How to save money in London
17 MARCH, 2017 CULTURE ERIN O'NEILL
London can be less affordable than other places in the UK, and you’ll probably notice the difference whether you’re just visiting the capital or moving there to live. Wages are slightly higher in London to compensate, but this often doesn’t make a remarkable difference.
There are a few things you can do to make your money last longer in London, and a lot of them are surprisingly easy once you’ve done some research. Take a look at some of our top tips and you could avoid having to pay out a lot more than you have to.
Invest in an Oyster card
It’s a good idea to buy an Oyster card if you’re going to use public transport in London at all, and you only have to pay a £5 refundable deposit to get your hands on one. Fares with an Oyster card are cheaper than with a paper ticket and more convenient – London buses won’t even accept payments in actual cash anymore. If you use public transport around the city near enough every day, you should invest in a monthly travel card. You can purchase and apply these to your Oyster card at ticket machines in underground stations. The prices for a travel card vary depending on which zones you want to travel between, but in the long run it works out a lot cheaper than the pay-as-you-go alternative.
Hunt for online deals
It’s always worth double checking the website of wherever you’re going – whether it’s a restaurant, a café, or the cinema – to see if there are any online deals or vouchers that you can print out to use. London attractions often have promotions that you can find out about online; you can regularly find 2-for-1 vouchers, or be pointed in the direction of where to grab some. These vouchers can snag you 2-for-1 entry to some of the biggest attractions in the capital, like the London Dungeons, the Aquarium and Madame Tussauds. Even takeaway places, like Domino’s and Pizza Hut will often offer deals specific to their location on their website. Looking for online deals is a quick and easy way that you can save a few extra pounds, with minimal effort needed from you.
Build a collection of loyalty cards
These days most coffee shops, lunch places, and supermarkets will offer a loyalty card. Sometimes they offer you a free item after you’ve collected enough stamps from previous purchases, which is a nice little bonus if you’re someone that buys lunch or coffee on a daily basis. Places like Sainsbury’s, Co-op and Tesco also have their own loyalty card schemes, like Nectar, where you can earn points on all of your purchases which can be cashed in for money off, restaurant vouchers, and more.
Find free activities
There are a lot of things you can do for free in London. Popular attractions like the Natural History and Science Museums are completely free, as are many of the art galleries around the city like the Tate Modern or the National Portrait Gallery. London is home to some beautiful parks and green spaces, like Hyde Park, Hampstead Heath and Regent’s Park, which are also all free to enter. Live music, attractions like the Sky Garden, and festivals like Notting Hill Carnival are also all free – there is a multitude of things to do around the city if you look hard enough.
If you’re looking for a fun evening out, but don’t want to spend a fortune on London’s (sometimes extortionate) drinks prices, happy hours can offer the perfect solution. Usually starting from around 5pm, you can find some great happy hour deals, which sometimes offer you two cocktails for the price of one, or buy-one-get-one-free on a range of drinks.
If you’re interested in finding out more about London, read our previous blog post exploring its history.