A discount scheme with a difference. Discount Britain offers a unique way to get 20% off entry to over 50 top London attractions and restaurants, and several top attractions around the country. Rather than carry a card with you, all you have to do is print a SmartSaver discount coupon from the Discount Britain website and present that coupon code when you enter the attraction. Discounts apply for up to 6 adults. Visit the SmartSave website for full details of attractions covered.
- No card to carry.
- No fees!
- Fewer attractions covered than the other card discount schemes.
- You have to remember to print the discount code and take it with you.
The Local Buyers Club focusses attention on independent and small-chain London businesses, so you know your annual fee is going to support local business. With the Local Buyers Club card you can get from 10-25% discount at hundreds of restaurants, shops, cafes, pubs. Some discounts are online-only. So, you won't find Starbucks or Costa Coffee discounts here, but you WILL find unique locally-run businesses, from candlemakers to interior design shops and a wide range of local food and drink outlets.
One feature I really like about the Local Buyers Club website is that you can search for discounts by area, including places that will deliver to a specific area of Greater London. The Buyers Club is a very intriguing option, aimed squarely at Londoners who want to support local businesses.
The LBC also helps organise and support local initiatives across London. Part of its mission is to 'better connect communities and to support local projects benefiting those in need'.
- Very reasonable annual fee
- You're supporting local, independent businesses and communities
- Find discounts by neighbourhood
- No tourist attractions (but you might consider this a plus!)
- Another card to carry
It is WELL WORTH getting a transport card for travel around London. You will end up saving a huge amount of money over the cost of buying bus, above-ground train, and Underground tickets.
The London Travelcard Card offers unlimited travel on the Underground and buses. Oyster Cards can be purchased for 7 days or more at a time.
The Visitor Oyster Card is similar to the Oyster Card but is geared to visitors to the UK. The Visitor TravelCard also offers unlimited bus and Underground travel plus discount vouchers for popular tourist attractions. Visitor Oyster card or Travelcards can be purchased online (allow 2-4 days for delivery within the UK and up to 7-12 days for delivery to worldwide locations, including the US). Cards may also be purchased from most Underground stations in London.
If you use or purchase one of the discount cards mentioned here, why not let us know what your experience was like? We welcome your feedback and will post it for the benefit of others. What are the plusses and minuses of the discount cards? Are there other cards we should mention? Let us know your experience!