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Topping Up

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  1. 4. Click on “Continue” and select a station to activate the order from. This can be any tube, national rail, overground or DLR station or a tramstop. You can’t activate auto top-up on a bus, but once activated the actual top-up can be triggered on a bus.

    So to make this clear for me..
    I can set up the Oystercard to auto top up at a tube station/overground for the first instance … later that week, if I hopped on a bus and the Oystercard balance then went over than (say) £5, I can be assured that the card would auto-top up there and then.

  2. If the balance on your card is less than £5 when you touch in on a bus then it will add your auto top-up amount to your card. Your bank/credit card will be debited once the oyster reader on the bus gets back to the depot. I don’t know what happens if there is a problem collecting the payment, but they can blacklist lost cards and I imagine that this is what would happen if you didn’t rectify the issue.

  3. They can send you an Oystercard in the post with auto top-up already activated if you only uses buses.

  4. To access my journey history I topped up on line. I nominated my nearest tube station which is fine.. except that I don’t wish to travel by tube as my next few journeys will be by bus.

    How do I validate my Oyster top-up without making a tube journey?.

  5. Hi Dave,

    It is possible for LU ticket office staff to cancel the entry token after you’ve touched in. They used to allow you to do that in the days before Oyster was accepted throughout National Rail in London. I suggest that you try to go to your station at a relatively quiet time and ask at the ticket office before trying to touch in whether they will be prepared to cancel the touch in. You’ll need to return to ticket window immediately after activating the gate, and don’t actually go through the gate, just expain to the gateline supervisor.

    I hope this helps.

  6. A very comprehensive site; thank you.

    I have a fairly idle question: as an occasional user who tops up manually, why do I need to specify a specific station to activate the top up? This doesn’t usually present a problem, but it quite easily could (travel plans changing and so on), and seems an unnecessary restriction: other types of online purchases are immediately applied.

  7. Hi Sohcahtoa,

    That’s a nice easy question. Each station or tramstop or bus operates in isolation for most of the day. They all hook-up to the central database at night and transfer details of all their transactions. Meanwhile, your card contains the most up-to-date information about your useage. So, when you order top-up online it is literally sent to the server at the specific station you request. Thus you can use any gate at that station because they are all connected to their local server, but any other station has no idea about your top-up. This is also why you can’t specify a bus, becasue you can’t know in advance which particular bus you’d get.

    You can get your up-to-date journey history at a tube station because it reads the card and displays what it finds. Online you need to wait for the transactions to be transfered to the central database before you can view them.

  8. Lauren Holden

    Hi, I just purchased a £20 top up for my oyster card and I didn’t realise that you have to activate it within 8 days since you bought the top up and won’t be going into London until 12th jan which is longer than 8 days!

    Can I cancel the top up or what should I do?


  9. Hi Lauren,

    If you look at point 6 under auto top-up above you’ll see that if you don’t pick it up you’ll be refunded and have to start again. I need to make it clear that this applies to one-off top-ups as well as activating auto top-up. Thanks for raising the query.


  10. Hi,

    If I top-up online now, will I be able to use my card in 2 hours time on a bus? I noticed that the start-date is not until tomorrow, which means that it’s not really convenient as I will have to find the nearest top-up point, which is a bit of a walk away.


  11. Hi Faye,

    I realise that the time has passed already, but the answer was no anyway. If you look at step 6 of the process it says it will always be at least the next day.

  12. Thank you (a bit belatedly) for the reply. I had no idea until the system worked until recently – and am so used to making payments online and having them instantly applied!

  13. Hi i have a 16+ Zip card can i top up my card online ?

  14. Yes, you can. Zip cards work just like normal Oyster cards in relation to top up, and auto top up if you want.

  15. If I’ve topped up online and nominated a train station to download the top-up, can I swipe the card at that station and then go and get on a bus? If not is there anyway of getting the money refunded sooner so that I can pay over the counter in a shop?

  16. You can swipe at the station, but if you don’t then make a journey you will get a maximum fare charged. You could call the Oyster helpline who might be able to refund you quicker, but I’m not certain. Failing that, it will refund automatically after 8 days.

  17. Auto Top-up is a great system and I’d recommend it to any regular PAYG user. It’s particularly useful if you travel mainly on buses, as it’s the only way to top-up on a bus. But you do first have to order online and activate it at a Tube station.

    This year, TFL increased the minimum balance for Auto Top-up from £5 to £8. This tipped the balance for an occasional traveller like me: I don’t want up to £28 sitting wastefully on my Oystercard. So I decided to cancel my £20 Auto Top-up. But guess what? You must “order” the cancellation online to be “picked up” at a Tube gate, just like an online top-up! My life isn’t that regular and it’s taken me weeks to finally get it cancelled. Although my online cancellation order stated that it would only be available to pick up for the usual 8 days, it in fact remained on my account (“ready at gate”) for 14 days.

  18. That’s useful to know, thanks. Also, it might not have made a difference to you but you can add or cancel auto top-up at any rail or dlr station as well as any tramstop. It’s only buses you can’t do it on.

  19. Thomas Ralph

    And you will find that a touch-out as well as a touch-in will collect top-ups and auto top-up instructions.

  20. Thank you for your comment. Whilst I can believe that touch out may well collect manual top up instructions, I am certain that it will NOT trigger auto top up. The reason is that auto top up is designed to keep your card in credit by topping up when necessary. If you finish a journey with £4 on your card you will not be very happy if another £20 is credited when you might not use the card for some time. I also have auto top up set on my card and I have often finished a rail journey with the balance under the auto top up trigger. It has never credited a top up in that situation.

  21. I topped up this morning in a shop, but the money I put on my card is not yet coming up on my oyster card details online. Does this mean the top up didn’t work or will it register the top up when I swipe in on the bus?

  22. I don’t know how often shops communicate with the central system but I wouldn’t worry about it today. If you use it on a bus it won’t get recorded centrally until the bus gets back to the depot and uploads it’s reader. If you use it on trains then the balance seems to get transmitted reasonably regularly, but the full journey history takes 1-2 days to catch up.

    Hope that helps.

  23. Hi there,

    I topped up 10 pounds online and chose brent cross to activate my card. However, my plans changed and I left from Hendon instead – the card had nto been topped up so I had to do it manually with 5 pounds. the tenner has been taken out of my account but is not on my card – any ideas about getting this sorted?


  24. Hi Frances,

    The top-up will remain at Brent Cross for eight days and can be activated either on entry or exit. After that time it will be cancelled and the money returned to your account.

  25. Hi

    Last Year I explained about my problems with p.a.y.g. top up. Guess what they are still there! I got an e-mail that £25 was ready to be picked up at Waterloo on 10/5/11. When I touched in there was no top up. The card did register but only showed the £5 I had on it previously. I then had to pay £20 cash to top up at my destination. Strangely when I returned to Waterloo on 13/5/11 I got the top up! This was no use as I am not going back to London in the foreseeable future. I have made a complaint by e-mail and asked for a refund.

    a not so cheerful Toneser

  26. You’re not having much luck, are you? I’d be interested to know what they say in their reply. Are these problems at Waterloo Mainline station? I wonder if you can give me some more details including platforms used each time. It might be that there is an issue at this station, possibly because it is so big.

  27. Hi Mike

    I used the entry in the Underground station itself, the one that leads to Bakerloo & Northern lines. I used a wide gate as I had a large bag. Although I used a narrower gate on return. I explained the problem to the station staff when I topped up my card at the final stop. He seemed to know there was a problem and advised I use a “standalone” scanner? There does not appear to be such a thing other than at DLR stations?. Do you think he meant the scanner at the top up machine? Any help would be appreciated. This must be a common problem so why is there not more help from TFL?


  28. I’ve sent you an email.

  29. Thomas Ralph

    On my point and your reply on the 11th of April, it is correct that you will not trigger an auto-top up if you’re under £8 touching out. You will collect any manual top up (including both online and refunds) and if you have _activated or cancelled_ auto top up on your card, it will take effect on a touch-out.

  30. I agree. Both activation and cancellation are requests made at the time by the user while the actual auto top-up is not.

  31. Hi

    I refer to my posts on the 14th May. I have now had a reply from Oyster Customer Services. There is no apology or explanation as to why I did not receive the promised p.a.y.g. top up at Waterloo station until my return journey. I did state I had no plans to return to London for some time. I was advised that I could apply for a refund at a TFL ticket office, however if the top up was paid with a mixture of cash and payment card then the refund would be referred to their refunds office. I could also post the card to them and obtain the refund and deposit.

    I would then have to go through the hassle of obtaining a new card for my next visit! TFL now have an interest free loan from me!

    I expect I will leave the card as it is, at least I have it topped up for my next visit whenever that will be.

  32. Oh dear. Thanks for letting us know. As you say, it’s probably best to leave the top-up there rather than go through the hassle of returning it and ordering a new one. What I might suggest next time is order the top up for your destination tube station. As long as you have enough to cover the entry into Waterloo it will then add the credit at the end.

    Sorting out refunds for occasional visitors is definitely something they need to look at.

  33. Hi Mike

    Yes I will take your advice for future trips. There is definitly a problem at Waterloo and TFL do not seem too bothered to rectify it.

  34. Hi Mike,

    Nice work on the website!

    I have bought a monthly travel card to put on my Oyster online – the travel card was meant to begin on June 2. I have not been able to get to Brixton station, which was my collection point, and now the station is closed for the weekend. So even though I’ve been travelling my travel card has not been activated.

    Do you know if there is a way to change the collection point? And is there a way to have the monthly ticket begin today, and not june 2nd?

    Thanks so much for any help!



  35. Hi Jo,

    I’ve never added a travelcard to my Oyster so I’m a little unsure of procedures in this area. I’ve gone as far as I can without paying for a travelcard and I notice that it says it will be available to pick up from 5 days before it’s start date (or the next day if it’s due to start within the next 5 days) to 2 days after. If they operate a similar system to online top-ups then if you fail to pick it up within this time they will refund you and you’ll have to start again.

    I don’t believe that it’s possible to change an order that is in the system, and you certainly can’t order a product online to start the same day, but you can go to any ticket-stop or Underground station and buy a new ticket in person. Your unpicked up ticket should be cancelled tomorrow as long as you don’t touch in or out at Brixton today.

    Hope that helps.

  36. Hi again Mike,

    Thanks very much for your response.

    In the end I was able to get into the station (even though it was closed) and touch-in. The cashier then was able to validate the travel card. I ended up using PAYG credit for about three days, and this overlapped with the travel card, so I’m hoping I can get this refunded. I spoke to one of the customer service guys at TFL and he said this should be fine.

    Thanks again for your help!


  37. Thanks for letting us know, Jo. I hope you get the credit refunded too; that would be a good result all round.

  38. Hello

    Does anyone know if I can activate a pay as you go top-up I make on the Oyster online website at a bus stop?


  39. Hi Simon,

    I’m afraid the answer is no. The only top-up that is possible on a bus is when auto top-up has already been activated on your card and you board the bus with a balance below £8. Any order submitted online has to be sent to either a station or a tramstop.

    Hope that helps


  40. Hi,
    I only come to London occasionally and need to know what is the minimum balance I have to hold on the card. It is all Zone 1 but I read that a charge of £7.40 is made at the start of each journey so is this the minimum I need to have at all times? For example, if I start of with £8 balance, after one journey charged at £1.90, at the next there would only be £6.10 which is less than the £7.40 and not allow me to start it. Can you clarify please.

  41. You need the minimum fare* from that station to be able to enter a station. As long as you touched in properly you will be allowed to touch out and leave a negative balance, but that must be cleared before making a further journey.

    *If you are close to, or have reached, the appropriate cap for your travel then the minimum required balance is that which will take you to the cap. That may of course be zero.

  42. I lived in for a couple of years, but moved back to New Zealand last year.
    I have 2 Oyster cards that I would like to topup 10 pounds each, and give the cards to my brother, who is moving to London this year.
    But I cannot see a way to topup cards without validation?
    Is this possible?
    I am in New Zealand so cannot validate by touching card on a reader.
    And my brother will be arriving in London in August, but not sure where he will arrive.

    Can I do a a topup online? I have online access to my oyster cards.

  43. Unfortunately you cannot topup without touching on a validator. Plus, the order only remains at the nominated station for 8-9 days.

  44. Hi, I have just been to put a weekly travelcard on my oyster.
    I have just realised the cashier has put a monthly card on my oyster by mistake. Is there a way to refund the monthly travelcard and issue me with a weekly now?
    I am in holiday for two weeks this month and don’t want to waste all that money.

  45. You’ll need to go back to the same office again. Explain what has happened and see what they suggest. The worst case would be a refund minus an admin fee, but I’d hope they wouldn’t charge that. If you can speak to the same clerk who might remember you then even better.

    Good luck sorting it out.

  46. Hi, I have opted to cancel my £40 auto top up as I am no longer such a frequent traveller. So I nominated a tube station to activate the cancellation, however I would now like to change the activation tube station as my journey plans have changed- is this possible? Customer services telephone system is currently down and I cant seem to do a manual top up to another station while this is outstanding. Thanks for any suggestions

  47. Hi Tessa,

    The cancellation will remain at the tube station for 8 days before being cancelled itself. I’m not sure whether the helpdesk can change that any quicker, I always end up having to wait whenever any orders/refunds don’t work out. I’m also not aware that there is only one top-up transaction allowed at a time, though I can understand why that might be the case. You could certainly top up at the ticket machine at any station (apart from South West Trains ones) or any Oyster ticket stop (shop).

    It is a pain that to cancel auto top-up (usually because you no longer use the card that frequently) requires you to plan to make a journey.

  48. I have purchased an Oyster card and nominated a station (Kilburn Park) but my journey starts at Paddington! Will i be able to use my Oyster at Paddington and get to Kilburn ….

  49. Hi Phil,

    You need to have at least the minimum fare from the station you start at on the card to be able to enter the system. At a zone 1 tube station this is £1.90. When you touch out at Kilburn Park it will apply the top up before adjusting your balance so you won’t hit a problem, although the fare to Kilburn Park is only £1.90 anyway.

  50. i tried to top up my oyster card in a machine by credit card and i didnit swipe my oyter card for second time then my oyster is not topped and the machine took my money from my credit card, i want to know if i can have my money back? thank you.

  51. You’ll need to contact the Oyster helpdesk the next day. They should then be able to see the error and agree how to rectify it.

  52. Hi,

    I’ve topped up my oyster card online and it mentions that I need to activate it. I chose Waterloo. Does the ‘activation’ simply mean that when I enter the tube gates using it activates it or do I have to go to a ticket machine to activate it, then go through the gates?


  53. Hi Rhian,

    It will be added when either entering or exiting through the gates at your nominated station. There is no need to go to a ticket machine.

  54. I hope you chose the right Waterloo, as the London Underground and the two National Rail stations with that name all count separately!

  55. Thanks for that. I knew Waterloo rang a bell somewhere. I have a funny feeling that they’ve cludged it so that the mainline and Underground both work, but they haven’t quite got it right so some of the gates don’t. Let’s hope it worked out ok!

  56. I did the auto top up but unfortunately the bank details don’t match with my oyster online. I changed the details after visiting my bank. By now my Oyster is cancelled. I have over 20pounds in my balance, meaning I didnt use their auto top up amt at all. This is my first time. I am willing to forego the card deposit as well as the balance but Oyster wants me to settle this auto top up amt of 20pounds. How do I go about this? I tried many times, yet the msg sorry, they are unable to blah blah blah…..i called many times yet my problem is not solved. I am so aggitated and sad because I don’t want to “owe” them anything. Can I send them a bank draft to settle this?

  57. Hi bealing,

    Can I just check I’ve got this right. You set up auto top-up and activated it, picking up a deposit at the same time. Was the deposit also £20? For some reason the transaction wasn’t honoured by your bank. You haven’t used the balance from your Oyster and TfL have cancelled the card so you now can’t use it. Yet they are still chasing you for the failed deposit?

    I have to say that I think there is a communication issue somewhere. Someone isn’t understanding or explaining the situation very well. I don’t think you can send a bank draft, but you can go to an Underground station with cash or cards. If you explain exactly what has happened and ask them what needs to be done to sort it out. You shouldn’t lose anything, not even the deposit. You only lose the deposit if the card is thrown away.

    I have to say that I’m a little confused because manual top up transactions are usually taken before being added to the card. It is only the auto top-up that happens after the event. Did your card details change between your initial manual top up and the first auto top-up?

  58. Thanks Mike for replying to my query. It’s an auto top up, they said the details of my card doesn’t match with my oyster registered details. Now that I have changed to another credit card (London bank registered card, not the initial card which is not) made sure both sides details match, still the transaction doesn’t get thru. And I am in limbo, meaning I owe them 20pounds now. I will call them again and hope they will advise me to go to a station to pay up. I don’t mind doing whatever I can to settle this, it’s giving me nightmares, literally.

  59. Please don’t have nightmares. If the credit card details are definitely correct, have you tried asking the bank why the transaction is being refused? In any event, try the helpline again and ask whether visiting a tube station can sort the problem out. It may be better to start again with a new card. If you hand back the old card at a tube station with the £20 (assuming the helpdesk agree that is possible) they should be able to transfer the deposit and balance to a new card. You can then try setting up auto top-up again on the new card.

    I can’t help thinking that something has gone wrong in TfL’s system here and the wrong card is being used. Hopefully starting again might cure it.

  60. Alastair Campbell

    Hi there. I just purchased an Oyster card and had it delivered this morning. I am confused though. I hear that I need to nominate a station to first ‘touch in’ and therefore ‘Activate’ my card. At no stage was I asked to nominate a station in my online application. Neither did my letter accompanying my card specify any station or how to nominate one. So where do I go? Will any station be acceptable? Nothing is easy in life anymore. Just more complicated and ambiguous.

  61. Hi Alastair,

    I’m 99% certain that you don’t need to activate a card ordered online. It will come with whatever amount you asked for already recorded on it. If you also asked for auto top-up it should have that recorded as well. You only need to nominate a station when you already have the card and are purchasing new top-up online. This is because everything has to be recorded on the physical card as there is no communication between the card and the central system at the moment when you touch in or out.

    Hope that helps.

  62. Alastair Campbell

    Thankyou Mike. I guess that means I can just start using the Oyster card immediately (within 8 days) and make sure I touch in and out between stations properly. I do have the auto top-up feature too. I assume from your latter comment that the nominated station holds the top-up data and then sends the information to the physical card, rather than it all going straight through the central system all the time. Presumably because that would take time and be like an information overload for the main system. Then all the information gets sent over later. Anyway, thanks for your help Mike. It seems clearer to me now.

  63. Yes, you should be able to use it immediately, and don’t worry about the 8 days, that is only for picking up online ordered topup. Whenever you place an order online it is sent to a station to be added on touch in or out. Once auto top-up is activated the system will add the amount selected whenever you touch in anywhere with less than £8 on the card. Later on, when the station or bus uploads it’s data, the central system will then charge your bank card and send you an email.

  64. when i top up on line i am required to nominate a station to ‘activate’ the top up. if i arrive in London at London Waterloo mainline, do i have to enter a tube gate to ‘touch in’, and if so, can i ‘touch out’ again immediately without making a journey but effectively activating the card? will this incur unecessary costs?

    or, can i simply ‘touch in’ as i pass through waterloo mainline on my way into london. to activate the card… again without incuring costs for a journey i dont make.

    the reason i ask is when i arrive in london waterloo i will likely walk to my first engagement and use the Oyster card later in the day – at another station unknown at this time so can’t specifiy an activation station on line.

    does any of this make sense??

  65. Hi Stefan,

    You cannot usually touch in and then out again without being charged for a journey. Your top-up will be loaded at either touch in or touch out at your nominated station, so if you have some credit left you could pick up at the end of your journey. Otherwise, you can order the top-up upto 11pm the night before if that helps to know where you might be. Finally, the ticket machines at Waterloo mainline can now do manual top-up, so you could do it all when you arrive.

  66. thanks mike; some very good detail on here!!

    i wonder if i arrive at Waterloo mainline and then put an additional mimimal top-up amount on using a ticket machine if that would serve to ‘activate’ the online top-up too?

  67. Sorry, Stefan. Online top-up can only be activated as part of a journey.

  68. Kyoko Beaumont

    I have still £4 credit in my Oyster card, but would like to top up as I’m likely to use more than £4 this weekend.
    If I top up manually on line, say £20 (not auto-top up), do I have to use all my credit in a certain period of time?
    What happens if I can’t “activate” the card during the period of time?

  69. Hi Kyoko,

    Your credit lasts until you use it, it never expires. You need to touch in or out at your nominated station to pick up your top-up within 8 days, but then it will stay until you use it. Once you pick up the top-up your balance will suddenly increase by £20.

    Hope that helps.

  70. Hi,
    Yesterday I top-up my oyster card at ticket machine at Earls court station (pay as you go) for 10 pound, and before I touch the yellow sign to finish (after I purchase by my debit card), I accidentally cancel this top-up process. On the screen it also said it is cancelled. So after that I top-up 10 pound again, this time is ok I checked the card and it top up 10 pound. Today I check my bank account it shows that I pay for TFL 20 pound not 10. Or that 10 pound will refund back to my account later? Do you have any suggestion what should I do? Best,

  71. Hi Marisa,

    My first port of call would be the Oyster helpdesk. They should have a record of what happened and know how this situation is handled. If they cannot resolve it then I would contact your bank and dispute the amount deducted. But try the helpdesk first.

  72. Hello Mike, yesterday I ordered payg top-up online. I nominated Kilburn High Road because I know I will be travelling from there tomorrow morning and I have received the e-mail telling me the money is ready to be uploaded. However, my plans for today have changed and I will be travelling home on the tube, but not via Kilburn High Road. Will my top-up still be waiting for me at Kilburn High road tomorrow morning despite me having made a different journey today (I have enough money on my card for today’s journey).

  73. Hi Louise,

    Yes, no problems. The money will remain at your nominated station until you touch in or out there within the 8 days following the order. It doesn’t matter what else you do in the meantime.

  74. Hi,
    I have a spare Oyster card for friends from abroad stopping by, but it seems I cannot top it up online because one can only register one Oyster card number under an account (and I already have my own one registered of course). How can I proceed knowing I have given the card to my next friend coming ahead of his trip and now would like to top it up online so that he doesn’t lose too much time queuing at Heathrow ?

  75. Hi!

    I was doing the manual top-up on one of the DLR stations this morning, but forgot to touch the reader for the second time. Obviously, my card has not been topped up. Did I lose the money or can I claim a refund? I kept the receipt 😉

    Thank you

  76. Hi Steffie,

    You can have more than one Oyster card attached to an online account; indeed I do this myself. When logged in to Oyster online you select “Add existing card” from the menu on the left sidebar. You’ll need the card number and the security answer if it is registered.

    Hope that helps.

  77. I’m sure you should be able to claim a refund. Call the Oyster helpdesk or visit the ticket office at an Underground station and ask them what to do.

  78. Simon Holland

    I am, having difficulty making a payment online to my Oystercard and getting the message “Sorry, we are unable to process your payment at this time. ….”. My bank has confirmed that the payment is being authorised and the address matches that which I can see against my Oystercard account.

  79. Sorry to hear that, Simon. You’ll need to call the helpdesk on that one as there is clearly an issue with the Oyster system.

  80. If i top up today can i use it today? I’ve added money but it’s not showing up! Will i be able to get home later?!?

  81. Hi sg,

    If you have topped up online then no, this process is activated the next day. If you top up at a station or ticket stop then it should be immediate.

  82. Hi
    I topped up my oyster card with £5 at stanmore on 12th November. When i reached Wembley park i had problems with my card. I was told card was damaged and the £5 didn’t go on (i have receipt) The man gave me a new card with the balance i had already minus £1.30 for the journey. I called oyster helpline only to be told i will only get partial refund £3.20. This seems unfair as it not my fault the £5 did not go on to my card. Why should i lose out? I used the online form to complain and had no answer, Please advise

  83. Hi Graham,

    That doesn’t quite seem to add up. I must admit that I’ve had slow responses before from the helpdesk email. They probably will respond eventually. The only other thing you can do is write to the helpdesk office. Oyster card helpline, 1st Floor, Albany House, 55 Broadway, London SW1H 0BD.

  84. Martin Phillp

    When adding PAYG from a tramstop, does it automatically deduct £1.30 for a journey?

  85. Yes, unless the card has capped (either by making 4 bus/tram journeys or a travelcard cap).

  86. Random trivia: If you touch in to continue a journey when an OSI applies, you will never trigger auto-topup. For example, if you have £9 credit and touch in at Baker Street, then touch out at London Bridge LU (£7.10 left) and touch in again at London Bridge NR, you will not auto-topup.

  87. Cheers for that Thomas,

    It does seem logical though. When touching in at the end of an OSI you are not starting a journey which is the only time auto top-up should be triggered.

  88. Hi
    This has already been answered I think but just wanted to double check. I’m using a bus on boxing day as the trains are not working. I want o use my oyster but don’t have much credit. If I try and top up on line I can’t activate it as I’m only using a bus. Does that mean the only way I can top up is to go into a shop? Not sure how many will be open on boxing day. Probably have to pay cash on the bus which is a bit annoying!

  89. Hi Michelle,

    You could top it up today at a tube station or NR ticket machine. There should be some newsagents open on Boxing Day as they do print papers. Many NR stations have ticket machines outside which will still be working. Hope you work it out.

  90. Hi,

    For people abroad who want to visit Londen with a pre paid visitors Oyster Card: they can order a card online at transport for Londen. Whilst ordering online there is a activation fee of 3 pounds. For the first use, can you travel straight away with the card at the tube or do I need to register it somewhere first? Greetings from the continent, Peter.

  91. Hi Peter,

    You can use the card straight away. Also, if you plan to return to London later then make sure you keep the card as it never expires. You don’t get the £3 back so you don’t want to be paying that every trip.

  92. Muhammed idris

    Hi this is Muhammed,

    I had done a oyster top-up of 20 pounds on 5/1/12 and i followed the procedure correctly but when i checked the top-up amount was not on my oyster card and instead they had debited the amount from my debit card. Now can anyone help me in getting a refund or what is the procedure to get my money back???

  93. Hi Muhammed,

    You’ll need to contact the Oyster helpdesk. They should be able to assist. If you don’t get any joy there then you could contact your bank and dispute the transaction.

  94. Hi Mike

    I bought an annual season ticket zones 1 to 4, a couple of months ago (using a company cheque, not a travel warrent) through a season ticket loan agreement with my ex-employers.

    I subsequently left the firm and have no need for the ticket anymore. When I left the firm, they deducted the balance of the loan from my final pay packet.

    If I were to apply for a refund (Oyster travel card), can I:

    1 Do this at any station?
    2 Will the refund go back to my ex-employees to return to me? How long does this usually take?
    3 Can I just exchange the ticket for just a zone 3 and 4 travel card for the remainder of the term of the ticket and be refunded any difference?

    I would be grateful if you could help me out with the above or give me a steer in the right direction. I have been on the TFL website/google/etc and cannot find a clear answer.



  95. Hi Johnny,

    You can apply for a refund at any underground station, but the refund may need to be sent by cheque. It should go to you because you hold the ticket. Your firm supplied you with a loan which has been repaid. If you reckon you can make use of a zone 3-4 travelcard then exchanging is the way to go because you will get more value back. It’s probably best to go to a larger underground station outside of the peak hours.

    Hope that helps,


  96. Thanks Mike, your advice is much appreciated.


  97. Hi Mike, I would love auto top up but only ever use the bus as its too difficult to use the tube stations near me with 3 small children. Don’t use other stated transport options either. Is there any way of starting auto top up without having to take a journey on trains, dlr, tube etc? Eg at a station desk? Thanks Sharon

  98. Hi Sharon,

    Yes there is a way. You need to order a new card online. You can order a PAYG card with auto topup already enabled and at least £10 credit. If you then take your old and new cards to a tube station ticket office they should be able to transfer or refund the credit and deposit from the old card.

    Alternatively you can try ordering auto top up from your nearest tube station, then before picking it up speak to the ticket office and ask if they’ll cancel the entry charge. If they agree, you then touch in and return to the ticket office. It’s best if you chose a quiet time, but I’m not certain that staff have to do this anymore. I’d recommend the new card personally.

  99. Hi..
    I topped up my oyster on Monday this week as normal for a weekly travel card.. I went to and from work on Monday but have been sick the rest of the week. Could I get a refund for part of this as it hasn’t been used. This happened the other week and had to lose out on the money I had spent because it hadnt been used. Thanks laura

  100. Hi Laura,

    You can’t get refunds just because the ticket isn’t used unfortunately. You might have been able to get something if you’d surrendered it on Tuesday, but there would have been an admin fee deducted. It’s also not pro-rata, so after 3-4 days there is no value left. I hope you’re better soon.

  101. I recently tried to top up at a ticket stop (shop) with a single bus journey (£1.35) and was told that the minimum i could top up was £2. Obviously, I did not want the additional 65p and was skeptical about this minimum charge so found a different shop (when i asked about a minimum charge the man looked at me like i was insane). I know that shopkeepers get 2% of the transaction value but why if we only need a single journey should we have to pay more? Is this down to shopkeepers discretion or, as I would think common sense, is a minimum charge supposed to be the minimum that could be topped up to actually make a trip?

  102. Hi Mike, I am seeing you helping people. I need a suggestion. Today i went to make a weekly bus pass my oyster card, the first time my oyster was not recognised by the machine, there was a error message saying i need to touch oyster again. but the process terminated saying it hasnt charged for the transaction. I did successfully second time. But when i see my bank balance it has charged for both. What can i do now?
    Thank you for your suggestion.

  103. Hi Jeff,

    Minimum top-up levels are entirely at the discretion of the vendor. Many Underground stations enforce a £5 minimum to encourage people to use the machines where anything from 5p upwards is possible. What I would say is that the balance on the card never expires, so your money is safe. And if the card is registered then you can even get a refund of balance if the card is lost or stolen.

  104. Hi Suman,

    You need to contact the Oyster helpdesk. They should be able to help you, but if not then contact your bank and dispute one of the charges.

  105. Hi Mike,

    I have just renewed my monthly travelcard for the first time online tonight (to start monday 6th). I’m confused by the email receipt slightly. Am I right in thinking that if I just use my card as normal tomorrow it will automatically register my purchase or do I have to scan the card on one of the top up machines?


    Great website by the way!

  106. Hi Ali,

    Sorry for the delay replying. Yes, when you touch your card to start or end a journey at your nominated station it will register the travelcard to start from the start date. It will even do this on the start date so you will switch to the travelcard from PAYG at the instant you touch in.

    Hope that helps.

  107. I tried to re-use an Oyster card from last year (during a stay in London) but this time it prevented me from passing through the underground barriers.

    A guard advised me to top it up, but the machine claims it had been cancelled. I have the card here with me (with serial numbers); who can I report this to?

  108. Hi Dave,

    You’ll need to contact the helpdesk. As far as I know, the only time a card would be cancelled without you knowing is if it gets a negative balance and you don’t clear it after a while. The helpdesk will know what happened and can sort it out one way or another.

  109. I’m fairly new to Oyster – it’s great by the way! If I top up my card at a ticket office or ticket machine, is the amount I add available to use straight away (or the next day, as seems to be the case if it’s topped up online?) Thanks.

  110. Hi Ruth,

    Yes, top up in shops, ticket offices and at TVMs is instantaneous. Online is only the next day because the instructions get sent to the station overnight.

  111. Thanks so much! Your website is excellent, by the way.

  112. Hi Mike, you run a fantastic blog.
    Would I be able to get my YP railcard discount when purchasing a one day travel pass at the ticket machines in the tube station or kiosk?

  113. I’m pretty sure that you can, yes. I’ve seen various railcards on the Underground machines but I can’t be certain which ones are there.

  114. I top up my oyster card using machine.
    But after paying i couldn`t take a messase ‘touch oyster card’
    then it just finished. Even my oyster didn`t top up. But my debit card ballance – 20 GBP. What happen? Even i asked someone who work at station. He said it was not my charge.
    So what should i do?

  115. Hi Terry,

    You need to contact the helpdesk. They should be able to help, but if not then you can contact your bank and explain that the transaction didn’t complete. They may be able to request a chargeback. Try the helpdesk first though.

  116. This is a great blog! I have an Oyster card I purchased in 2010 and am not sure of my remaining balance. I live in the US and am trying to set up an online account so that I can check my balance. I keep getting rejected because my postal code doesn’t follow the UK style, and my phone number is rejected although it contains the required 11 digits. Is there a way to set up an account outside of the UK?

  117. Hi Laura,

    I don’t know, to be honest. I’m not sure anything actually gets sent to the address, so is there a UK address you could use, perhaps for a relative? Otherwise you could try emailing the Oyster helpdesk on oysterenquiries (at) tfl.gov.uk, replacing (at) with @. If the card is registered then you will need to include the security answer before they can respond.

  118. I did a weekly travelcard topup on my oyster card from station. Then only I realised, instead of starting from Monday12th, the card started from today. Can anything be done on this case, as I am loosing money for 3days? I have not used the card till now.

  119. I don’t think there is anything you can do. You can ask at a station tomorrow (or tonight if there’s a late one near you) but you’ll definitely have to pay for today and the refund after the admin fee will probably be less than the three days it’s valid for next week.

  120. Hi Mike,

    I just got my Oyster card today through post and I need to use it tomorrow, however on the Order Information, it states that the credit is available from 23th of March. Does this mean I won’t be able to use it tomorrow, the 22nd?

  121. Hi Maia,

    I thought that postal cards came with the credit already loaded. However, if the order information also lists the station where the credit is to be picked up at, I would assume that they haven’t pre-loaded it. This is probably a security measure. The card is still a valid Oyster card, so if you need to use it tomorrow you will need to add some credit manually.

    Hope that helps.

  122. Hi Mike,

    Thanks for your very quick reply 🙂 I’m still a bit confused though. I ordered it online and topped up so I thought that when it’s delivered it’s ready to be used as well. However, on their letter it says that the PAYG credit has a start date of 23rd March. Hence, my confusion. It doesn’t state where the credit is to be picked up at, and i don’t remember filling out this piece of information anywhere online when I ordered it.
    Many thanks!

  123. That’s interesting. This is a new one on me. Have you looked on your online account to see what that says? I’m not aware of any switch that activates or deactivates a card. Travelcards can be ordered in advance to start on a particular day, but PAYG credit is either there or it isn’t. I can only suggest you take it to an Underground station or ticket stop (shop) before you need to use it and ask them whether it has any credit. I’d be interested to know the outcome as well.

  124. Very new to blogs and just posted one on, probably, the wrong blog…

    Again, simple enquiry: How do we use our NON-UK credit cards (ie billling address is not in the UK) to top up our Oysters. If it ISN’T possible then there are going to be a lot of frustrated overseas visitors at the Olympics.

    I presume Mike’s response will appear here?

  125. Although you can’t order top-up online with a foreign credit card, you can use it in ticket machines at National Rail and Underground stations.

  126. Hi Mike, Sorry if this sound like a rant but it’s not dircted at you…….. Got a new Oyster Card last week, ordered online with £20 auto top-up and will use this for buses only (occasional train use). Tried to increase auto-top to £40 but have to enter a train station (which is a bus journey away in itself) as a validation point which then means making a train journey I will never complete and so get charged. I realise I can get the journey refunded but what is the point of an online system (used in the main to save people going out) that insists you have to travel somewhere you dont need to go other than to update an online transaction? Phew! hope that makes sense and is there any way around it? Thanks.

  127. Hi Mike
    Thanks for all the great help you give here!

    I need an Oyster card for June this year. If I order it now (pay as you go) is it ok if I don’t activate it until June? And can it be activated at any station?

    Thanks 🙂

  128. Hi Rob,

    It is frustrating. I suffered similarly in the early days because I only used the card on buses before Southeastern joined in with Oyster. I’m guessing that they didn’t want bank details being entered by ticket stops or station clerks which is why auto topup can only be set up online. Once set up they can only send the instruction to one computer which would be a bit difficult on a bus where the reader works off-line other than when the bus is in the depot.

    You say you occasionally use it on trains. If you know the day before that you’ll be visiting a station either for entry or exit then you can order the increase to be picked up at that station. Obviously £20 will last 4-5 days because the daily bus cap is £4.20, so maybe you can live with it in the meantime.

  129. Hi Lesley,

    You don’t actually activate the card. Any credit will remain on the card forever (or until it is cancelled); it never expires. It’s only when you order top up that it has to be picked up at a specific station within 8 days.

  130. Hi, I wanna ask, I top up my oyster card today in shop (one week, zones 1-3) and I forgot take the bill, I have always some money in so when I travel to work it was working but I didnt recognize that is not top up, that guy in the shop take my money but didnt top up oyster card is it possible to do something with that ?

  131. Hi Robert,

    I’m assuming that you mean you bought a weekly travelcard but that it didn’t actually get put on the card. My first port of call would be the shop to ask if there is anything they can do. They may have noticed a reconcilliation error at the end of today. If you get no joy there then you’ll have to call the helpdesk. I’m sure that it will be logged somewhere that your card didn’t get the ticket.

  132. Thanks for your quick reply, Mike 🙂

  133. Omer farooq

    Yesteday (Sunday,15/04/12) i tried to topup my oyseter from the DLR machine at canary wharf, but failed as machine before i could toch my card on the reader said that it was not able to read the oyster card and the transaction of 5 pounds which i made by card has also been cancelled. It happens twice which makes 10 pounds.
    But when in the evening i checked my account statement, it shows that 10 pounds are deducted.
    So, how can i get my 10 pounds back as the machine took it but didnt top up.

  134. I think this is just a difference in the way charges and refunds are handled. The charge will have been authorised at the time and this will affect the available balance. Either TfL will cancel the actual charge which will result in your balance going back up in a couple of days, or they will issue a refund which will also take a couple of days to appear. I would wait until later in the week and then call your card issuer if the balance hasn’t sorted itself out.

  135. Hi I have a 16+ oyster card and it says it is available only on bus and trams. So what should I do if I want to use train? Do I have to top up my 16+ oyster card?

  136. Yes, a 16+ card is just an adult Oyster card with special deals for TfL services. You should be able to top up PAYG and use it on trains.

  137. Mark Pickard

    Hi – For various reasons I have five Oyster cards on my account, all set to AutoTopUp. Each one has between £10 & £20 credit on it at the moment. I used to visit London often with friends, but now no longer require the cards. Can I return them for a full refund of the credit remaining on each one?

  138. Yes you can. You should get a refund of the deposit as well.

  139. Mark Pickard

    Thanks Mike – this is a great forum!

  140. Hi Mike,
    In reply to Robert’s comment above re the shop taking his money but not topping up his card,a similar thing happened to me once,albeit several years ago. Back in 2008 I used PAYG to get the bus to and from work. One day I was going straight into central London from work for the evening,went to the newsagent at lunchtime,asked to top up my Oyster with £10 and bought a one day travelcard which I used to get into London and back. Put the receipt away without looking at it. Next day got the bus to work but when I went to go home in the evening it said not enough money! The bus driver did a printout which showed the newsagent had only added £1 to my card. Paid a cash fare to get home where I dug out the receipt which did indeed say £1,rather than the £10 I’d given the newsagent. Of course I then also had to top up my card again to get into work the next morning. Went in the newsagent,explained what had happened,showed him the receipt and said I wanted the other £9 added to my card. He said there was nothing he could do,said customers only had one hour from the time of the transaction to notify him of any mistakes,and that there was no way for him to check the records on the machine as it was now two days after the incident (despite the fact I had the receipt). Rang TFL who said there was nothing they could do and it was between me and the newsagent to sort it out. Went back to the newsagent and after a bit of arguing I said I would call the police,whereupon he offered me £4.50,half the disputed amount,to which I agreed. Needless to say though I’ve never set foot in that newsagent since then.

  141. Hi Phil,

    That’s a nasty one, though not quite the same scenario. There does seem to be a tendancy, especially when in a hurry, to forget to touch the card again at the end to actually credit the top-up. I’ve even seen a notice at a local station reminding people to put the card back on the reader at the end until the message confirms that top up is complete. In theory it shouldn’t be a problem in a shop, but I guess that speed may still result in the card being withdrawn too quickly and if the shop assistant has focused on the next customer they may not notice.

  142. Hi, I renewed my Oyster monthly travel card online but instead to pick my regular station I didn’t pick up the correct station… Is that possible to amend the pick station online or do I have to call TfL?
    Many thanks for your help

  143. Hi Phil,

    I don’t think you can amend the order, although you can call the helpdesk to check. If you don’t pick the travelcard up within a few days it will automatically be cancelled and the amount refunded. You should be able to place another order to pick up at the right station, or if the online system won’t let you (because there’s already one waiting) you could buy at the station instead. Just be aware that if you touch in or out at the station where the ticket is currently waiting before the order times out, you will collect the ticket.

  144. Hi mike,
    My brother lost his +18 student oystercard about 2 hrs 30 mins ago after getting off from bus 99 to woolwich.Please what do u suggest he should do.Also is their any possibility for him to get it back if he left it on the bus.Thanks

  145. Hi Samson,

    Sorry to hear this – I know what it’s like because my kids have lost several cards. If you think there’s a good possibility that it might have been on the bus then you’ll need to find out which depot serves route 99 and call them tomorrow. Otherwise you’ll have to report it as lost and request a new one, which will cost £10 as usual. If the card is attached to an online account then you can do all that automatically online.

  146. hi. I just topped up online at around 9:30 pm, would I be able to use my oyster at 5am tomorrow? thanks

  147. Hi Angela,

    Assuming you mean you’ve ordered a manual top-up online then yes, it should be available tomorrow morning. The cut off is about 11pm and I think (it’s a while since I last did it) you’ll receive an email overnight confirming that it is ready.

  148. Thank you so much! I was beginning to worry. but I haven’t received an email yet.

  149. I’ve just delved back into my archives to 2007 to see what happened the last time. It went like this:

    1) 30/3 18:59 Confirmation that I had asked for auto-top-up activation.
    2) 31/3 02:04 Confirmation that the order had been sent to London Bridge.
    3) 31/3 02:38 Confirmation that the order was ready at London Bridge.
    4) 01/4 02:06 Confirmation that auto top-up had been activated.
    5) 01/4 02:38 Confirmation that the manual top-up had been picked up.

    I think that a manual top-up only will only generate emails (3) and (5) but I don’t think I’ve ever just ordered top-up without activating auto top-up at the same time.

  150. The one I ordered was a 7-day travelcard. I just want to make sure that it will be ready at around 5am tomorrow. I just received an email saying that my order will be waiting at the station but it didn’t mention a time so I’m assuming it will be ready at anytime tomorrow. Thanks a lot Mike for your responses. Have a good night.
    Kind Regards,

  151. Ah! Expect an email around 2am confirming it’s ready and another one at the same time the next day confirming you’ve picked it up then.

  152. i’ve just received my student 18+ oystercard, and i was wondering how the oyster process works for me, if i top up £10, and use it very infrequently, will my 10 pound remain there, for example if i have a one off journey, once a week or so, will my credit remain there or will it go after a certain number of days? :S!

  153. Hi Rahul,

    Credit never expires so you’ll be fine.

  154. Christopher

    My oyster card has run out of credit. I have now toped it up online. Will I be able to use it for a journey the next day as it will have no credit on it when I try to enter the gates to pick up my credit!


  155. Hi I topped up a card with £20 yesterday to travel up to London from Purley. There was £2.30 left on the card from a previous journey, I topped up and the balance of £22.30 came on the screen. I picked up my receipt and set off on my journey. I had no problems until I started my tube journey and was then unable to travel through the barrier. Someone kindly let me through and I travelled to docklands. Again a problem at the barrier so I tried to top up the card again. I was given a message to say there was a negative balance of £4.90 and I could not top up. As there were no visable staff on the station I bought a pay as you go ticket and set on my way a little bit annoyed that my journey had been so expensive. I had a meeting at Finchley so stopped off at the ticket office to query the cost of my journey £27.20 plus the extra ticket and the problem with the card. The lovely lady printed off a statement which showed the top up had not been registered, she looked at my receipt and told me I would have to sort it out at Purley, when I ended my journey there was not one at Purley so I am still £20 out of pocket. The money h as been taken from my bank. Any ideas??

  156. Hi Christopher,

    As long as the order was placed online before 11pm then you should get an email sometime after midnight confirming that the topup is ready to be picked up. When you touch in at a station, the local system first checks to see whether you have any credit to add before then deciding whether you have enough to make a journey.

  157. Hi Fishhead,

    I’m not quite sure what has happened here. Usually this is caused by not retouching the card on the reader at the end of the topup transaction, but you seem to have seen it confirm the higher balance. All I can suggest is phoning the helpdesk and asking them to see what transactions have been recorded. If the topup hasn’t been registered then they should tell you what to do next.

  158. Christopher


    Thank you for your reply.

    You provide a very helpful service, much appreciated.


  159. Hi Mike,

    can we exchange the unused credit on oyster with a travel card like a monthly or weekly zone 1-2??


  160. Hi Zubair,

    You can get a refund of unused credit. If your most recent top-ups have all been by cash then I believe you can get cash back at an Underground station. What you spend the money on is then up to you.

  161. I have a zone 2-5 monthly travel card plus credit on my PAYG. I recently travelled from Lee NR (zone 3) to Sutton (zone 5) via London Bridge (zone 1). I didn’t exit at LB but simply changed platforms. I have been deducted £1.60 from my PAYG, but need to understand that since I did not exit and rejoin within zone 3-5, whether the system has assumed that as a minimum, I would have to have travelled via zone 2?

    If this is the case, i will increase my zone coverage to 2-5, and change trains at London Bridge, provided my PAYG is not deducted for zone 1 travel. Is this possible?

    Also, having purchased a monthly travelcard, can I top-up to include zone 2 mid term?

  162. Hi Abrar,

    There are one of two things happening here, depending on what you have and when you are doing it. On the first line you talk about having a 2-5 travelcard, but then later on suggest that it’s actually 3-5. £1.60 is either the peak zone 2 only fare or the off-peak zone 1 only fare.

    What I think is happening is that you have zone 3-5 and the system is assuming that with your travelcard you might have walked between New Cross and New Cross Gate. I have seen this behaviour before, although the single fare finder doesn’t show it as a valid PAYG option.

    Unfortunately you can only buy travelcards in 2+ zone combinations, so you’ll have to wait until you next renew to add the extra zone. When you have done, I would advise always having enough for a zone 1 fare on your card in case you suddenly need to exit at London Bridge.

    Hope this helps.

  163. Mike

    Many thanks for the reply.

    Sorry, I meant that presently, I have a zone 3-5 travelcard.

    Yes, there is the option of changing between New Cross and New Cross Gate. However, (although convoluted) it is also possible to travel say, from Lee to Lewisham, to Peckham Rye, to Tulse Hill, to Sutton. Either way, it seems that I would need a zone 2-5 travelcard from next month, and thereby avoid debits to my PAYG? I would of course need to absorb the additional debits in the meantime.
    However, am I ok to travel into LB (zone 1) to change trains, (but without exiting) using a zone 2-5 travelcard?
    Presumably, if I stray outside my travelcard zone (i.e break my journey to change trains, but not exit the station) and travel back into my permitted zones, I could still be penalised even if I have sufficient credit on my PAYG? Should I need to touch out and touch in at my non prepaid zone?

  164. Hi Abrar,

    The short answer is yes.

    The slightly longer answer is that as long as you have sufficient credit on your PAYG balance you can never be off-route within the Oyster area. The instructions say you must touch in at the beginning and out at the end of the journey and the system will apply the correct charge. In your specific case I would ensure that I always had enough to pay the zone 1 NR single fare so that even if you are checked by an RPI at London Bridge they won’t see anything as being wrong. If the system doesn’t deduct the correct fare then that is not your fault.

  165. Mike

    Thanks! That’s what I thought too, but needed your confirmation.

  166. Hi everybody.
    I got 4,30 in my oyster. I’d like to know if it’s possible using that cash to buy a weekly and how i’d do it .
    Thanks !

  167. Hi Sandro,

    You can’t use PAYG balance to buy a travelcard. An underground station may be able to refund the balanace so you can put it towards the purchase of a travelcard season.

  168. Thanks Mike : )

  169. I set up my normal £5 top up this afternoon but, at the same time, I also transferred a balance from another Oyster card (Barclaycard OnePulse).

    It’s all been set up correctly as at as I can tell, but what I learnt is that you can’t set up wo transactions to take place on the same day at two different stations. That’s not really a problem since I was only trying it to see what happened but it is interesting. I could guess that top ups work in such a way as things could get out of sequence and cause problems but I don’t understand why anyone would set it up like that.

    Oh well, at least I learned a little more about how the system works today.

  170. Hi Mike,

    If you ordered top-up online today then it will not be ready to collect until tomorrow. Presumably the transfer was done at a station so should have been instantaneous.

  171. No, both are online transactions set up for the morning. Both at my interchange at Shepherds Bush (which is just as well since I’ve just changed my departure station plans).

  172. Hmmm. So what did it say when you tried to set up the transfer? I’d still be inclined to wait to see what the email(s) say tomorrow morning.

  173. The transfer at Shepherds Bush was fine since I set it up first. On trying to organise the top up for Worcester Park, the site threw an error saying I already had one transaction set up for tomorrow so needed to select a new station for this one.

    It offered Shepherds Bush as the default which I accepted and which worked. I have confirmation emails for both already but we’ll see what actually happens in the morning!

    (An online transfer is fine for a OnePulse card since I don’t have a deposit to collect on it but I’m not sure I’d try it with a ‘real’ Oyster card since the transfer invalidates the card.)

  174. I see. I guess that makes some sense. You’ll get two more emails in the early hours confirming that each top up is ready at the station. And another two after you’ve picked them up.

  175. Hi there.
    I want to ask something.
    I bought weekly card 1-3 zone and when I have to get in or out the closed gates it continues to takes me money, is it normal, and if not, what I’m supposed to do?

  176. Hi Chris,

    I’ll need to know what your journey is before answering.

  177. I purchased 2 Oyster cards from Upminster this afternoon, putting £10 on each. I have come into work tonight and registered them online, only to have 1 card with £10 on and the other with none. I have got the reciepts that the cashier in the station gave me with each fiver change, on me for the top ups.
    I want to use the cards tomorrow for me and the Mrs journey to Olympic dress rehersal. Is it a simply case of showing reciept of unsuccessful topped card to cashier tomorrow and getting them to do it again???

  178. Hi Kevin,

    I have to say that I don’t think Upminster will be able to sort it out tomorrow. If you had checked the card straight away then they could have done it. You can ask them, but I think you’ll probably have to contact the help desk. In the meantime you’ll need to put another £10 on the card.

  179. Thank for the swift response Mike. Will let you know how i got on.

  180. hi i topped up my oyster for a monthly bus pass in one of those oyster shops. i just logged in online and its not showing the purchase on my online account? will i have any problems if i touch in on the bus tomorrow morning?

  181. Hi Amina,

    If you added the bus pass today then it is possible that the shop hasn’t communicated the fact with the central database yet. If you can call in at either a shop or an Underground station before you use the card tomorrow then they will be able to confirm whether it is there or not.

  182. I tried to top up my Oyster at the ticket machine for a weekly railcard. I put in my bank account details, however the Oyster Card did not top up. When I got to my next station, I tried to top up again and this time it went through. Looking through my bank account, I have been charged twice, even though the first transaction didnt go through.

  183. You’ll need to contact the helpdesk.

  184. Hi Mike

    I will be visiting London in August for 4 days and i am currently looking at buying a travel card or an oyster card. I am a bit confused about the price capping. Could you confirm how this works. If i start journeys after 9.30 and before 4.30 the next day will the price cap be same as that of peak travel card?

  185. Hi Mark,

    Yes it will for adults.

  186. Hi,

    I topped up my oyster card with £5 pay as you go online, 2 Days later it did not upload, I beeped at my nomination station and it did not work. it says that it’s still waiting my nominated station. I uploaded another £5 the next day to see if this would work and it did not it beeped again. I topped up £5 from the shop and this worked. So nothing is wrong with my oyster card but the online System. Any idea what could be wrong exactly and what can I do to change this? I found it very helpful to be able to top up online.


  187. Hi Annabelle,

    I’m not sure what the problem is from what you’ve said. My best bet is that there are two stations with the same name (one NR and one LU for instance) and your topup is waiting at the other one. If you can confirm where you asked for it to go to then I might be able to offer more help.

  188. Hello Mike, I’ve just paid for pay as you go credit to my oyster card but unfortunately I’ve stated that the card will be activated at euston underground whereas I’ve just realised that I need to use eustin square underground, can I change this? Or does it not matter? Cheers

  189. Hi Kevin,

    You can’t change it, unfortunately. It will expire and be refunded if you don’t touch in or out at Euston within 8 days.

  190. Hi there,
    My Son has an 11-15 zip card which i know is free on buses and trams, but what about trains? do i need to but a seperate travel child ticket for him or can i just pop some money onto his Zip card and use it like a normal oyster?
    Many thanks

  191. Hi Viv,

    The 11-15 Zip card gives access to child fares on all trains within the Oyster area and the reduced off-peak cap of £1.40 applies after 0930 and at weekends.

  192. Hi there, I topped up my oyster card £25 in Greenwich this morning but didn’t activate it at the end of the transaction. It looks like I have been charged for this transaction from by bank but the money didn’t go on to the card. Will it be credited back to me soon? Thanks

  193. Hi Beth,

    I’m sure that it will get refunded, but I am unsure of the process or how long it will take. This is a very common issue though, so the helpdesk should be able to advise details.

  194. Edward Berresford

    I am coming to London on Friday for the paras, I have an oyster card but am a rare visit to London. I will get a travelcard when I get to the venue but have to pay to get there! I have £1.40 on my card. Happy to add manually at Station if I can add less than t he £5, I’ll only need to add a few quid for a 1 way journey across ‘town’.
    Is it possible to top up for an amount at the station?

  195. Hi Edward,

    Yes, you can add any amount in cash at machines at both Underground and National Rail stations.

  196. My children (14yrs) will now be travelling on the tube to school every day instead of taking the school bus. Is a simple top up the cheapest way to go with a Zip card or or there weekly/monthly fares that are more economical?

  197. Hi Nancy,

    Most simple tube journeys can be made economically using PAYG. The travelcard is rarely cheaper if only used for 5 return trips. If you let me know the exact journey then I can check things out specifically.

  198. They will be travelling back and forth on the Northern Line between Zone 1 and 2 every school day

  199. Then PAYG will almost certainly be cheaper, especially if the afternoon journey can start before 1600 or is the journey which ends in zone 1.

  200. Hi there, quick question I topped up using my card at a station but I must not of tapped my oyster card properly after. Will it have still taken money out of my account?

  201. Hi Laura,

    Yes, it probably will have done. Contact the help desk to find out what to do. One of these days I will find out myself exactly what needs to be done in this situation.

  202. hi mike,

    i want to top up my oyster card online PAYG and it says i have to activate my purchase at (station) then i can use it , is this activation needed for every top up i make online after that top up? or is the first activation enough ?

  203. Hi Mike, question about transfers – I have two Oystercards and I was going to transfer the balance from one to the other online.
    I logged into my Oyster account to do this, but then it said that if I make the transfer from card A to card B, card A would be cancelled… I may want to be able to use it in the future, so do you know if cancelled Oyster cards can be reactivated?

  204. Hi Hashim,

    Yes, all online ordered topups must be picked up from a nominated station. If you activate auto topup then only the first topup has to be at the nominated station, all subsequent ones can be anywhere.

  205. Hi Lynn,

    I don’t think so. My advice would be to use the other card until the balance reduces. Anything left will never expire.

  206. Hi Mike,

    I purchased my daughter a PAYG Oyster card at a TfL ticket Stop at 20:37 18-Sep in a corner shop, £5 deposit and £15 credit.

    I haven’t nominated a station, in fact the Ticket will be used on a bus in the morning by my daughter.

    I’ve registered the card tonight online so I can add funds as she needs them. The card says the balance is 0.00.

    Am I not doing something correct?

    Thank you

  207. Hi Andy,

    The ticket stop probably hasn’t uploaded details to the central system yet. Try checking again in the morning.

  208. You’re are correct, thank you.

  209. I topped up using a national rail machine. It approved my card but when I tapped my oyster it said card error and that my card would not be charged. Stupidly, I tried again and the same thing happened. I then went the newsagent and topped up successfully. When I checked my account they had taken the money twice, which is £50. Phoned oyster they said its a ticket machine error. What do I do. I’m fuming!!

  210. Hi,

    The most likely scenario is that the extra charges have been authorised (reserved if you like) against your account, but TfL won’t collect them and the authorisation will drop off in a few days. If you actually get more than one real transaction on your account then call the Oyster helpline who will investigate. Your bank may agree to clear the authoriations early if you explain the situation, otherwise you’ll just have to be a little patient.

  211. Hi Mike,

    Is there any way to top up my son’s 11-15 Oyster photocard online?

    I tried to add it as an existing Oyster card to my online account but failed. And I registered his card under the /photocard login. However, it only allowed me to see the application process from last year and there was a link for lost, stolen or damaged cards. There was no obvious way to top-up.

    He never seems to know how much he has on his card and it would be very useful to see the balance online and top-up as necessary.

    Thanks for your help.

  212. Hi Heather,

    Been there as well, and I’m pleased to say you can. When you set up the photocard account you should have set a security question and answer. On your Oyster online account select the link to add an existing card and enter the 12-digit card number plus the security answer. I’ve just done this with my eldest’s new 16+ card so I hope the process is the same for the 11-15. I’ll find out next year when my youngest turns 11. If it’s not, the other alternative is to contact the helpdesk and ask them to link the card to your account. I did that last year with another of my son’s cards after he’d had a replacement. In that case it was an 11-15 card.

  213. Wish I’d read this site before trying to top up 2 Oyster cards online and pick up from a train station. I added £10 to each card online and wanted them confirmed at Feltham but did not want to use them to travel that day. It was just easier (Not!) to pre-top up online, rather than detour to a shop, top them up for travel by bus the next few days. The top up time has expired but no refund has appeared in my bank account yet for either card and it certainly has not been topped up online. How long should I leave it after expiry date before phoning the expensive Oyster phone number to ask when the money will be replaced? 4 days so far.

  214. When one tries to open an Oyster on-line account, there should be a prominent warning that non-uk credit cards will not be accepted for topping up the card. I spent a lot of time trying to register (it asked for a UK phone number and UK postcode, which I had to make up) only to find out that I can not top up my card anyway.

    It is not hard to find out the location (country) of one’s computer from the IP address, and display the warning only when the client computer is located outside UK. You should also add a FAQ entry about this.

  215. Hi,

    I’d leave it 3 working days, 4 at the max. Also, for the future, you can top up at the station using the ticket machine with either cash or credit/debit cards.

  216. Last Friday, I gave my local newsagents £100, to renew my Oyster card with the monthly fee of £93. I did not realise until I was home, that I had no receipt. Having used them for years, I did not suspect a problem, however, Monday my card had no credit for the bus and not again for the train. The local station confirmed nothing was credited to my card. So £93 has been stolen from me. Is there anything I can do. I cannot afford to lose this money and of course, I have to pay for my monthly pass a second time.

  217. Hi Lisa,

    Sorry to hear about your predicament. What you can do is to report the matter to the Oyster helpline. They may be able to assist, or at least investigate whether anything untoward is happening with that retailer. If the card is becoming intermittant then it is possible that it didn’t load properly. TfL should have records by now that will show whether the shop did anything on your card that day.

    Did you pay cash or was it on a credit/debit card. If it was a card the I suggest contacting the card issuer and ask them what to do next. If it was cash then I fear things may be a bit more complicated. If it was a chain of shops (eg Smiths) then you could contact head-office, or if it’s just a local independant retailer then you probably need to either contact the manager (if you know who they are and are sure it wasn’t them on Friday) or your local police. Check the helpdesk first to rule out an issue with your card.

    Hope that helps.

  218. hi,
    I received my 18+ student oyster card by post 2 days ago. I went to the local store to top-up my card by £8. I got the receipt for the same too. But my credit in the oyster shows £0.00 when I check the details online.
    I haven’t used the oyster so far.
    What should I do now?

  219. Hi,

    I was visiting London and had an oyster card a friend lent me. I bought some credit online and set the collection point as St. Pancras. When I tried to beep it, however, it didn’t work and the train dude said it was for the international point and not the King’s Cross side. If I go touch on at St. P International I’ll get charged for a trip. So… if I don’t collect it will it be refunded or will I lose my 30 quid? Or else can I change my collection station?


  220. Hi Sakina,

    Don’t panic! The topup details from the shop may take a while to upload to the central database. Your card has the credit and it will be reflected online after the shop uploads (usually overnight) or if you use the card on trains/tubes/dlr after a few minutes.

  221. Hi James,

    You can’t change the collection point, but if you don’t collect it after 8 days it will be automatically refunded.

  222. Hi ,

    Thank you for this great website, I have top up a week bus pass on my oyster manually at the shop , and paid £18.80p.
    But I won’t be needing it , is there a way I can get my money back or change the purchase to a pay as you go.


  223. Hi Sopie,

    I’m not sure. Call the Oyster helpline and ask them. It’s possible that it can be cancelled at a tube station but there might be an admin fee and if any days have gone since the start you would also lose money for that, probably at £4.20/day. You may have to put it down to experience.

  224. Hi,

    I need to get from between zones 1-6 during peak times 4 days a week. Would it be cheaper just to get a weekly travel card put onto my oyster?

    If I was to put a travel card on my oyster done online, how do you activate it? Do you just tap in normally in the mornings or do you have to go to a ticket machine and activate it that way?

  225. Hi Ashani,

    It depends what your journey is. If it involves National Rail and Underground then it’s likely to be worthwhile. Otherwise it may not be. Online ordered travelcards get added to your card on touch in or touch out at your nominated station after you’ve had the email saying that it’s ready for collection. You don’t need to use a ticket machine.

  226. Hello,
    I’m an oyster user and I purchased a travelcard for 7 days zone 1-3 couple of days ago. Ufortunately, I lost oyster mentioned above yesterday. I haven’t registered it online. I do have a receipt of travelcard pass purchase though. I’m just wondering if there is any way I can transfer the travelcard pass onto new oyster card or really anything I am able to do in this case.

  227. Hi Agatha,

    If the receipt contains your Oyster card number then you could take it to a tube station and ask if there’s anything they can do. As long as the existing card can be hotlisted they may allow you to have a replacement with the rest of the ticket on it. I can’t stress enough though that if you are going to store seasons on the card then you really ought to register it. In fact I’d always recommend registering the card because it protects your balance too.

  228. Hi, I topped my Oyster Card up at Picaddilly Circus on Friday Evening. However, this morning (Monday) my card was showing as empty again. The amount that I topped up on Friday has been taken from my account. How do I go about claiming this money back?

  229. Hi Mike,
    Do you work for TFL or are you just a big fan of the oyster card?
    If I buy a travel card at a shop will it be available to use straight away?

  230. Hi Emma,

    I’m not sure whether this was a manual topup or an online one with pick-up at Picadilly Circus. If it was online, did you order it the day before? If not then you haven’t picked it up yet and it is still waiting at the station. If it was a manual top up then you probably need to contact the Oyster helpline to find out what has happened.

  231. Hi Samantha,

    Just a big fan, I’m afraid. If you ask for the travelcard to start immediately then it will. You can also ask for it to start a few days later where it will then sit on your card until the start date.

  232. hi,
    i registered for my 18+ weeks ago but waiting for my university to autorise it. so ive been using the adult travel card for zone 2-3 which costed me £22.00 when for 18+ it would have costed me £15.30. how can i get my refund if ive been waiting for my 18+ card?
    thank you

  233. Hi Warda,

    The short answer is that you can’t. My only suggestion would be to speak to your university if they have been unduly slow in authorising your application.

  234. Hi Mike,

    I’m unable to top up my niece’s oyster card as it’s saying address listed and payment address do not match. Her parent’s are away so can’t do it themselves. Is there any way I can do top up online?


  235. Hi Rhoda,

    I’d say you’d be better off topping up at a ticket machine at a station in this instance.

  236. Hi I have a 16+ photo card and I registered and everything but it won’t let me top up online. How do I do it?

  237. Hi Rachel,

    There are two online accounts for photocards. One is the photocard account which lets you report the card as stolen, amend the photo and other tasks. The other is the usual Oyster online account where you can view journey history, order topups and track refunds, etc. Have you set up the latter?

  238. Hello, I topped up my Oyster in the Oyster card top-up machine today with 10 pounds but when I tried to go in to take the train it stopped working all of a sudden, the money doesn’s seem to be there anymore but it´s out of the bank! what I can I do?

  239. Hi Rosie,

    The most likely scenario is that you didn’t pick up the topup when you are supposed to touch the Oyster card again on the reader at the end of the transaction. My understanding is that the transaction is authorised (which will cause it to appear on your bank balance enquiry) but that the system won’t actually charge for it. The authorisation will drop off in 2-3 days if the transaction isn’t processed. If the transaction actually shows on your statement after about 3 working days then you will beed to contact the help desk.

  240. Hi, I have a Ryanair cash passport card which is now useless as their T & Cs are changing and it will no longer exempt me from their £6 airline booking fee. I need to empty the account before closing it and the cheapest way (lowest fees) will be to make a purchase using £157.54 of my balance, leaving 50p in the account to cover the transaction fee. I went online to try and top my Oyster card up with this £157.54 but I have to choose in multiples of £5 with a £50 max. Do you know if I can top up with such an odd amount at a train station or shop instead and if there is a maximum top-up amount? cheers Pat

  241. Hi Pat,

    There is definitely a maximum balance of £90 on an Oyster card. I don’t think there’s a lower maximum top-up, just that you can’t go above that figure. National Rail TVMs will allow any odd amount to be added by card, although I don’t know enough about your Ryanair card to know whether it is treated like a credit/debit card or not.

  242. Ok here’s 1 for you….say if you spend £5.50 or more on travelling on the underground, will you still have to pay use buses thereafter given the fact the maximum daily charge on buses is less than that?!

  243. Hi Alex,

    Yes, you will have to pay a little on the buses. Travel on buses and trams is capped at £4.20 per day, but only for those modes of transport. Travel on rail (NR, LU or DLR) is capped at varying rates as per the travelcard. If your £5.50 had been entirely within zones 1-2 then you would only be charged a maximum of £1.50 more on buses because you would then have hit the off-peak zone 1-2 cap. Obviously the amounts could be different if you had used more zones or had started before 0930. However, the maximum that buses would add is £4.20 regardless of whether you hit the travelcard cap or not.

  244. Hi Mike,

    I tried to top up online but because my address on my oyster didn’t match my card address it would process, so no money got added, no email confirmation so I thought no problem. I went and topped up at a station for my month travel card added done.

    Problem is now that apparently i have had money taken from my account the night before and then again the next day when I topped up.

    I call up my bank and both payments are pending and obviously I know the second one will be charged but why do I have a pending charge for something that didn’t even work or come up with any confirmation as being paid. I wouldn’t see why the person at the station would have added another monthly travel card payment for the same month on the same oyster.

    I called up tfl and they said that they initially take out the fund but because I didn’t receive any confirmation email and the process didn’t go through the money will not be charged.

    this has only happened on friday so I am guessing it will take a few day to see but I just wanted to check and see if this is a common thing and that the lady I called up at tfl was correct in saying I will not be charged for the failed online attempt at payment as no confirmation email was sent, no travel funds were added and it clearly stated that the transition could not be complete due to the addresses not matching

  245. Hi Carl,

    When they authorise a transaction it reserves the money on your account. When the payment is put through it clears the authorisation, or the authorisation drops off after 2-3 working days. If things aren’t straight by Wednesday then your bank should be able to identify the transactions properly and advise what to do next.

  246. Hey Mike, I have a question. I live in the US and finally decided to save my Oyster Card rather than cashing it back in each time I’m leaving London back to the US. I was trying to top it off online and am finding a big issue with a Location (since it’s requiring one).

    So found out online you need a location to start and end the journey to transfer money onto your card. So of course me visiting back there for a few days, I won’t have a clue what tube will be my first.

    So if I were to go to any station (that has someone or a machine that allows topping off), then I would think I wouldn’t need to specify a destination correct?

    What if I used a Store that has the Oyster logo on it instead? Do I then have to specify a specific starting location? Or can they just top it off and I can then freely go to whatever station I want?

    I’ve used the card several times in the past, so I know about all the tarrifs, zones, off-peak, weekend etc, but keeping my card this time has got me confused with the top off. Thanks…

  247. Hi Pete,

    You only need to specify a pick-up point when ordering online. At a station or in a shop it will be done instantly.

  248. Great thank you. That will make things much easier…

    Another question. How does the Oyster work with the daily cap and using the National Rail? For instance between Zone 1-3 the Oyster cap (off-peak) is £7.70. If I were to use the National Rail between Zone 1-3, and the tube later in the day, will this change the daily cap at all?

  249. Hi Pete,

    The daily caps all apply to any transport covered by the one-day travelcard. You can use any combination of tube, dlr, nr, buses and trams*. Only the cable-car and river boats are not included.

    * Obviously if you only use buses and trams then the bus/tram cap gets applied rather than the normal rail caps.

  250. hi, my 11-16 oyster card expired at the end of september however i still had £15 left on it, how do i get this money back?

  251. Hi Isla,

    If you take it to a tube station they should be able to refund it. Alternatively the helpdesk may be able to transfer the credit to your 16-18 card ready to be picked up a station of your choice.

  252. Thanks Mike, I guess it was the bus only cap I was thinking about. Great info…

  253. I have been trying to set this up for 3 months, the first time, I went through the whole drawn out out silly business of choosing a station, and then, apparently you can’t actually set up auto top up without also do ing a manual top up (ridiculous), finally got through it all and pressed continue and……..nothing. So I do it again, thinking I might have done something wrong, nothing again…. So I leave it, thinking perhaps the payments have gone through, but my card runs out the following week, so I phone them up, the man says he doesn’t know why it hasn’t worked as there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong, (but that he didn’t trust the system and thought it was a shambles), he puts me onto someone else who finally finds that the system had tried to send me a refund, but I would have to go to Blackhorse rd to pick it up (I’ve never been to Blackhorse rd, and it’s miles off where I travel!).so the guy tries to cancel it, or move it to a station that’s closer to me, he can’t ! Neither could he refund any of the several payments I had tried to set up, so, the only option was to wait a month for the offending £2 to work its way through the system, when it would generate an option for me to change the station, so I wait, and when I out of London I get the email, unfortunately I’m out of London, and don’t get back in time, so my ccard is still stuck, and now the other payments (which also need to be picked up from Blackhorse rd, why?? I didn’t ask them to!) are stuck in the system…..3 months later I am completely unable to set up auto top up, because of a stupid glitch in a ridiculously designed piece of software that no doubt cost millions !! (I hope some of the highly-payed IT workers who designed this system are suffering from the same problems I am having). Sir, the Oyster card system is NOT FIT FOR PURPOSE, it needs scrapping and re-launching, as does the IT company Yu hired to do it. Thank you for helping me get that off my chest ! John

  254. Hi John,

    You can get it off your chest, but you’ll have to allow me to make some comments as well. Firstly, your last point suggests that I may have something to do with the Oyster system. I must stress that this is not the case; the word ‘independent’ in the site header means just that. Some TfL staff do comment on here, but they have no editorial control over what is posted.

    Back to the top. I did originally think that tying a manual top up to requesting auto top up was strange. However, for auto top up to work the card must have at least £8 in balance when it is activated. It makes sense therefore to ensure that is the case by insisting on a top up of £10 at the same time. It does make it clear that this is the case as well, so you don’t get to the end of a long drawn out process before you find that out.

    I am aware of the problem that you can’t have two top up or refund instructions live at the same time at different stations. I guess there’s a good reason, but it escapes me at the moment. Whenever a refund is automatically queued you get an email telling you. I do wonder whether there was an email associated with your card before you tried to add auto top up. The choice of station to collect the refund from is a tricky one. I’m still not quite sure how they do it, but I think it is related to whatever journey caused the error that is being rectified. Have you ever been to, or changed at, Blackhorse Road with that Oyster card? What I do know is that 8-9 days after receiving the email telling you about the refund you will get another one inviting you to resubmit the request, optionally with a different station, if you didn’t pick the refund up. I don’t know what happens if there was no email originally so it is possible that there is an unforeseen bug in that case. If you get an invitation to resubmit then you can wait until the day before you next intend to travel before setting it up so that it doesn’t expire again.

    Are you still having problems? If yes then I suggest contacting the helpdesk again and asking them to do whatever it takes to get the issue resolved. It’s possible that it might be best to start again with a new card. You can order one online and have auto top up pre-loaded, then when you next go to a tube station you can hand in the old card and get a refund of any outstanding credit and the deposit.

    I hope that might help, and thanks for bringing the potential issues to my attention.

  255. Matthew Mickler

    Was at Canada water last night topped up remaining 5 pound I had left in my account and after I touched the screen again to confirm it said failed to top up. So I tried again and it said insufficient funds. Checked my bank and tfl had charged me the five pound so I couldn’t get home. Thankfully after much discussion with the useless supervisor their John he assured me the money would be back in my account tomorrow. Checked today and no sign of it. What do I do? Thanks

  256. Hi Matthew,

    Sorry to hear of your woes. The amount will have been authorised initially which earmarks it in your account until the charge comes through. If it doesn’t it will be un-earmarked about 2-3 working days later. I suggest that your card might be wearing out and you may want to get a replacement at a tube station.

  257. Hey Mike,

    I purchased an Oyster card a while back. I topped it up online for £5 and nominated Kingston as the station to activate it. I didn’t end up using it and it expires tomorrow. I know the money will get refunded, but I intend to travel day after and I intend to only use the bus. I have done a manual top up of £5 pounds again from a ticket kiosk. Will I be able to start using it on the bus day after? That would be the first time I am using it. Thanks.

  258. Hi Michelle,

    You can use a manual top up straight away because it gets written to the card at the time. Only the online top up takes a day to get to the station because the updates only happen during the end-of-day processing after midnight.

  259. The activation requirement makes the process more of an ordeal than it should be. It’s not ideal for those who use the card mostly for buses and don’t want to travel to a station every time simply to top up the card!

  260. Hi Schiez,

    I think there’s a little misunderstanding here. Once auto topup has been activated on the card the actual topups themselves can be triggered on a bus. Also, it is possible to order a new Oyster card online with auto top-up already activated.

  261. Hi Mike, I realize that the actual topups can be used on the bus; what I mean is that the auto topups have to be activated first at certain locations, which do not include buses. For those who almost exclusively use the card for buses, it might mean going out of one’s way to activate the top-up. Ordering a new card online is also not the most practical thing as it would have to be collected first. Ideally top-ups would be activated instantaneously after the online purchase.
    —-New message—-
    I read the instructions again more carefully and I think maybe I did misunderstand. Given that auto topups only have to be activated once, and then money can be auto-added on buses, it’s not too bad. However, not sure about manual top-ups and whether they have to be ‘activated’ first or whether one can use it immediately on a bus.

  262. Hi Schiez,

    Anything ordered online has to be sent to a local server (ie at a station or tramstop) to be picked up as part of a journey. You can’t do that on a bus because you can’t tell which exact bus you might use. If you almost exclusively use the card on buses then you really only have two options. Either set up auto top up or visit a local shop with Oyster facilities (a ticket stop).

  263. This morning, I topped up manually at my local station using a machine. My debit card was processed successfully but I forgot to tap again immediately afterwards. Consequently, the Oyster credit I had purchased did not appear on my card.

    Will my debit card still have been charged or will the charge have automatically been cancelled?

  264. Hi Joel,

    The charge will have been authorised with your bank so it may appear to have been taken for a couple of days. After that time the bank will ignore it because TfL won’t actually ask for the money.

  265. Hi,

    I have recently opted for a refund. It has been mentioned that I can pick up the refund on my oyster card at my nominated station as part of a normal journey.

    I don’t know, whether I can pick it up when I “EXIT” from that station, since, I might be starting my journey from some station, but I will definitely be ending my journey at my Nominated Station.

    Would I be able to pick it up??
    or the refunds or transfer of products, only works as “START” of journey and not end of journey.

    Technically, I believe, it should be possible, since the database only holds details about the Oyster card number and the amount to be credited. Only the nominated station server will hold those details for 7 days. So, technically, it should work. But, I am not sure, hence thought I will ask you guys.


  266. Hi Anuj,

    Yes, it will work on either entry or exit.

  267. Everytime i try to top up my oyster card at a train station using the Visa Card, It keeps saying ‘Card limit exceeded’ meaning i then have to pay by cash? Anyone know why this keeps happening? Ashleigh

  268. Hi Ashleigh,

    I think that is a question best directed at your bank or credit card provider.

  269. Hi mike i bought an oyster card last year and used it while in london,will be coming down a gain in sept this year..Can i top the card up at any tube station so i can use for the duration of my stay in london??

  270. Yes you can.

  271. Hi Mike,
    Trying to register an oyster card a pal gave me before a trip to London on Wednesday (I live in Ireland) The registration won’t seem to take any phone number I put in even though they have 11 digits (I’ve even tried using my sister’s Edinburgh number but it won’t accept it!

  272. Hi Elaine,

    I’d have thought an Edinburgh number should work. Are you including any spaces or brackets or other punctuation? If you still get no joy then you’ll have to call the helpdesk for advice.

  273. Good Morning Mike,
    I have a monthly travel ticket that i top up every month but usually do it at the till. last night i decided to do it online.
    I was told that it is ready for collection this morning and to look out for the flashing green light when making my journey. I did but there was no indication that it has been added, no beeping noise or anything
    My old travel ticket is yet to expire on friday anyway and i’m wondering if it has been added? as when i checked my account not long ago it told me i have a ticket waiting to be collected?

  274. Hi Mike,

    If i were to top up PAYG online, would I be able to travel by any bus tomorrow i.e. can i pick up the amount by swiping the card on the yellow card reader of the bus?


  275. Hi Ebere,

    You should be able to check it at a ticket machine at any rail station. You should also get an email confirming that it has been picked up overnight once it has been.

  276. Hi Jen,

    Sorry, no. You have to nominate a station or tramstop to pick up from. Buses don’t work because you can’t predict in advance which vehicle you will use.

  277. To Ebere,
    Did you nominate the correct station to collect the update at? In particular be aware of station like paddington underground where the system thinks of it as two separate stations (at the different ends of the mainline platforms) and you have to nominate the correct one.

  278. Thanks Mike!!

  279. Hi Mike/Alan,
    I did get confirmation but still my online status kept saying it’s at the station waiting to be collected, i finally had to go in and they have sorted it out. Thanks for all your help guys.

  280. Hi,

    My auntie came to London and when she tried to top up her Oyster card with her VISA it didn’t work. After 3 or 4 times she could make it, but she told me has been charged for everytime that she tried in her VISA, but it just topped up once in the Oyster. She is not here anymore but she left her Oyster with me, what can I do for her?

  281. Hi Ester,

    Usually in this scenario the additional charges are simply authorisations which will drop off the credit card after 2-3 days. If the real transactions appear on the statement then you’ll have to contact the helpdesk.

  282. Hello Mike, I only use the buses and got an Oyster a year ago with £40.00 which is soon to run out of credit. I’m kinda stuffed because I never use the tubes so can’t activate any top up done online.

    I’ve been told if I go into a newsagents who deals with Oyster they can top me up and I can use it right away no activation needed …is this true? How do i find a local one?

  283. Hi Ben,

    Yes, manual topup in a newsagent or a rail/tube station ticket machine is available immediately. You can find your nearest ticket stop (shop) on the TfL website.

  284. I’m thinking about getting an oyster card, monthly travel card using zone 3&4.

    I would like to purchase online and I understand that I have to nominate a station where I will start my journey.
    I would also like to use pay & go to get into zone 1&2.
    How will this work if I buy online? Do I have to nominate a station that is one of these zones?

  285. Hi Hannah,

    You have to nominate a station to pick up either a travelcard or a top up of PAYG balance. Travelcards must be picked up within the zones that they cover (though that isn’t usually a problem), but top ups can be picked up anywhere. Your balance is then reduced every time you travel outside the zones of your travelcard.

  286. James Green

    Hi, I have an Oyster card with 32 quid on it, I bought the card using cash and topped it up using my Credit card. I want to get a refund of the balance as I don’t live in London, only go there occasionally. I went to an underground station to get a refund as my credit card has since expired and I no longer bank with them. The CS agent told me that all I can do is get a credit voucher sent to my address or use the credit. I find this unacceptable because I use a more convenient way of purchasing credit but get penalized for same, hardly fair; I don’t want any credit, hence the reason fro asking for a refund.

  287. Teejah Smith


    I just topped up my pay as you go Oyster card with my debit card for £10. But I forgot to touch the ticket machine again to update the top up. My account shows the money has already been taken. Will I get an auto refund or has my stupidity let me to lose £10?

  288. Hi James,

    I think the problem is actually refunding credit card topups at a tube station. The process would be too open to fraud if done immediately. I’d either call or write to the Oyster helpdesk. I’m sure that after a reasonable period they will send out a cheque on receipt of your Oyster card.

  289. Hi Teejah,

    You haven’t lost £10. What happens is that the Oyster system authorises the transaction to make sure there are funds. This appears on your account as a pending transaction, but it only gets added once the transaction is processed. If it isn’t processed (which it won’t be in this case) then it will disappear again after a few days.

  290. Can someone help me out here I’m a little confused.
    I’ve just ordered my Oyster 18+ student photocard and I would like to use pay as you go top up – without the auto top up.
    If I set up my start journey somewhere (say Marble Arch for eg) do I have to go to the actual underground station or can I just activate the card on the bus? I only use buses so I don’t see why I would have to go to the station instead

  291. Hi Stacey,

    If you order topup online then it has to be transfered to your card at a nominated station. You can’t predict which physical bus you will travel on so it can’t be picked up on a bus. If you absolutely never use trains then online topup isn’t really for you. You can topup instantly at any Oyster ticket stop (newsagents etc) or at the ticket machines of almost every station within the Oyster area.

    Alternatively, if you don’t mind up to £30 being tied up on your card, maybe auto topup might help. Once it has been activated on your card, the subsequent topups can be triggered on a bus because the money is taken from your account the next day. It is possible for an Underground ticket office to cancel a touch-in after topup and activation has been applied. It’s best to try and choose a quiet time and check with the clerk that they will be happy to cancel the entry before you make it. Explain that you are setting up auto topup and normally only use buses. They won’t usually cancel an entry if you are just getting topup, but setting auto topup can only be done as part of a journey, so they will usually help.

  292. Hi,

    Apologies if already answered but couldn’t see this after skimming through the above…

    I have just moved to an area of London which does not have a station nearby therefore I will be getting the bus to a tube station each morning. I planned to purchase a 7 day travelcard each Sunday evening ready for the week’s commutes but just realised I won’t be able to collect the travelcard on the bus. Does that mean I will need to pay a PAYG fare for my bus journey each Monday morning and then collect the travelcard from the station as I touch in?

    Or is there a more suitable alternative?


  293. Hi Dexter,

    You can load a travelcard onto Oyster up to a week in advance so once you have the first one you will not need to use PAYG on the bus. Just order it online by Thursday and you will collect it on Friday as you go through your nominated tube station.

  294. Hi Mike,

    Quick question for you as I’m a little confused. I have £1.40 on my Oyster in PAYG credit (with no auto-top up). I’m coming to London for a week and so have a weekly Z1-3 travelcard which I elected to pick up at Waterloo Underground – after arriving at Waterloo NR. Can I used the travel card from my very first journey as I pick it up when I go to London Bridge? The e-mail from TfL would seem to suggest I need to pay for this journey from PAYG credit (as it’s only added when I complete the journey!). Perhaps you could clarify, as if so, I’d need to top up!


  295. As long as you touch in at Waterloo Underground and the travelcard is ready to pick up then you will start using it straight away. Travelcards get picked up on any touch at the designated station. If your first journey was in reverse then I still think you’d be using the travelcard, but you’d need the minimum fare as PAYG balance to get you through the first gates. It would be refunded as the travelcard was picked up on touch out. However, if you complete a journey (or part of a multi-leg journey) before picking up the travelcard then that journey wouldn’t be free.

  296. Hi Mike,

    I got an Oyster card today and topped up in the same shop I got the Oyster card from but after registering my card online my pay as you go balance still says £0.00.

    Is there a wait before it updates or has something gone awry?

    Thank you for the help

  297. Hi Simon,

    Shops take longer to send their transactions to the central database. You should find it is sorted tomorrow.

  298. Why can’t I just add credit to my card online, without being forced to nominate a station AND make a normal journey? I don’t have to do this when I top up elsewhere, so why online? I’m an infrequent traveller to london and would like to establish auto top up, but find these restrictions prevent me.

  299. Hi Mark,

    You need to actually store the credit on your card. This can be done in a shop or station, or when using a ticket machine, but when ordering online you have to say where you will pick up the credit. At the time of travel the only communication is between your card and the station’s local server, so it can’t just be picked up anywhere.

  300. I’ve just done an online top up as well as signed up for auto top up, but now reading more about the activation process I’m quite confused.
    I only use my oyster for bus but nominated clapham junction station as i come through there using a railcard then catch a bus outside.
    So I need to swipe one time only (to activate both the top up and the auto top up -is that right?) at CJ station? when? Can I do this without being charged for a journey?

    Please help. Thought this was going to make things easier as it’s so hard to remember how much credit I have on my oyster…

  301. Hi Mike,
    I updated my oyster card for the 1st time online earlier with £5. I got an email to confirm it’s been added but when I checked my pay as you go balance online it isn’t showing the £5 I have added to it. Should it be showing the new amount on there or does this only update when you use your card at your designated station?

  302. Hi Gen,
    Auto top-up needs to be activated as part of a rail or tram journey. It is possible to get the entry cancelled if it is made at an Underground station, but sadly not at Clapham Junction. Have you looked at my railcards page to see whether you can get discounted rail fares?

  303. Hi Holly,

    It will only show on your card balance once you have picked it up at your nominated station.

  304. thanks for the quick response! 🙂

  305. I added a new card to my account and set up auto top up. All confirmed. But when I looked again at the account, the new card number is not listed. Why?

  306. I’m not sure. Have you tried adding the card again? Alternatively you will need to contact the helpdesk.

  307. Hi Mike,

    I topped up my oyster this morning but when I went inside the tube I realised that the top up wasn’t successful because it displayed my previous balance before topping up. I’m sure I touched the oyster card to validate it but I think it probably didn’t read it properly and I did not notice.

    I take it as the money went out my bank account so what should I do to get a refund or something?


  308. Hi Heber,

    Don’t panic!

    When you make the topup request the system authorises your card which reserves funds for the transaction. When the transaction is actually processed it replaces the authorisation and all is well. If the transaction doesn’t get processed then the authorisation will expire in 2-3 days time. If your Oyster card didn’t complete the topup the transaction will not be processed.

  309. Thanks Mike, I appreciate your help!

  310. Hi there Mike,
    I’ve used Auto top up for a couple of years now and recently the debit card attached to the account expired. My oyster card was working so I didn’t think anything of it until I checked my emails today and a message from tfl says they have stopped my card yesterday due to non-payment. I’ve just been online and paid the outstanding via the new debit card and I would like to know if I have to ‘restart’ the card again and how to go about it? It won’t let me check anything online and I can’t even access my journey history now.
    Thanks in advance for any insight,

  311. Hi Melissa,

    Sorry for the delay replying. If you have let the card be hotlisted, which it sounds like you have, then I believe you’ll need to set up a new card. An Underground station ticket office would be able to confirm this and swap any remaining credit at the same time.

  312. Simon Jones

    I want to top up my oyster card but don’t plan to make any journeys by tube, which I understand is needed in the first instance for the top up to be activated. I plan to travel by bus.

    I have read that you can buy a top up at a ticket machine in a rail station. I was just wondering if I did this would I still have to make my first journey by tube for it to be activated. Also is there an option to collect any top up from the ticket machine after ordering it online? I am arriving into London Euston train station.



  313. Hi Simon,

    Any manual top up at a ticket office, ticket machine or ticket stop (shop) can be used immediately anywhere. This is because your Oyster card is updated as part of the transaction. When you order online your Oyster card cannot be updated, hence why you need to nominate a station to pick it up from.

  314. Simon Jones

    Thanks, Mike for your prompt and helpful reply.

  315. Hi, I just purchased a £10 top up for my oyster card online and see only £4.30 on my balance.
    Where is other money?


  316. Hi Inna,

    The top up won’t appear until you have actually picked it up at your nominated station.

  317. Jag Hindocha

    I topped up my Oyster card at a Oyster ticket shop using my credit card and was charged an extra 50p for using the credit card. Is this allowed?

  318. Hi Jag,

    I think it is. Oyster ticket stops are independent agents selling on behalf of TfL. If their policy is to charge for credit card sales then that is up to them.

  319. I topped up my oyster in a shop, but the money I put on my card has been not showing. I went to shopkeeper, he said its not their fault, problem is from TFL side but when i called TFL customer care, they are saying problem is with shopkeeper machine because of which it did get uploaded.Please suggest what i should do in this case. Shopkeeper has given me the receipt of transaction.

  320. Hi Janvi,

    Where is it not showing? The topup should be on the card straight away and would be confirmed in the balance displayed when you touch in. The online system may take a while to reflect the topup, up to the next day if you don’t use the card on a train.

  321. I’ve just bought an Oyster card but I only need to use it for bus journeys. Is there a way to activate my card without making a train journey.

    Also auto top up is not useful to me as I am an infrequent user of public bus transport. Once I activate my Oyster card will manually topping up work without making a train journey every time I want to add funds?

  322. Hi James,

    You can top-up manually at shops, underground stations and ticket machines. Your card has to be present to receive the top-up which is why when you order online you need to specify where you will collect it from. In your situation I agree that online and auto top ups are not recommended.

  323. I am receiving what feel like fairly frequent requests to resettle a failed auto topup (well, not like every time, but this has happened before and it definitely happened on my last TWO auto-topups on the 25th and 30th of May). There is nothing wrong with my Amex card. I use it daily for other transactions, there have been no other authorization failures during this time. It looks like some sort of comms error is happening on the auto-topup system, something that leads it to treat the transaction as failed. Other automated payment systems which which I am familiar retry when this sort of thing happens, but not Oyster. Helpline suggest I change to a different card, but that is nonsense – in any case my bank’s (RBS!) systems are less reliable than Amex, so that is hardly going to help. Does anyone else have this problem? Can Oyster/TFL be prevailed upon to automatically re-try failed transactions? I am surely not the only one to suffer from this.

  324. H Paul,

    I’ve not heard of this before. I use auto top-up myself and I’ve never had a problem, and I pay with Amex as well. You could check whether Amex have an issue with frequent transactions of the same amount to the same merchant. If that could be an issue then consider increasing the topup amount to reduce the number of transactions.

  325. Hi Mike
    I’ve had an oyster card for a number of years, am registered online with it with auto-top-up. I’d like to get an additional card for my daughter to use, which will also auto-top-up to my bank account. Do I just log to my account online and select “Get new card”? This won’t replace/cancel my own card?
    Thanks, great site, can’t find the answer on the official Oyster site.

  326. Hi George,

    Yes, that’s all you have to do. You can even get auto top-up switched on before you get the card when it’s ordered online.

  327. Hi Mike,

    I’ve just tried to purchase a three-month travelcard. It’s told me there’s something wrong with my payment address, telephone number or payment card.

    However, it’s also still taken the money from my bank account. How should I go about rectifying this?

    Also, to clarify – I’ve not touched in at my nominated station on the day the travelcard is due to activate. Should I wait and see what happens on that day? The error message makes me think nothing is going to happen at all.

  328. Hi Chris,

    I think we can safely say that the payment card is fine if the money appears to be gone. I’d reckon that it won’t go if you don’t get a confirmation email letting you know that the travelcard will be available to pick up from . They’ve probably done an authorisation so far, which will disappear from your account after 3-4 days.

    If you don’t get an email confirming the purchase by tomorrow morning then you can be reasonably sure it’s not worked.

  329. I’m sure that this has been covered before and I apologise for any duplication but I still don’t understand how to activate auto-top up if I only use the bus. I asked a customer service person about it today – he said that I have to go through the underground barrier at Waterloo (my nominated station) then immediately come back through the barrier and ask the ticket office to refund the journey. Can that really be right? I can’t think there’s not a more streamlined way of doing it, I can’t be the only person who only wants to use the oyster card for bus journeys. I’d be grateful for your advice. Many thanks.

  330. Hi Carol,

    It’s almost right. Tube stations should be able to cancel just an entry charge, but there’s little difference between that and an immediate exit so I guess it’s just semantics. If you only want to use the Oyster on buses then I recommend ordering a new card online and getting auto top-up activated before it is sent to you. In your case though I’d probably just visit the tube station as you already have the card.

  331. Thank you for your helpful reply. I found it hard to get this explained on the customer service number – the first person I spoke to just said ‘you have to touch in’ each time I asked her to explain, she seemingly couldn’t understand the idea of someone who wasn’t ever going to be using the tube – you’ve made it very clear, thank you.

  332. Hi,

    I just renewed my weekly travel card and all of sudden the oyster card stopped working. I tried it on the bus and at dlr and the person at the gates used his hand held reader and it looks like its dead. I don’t have a receipt from the travel card but I guess I can print my bank transaction to tlf for the weekly travel card. I dont know what to do, can you please give me some advice?

    than you in advance, Kate

  333. Hi Kate,

    If the Oyster card is registered and protected then the Oyster helpdesk can transfer the funds to another card. If it’s an anonymous card then I don’t think there’s much you can do.

  334. Hi I have just ordered a new oyster card online and the start date is for the 22nd of July, but I wont be in London until the 27th of July to activate it, what will happen now, will it be cancelled or will I still be able to activate it on the 27th.

  335. Hi Julie,

    I assume that you’ve ordered an Oyster card with a travelcard pre-loaded onto it. If that is the case then you won’t need to activate it and you can start using it when you arrive. If you were just ordering a travelcard to be added to an existing Oyster then you do need to pick the ticket up, and 5 days later would be too late.

    Also, I assume you mean June dates as you can’t select dates more than a month in advance.

  336. Hi,
    I was wondering if you could help me?
    How much should I top up on my oyster card for a return journey from london victoria to upton Park?
    Please let me know. thank you.

  337. Hi Ash,

    You don’t say when you’re travelling or whether you are an adult, child, railcard holder or what. The single fare finder really is the best place to look.

  338. Ive used my 16+ free travel oyster card for ages but I’ve always had this problem where i get on the bus and its fine, then top up 10 pound for example, go all around London then Come back and jump on bus to find that it flashes red. I just don’t understand as it is free travel on buses. I would e very happy of you were to respond. Thank you

  339. Hi Matthew,

    The most likely explanation is that you’ve somehow managed to put your PAYG balance into negative, possibly by not touching out properly and incurring an incomplete journey charge. This would disable the whole Oyster card until the balance has been made at least zero.

  340. I used the top up machine at canonbury station to top ip for one journey, i paid by card then as soon as i went to place my oyster it said it couldnt read it and went to the start screen. I tried this again and the same thing happened! Then i checked my balance on my card and the amount had been taking out each time but it failed to top up my oyster. How do u get my money back?

  341. Hi Andres,

    It won’t actually take the money. The Oyster system pre-authorises the amount which causes your card to earmark the amount for Oyster, but it only actually gets added to your credit when the transaction is processed, which it won’t be in this case.

  342. Hi,

    When topping up an Oyster card for monthly… Does the exact same Oyster card need to be used for both the first swipe and validation? Basically, is there a safety feature in place to stop people from coming up to the ticket machine and hijacking your purchase at the validation stage? Thanks

  343. Hi Mike

    I manually topped up my Oyster Card at Oyster Online on Monday afternoon using the Pay as you go service. I have since logged back into my Oyster account and the balance remains at £9 despite topping up by a further £15. Why isn’t the correct balance appearing on my account?



  344. Hi Beeman,

    Absolutely yes. If the card is not the same Oyster card then the transaction will fail.

  345. Hi James,

    Have you physically picked up the top-up at your nominated station? Your online account won’t show the top-up until the day after it is picked up.

  346. Hi Mike.

    I will do on Saturday. Thanks for your response.


  347. Hi Mike,

    I recently purchased a monthly season ticket on an unregistered oyster card, but then lost the oyster card.

    Is there any way of cancelling the season ticket, or transferring it to another card, using the bank/card details I used to purchase it? Or is it lost for good?

  348. Hi Nathaniel,

    It shouldn’t be possible to put a monthly travelcard on an unregistered Oyster card. Try calling me helpdesk and see if they can trace it.

  349. Hi Mike,

    I was wondering why it isnt possible to top up your oyster after 1030pm/11pm in shops? i have been left stranded so many times because of this and have have to beg to get home. The shopkeepers say its out of the their control, is this true, and if so how can this be the system?


  350. Hi Martha,

    I wasn’t aware of this, but it may well be because that is when TfL starts processing all the overnight stuff. It might be an idea to set up auto topup if you are regularly having to top up. That way you wouldn’t have to worry about running out late at night again.

  351. Hi Mike,

    I’ve just requested a PAYG top-up of 2 Oyster cards (£20 added to each) for a friend and I – I’ll be meeting her off a Eurostar at St Pancras, and we’re then going to take the Northern Line tube to Hampstead.

    I chose my activation station as “St Pancras (National Rail)” but am now not sure if that is correct – we won’t be making a rail journey from there, only a tube journey. Was this the incorrect option? Can I still activate the top-up from the machines in the Underground ticket hall in St Pancras?

    Worried I’ve just wasted £40!


  352. Hi Mart,

    It won’t be wasted. After 8 days it will be refunded to the card it came from if it’s not picked up. You can manually add topup at the machines in Kings Cross St Pancras tube. I don’t think the three stations (Kings Cross, St Pancras and KXSP) are linked for topup collection, but, it might just work.

    Alternatively, if you want to be sure that it works and have a little time to spare, take FCC from St Pancras to Kentish Town, then change to the Northern line, go back to Camden Town and then on to Hampstead.

  353. Hello,
    I normally do a recharge of £60 + weekly, last week on 21/08/2013 evening 5.00 pm i did a top-up of £85.00 at Farrington station, i touched the machine, checked the balance and click on top-up of £85.00, inserted the visa card and entered the pin no. transaction of success and screen shows me to touch the oyster card, when i touch the card it showed an error message, contacted the TFL employee who is on duty. he said to do another transaction and told me that money will automatically refund to my bank account.

    so i did another top-up of £85.00, it worked fine. but i haven’t received the money £85.00 of 1st transaction till now.

    what i need to do?
    thanks in advance

  354. Hi Chanti,

    Don’t panic!

    When you start the transaction the machine authorises the amount with your bank. If you don’t complete the transaction for any reason the money is never collected. However, it will stay reserved on your account for a few working days, and remember that we’ve had a 3-day weekend just gone so they will probably disappear very soon. Bottom line is you were never actually charged for the first transaction so there is no refund due.

  355. Hi, this is likely a very straightforward question, but I’m struggling to find an answer. I have an Oyster Card, but I also have a few paper-ticket Day Travelcards covering London Terminals & Zones 1-2. I’d prefer to load the travelcards onto my Oyster Card. Is this possible and, if so, do you know where I can do this?

  356. Hi David,

    No, it’s not possible. Oyster cards can only hold period travelcards. For the daily version it operates capping which ensures you pay no more than the appropriate travelcard.

  357. Hi Mike,

    I’ve read some of the comments re 16+ Zip Oyster Photocard, I wonder whether you would be patient with me and advise me please:

    I have just applied via the oyster WEB account for my son’s 16+ Zip Oyster Photocard this afternoon online, which has been accepted. So I expect it will be posted to us soon.

    I personally have my own Oyster Card and I manage it on my Oyster ONLINE account.

    I manage my own Oyster card via automatic top-up and I would like to make the same arrangements for my son’s 16+ Zip Oyster Photocard. But I’m stuggling to find details about how I can top up his card on their website.

    Do I add my son’s 16+ Zip Oyster Photocard card to my Oyster online account and then arrange for topup that way? Regards,


  358. Hi Steve,

    That’s how I do it, yes.

  359. Can you print a receipt from a oyster top up station after the transaction. I purchased a weekly on my oyster and forgot to get the receipt.

    Any help would be great thanks!

  360. I don’t think so, Tim. If you paid by credit card then the transaction will appear on a statement.

  361. I have a registered oyster card but am an infrequent user so I did not choose auto topup. Sometimes I have to travel at short notice. When I need to topup how much notice does doing it manually on-line need?. As I understand it the ‘system’ needs to be told in advance where I’ll be travelling from so it can load credit on the card – what do I do if I have to start from a different station ? Finally if I select auto top in my on-line account now while I still have credit will that take effect immediately or on my next journey (whenever that is – even months away) ?

    Thanks, Peter

  362. Hi Peter,

    An online topup needs to be booked before 2300 the night before so that the instruction can be sent to the local server at the station selected for topup during the overnight processing batch. If you aren’t certain which station you will use then perhaps a manual topup at a ticket machine or ticket shop would be better.

    Auto topup can only be selected as part of an online topup instruction. This is so that the credit/debit card details can be checked before the auto topup is first activated. All online topup requests remain at the local station for 8 days. If they are still uncollected by that time then the charge is refunded and the instruction cancelled.

  363. Mike, Thanks for the reply. The oyster card was bought on-line with a credit card so must have been checked then. Does that make a difference ? Ideally I’d like to set up auto top up on-line now before I need it. My next journey might not be for several weeks though and certainly more than 8 days. Thanks, Peter

  364. Hi Peter,

    Not really, no. The card used to make the top-up which activates auto top-up is the one used whenever auto top-up is triggered. The details only get stored when auto top-up is requested. You will need to apply for auto top-up within 8 days of your next journey or it will fail unfortunately.

  365. Hi Mike,

    Last time on this I promise – If I’ve understood it I have to purchase a top-up on-line (which could be for say £5) AND request auto topup at the same time AND then use the oyster card within 8 days so the gate can load that credit and auto topup option onto the card ? Thanks, Peter

  366. Nearly! The minimum topup when setting up auto top-up is £10.

  367. Hi there,

    I selected the wrong train station by mistake to activate my card- is there a way of changing the nominated station as right now my money on my card is in limbo and I wont’ be heading to the station I originally selected!


  368. Hi Tabitha,

    Sadly there isn’t. It will be refunded automatically after eight days.

  369. I ordered a top up for my card but now don’t need to make the journey, I only travel once in a blue moon is there any way to cancel the top up as I won’t be travelling in the next 8 days.

  370. Hi Marie,

    After 8 days the top up will be cancelled automatically. I don’t think they can speed it up.

  371. Hi

    I have just started a new job and am planning on using the bus daily. I would like to set my Oyster to automatically top up and I can see that you have to select a station to activate it. I could use Uxbridge as it is reasonably close to where I am working but I am a bit confused as to what is meant by ‘activating’ it. Does this mean that I literally walk into the station and scan my card on any of the Oyster readers? Wont it then think that I am going to do a journey out from Uxbridge and then get confused when I don’t exit out of another station and charge me for a full journey? Sorry if this is a stupid question.

  372. Hi Laura,

    Yes it will think that you’ve started a journey. If you go to the ticket office first and check that they will cancel the entry. Then touch in and go back to the ticket office where they can sort it out.

  373. roger stocker

    Interesting last post… our company uses many pool Oyster cards and we top up by sending a cheque (yes old fashioned) to the Livingstone oyster base. Of course this means having to select a station to activate the card – often staff don’t want to make a journey (most journeys are by bus) so someone has to go to the nominated station (usually London Bridge), swipe in and head to the long queue at the ticket office to ask for a refund. Of course other stations can be used but with limited opening hours not that easy. Heaven knows what will happen if the rumoured ticket office closures go ahead. I guess we will have to ring the call centre and hope that they trust the caller. One of our users was told that they can’t ask for a refund at the ticket office – not backed up my my question to another member of staff yesterday.

  374. Hi Roger,

    TfL used to allow this to be done, especially if you came from places where Oyster wasn’t accepted, but since 2010 it has been quietly removed from the literature/website. This is why I always recommend asking first before touching in, even though that does mean queueing twice. If they refuse then the cheapest immediate solution is to touch in, wait 2-3 minutes, then touch out. That is a same station exit which is usually a fare to the next station. The helpdesk will usually refund that, although you may have to argue to get the refund credited to a bank rather than having to make a rail journey.

  375. Hi Mike,
    Today I was trying to make weekly travelcard in my oyster through a ticketmachine using my debit card but after pressing the pin it says pin is ok but after that nothing happend for long time and on the screen there was a message like processing.I wait for couple of minute and just take out the card and tried again.But same things happen again.So decided to take out the cash from a cash point and made my oyster card as a weekly travel card using the same machine.Does the transaction really goes through and charge my debit card

  376. Hi,

    There was a problem processing cards in ticket vending machines yesterday which may still be ongoing. You may find that the transaction has been authorised, but it will not actually be requested by TfL so it will drop off the pending list in a few days.

  377. Hi mike, i topped up my oyster card at a self service machine in Clapham Junction, when I touched the machine to get the top up the machine said their was an error and that i wouldn’t be charged but the funds have been taken from my account, will i have to ring up to get it back?

  378. Hi Paula,

    The funds have been authorised which means that your bank has earmarked them for TfL. TfL won’t actually collect the funds and the authorisation will drop off in a few days.

  379. Paul stewart


    I paid for a monthly season ticket on my credit card at a machine but forgot to scan my Oyster card the 2nd time to activate it. Will I be refunded?

  380. Hi Paul,

    You won’t be charged. You’ll have an authorisation which earmarks the money for TfL, but they won’t collect it and the authorisation will drop off after a few days.

  381. Paul stewart

    Thanks mike :/)

  382. Hi mike,
    I tried to topup my oyster card at south quay dlr with my credit card and unfortunately my transaction got failed but the amount got debited from my credit card and was not transfered to my oyster card. Again i tried for second time and this was succesfull.But the transaction amount which was failure for the first time was not credited back neither to my credit card nor to my oyster card what am i supposed to do

  383. Hi Karthik,

    The first transaction was authorised with the bank which earmarks the money for TfL. Because the transaction didn’t complete, TfL will not collect the money. The authorisation will drop off your card in a few days.

  384. Hi, so I’ve recently moved to London and have bought myself 2 Oyster cards (1 for work and a personal one) whenever I too up my personal one at a machine it’s fine but if I too up the work one then hop on a bus it doesn’t work, just says I have no money on it… Really rather confused!

  385. Hi Abby,

    So am I. Is this a machine at a station, or in a shop? Do you get a receipt confirming the top up? I think you probably need to call the helpdesk.

  386. Hi
    I have purchased a monthly oyster travelcard, zones 1-5 online but wondering why i have to nominate a station to activate my travelcard? Surely, if the travelcard is 1-5 I can use any station between 1 & 5 without nominating a station?
    Best regards

  387. Hi Nick,

    The travelcard is sent to your Oyster card while you touch in or out at the nominated station. At the time of touching in or out there is no direct communication with the central Oyster system because it would take too long. Therefore the local server at your nominated station sends the travelcard and then reports back overnight that it’s done it. If it was available at every station then whenever you touched in or out it would try to load the new travelcard. Once loaded, your nominated station then knows not to try again when you come back later in the day.

  388. Hi,
    my daughter (a student living in London) has an oyster card. I want to set-up auto top-up for her with my credit card – it won’t let me (not same name and address). She can’t do it with her debit card (registered to her home address not her term address). Is there any solution? I’m keen to know for sure that she always has credit. With other online purchases, e.g. Amazon, I can purchase with my credit card and have it delivered to her name and address.
    Anyway, I’d be grateful if you could let me know if there is a way this can be done.

  389. Hi Martin,

    All I can suggest is calling the helpdesk and asking. TfL is taking the strictest view about authorising credit card transactions because auto top-up is heavily reliant on trust. The balance is added immediately, but not claimed from your card until the next day. This is obviously quite risky for them.

  390. adding to your reply
    ”The first transaction was authorised with the bank which earmarks the money for TfL. Because the transaction didn’t complete, TfL will not collect the money. The authorisation will drop off your card in a few days”
    how many days usually it will take as my transaction was done on 30/09/13 its been almost two weeks

  391. Hi Karthik,

    It is usually up to 5 working days, though often less. I would contact your bank to discuss the situation.

  392. Hi Mike.
    I have contacted the bank guys and they asked me to provide the below details.
    ”Please send us the attachment of the successful receipt on the email or letterhead of the Merchant stating the amount is not blocked from their end and in future they will not claim for the amount.
    The letter should be duly signed by the duty Manager and it should contain Merchant’s name, Transaction Date, Transaction Amount, Transaction ID and Card Number.”
    Whom do i need to contact for this?

  393. You’ll need to contact the helpdesk. I’d also ask your bank just how long they leave authorisations active. I would say that more than a week is excessive. If it was me I’d be looking for a different bank.

  394. Hi there,
    I don’t know if you are able to help me but I also forgot to confirm my payment by tapping the yellow sign but I paid in cash. I cant remember if it was 20 or 10 I topped up by but it didn’t top my card up anyway. Is there a way of claiming that money back or was the person behind me having a lucky day at my expense and pocketed my money?

  395. Hi Opal,

    I’m not sure what happens with cash. I’d call the helpline who should be able to see what’s happened. They might be able to arrange for the topup to be applied next time you touch in or out at the station. I’d be interested to know what happens in this case.

    I don’t think the person behind will have got lucky, at least I hope not.

  396. Hi,

    I would like to top up my Oyster card, but I only want it for use on a bus. I have 70p left on it.

    How can I do this? I don’t really want to pay full fare for a train journey I won’t be taking.

  397. Hi Simon,

    Do you mean auto topup? If yes then you have to pick it up from a station. As long as it’s a tube station with an open ticket office then you should be able to get the entry charge cancelled after picking up the topup. I’d check with the clerk first and try to avoid busy times.

  398. Hello,
    I have selected automatic top up for my student card but have accidentally picked the wrong activation station, is there anyway i can change this as i will need it for Saturday,
    Many thanks, Jake.

  399. Hi Jake,

    Sorry, you’ll have to let it lapse and be refunded. In the meantime you can top up manually at the station or a ticket stop. Of course, if you can get to the wrong station within 8 days you can still pick up the top up.

  400. Hi,
    I have a 16+ half rate oyster travel card and its due to expire in five days. However, I still have £15 on the card and I was wondering if there was any way this could be refunded?

  401. Hi Katy,

    Why do you think it is about to expire? Usually 16+ cards expire at the end of September rather than at your birthday. However, you should be able to take it to a tube station for a refund. You might need some proof of identity.

  402. Hi
    I have topped up my Oyster this morning at the station but it is not showing online. Does it not show immediately online?

  403. Hi Jan,

    Not usually. Stations will update faster than ticket stops but there may still be a delay.

  404. Are TFL going to upgrade their IT so that people can activate an online top up from anywhere rather than a nominated station? I read why but it seems very outdated and unconnected. It defeats part of the purpose of doing it online. I often change plans so it would be v useful.

  405. Hi Tom,

    I doubt it. They are never going to allow network communications at the point of validation for travel because it just wouldn’t work fast enough. If your plans are that fluid then I suggest either top-up at the station ticket machines or enable auto top-up.

  406. Hi two of my children have 11-16 zip cards, if I put money on them and they get on the bus will it debit the zip card for a fair or will it know it’s a free journey as it’s a childs zip card?

  407. It definitely knows it’s a free journey. My children have odd amounts on their zips all the time.

  408. sorry meant to put 11-15, also do stations recognise them as a childs zip and charge for childrens rate?

  409. Yes, the entire Oyster system understands which card is which. Also, the 11-15 card does not expire on the 16th birthday, it carries on until 30th September after the academic year in which the 16th birthday occurs. This is so that the 16+ card can be verified with the further education provider. It can be a great extension to cheap travel though, giving the holder an effective off-peak travelcard for just £1.50.

  410. Brilliant, thank you for your swift replies.

  411. I wasn’t entirely sure which section to post this in but I thought this would be the best one….I have become a unfortunate scenario which I thought you might want to know about!

    I have two Oyster cards registered to me – both have auto top up. I use one, and the other the wife uses.
    TfL are currently changing the way the online system logs into accounts so I logged in using the credentials for card number 1 it then wants me to change my username to an e-mail address and add a security number – so I did all that and all sorted I am in and looking at my online account.

    Went to check card 2….wouldn’t let me in. kept saying problem with the login details so I phoned them up.

    Turns out that the e-mail address that I have for card 1 was the login for card 2 so now the login info for card 2 gives me the info for card 1 – Mind boggling.

    despite various attempts to send new passwords and god knows what at TfL’s end they were totally unable to sort it to allow me to log in to view card 2 details.

    The first guy I spoke to said what we can do is link the two cards onto one account – so put them both onto card 1’s account – I have no problem with that. then for some reason our call got disconnected so I had to call a second time.

    Spoke to second customer service assistant, explained everything again and sure enough just like the last guy he found the same problem (Another 15 minutes wasted!) but it turns out you can’t link one card to another on one account if Auto-Top up is enabled.

    They would have to disable it first, which involves a trip to a tube station apparently – then link the card to the account then re-enable Auto-Top up then I’d have to make another trip to the tube to re-enable it again.
    If I was a regular user of tubes/trains that would be fine but I am not, added to that that here in Erith there is a strange lack of tube stations this wasn’t a particularly helpful solution.

    Quite why they can’t reset usernames I don’t know.

    At this point (at nearly an hour on the phone) it was fairly obvious that the customer service assistant wanted to get rid of me and ended up saying nothing else he could do but it might work in half an hour as the system might have locked me out – of course this wasn’t the case at all.

    I did suggest a new card but apparently that would be linked to the same old account that I can’t get in to!

    So I thought afterwards that maybe I could order a new card with Auto-top up and get the old one refunded back – but even that seems to require a trip to a tube station along with several forms of ID and a pound of flesh!

    Sadly TfL seem to forget on a regular basis that not all of London lives five minutes from a tube station!!!!

    I needed to get into my online account as I have a new card from the bank – so I know for a fact that my auto-top up will fail if I keep on using the card.

    Any suggestions on what I could do would be greatly appreciated.


  412. Hi Chris,

    Oh dear!

    TfL have long had problems where email addresses didn’t match. I tried to change my online account address once and because it didn’t match the address on the card I had all kinds of trouble requesting statements. In the end I had to change it back.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing this. It would appear that you’ve managed to find a scenario that the testers should have thought about, but didn’t. I share your pain about distance from a tube station as I live in Crayford.

    What I would do. Go into the account that you can get into and order a new card from there. Select PAYG with at least £10 credit and auto top-up with your desired amount. You will get that in the post with auto top-up already enabled, so no need to vist that distant tube station. In the meantime, carry on using the other card. When the next auto top-up triggers you’ll get an email a day or so later asking you to update the card details. You won’t be able to, obviously, but don’t worry immediately. Try to use up all the money that is yours before they blacklist the card (ie if your auto top-up is £20 and the deposit on the card was £5 you want to get it to £15). At that point you can return the card to them to do with as they wish. If you go below £15 then you ought to send a cheque to cover the difference, if you don’t manage to get the balance down then you’ll need to request a refund which they should do. Just explain the problem that you had and how you’ve worked out the difference.

    The problem is that they may ask you to pay the £20 top-up before they’ll refund the balance. If they do and they owe you it’ll be a pain, but if you’ve gone over then there’s nothing they can do. I can’t go to court as you only owe them the amount you’ll send as a cheque. It’s up to them how they sort out their internal accounts. Think of it as payback for the trouble they’ve caused you.

    Let me know how you get on.

  413. Hi Mike

    I have just ordered an oyster card online for my mum when she visits london (incl top up) they didnt ask for a starting station will she be able to use the card straight away at kingscross or will she need to touch first? dont want mum getting stressed on her visit.

    Thank you 🙂

  414. Hi Kimbob,

    Where top-up is ordered at the same time as the physical card it will already be added when you get the card. It can therefore be used straight away.

  415. Hi Mike
    By mistake I made a weekly travel card in my oyster then realized I had another oyster card which one weekly as well so is it possible to change the starting date on my first oyster or get back the refund if I don’t use itand what is the procedure to do.

  416. Hi Anamul,

    You’ll need to go to an Underground station to cancel the travelcard.

  417. Hi Mike
    Thanks for the reply.Just one more question to clarify .Shell I get the full money back which was 35.60 if I cancel the travel card.The starting day was today but I did not use it at all.It was 123 travel card.

  418. You can ask, though they may deduct one day. I’d ask as early as possible. If you have both Oysters so they can see what’s happened then they might relax the rules. Good luck.

  419. Hi Mike,
    Done as you have suggested and ordered a second card and I got an e-mail about an hour ago saying that its been dispatched with the PAYG credit on it.

    I logged into my account and can see the two cards, my only worry is that on the Auto-Top up settings it says

    Your £20.00 Auto top-up request is currently being processed. We will send you an email when it is ready to be activated at N/A station.

    Not entirely sure what that is meant to mean..I did choose to set up Auto-top up with the new card and I put £15 worth of credit on the card at time of purchase.
    I had assumed that Auto-top up would be set up already but it kind of implies that it isn’t….any ideas


  420. Hi Chris,

    It’s possible that they wait until the card has been used before flagging the auto top up as active. Keep an eye out for any further emails and when you use the card, watch what happens when you touch in with the balance below £10. If it doesn’t auto top-up then call the helpline. I’ve not actually tried the ordering online with auto top-up already enabled, but I’m informed it does work and is designed primrarily for bus only use.

  421. Hello.

    Earlier on this morning I topped up my student oyster card at a Shop, however, when i checked this afternoon online it says that my account balance was still £0.00. Do I have to activate first or wait 24 hours ? Or has the payment not gone onto my account?
    Because i assumed that when you paid pay as you go in a shop it would automatically go onto your card.


  422. Hi Courtney,

    The top-up will go straight onto your card, but it may not show on the central database until the shop uploads all it’s transactions for the day. You’ll also see it shortly after using it at a rail station because they update balances with the central system at regular intervals.

  423. Hi Mike, heres an update on my oyster card fiasco!
    Received the new Oyster card on Monday 25th November – it appears these days that they don’t even give you a new wallet (although it says so in the enclosed letter). Its all working fine and Auto-Top up became enabled at N/A station for £20 and it has worked with no issues.
    Oddly, despite getting an e-mail from TfL regarding the dodgy card that I couldn’t gain online access to saying that the Auto-Top up had failed and I have 3 days to rectify it (that was on the 23rd November) It seemed to still be valid when I checked the balance at Woolwich Arsenal DLR yesterday- and I haven’t had any further e-mails which is a bit odd. But regardless they owe me 90p now!!! Think I’ve had that Oyster so long that I got one with a monthly pass originally so didn’t pay a deposit! 🙂
    Will keep you updated regarding how much fun it is getting my money back!!!

  424. Hi- can anyone explain what’s going on here: My son has just received his 11-15 zip card and used it on london overground journey from Clapham Junction but it didn’t work at the gates. My husband then put some money on it and it works and seems to be taking money off for the same journey. I thought London overground, tube, bus and tram were supposed to be free?

  425. Hi Melina,

    They’re all free to holders of 5-10 zip cards. Unfortunately the Underground and Overground charge child rates on 11-15 zip cards.

  426. Thank you for your quick reply. So, when I am with my 10/11 year old child on tube or underground they have been letting him through free (obv I have my oyster) – is it free or when he is with me do they assume he is younger than “10 and 11 months.” ? Ie do children over 11 on tube and underground with parent have to pay on tube/overground also?

    Ps what I’m trying to say (badly!) is that I had thought children under 16 travelled free on tfl, not just on buses. Thanks .

  427. There are three levels of child as far as Oyster is concerned. Under 5s travel free on everything. 5-10s have to pay on NR services but are free on everything else including Overground and TfL set NR routes. 11-15s have to pay on all rail services but are still free on buses and trams. I’ll guess that they’ve let him through thinking he was under 11.

    Finally, although the card is called 11-15 it is still valid up to 30th September after the academic (Sep-Aug) year in which they turn 16. Depending on when the birthday is this gives them up to an extra 13 months at child rates. This is because entitlement to free bus travel for over 15s is dependant on the post 16 educational establishment attended in year 12.

  428. Quick question Mike.

    Regarding the pick up of products ready at gate.

    I’m pretty sure I can pick up a season ticket, Pay as you go or and refund sent to a gate upon entry or exit, but when I call TfL they seem to think you only pick up on entry?

    I know you said many times before that you can pick up on entry OR exit but I just want to know how you know this for example have you done this many times?

    (Let’s not even get into the fact that even though TfL helpline staff think you can’t pick up on exit it still states on Tfl.gov.uk that you CAN indeed pick up products upon exit. And nots even get into the fact that I have picked up on exit before much to my surprise after being told that I could not)

    Basically just asking for confirmation that

    A) product is ready at gate
    B) one has a perfectly functioning Oyster card
    C) one touches it flat against a read correctly
    D) the gate is perfectly functioning
    E) pick up window is still open

    That products will load onto the Oyster card upon exit 100% of the time.

    And if you know why TfL staff seem scared to promote this on the phone but have it in print on the website confirming???

  429. Hi Jeremy,

    Yes, refunds and manual top-ups can be picked up on exit or entry and I have done both on a number of occasions. The difference is with auto top-up. Once it has been activated along with the manual top-up it will only add the extra chunks on entry at the start of a journey.

  430. Thank you very much!

  431. I have a 11-15 Oyster card and is wondering whether you have to pay to get onto trains or can I still use this

  432. Hi Bella,

    Yes, you can add money to your balance and it will deduct fares at child rates. Off-peak the child fare is a flat 75p with a £1.50 cap.

  433. mike just arrived and i think by mistake i had passed the card twice when entering the tube from Heatrow, because my wife did the same travel and has much more money in the card. can i do something about this?

  434. Hi pablo,

    Either take the card to an Underground station or call the Oyster helpdesk. In your case an Underground station is probably better as they should be able to help immediately.

  435. Hi Mike.
    I thought it would be easy to find the answer to this but I’m not having any luck so hope you can help!!!
    I normally buy a monthly travelcard on Oyster (zones 1-2) but am going on holiday over Christmas – is it possible to freeze a travelcard while you’re away? I try not to use PAYG as for the journeys I do it works out a lot more expensive but as I go away in 5 days I’m keen to find out if freezing is an option.
    Thank you1

  436. Hi Nicki,

    Sorry, you can’t freeze a travelcard. If you have 4 days left at work then a weekly travelcard may be slightly cheaper than PAYG, but it depends on your exact journey. In the future, it is possible to buy travelcards at ticket offices for any period between a month and a year. Each day is charged at 1/30th of the monthly rate.

  437. Hi Mike
    Im devastated I topped my oyster up with £200+ for 1-6 travel card at a newsagents, the money has left my bank account, i have the transaction numbers however i have lost the receipt. The newsagent has refused to help me saying they need the receipt, but i have the bank statement, my oyster, i am on cctv doing so and i have transaction codes- surely someone should be able to help me? i just want the travel card on my oyster…? Thanks!

  438. Hi Janet,

    You don’t say exactly what the problem is, but it could be a matter of timing. I assume you haven’t got the travelcard on your Oyster. Have you tried querying the Oyster card at a station ticket machine? Does a travelcard show but with the wrong dates? Also, when did this happen? Is the amount showing as a confirmed transaction, or is it just under pending transactions? When a transaction is authorised (which this will have been) the money is earmarked, but it doesn’t count as gone until TfL or the newsagent claims it. If you can provide a few more details I can advise whether it really is a problem.

  439. Hi Mike

    this is such an excellent site, thank you!
    I’ve just ordered a zone 9-2 travelcard to be added to my oyster (via tlf website). Valid from Tuesday 7th Jan with pick up at my local station (Cheshunt). The “date available from” showed at 6th (tomorrow) so I would like to wander down to the station tomorrow to add it on – just so it’s on my card ready to use Tuesday morning. However, according to the website, I must complete “a usual journey” in order for it to activate. How can I do this if the ticket is not valid until Tuesday? How can i pick it up early? Can i just “touch in” and get the ticket added without “touching out”? I’ve checked on your wonderful site and can’t see a definitive answer for Travelcards – only excellent guidance for top up.

    thank you!

  440. Hi Jess,

    You need to pick it up as part of a journey, but that can be done on the day quite easily. I’ve picked up a travelcard on the first day before with no problems. The main advantage to picking up seasons early is when you renew because you can pick up the next ticket before the old one finishes.

    Hope that helps.

  441. Makes sense – thanks a million for your assistance.

  442. Is it possible to top up an Oyster card at a machine using a credit card with any amount, eg £23.70? Or does it have to be in multiples of £5?


  443. Hi Gary,

    Yes, that’s fine. You get a receipt as well, after you’ve put the Oyster card on the reader again at the end.

  444. Great, thanks very much.

  445. Am I correct in thinking that if I top up my Oyster Card manually at a tube station rather than online, I can then immediately use it on a bus without activating it on a tube gate?

  446. Yes Robert,

    Activation is only required if you order online because you actually have to present the card to get the topup transferred. When you use a ticket machine the transfer is done as the last stage of the process once you’ve paid the money.

  447. Basically, I have about £100 on my bursary card and I don’t need no books or anything..I was wondering if I could up the whole amount on an oyster and then can I refund iit all?

  448. Hi Sadaf,

    No, you can’t do that.

  449. Hi,

    Is there a maximum number of auto top-ups per day or per week?

    For instance, if the balance falls below £10, it automatically tops up. Then, if the balance falls again below £10 during the same day, will it automatically top up?

    Also, if the Oyster card is lost or stolen, and used improperly by another person (causing a lot of maximum fare charges), will it cause a lot of auto top-ups or is there a limit?


  450. Hi Mikael,

    There are no limits as far as I know. Even with a £20 top-up you will struggle to get back below £10 because the relevant charging cap will take effect. If you find yourself having more than 2-3 top ups in a week then you probably ought to consider setting it to take £40 each time.

  451. Hello Mike,
    For the first time, I have to topup my Oyster online.
    When I’m about to enter my credit card number, I got the following message:
    “Your products will be available between the following dates:
    Pay as you go
    From 29/01/2014 to 05/02/2014”

    What does this period mean? I’m a bit confused while on another hand I got no End date, which seems normal for a pay-as-you-go credit.

    What does it mean exactly please?

  452. Second hello,
    How easy is it to add pay-as-you-go on a Oyster Card at St-Pancras please? I’m French and never did it at a machine.
    Where can I find them?
    Is there usually lot of people waiting on a saturday, 10am?
    Thank you once more!

  453. Hi Steph,

    When you order top-up online it is made available for 8 days, usually starting from the next day. After that time it will be cancelled and the money refunded.

    I’m not that familiar with St Pancras, but the FCC ticket machines should allow Oyster top-up. Alternatively, the machines in the adjacent underground station (Kings Cross St Pancras) will definitely work.

  454. Hi Mike,
    Thank you for your answer and your excellent website.

  455. I topped up my attemtped to top up my oyster card with my credit card, the payment was authorised but when i touched my oyster to recieve the top up the screen said there was a problem and i had to top it up all over again. Will i be charged for the first attempt even though it did not top up my oyster? If not, what shall i do for reimbursement?



  456. Hi Megan,

    The first attempt may well show up as a pending transaction, but it will not be claimed by TfL and will drop off after a few days.

  457. James Shepherd

    Hi Mike,

    Quick question, I just transferred an old oyster card fund over to my new oyster, obviously I have to now touch in at my designated station for the funds to be transferred. Question is, I don’t plan on making a journey from there within the next week, can I not auto top up by swiping the yellow reader at the ticket machines at the front of the station? or do I have to start a journey? If the answer is the later, what then hapens to the funds, if I don’t make a journey? do they become online credit etc?


  458. Dear Mike, I topped up my oyster card manually via credit card and after pulling out my credit card but just before I tapped my card on the yellow pad, I clicked cancel by accident. I’m wondering if I’ll be charged for this 20 pounds? Thank you.

  459. Hi James,

    You have to make a journey. If it’s an Underground station then you could try asking whether the ticket office will cancel the entry charge once you’ve touched in. If you don’t pick it up then the refund will fail. You may get an email asking you to nominate a new station (or the same one) to try again, otherwise the helpdesk can sort it out. You won’t lose the money.

  460. Hi Micaela,

    No you won’t be charged. You might see a pending transaction for a few days, but it will drop off when TfL don’t collect it.

  461. Hello,

    I have bought a 7-day tavel card but haven’t used it. Is there any way I can get a refund? Thankyou.

  462. Hi Charlotte,

    If it is for your Oyster card and you haven’t yet picked it up from your nominated station then you can simply not pick it up and it will get refunded after about 4 days. If you have it on your card but it hasn’t started yet then an Underground station may agree to refund it, possibly less an admin fee of up to £10. If it has started then you are probably out of luck, but you could call the helpdesk to check.

  463. Thank you very much for your helpful reply Mike!

  464. I have set for my oyster to get topped up at Finsbury Park tube station tomorrow but i need to get off the overground at kings cross and collect it at kings cross instead. Also could I get on a bus to top it up somehow?

  465. Hi Olivia,

    Sorry, it can only be picked up at Finsbury Park. You can manually add some credit at other stations, but until the online topup has been collected, or expired after 8 days, you can’t set up another. You can’t topup on a bus but you can also use any of the various ticket stop shops before you get on the bus.

  466. I have been sent a replacement card for a Barclaycard one pulse which is being withdrawn next month. I can’t set up auto top-up and get an error message which says that payment cannot be taken. The explanation goes on but gives three reasons it be because address details are incorrect, phone number is incorrect or the bank are refusing to authorise. I have no clue exactly what the problem is except that I know the bank are not refusing. Unfortunately the address does not match exactly because the tfl site only uses 4 lines but my bank uses 5 lines so I have tried changing the tfl details in different ways. Apparently, after 3 attempts, the system locks you out (but doesn’t explain that it has) and, according to customer service, doesn’t reset without manual intervention. I am having that done now but still don’t know whether the details will pass a match test. I have been told that I will have to keep on trying, getting locked out if the computer, doesn’t like something, ring them up, wait while it is reset and then try again because there is no way to do this manually. Is there really no way that I can get a person involved to set up auto top-up?

  467. Hi Tim,

    Oh dear, that sounds very complicated. Does your address need to have 5 lines, or could the bank change their version and still be valid? Obviously please don’t post your address here. I’ve never had any problems myself, but then I have a fairly simple 3 line address and postcode. As to whether the process has to be automatic, I’ve no idea, but I can see how they might want to make it that way to reduce the possibility of losses.

  468. Including the county, the address has 5 lines on the post office data base so changing the bank addresses is likely to lead to important mail going astray because there are similar local addresses that need to be distinguished. My main concern is that there seems to be no way of arranging auto top-up manually. I was told that the telephone staff can’t take card details to protect me but I reckon that if that is the case, they need to generally choose & supervise staff better and also select supervisors with a higher clearance to deal with money matters. The other problem was a lack of information – on line, you don’t get told exactly what the problem is in case you are phishing and you have no indication that you are going to be or have been locked out and what to do if you are locked out. A bit more information about what is going on and a back-up manual system would be great improvements on the system.

  469. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for the feedback. I agree that the system clearly needs some improvement. Not least the ability to store Post Office compliant address details where a match is required with other compliant databases.

  470. Hi there,

    I have put money on my Oyster card online, and it says it will activate when I ‘tap in’ at Hillingdon station on Saturday. I am now unable to travel. Will the money stay on my card? Or Can I get the £10 refunded in any way?


  471. Hi Katie,

    The topup remains waiting at the station for 8 days and then gets refunded back to the payment card automatically.

  472. Hello,
    How come it’s not possible to make a one-off top up payment to an Oyster card and just leave it there for when you next need it? I use the tube infrequently but want some cash on my card in case I decide to make a journey at the last moment.

  473. Hi Kathryn,

    It is possible. You can top-up instantly at stations or ticket stops. Once on the card the balance never expires. If you order online the system needs to get the balance to your card. This can only be done as part of a journey to or from a specified station and is only valid for 8 days to ensure that delivery has happened within a reasonable time frame from being charged.

  474. hi, i am trying to buy a travel card online on my 18+ student oyster card, but it is showing regular adult rates. HELP!

  475. Unfortunately you can’t buy discounted travelcards online as per: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tickets/14312.aspx

  476. Hello I forgot to tap in at the station this morning and have been charged the maximum fare, I will be able to claim a refund on that?

  477. If you contact the helpdesk from tomorrow and explain what happened they should be able to make an adjustment.

  478. I have auto top up set up on my Oyster card. I checked my credit card statement and it seems on 1st May I was charged twice for auto top up: 2 separate transactions of £20 went from my card but only one top up appeared on the oyster account. I waited a few days just to check maybe it will appear but it didn’t. Whom should I contact about it: TFL or my credit card provider?

  479. Hi Agin,

    Check with your credit card first. If they can’t/won’t help then contact TfL. I’ve not heard of a problem with auto top-up before, but with normal top-ups a failed attempt will often leave an extra authorisation on file for a few working days. Half the days in May so far have not been working days.

  480. I too have been charged for an extra transaction on 1 May that I did not make. Will first try the Credit Card people and then TfL.

  481. Hi Andrew (and Agin),

    I’ve just spoken to the helpdesk and there was a problem with auto top-ups on 19 February. About 750 cards topped up but TfL had a problem calling the money back from the accounts. They’ve now rectified the problem and arranged a special batch to try to claim the funds again. This happened on 1st May. You are welcome to contact the helpdesk who will ascertain whether your card was involved in this issue.

  482. Hi, in December last year I bought an annual zone 2-4 on my registered Oyster card as that was all I needed to get me to work. Now that I have changed jobs and will need to travel into Zone 1 is there anyway to change my Oyster into a Zone 1-4 for the remainder of the year?

  483. Yes,
    They directed me to the Manage Auto-TopUp page which shows the 19 Feb topup taken on 1 May.
    Unfortunately, the Journey History only goes back to March so I have no way of checking this stacks up.
    The email sent to me on 1 May only mentioned that a £20 charge had been taken – no note of when it related to or where the card was when it topped up. And no mention that it was out of sync or late.
    Not very good customer service!

  484. Hi Emily,

    Yes. You’ll need to take it to a tube station. See http://tfl.gov.uk/fares-and-payments/replacements-and-refunds/oyster-refunds-and-replacements?intcmp=13891#on-this-page-2 for a form to download first.

  485. Hi Andrew,

    Yes, that’s not good customer service. I guess you can check your bank/card statements to verify that they didn’t take a payment on Feb 20th/21st.

  486. Hi Mike

    Sorry if you answered above already, there were too many replies to read through. My question is; If I renew my monthly travelcard online and nominate a station to pick it up from, can I use it on a bus before I reach the station? E.g. My travelcard ran out 14th May and I renewed for a 15th May start. Could I have used it on a bus before tapping in at my nominated station? Thanks.

  487. Hi Harvey,

    You can pick your travelcard up from your nominated station a few days before it starts, but if you haven’t actually picked it up then you can’t use it on a bus. Your Oyster card only gets the travelcard when you touch at your nominated station.

  488. Thanks, Mike.

  489. Hello, I have an unregistered oyster card. Can I put a weekly ticket on it at a station either via a manned desk or using the ticket machines? Or do I have to register and do it online?

  490. Hi Jess,

    You can add weekly travelcards without registering.

  491. Hi Mike, I saw you have a couple of comments from back in 2012 from people who can’t register/top up their oyster cards from outside the UK. Any idea whether that has since changed? I’m in the US, planning frequent travel to London, and encountered the same problems trying to top up my card (I get the error about the phone number even when using a UK one). Does TFL ever plan to accommodate users outside the UK?

  492. Hi Chaney,

    I don’t know unfortunately. Have you tried taking out all spaces, dashes and brackets from the phone number?

  493. hi ,
    I have taken oyester card 2 weeks back for z1 to z3.
    I have created a account online and added the card.
    How can i register online.
    I need to recharge for monthly.

  494. Sorry, I don’t understand the problem. It sounds like you have already registered online.

  495. I live quite a distance from any tube stations, but frequently get the bus. I don’t want to auto top up, in case my card is lost, and would like to top up manually online. Is there any way I can do this without having to go on a pointless round-trip on some distant tube to activate the top up? Otherwise, are there any top up shops which are open 24 hours to allow topping up for late journeys?

  496. Hi Alasdair,

    I’m not aware of any shops open 24 hours that do Oyster top-up. If you go to a tube station and ask the staff they may agree to cancel your entry after you’ve picked up the top-up. If you were to set up auto top-up then a quick phone call to the Oyster helpline is all that is required to get a lost/stolen card blacklisted. The balance can then be transfered to a new card.

  497. Hi. Wondered if I could just clarify something re auto top ups. If I understand it, I top up my Oyster card as normal online but set auto renew. Then for the first activation I select the tube station of my choice for this balance to take effect. My question is after this initial activation, whenever my balance falls below the minimum, is the auto top up credit applied at any station…ie the future top ups don’t have to be activated at the initial station I selected? Thanks.

  498. Hi Ian,

    Yes, the actual auto topups can be activated anywhere, even on a bus. The topup is applied immediately to your card, then TfL request the money from your bank the next day when the details are received from the reader.

  499. Thanks for clarifying that Mike, much appreciated. Cheers Ian.

  500. Hi,

    Today i tried to top up my oyster for a monthly pass. I put £140 into the machine (DLR Station) The machine then told me it could not give me change (£141.50 is the monthly zones 1-3, so i had not put in enough for a monthly) It did not print me a receipt, or ask me to touch my oyster. therefore i have no idea if its topped it up, or just taken my money. I have tried calling TFL and DLR (hrs 8-5 M-F) so bit later..can anyone help me!!! £140 is a lot of money !!

  501. Hi Sally,

    If you were trying to buy a travelcard then it won’t have topped up your balance. Contact the helpdesk and ask them what to do. I’m sure the machine will have recorded your Oyster card number and the fact that something went wrong, so it should be possible to refund you.

  502. JonHalestrap

    I come to London once or twice a week. Every Journey is different in both start point and destination. So if I top up on the web I understand I need to “check in” to a nominated station and then complete a normal journey.

    So if for argument sake I have £10 credit left on my card and then buy a £50 credit, will I be able to complete any journey from any station with the £10, but the £50 credit will only be applied next time I go to my nominated station?

    That would make sense but can I click out at any station.

    For example if my nominated station is Euston can I click in and get the amount credited at Euston even if I then travel to any station that leaves Euston or do I have to use a particular route that I have used previously ?

  503. Hi Jon,

    The words “normal journey” mean any journey to, from or via* that station. They are trying to say that you can’t just enter and exit the station without making a journey. Mind you, if the station isn’t busy you will usually get clerks who will void the entry for you. If you have credit you can continue to use it on any other journeys, the topup will be applied when you visit the nominated station.

    * when you need to change between stations as part of a journey like most National Rail to Underground interchanges in zone 1.

  504. hi, can you link a debitcard to a jsa reduced rate oystercard, and can you top it up with small amounts of money ie£1. thanks

  505. A debit card can only be linked to an Oyster card for auto top-up where the amounts involved are either £20 or £40.

  506. Hi Mike! I was at Heathrow today and put £20 on my oyster card, in a rush to catch the tube, I stupidly forgot to reswipe my card. The money has come out of my bank account but not onto my oyster card, what do i do?? Please help! Thank you so much.

  507. Hi Frances,

    You shouldn’t need to do anything. The amount is only allocated against your account until TfL request payment, which they won’t do in this case. The allocation should disappear after a few working days, but it varies depending on the bank.

  508. Thank you Mike, was going to be so annoyed with myself if I had lost it! Great page by the way!

  509. Can you top up from the USA? I can use my hotel address for the form and phone number, but would I then have to use the card within a few hours?

    I will be coming from Warwick to London, and need to get to an event quickly. I don’t want to wait in long lines on a Friday afternoon.

  510. Hi Cia,

    The problem overseas people have is that the address linked to the credit/debit card needs to be a UK one. If you can get past that issue then the top up would be available for 8 days starting the day after you order it.

  511. Hi. I want to do auto top up for my existing oyster card but only use the bus. It seems that I can only activate the auto top up at a train station as part of a journey but I wont be getting the train. Is there a way around this please. Thanks, Charlotte

  512. Hi Charlotte,

    If the train station is an Underground one then the ticket office may agree to cancel your entry after you’ve picked up the top up. It’s probably best left to a quieter time, outside the peak hours. If it’s a National Rail station then there’s no way. The other alternative is to get a new Oyster card online and have it delivered with auto top up already enabled. You can then get a refund of the deposit on your original card.

  513. Hi, there! I would like to transfer the remaining products in one oyster card to the other, and the website says “you must activate your transfer of products as part of a normal journey. To activate you must touch your Oyster card on the yellow reader at your nominated station, and also touch out on the yellow reader at the end of your journey. ” I’m a little confused. If I use a bus travel to activate my transfer, I only touch my card on the yellow reader once, so how can I “touch out”?

  514. Hi Julie,

    You can’t make any online request to be fulfilled on a bus sadly. You need to specify a station, or take both cards in person to an Underground ticket office.

  515. thanks for replying to my 9/7/14 query. only £20 & £40 debitcard top ups, wow. good to see TfL concern for poore folk. even the cashless bus , is going to affect the less well off more . not everyone can get a cab in a ” emergency”
    anyhow good to see you helping people with their queries

  516. I may have mis-interpreted your earlier query. When you asked about linking a debit card to a JSA Oyster I assumed that you wanted to have automatic top-ups. You can, of course, top up any amount in Oyster ticket stops or in the ticket machines at rail or underground stations within the Oyster area. All the machines will take debit cards, as will most ticket stop shops.

    The way auto top-ups work, TfL have to make the amount significant or they could end up losing money when there are problems.

  517. i topped my card up with a weekly zone 2 pass, got to the last stage and was sure i touched my card again in again. However it wasn’t activated onto my card but i have still be been charged.

    is this common? will i automatically be refunded or will i need to contact TFL?

  518. Hi Beeman,

    It is surprisingly common that people inadvertantly fail to collect the topup or travelcard that they’ve just purchased, although still tiny compared to the number of correctly made transactions. You haven’t actually been charged, the money has just been authorised with your bank. TfL will not collect it and it will drop off the pending transactions in a few days.

  519. surryia Mahmood

    We touched our coyster on the reader and selected £10 for top up we inserted a note of £10 at 11.20 pm at Norbury station tonight. The card reader still showed that money does not appear on oyster card. How can it be refunded. It’s not fair for us.

  520. Hi Surryia,

    Did you touch the Oyster card again after inserting the money? You’ll need to contact the helpdesk and ask them for advice. The machine will have had a surplus that day and it should have recorded that your card didn’t get its top up, but I’m not sure what the procedure is when cash has been used.

  521. I need to get a bus tomorrow morning at 8am. How can I top up my Oyster card? Need to get a bus to the station so can’t top up online. Local shop, which is further away than the bus stop, does not open before I need to start my journey. Is there any chance top up machines at bus stops will ever be introduced?

  522. Hi Kate,

    I probably haven’t seen this early enough, but if you have zero or a positive (but small) balance you can make one bus journey before needing to top up again. Otherwise there is a contactless payment card, though you can’t use that on the trains yet. For the future you probably ought to consider auto topup.

  523. Is this a new feature of oyster? I have previously been told by bus drivers that I have to pay the cash fare as there are insufficient funds on my card.

  524. Yes, it was bought in just before buses went cashless. The idea is to avoid too many people being stranded late at night. I did mention it in this post, but probably ought to update the trams and buses page too.

  525. Hi, I made the mistake of paying by card but then not touching my oyster on again absentmindedly. Then a minute later it said it didn’t recognise the oyster card then the session timed out and said it won’t be charged so I just topped up the amount I wanted again. Currently my bank is showing two charges still, but am I to understand from the description above that in a couple of days one will be refunded? Many thanks for any help

  526. Hi Zeina,

    Yes, the first charge will not be transferred and the authorisation will drop off your account later this week.

  527. Hi Mike,
    I have auto top-up set up on my oyster card through my online account. My son is starting university in London soon – can I add his oyster card to my online account so that he never runs out of credit on his card?

  528. Hi Karen,

    Auto top-up needs to be activated through making a journey. Yes you can add his card to your account (I have all my families cards on mine) and then request auto top-up with a manual top-up. He still needs to collect that top-up though.

  529. Hello

    Yesterday I renewed my monthly travelcard (on Oyster) online, to be picked up today. As I paid I got an error suggesting the payment hadn’t worked. When I checked my account the money had been taken, obviously I can checked whether it has worked when I take my journey this evening but I am slightly worried as there is no evidence on my oyster account that the purchase has been made i.e. it does not appear in my list of orders. Is this just because it has not yet been activated? Thanks

  530. Hi Eleanor,

    The money has been authorised with your bank. If the transaction didn’t work it will not be collected. I’m not sure whether purchases appear in the history straight away or after they have been picked up. The helpdesk should be able to clarify things.

  531. Hi, I have an oyster card with just over £1 credit on it, I don’t use it often, only when visiting London. I want to take a bus today as my first journey but will be making quite a few more journeys later so will hit the one day off peak maximum. Is there any way I can top my card up so I can use it on the bus or do I have to go to a tube station to do so? What will happen if I try to use it on the bus without the top up applied? Thanks.

  532. Hi Graham,

    You should be allowed to travel under the one-more-journey feature as you have some credit on the card. You will need to top it up before making any rail journeys or a second bus journey.

  533. Hi, Yesterday I travelled to london by london overground and tube. It has costed me 28 pounds on the oyster card. As I understand, the maximum cap even during for peak hour travel in a day is 21 and should be lesser with my Oyster. Kindly let me know how to claim a refund.

  534. Hi veerenda,

    You’ll need to contact the Oyster helpdesk. It sounds like you missed a touch or two during your travels, or took too long between touch in and out on one of the journeys. They will sort it out for you anyway.

  535. Hi, I am new to Oystercards and have a question regarding my daughter’s Zip 16+ card. How do I top up her card online? I have my own Oyster card and online account, do I do it by adding her card to my account or do I need her to set up her own online account. Thank you

  536. Hi Jane,

    You can definitely add it to your account because that’s how I keep track of my kid’s cards. I don’t think they can have their own account as they are under 18.

  537. Hi. I have yesterday requested a topup to my Oyster card online & intend to activate it at Paddington Rail station tomorrow. Where on the concourse of Paddington is the machine ?

  538. Hi Richard,

    You activate the topup as part of a journey, so that means using any of the gates onto a National Rail platform.

  539. Ah. I shall actually be arriving into paddington on a normal rail ticket & will use that to get off the platform. I shall be continuing my journey via tube but the entry to that tube line is temporarily closed- so I thought I could just activate upon my arrival at the rail station. Would it be an issue if my activation is at a different tube station ?? Or do I somehow have to change my order ?

  540. Hi Richard,

    Unfortunately you can’t amend an online order. It will be refunded after 8 days if it is not collected. You might be better off topping up at one of the ticket machines at Paddington.

  541. I’m a bit confused and concerned. I topped up my oyster online for the first time, and selected my home station to collect the top up. This morning I touched in at my home station and it did not collect or active the top up so I had to top up my card from the machine. Online under my orders page it still says Ready at Gate. I don’t intend to make another journey by oystercard in the next week.

  542. Hi Amy-Kate,

    It could be a glitch, or you might have made a mistake selecting the station. If it says Ready at Gate then I assume you ordered the topup yesterday (or before)? If you can say what station you selected I can suggest whether it might have gone to another close by station. However, after 8 days it will be refunded if not collected, so you won’t lose the money.

  543. Have you ever come across the following? I am pretty sure that TfL has made a mistake in my favour. My card (Travelcard + PAYG) has been wrongly credited twice with the same online top up, as the top up has been added to my card both when I tapped in at my nominated station in the morning, and then when I tapped out at the same nominated station in the evening when finishing my return journey home. Thus £40 has been added to my PAYG rather than £20, and only £20 has been taken from my bank account. Being of an honest disposition, I intend approaching TfL and inviting them to take £20 off my card. However, previous dealings with TfL over small amounts they have inadvertently overcharged have left me less than confident that they will get the adjustment right, and I will end up in an intractable wrangle with an unusable Travelcard. Have you ever heard of other instances of this type? And from experience, how do you think it is best to approach TfL with this? For clarity, I intend to do it in writing rather than on the phone, but I feel a bit reticent about taking time and effort to help them rectify a mistake in their system and furthermore then encountering TfL possibly misinterpreting the letter and messing up my Travelcard or taking off too much! Thanks

  544. Hi Martin,

    I am aware of previous glitches with the system, although not in the exact same scenario as you describe. To be honest, I wouldn’t go out of my way to write to them for a couple of days. Wait and see if they write to you or even just make a further debit. They can’t automatically remove the extra credit. Your first indication will come tonight when they send you the confirmation email. If it hasn’t been addressed by the weekend then I would write.

  545. Thanks for the swift reply, Mike. As you suggest, I shall leave it until the middle of next week to see if TfL make a second deduction from my bank account, and if not, I shall include a copy of the journey history to make it clear to them what has happened. Obviously I don’t want to post the journey history on a publicly accessible site, but looking at the journey history, both the morning and the evening entries are annotated with “Topped-up on touch in” (although the latter was a touch out) and the same amount credited each time. I shall keep you posted if this turns out to be a glitch in the system, although I don’t suppose people will thank me for alerting TfL to a system error which works in favour of the customer! I still also have some fear of opening a can of worms for no advantage of my own, and possibly to my inconvenience, but obviously one should do the right and honest thing if one spots a mistake in one’s own favour. Very informative website, keep up the good work.

  546. Just found this posted on http://www.railforums.co.uk two days ago (7th September). Same thing as I described.


  547. Hi Martin,

    I’ve sent you an email. I hadn’t seen that thread, but it does look like there’s a problem. Were your touches on gates or validators?

  548. Mike

    On one platform (the outward journey in my case), it’s a proper gate type reader (i.e. not a pink validator), but without a physical barrier. On the other platform, it is a proper barrier and a typical entry/exit reader. I shall drop an email or letter to TfL at the weekend once I am sure the money has only been taken once from my account. I don’t fancy trying to deal with it over the phone. I shall let you know the outcome of my discussion with TfL.

  549. Thanks Martin.

  550. Hi Mike

    I have looked through this forum and you have potentially answered my question already. Yesterday I forgot to confirm the top up for my oyster card after inserting my pin the first time round.

    I topped up a second time and that £5.00 is clearly visible on my bank statement; however the first £5.00 has been taken off my available balance but is not on my statement. As I forgot to confirm this payment will I get this money back? Do I need to contact the Oyster Helpdesk?


  551. Hi Tom,

    No, you shouldn’t need to contact Oyster. It should be added back to the available balance after a few days.

  552. Hi, I’m new to oyster and I’m not sure if I’ve done something wrong. I topped up online (£5) and two days later completed a journey via my nominated station. My journey history shows I made his trip and from my nominated station. The money has been taken from my account, however my card has not been topped up! Any ideas ?

  553. Hi Jon,

    The money is taken from your account when the order is placed online. Have you had an email saying that the topup is ready to collect? I’d suggest calling the helpdesk as they can see where it should be. There are sometimes problems at very large stations (eg Waterloo) where some of the gates don’t have the topup available. In any case, the money will be refunded after 8 days if not picked up.

  554. Hi,

    I added £10 last night, chose my station, got there today and it didn’t top up. I’ve just read it takes 24 hours to even become available (which I think is pretty terrible but that’s another matter).

    I only want to use the buses so can I validate this top up at a station, then walk outside and use the buses? I’ve set up auto-top up too, have I got to do this every time as I never want to use the train?


  555. Hi Dawn,

    Topup ordered online is usually available next day unless you order it after 2300. Unfortunately setting auto topup only happens as part of a journey. If your chosen station is an Underground one with an open ticket office then they may agree to cancel the entry charge after you have tocuhed in. Alternatively, the instruction will lapse after 8 days and you will be refunded. You can order a new Oyster card online and have it pre-loaded with auto topup set. You can then return your old card to get the deposit back.

    Or, do you have a payment card enabled for contactless transactions? If yes then this really is the best way for occasional use. You are charged the same as Oyster, including the daily cap, and you’ll get one charge on your account for each day you use it. No need to tie up £20 at a time on an Oyster card.

  556. Hi Mike

    In regards to the same message I posted to you on the 15th Sept how many working days does it normally take to get your money back?



  557. Hi Tom,

    That depends on your bank or card provider. It is usually 3 working days but can be up to 5.

  558. Hi,

    I’m new to Oyster, I have recently got through my student oyster card and have signed up for the Oyster online. I want to use it mainly for bus journeys but I have been told that I have to make a rail journey first. Is this true? I’m going out with some friends on the weekend so I’ll need to use the bus. I need to top-up my card, and was planning on just going to a station and manually topping up and then using the bus, will this work? Thanks.

  559. Hi Jasmine,

    Yes, that’s fine as long as you use the machines or ticket office at the station. What you can’t do is order the topup online because then it needs to be picked up as part of a journey.

  560. Hi, the other day I top up my oyster card in a shop near Lambeth north, 10£. Two days later when I took the bus they told me I had no money inside so I had to go walking. I go to a tube station and see I had no money inside. I went to the shop to show him the movements of my credit card, 10£ with the name of the shop and adress saying i didn’t receive the money and showing him the last actions with my oyster card, he told me he won’t do nothing without the ticket. I’m sure he didn’t give it to me. What can I do? thanks in advanced.

  561. Hi Mike,

    I have just bought two Oyster cards and topped them up (£20 each) at a newsagents. I have come home and registered the cards online but under ‘Pay as you Go’ credit, both cards are empty. Is is possible that the money is there but because I registered the card afterwards that the amount isn’t showing? What should I do?


  562. Hi Joanne,

    Data from shop tills isn’t usually updated until overnight, so the central system won’t know about your topup just yet.

  563. Aah, I see. Thanks so much for your help 🙂

  564. Hi Alvaro,

    I’m sorry about your problem, however, it does seem as though your issue is with the shop. I suggest calling your local trading standards office for advice or Citizens Advice.

  565. Hi Mike
    I recently bought a monthly travel car for my son’s school journey on his oyster zip card. Two problems, the credit is shown on the oyster machine at the station but when he swipes in it says he as no credit, secondly I mistakenly purchased zone 2-4 when I should have bought zone 2-5 can I add this to the card.
    your help would be much appreciated.

  566. Hi Linzi,

    At a guess you have no PAYG credit and you are trying to touch in at a zone 5 station? It should be possible to amend the travelcard at a tube station ticket office. If you had needed 2 extra zones you could just have bought the extra zones at a machine. The alternative is to add some credit to his card and let it take a zone 5 journey each time he travels this month. Depending on what sort of train he uses in zone 5 and what time he touches in this could range from 75p (off-peak) to 90p (peak on NR).

  567. Hi Mike,
    Please I’ve got a question.
    Is it possible to pay for a travel card using payg cash on one’s oyster. For example if I have £50 cash on my oyster, and I want to purchase a weekly travelcard which costs £45, can the payment be done using the payg £50 available on my oyster?

    Many thanks.

  568. Hi Ify,

    If you take it to an Underground station along with some ID then they should be able to do it.

  569. I purchased an Oyster card with £15 credit back in May and used about half of that in one return journey. I travel very infrequently and use different stations. I want to travel later this week and wanted to top up my card online in advance to avoid having to go to a ticket office in rush hour and also wanted to initiate auto top-up, but I can’t unless I specify a station (which I don’t know). From all the other comments I have read , a lot of other people have the same requirement.

    The system is seriously flawed. Local servers that update once a day? Seriously??? In an age where I can transfer money around the globe instantly or buy something online and have it delivered the next morning, TFL’s system is in the dark ages. Updates should be applied throughout the system in real time. I should be able to top up online, go to any station and have the credit available. This needs to be fixed.

  570. Hi Peter,

    When the system was designed and implimented there were real concerns about touches taking too long to open the gates and the ensuing chaos that that would cause. Therefore the main focus was on ensuring that the servers could cope with large volumes of touches at once. However, the system is now moving away from the card-centric Oyster system towards the back-end contactless payment card transit system. At some point in the future TfL plan to move to holding all the Oyster transactions centrally and utilising the same back-end functionality as has been developed for CPCs. When that happens you’ll be able to top-up your balance online instantly without the card needing to be touched on a reader.

    Going back to your situation, can you not specify any station the night before? It doesn’t have to be where you start the journey, just a station that you’ll touch in or out at during the day. Once auto topup is set it will then work anywhere. Or, if you have a contactless payment card, why not use that instead and take the Oyster back to a tube station for a refund of remaining credit and the deposit.

  571. hi,
    i have a 11-15 zip oyster, i want to use it on the bus… do i have to activate it in anyway or can i use it on the bus as soon as i get it.
    it is my first use of the oyster

  572. Hi Chloe,

    You can use it straight away. You will need to top up the balance before using it on any train, but buses are free.

  573. Hi Mike,

    My daughter has an Oyster 18+ student card. I topped up sunday at Sth Croydon ticket machine for start date 22/10 for a month (£153.60). Tonight there is no credit showing? Will the credit go on overnight? I tried to do re-do tonight thinking it had not taken but machine stated that this was a duplicate record so it seems to have recorded my actions on sunday. Pd using b/card and receipt retained although I didn’t get an Oyster sales receipt. Hope you can re-assure?

  574. Hi Gareth,

    I’m assuming you bought a travelcard. This won’t show as credit (that’s for PAYG only), but it will be taken into account when travelling tomorrow. If you query the card at a ticket machine it should also show the ticket recorded.

  575. Hi Mike,

    My oyster card journey history balance is correct i.e. £12.65 but my actual balance (on the reader and online home page) is wrong at £1.65. I have worked out it is exactly the amount it says was added back yesterday in an adjustment, but seems it wasn’t actually added back in reality! What should I do as online its all correct, but on the actual card it isn’t?

  576. Hi Gemma,

    I have occasionally suffered similar issues, except that the balance on the card has always been right in my case. If you believe an automated refund hasn’t taken effect then you should definitely call the helpdesk.

  577. Hi Mike,

    I want to surrender an Oyster card which has auto top-up set up on it. Will handing it in automatically cancel the auto top-up? I know it won’t trigger as I’m not using the card any more but I feel uncomfortable leaving an auto top-up on it. Or should I bite the bullet, make one more journey with it in order to cancel the top-up before handing it in.

  578. Hi Ann,

    Yes, auto top-up should be cancelled when the card is surrendered. I too would be nervous about doing that and would probably make one more journey just to be sure. Indeed that is what I have done with my own Oyster.

  579. Hi Mike, can I top up my oyster card with Scottish banknotes?

  580. Hi Sylvia,

    If the place you are topping up at accepts Scottish banknotes then yes. You may have more luck at places like Kings Cross or Euston where Scottish banknotes are probably accepted quite frequently.

  581. Hi

    I want to change my Auto top up to a 1-4 Monthly Travel card. I thought i changed it on the website (thinking it will Auto top up monthly) but looks like its gone back to Auto top up. Do i have to top Via the website Every Month to make this work?


  582. Hi Simon,

    Auto top up is only for the PAYG balance. You have to purchase each travelcard individually.

  583. I topped up with my credit card in London the other day, pressed the receipt button but didn’t get one. I now need it to reclaim as a business expense. The online account says it doesn’t track payments made at the machines. Is there any way I can get a receipt for my purchase?

  584. Hi Steve,

    Other than getting a copy of your bank/card statement with the amount to TfL I don’t think you’ll get anything more now.

  585. Hi there,

    I new to the whole Oyster card system. I bought an oyster card in a shop in Romford, topped up £20 on it and the cashier said I should register the card online. I did this, however my balance still says £0.

    Any ideas? Cheers

  586. Hi Mike
    I lost my oyster card yesterday which had pay as you go value of at least £8. Since I had an online tfl account, i transferred the pay as you go ‘product’ from my lost oyster card to a new oyster card easily.
    However, I chose the pick up station without realising i will never be going back to that station again.
    If I do not pick up this transferred product what happens? since my lost oyster card is already destroyed. Does the amount get refunded to my bank card?
    thanks in advance

  587. Hi James,

    Transactions in shops often take a day to show on the central system. The top-up will be there.

  588. Hi Prava,

    You’ll need to contact the helpdesk to check what happens after 8 days. They should be able to reset it to another station.

  589. Hi Mike,

    Yesterday I topped up an oyster card with £5 at Kings Cross Underground but forgot to tap the oyster again. I later realised my mistake and topped it up again later (the correct way)…. am I right to assume that only the second top up will be taken from my account?

  590. Hi Kemi,

    Yes. The first one will have been authorised, so may appear as a pending transaction, but it won’t be collected and will drop off in a few days.

  591. Hi Mike,

    I need your help. On 30 October I forget to touch again to get the top-up added. This authorisation remained and appear as if the money has been taken since then. I read here that it hasn’t, and the authorisation will drop off 2-3 business days later when TfL will have failed to charge the debit from my bank. But there are 2 weeks now… What can I do?

  592. Hi Mihai,

    It is usually 2-3 business days, but can be more. It is solely in the control of your bank, so you’ll need to contact them to query why the authorisation hasn’t cleared yet.

  593. I want to top up my Oyster card with PAYG credit online. It says I have to nominate a Tube station at which to collect the topup, however I only use the bus.

    Do I have to activate/collect the topup by touching in at a barrier at my nominated Tube station (thereby incurring a fare) or can I simply touch in at one of the touchscreen Oyster machines at the station?

  594. Hi Brice,

    Online purchases cannot be collected on a bus. You can only collect as part of a rail or tram journey. If you are happy to use a ticket machine then you can use them to actually top up with your credit card.

  595. Hi,

    I moved house this weekend and went from needing zones 1-3 to 1-4 from my current house. However, I renewed it using zones 1-3 by accident in the morning when I actually needed 1-4. I am yet to use the oyster card since the mistake. I was wondering if there is any way of adding a zone and paying the extra money in order to do so? as 1-3 is of no use to me now.
    Thanks for your help in advance.


  596. Hi Jamie,

    You’ll need to call the helpdesk and see if there’s anything that can be done. If it was two extra zones then it would be simple, but you can’t buy just one zone. You may be able to do an exchange at an Underground station, but it will probably cost an admin fee.

  597. Can you have auto-top up and a travelcard on your Oyster card at the same time? i.e. if I usually buy a zones 3-5 travelcard for my regular journey to work but top up for all the extra journeys I make into zones 1/2?

  598. Hi Rachel,

    Yes you can. I’ve done it myself. Just take a look at the Mixing Travelcards & PAYG page so you’re aware of the differences on the reader displays.

  599. I cannot believe I cannot get on a bus without giving TFL £8.

    I dont use PUBLIC transport enough to have money sitting with them, nor should my money be in someone elses pocket.

  600. Hi Bernadette,

    I can understand your frustration. TfL have also realised that some people do only want to use buses and don’t have a contactless payment card, so they are reintroducing the one day bus pass from January next year.

  601. Hi All.
    Yesterday I wanted to top up my oystercard with machine,I used my debit card to pay and it has not been successful , the money were taken from my account and I did not get the travel pas , I spoke to a costumer service and they said it will be refunded after a couple of hours but a day gone already and I still haven`t got my refund.
    if somebody can answer me why I `ll be appreciated ,
    sorry but it is a bit annoying cos I tried 3 times to top up with monthly travel pas which is 3 times £172.80
    thank you

  602. Hi Balint,

    If the money has been authorised with your bank but the travelcard didn’t transfer to your Oyster card then it may take a few business days for the authorisation to drop off. Your money hasn’t been taken, but your bank has earmarked it for TfL who won’t claim it if the product didn’t transfer.

    What happened when you tried to purchase the travelcard? Did you put the Oyster card back on the reader after completing the debit card stuff? Did it give you a message?

  603. Same problem as balint, took the money from card but did not topup oyster said failed to write to oyster but money still not refunded to bank card.

  604. Hi Munya,

    Well it usually takes 2-3 business days for the authorisation to be removed, sometimes up to a week. You’d need to contact your bank if you think it’s taking too long as they are in complete control of the situation.

  605. Hi,

    My first top-up, and went badly :(. Paid £40 cash at Victoria Station top up machine, but did not touch out (to be fair on-screen instructions at this point not exactly clear). Is there any way that transaction is linked to my oystercard at the machine so that I can pursue a refund?

  606. Hi Phil,

    I’m sure that the details will be recorded. I’d try calling the Oyster helpline first. If they can’t help then you’ll have to contact the TOC responsible for the machine, either Southern or Southeastern.

  607. David Benjamin

    Mike, I topped up at a shop in Eastham earlier, only £5, checked my balance online and via the helpdesk and still showing £2.40 instead of the £7.40 I was expecting. Obviously I went back to the shop who found my transaction and checked my card only to say your balance is £7.40 not had chance to check at a station but it is still showing online as £2.40. Which is correct? Do I need to shout and scream at the shop again? and Is there a delay on updating the online balance?

  608. Hi David,

    I’m surprised the helpdesk didn’t realise what was happening. Your card has the full balance but it won’t show online until either the card is used on a train or the shop terminal updates overnight. If you had checked at a station then you’d have seen the correct amount.

  609. David Benjamin

    Mike, Thank you it has now updated, never noticed the delay before so was getting a little annoyed. Fantastic helpful site.

  610. Hi,
    My wife topped up her Oyster with 7 day travelcard online yesterday, which is starting today (26 December) and will be active till 1 January. She choose train station near our house but this station is closed today so she didn’t activate her travelcard and is using pay-as-you-go. If she will activate her travelcard tomorrow (27 December), will it be active till 1 January or till 2 January as it was activated one day later as it supposed to be.

    Thank you in advance!

  611. I have auto-topup on my card, but want to cancel it now that contactless payment is available, and this is better for me as an occasional visitor to London. I tried to do this on the website but it won’t take effect until I next touch in. Now, I have a balance of 10.50, so when I next touch in it will want to top-up. Does the topup cancellation instruction execute first, or will I get stung for an extra 20 quid before this “feature” is disabled?

  612. Hi Maxim,

    Sorry for the delayed response. The travelcard will still expire on 1st Jan. If you call the helpdesk and explain that you didn’t realise the station would be closed on Boxing Day then they may agree to refund the PAYG charges. No guarantees though.

  613. Hi Alan,

    As long as the first touch is at the station which has the cancellation instruction then that will be executed first. Remember that the instruction only stays live for 8 days after set-up, so don’t request it until a day or so before travel. You must do it before 11pm the day before though.

  614. Thanks Mike – I found out about the time-out when I first tried to cancel it! I had thought it would just work at the back end without having to touch anywhere! Still, I am now prepared and will set up a cancellation a few days before I next head for London!

  615. The timeout mechanism is designed for actual topups where they need a way out if everything goes wrong. Cancelling auto topup is an oddity, but it has to use a similar mechanism because the flag is set on the actual card. It will all become irrelevant when Oyster switches to a back office system like contactless and the money is all held centrally.

  616. Topped up weekly Oyster chose to register at Hornchurch, but it automatically came up at Liverpool Street, I don’t go near Liverpool Street do I need to top up again and the first transaction will be refunded when I don’t touch in at Liverpool Street

  617. Hi Julie,

    Yes, top up again and the original request will be refunded after 8 days automatically. You probably can’t request a different online topup until the first one has expired.

  618. Got off Tube at Stratford and in panic to catch my train to Norwich(only just made it) forgot to touch out. Realise now been charged full journey amount and this has taken me over credit on card -£0.60. I hardly use Oystercard so no idea when I will be travelling again, are there any extra charges for going over credit.

  619. Hi Ian,

    No extra charges but you will need to top up before you can use it again. If you call the Oyster helpline they may agree to refund the difference back to you.

  620. Hi Mike, me again, my son has been given a couple of refunds on his Oyster card, but each time has to go to Liverpool Street to collect then.
    Its not en route for him, can this be changed so he can collect at his local station. Thanks

  621. Hi Julie,

    Yes. You can set a default station for automatic refunds within Oyster online. If there is one outstanding at the moment then he’ll need to wait for it to expire after 8 days and then he should get another email inviting him to try again, or the helpdesk can set it up for a local station.

  622. Hi Mike

    Topped up my oyster card with £20 cash at a machine in Victoria station and didn’t realise the money didn’t go on until I got stuck getting out of the underground and didn’t have enough credit on my card, is there anything I can do about the £20 as it must show somewhere I touched in at a pay machine & will I get charged for not having enough money on my card when i got to the end of my Journey

  623. Hi Olly,

    Your best bet is to call the helpdesk for advice. You may have to return to Victoria, but you should get the money back somehow. In the meantime, if you top your card up again to clear the negative balance it will be fine.

  624. Hi charged me if I can not get my season ticket on my oyster purchased from the selected station and buy new from different station and whether the money for the first ticket I returned automatically?

  625. Hi Treova,

    If you don’t touch in or out at your selected station within 4 days of the start of the new travelcard then the order will be cancelled and the money refunded.

  626. Hi
    Your online payment system is useless. I have to go to station. TFL charges big money for tickets and still they cannot make a system where you do not have to go to station. Please initiate some system like banks where if money added it can be used in bus as well. If you are not ready to give this facility to public then sell us card reading machines which can communicate with your honourable server and we can top up at our homes. We only put our cards into machines and it is topped up. I know TFL is not ready to give any facility to public rather they want to increase fares every year. useless service.
    you can introduce card reading machines which can connect with server and top up wherever you are and we do not need to go to station. you want to increase fares every year, do you want to give facility to people? Or you just want to earn money and not spend on public? Useless service.

  627. Hi Asad,

    I’m an independent website offering help to Oyster users. I am nothing to do with TfL. However, a future phase of the development of Oyster will give you what you seem to want, but it’s not ready yet. At the moment the system has to work how it does.

  628. I have an oyster card that I got last time in England and rather than top it up when I get off my long haul flight I thought I’d do it now. I set up an account and logged in and presumed I would be able to use my visa card to put some money on it but then it makes me choose a station. Why can’t I just put say 50 pounds on it now and then it is all set for when I come over. Unless I’m missing something?!

  629. Hi Therese,

    Unfortunately the amount of topup has to be recorded on the actual Oyster card, hence the need to know a station to add the topup at.

  630. Why do we have to touch a validator to complete a top up, Why can’t this just be completed online at any time for a simpler alternative for people living outside London and not Knowing which station they are likely to pass through.
    I can see by the previous comments the validation process is confusing and not satisfactory.

  631. Hi Steve,

    The system in use today for Oyster is based on the technology available over 10 years ago. This dictated that the balance should be stored on the physical card and that all transactions affecting the balance would need to be done with the card present. More recently TfL have developed the transit mode for contactless payment cards where all the processing takes place in the back office. It is intended to switch Oyster to use the same technology in the future, although that process is obviously quite a big project.

  632. Can I have more than 1 oyster card on Auto Top Up?

  633. Hi Eileen,

    Absolutely. Before I started using contactless I had 3 cards on my online account all linked to the same credit card for auto top-up.

  634. Hi Mike,
    I usually top up manually online as I’m only an occasional visitor to London, and I’m quite happy nominating a tube station as that’s my usual mode of transport when I’m down there. I’m assuming the Oyster ticket machines at those stations are also connected to the local server just as the ticket gates are? Wouldn’t it be easier for commuters (and possibly TfL) if there was an option to collect top ups from those ticket machines without having to touch in and out, and therefore save TfL staff having to keep cancelling journeys?

  635. Hi Phil,

    The readers on ticket machines cannot deliver online ordered topups, but you can choose to load a topup using any accepted method of payment at the time.

  636. Hi,

    I pay £4:40 everyday for my travel and I only use buses. I use 4 buses during the day, two to go and two to come back. Is this too much for one day or is it fine ? Can anyone please help! Thank you very much.

  637. Hi Val,

    £4.40 is the daily cap for buses. Each fare is £1.50 so you get the 4th free and a bit knocked off the 3rd.

  638. Hello,

    I have a bus pass that I normally buy at the train station, however it has run out today and I’m not near a station and need it to get home. Am I able to renew it in a shop?

  639. Hi Fran,

    Yes, you can get bus passes at Ticket Stop shops.

  640. Hello,
    I would like to know how to get my money back. Yesterday I was trying to top up my Oyster card but the machine stopped working exactly the payment was done. Now my account balance is £20 less. What can i do to take a refund? Nobody answer 0343 222 1234

  641. I’m coming in June from USA. Will I be able to top up an Oyster card with US credit card (that is only a mag strip, no pin) or am I strictly cash? Will I encounter problems if I purchase the card with credit card and top up with cash?

  642. Hi Kris,

    It’s likely that you won’t actually be charged, but at the moment TfL have authorised the transaction which earmarks the funds in your account. They will be freed after a few working days. If you are actually charged then dispute the charge with your bank and they will discuss the matter with TfL.

  643. Hi Gary,

    I don’t know whether US cards work in the ticket machines. If they don’t then there is no problem mixing topups between credit card and cash. The only potential issue is if you ask for a refund on surrender of the card, but you’ll still get the money, just a little later if it has to be processed by the head office team rather than at an Underground station.

  644. Hello,

    Does the top up at the ticket machines in the rail station let you top up with 10-15-20 etc?or can you top up with any amount?

  645. Hi Alex,

    At National Rail stations you can top up with any amount as long as it’s a multiple of 5p.

  646. Hello
    I’ve come out without my wallet today and I’m going to be 75p short on my journey home, will the Oyster allow this?

  647. Hi Matt,

    As long as you have enough for the minimum fare from your starting station then the Oyster system will allow you to go ‘overdrawn’. However, if you are checked by an RPI they may potentially have an issue. If you can borrow a quid until tomorrow then I would.

  648. Hi, I topped up my oyster card at a local shop yesterday by £20, but the money has not appeared on my oyster card. What can I do?

  649. Hi Hannah,

    Oh dear. Two things: go back to the shop and query why the top-up hasn’t happened. Have you got a receipt? And contact the helpdesk so they can investigate. If you get no help from the shop then I think the local trading standards team will need to get involved.

  650. Mike,
    I wonder if you can help me. As an infrequent visitor to London myself and my husband have visitor oyster cards. Normally our trips are via the train and hence we can nominate the tube pertaining that station to to up. However, we are arriving by coach to Victoria this time and our intention is, now we don’t have the kids, to meander around and when time just get the tube when we run out of time so we can’t nominate a station as such to start our journey but as we are staying in Canary Wharf that will definitely be our destination. My card only has £1.95, and was used last in December, however my husbands card had over £5.00 and was last used in August 2013. Do you think it is possible that I could effectively get the top up at the end of the journey, when checking out at Canary Wharf? I would also be prepared to add funds at a couple of nominated stations if I could be refunded for them if I didn’t pick them up. What do you think? Thanks

  651. Hi.
    I wish to top up my Oyster card as a PAYG as I only use it now and then and then when I do use the card it will be from random stations.
    I don’t want to specify a station as I do not know what station I will be going to. I don’t won’t to top up at the station once I arrive which is the alternative option I believe, as this will be a rush and negates the whole ‘top up’ convenience thing.
    I guess reading the forum it is not possible to just top up the card with ready to go anywhere cash, so no point in having an oyster card ???

  652. Hi Gazza,

    As far as I know you can only have one outstanding request for top up. You can certainly arrange for online top up to be added at Canary Wharf on exit. If you need to add a little before then use cash/card in a ticket machine.

  653. Hi Ian,

    If you are thinking about auto top up then you only need to specify the first station to pick up from. After that it will top up when necessary and charge your account afterwards. Alternatively if you have a normal adult Oyster without any discount loaded then why not try contactless instead?

  654. Mike, Thanks for your reply and sorry I’m being rubbish but…. How would I know if i needed to add more on and how much and wouldn’t I then be open to the massive cash prices and opposed to the discounted prices oyster card offers. We would be going out in the evening and would be using the oyster card on that and were hoping to get the further discounts because of the daily cap. If I bought a ticket from the machine this ticket wouldn’t be included in the daily cap would it? I supposed to a degree I am asking would it let me travel from a zone 1 station to Canary wharf on £1.95 and allow the top up to happen on exit at Canary Wharf? Is there a mininum amount you can travel on? Alternatively top up the Oyster card on arrival in London at whatever station go to. Do all stations have the facilities for you to top up It would be in Zone 1? I wanted to avoid the faff but its looking like the only alternative.
    For future usage should I put an auto top up on now with canary wharf being my first station now and then I wouldn’t have this scenario again, even if I didn’t travel to london for a few years?
    Your help is really appreciated.

  655. Hi Gazza,

    If you top up your Oyster PAYG balance at a ticket machine you will still be paying Oyster prices. The cash prices are for purchasing paper tickets. When you touch your Oyster card on the reader on a ticket machine it will tell you how much balance you have and allow you to add to it, up to £90. Auto top up is not really recommended for occasional use because it ties up between £10 and £30 between uses. I’m also not convinced that you can set auto top up on a visitor Oyster card.

  656. Hi.
    I would like to have a weekly buss pass top up online, but i didnt find it..how can I do?

  657. Hi Vero,

    It’s not possible to send bus products to be picked up because there is no way of knowing which bus you will actually use in advance.

  658. Hi, I’ve chosen Queens Park as the activating point for my auto top-up service, but I realized I won’t be traveling from that station within the next 8 days. Any chance I can change the activating point? Could this be an overground station? Thank you!

  659. Hi Valeria,

    Yes, activation can take place at any rail station and also tramstops. Unfortunately you’ll have to wait until the top-up is returned by Queens Park before you can select a new station. This will happen automatically if you fail to pickup within the 8 days.

  660. Hi, i have an oyster card and will be leaving crewe tomorrow morning and arriving at London Euston and then onto Stonebridge Park via the overground, i have never topped up before apart from the initial first addition of £10, do i select Euston Square to top op from?

  661. Hi Andy,

    If you are topping up online then select the first station* you will be using Oyster at. You must do it before 2300 tonight or it won’t be ready to collect tomorrow morning. You may be better off topping up manually when you arrive in London. This can still be done using a credit/debit card in a ticket machine.

    *I’m not sure why you would go from Euston Square. The obvious route for me would be London Overground from Euston NR station.

  662. This is such a useful site! Renewed 1-3 annual travelcard about 2 weeks ago before going on holiday, to start tomorrow, collecting at London Bridge. Didn’t realise it wouldn’t be available to activate until 10th July. As have been abroad I haven’t been through London Br this week and need to start my journey on a bus/tube in zone 3 tomorrow morning to Charing x and unlikely to go through London Bridge until evening or possibly Thursday. Understand my PAYG balance will be debited for journeys up to going through London bridge but will I be able to claim back a refund for these once the pass activates?

  663. Hi Emma,

    Sorry for the delay. The best I can suggest is calling the helpdesk once it has activated. If you explain the situation they may decide to offer a refund given that the season is an annual one.

  664. I want to top up on-line by £20, with the card credit standing at minus 66p. Why would the resulting calculation include an “applied credit” of minus £3, leaving me with £17 on the card? I have not used this card for some time.

  665. Hi Henk,

    I’ve not encountered that before. I suggest you call the helpdesk. I’d be interested to know the answer.

  666. Hi,

    My Oyster card fails to top up most of the time. When I top up using a chip and pin, the screen shows, that the process has been successful. But when I swipe at the gates, it shows that the top up has been unsuccessful. After a few tries of topping up, I ended up losing 80 pounds. Is there a way of addressing this?

  667. You’ll need to contact the helpdesk, Arjun.

  668. Surprise this morning when I touched in with my card. I had put £25 on, which the website reduced by a spurious £3, leaving £22. The card was also 66p in the red. So I was surprised that the total on the card was £24.34 – as it should be. So the spurious “applied credit” of minus £3 was not actually applied… Still, does not instil confidence.

  669. Hi Henk,

    Glad to hear it appears to have worked out ok. It would still be interesting to know what has happened, but I appreciate your reluctance to enquire, especially as they now seem to have credited the correct amount to your card. Do let me know if the £3 suddenly disappears again!

  670. Hello, there ! I use a student oyster card and today I paid for my weekly top up which is 22.40 and the machine didn’t recognize my topped up balance so I checked it and it showed that I didn’t pay perhaps I forgot to touch out my card or I just touched out very quickly anyway so I had to top up again. my oyster card showed the balance of only 22.40 so I went to barclays and I have a proof that i paid twice what can i do ?

  671. Hi Maria,

    You probably haven’t actually paid twice. The transaction has been authorised twice, so the money shows as unavailable on your statement, but only one charge will be taken from your account. The other authorisation will drop off in 3-5 working days.

  672. so do i have to call the helpdesk and inform them about the double payment, will they be able to check it ? cause i have the transaction analysis that it shows that I paid twice or would it be automatically drop off by barclays? should i call barclays and let them know ?

  673. Hi Maria,

    You could call Barclays and check that the transactions they are showing are authorisations at this stage. There really isn’t anything to worry about though because TfL will only collect the completed transaction.

  674. I’ve canceled Auto top-up because I left London on July 31st and now Oyster is telling me that the last Auto top-up payment failed and is prompting me to resettle. Will this resettlement activate Auto top-up again?

  675. Hi Syrianux,

    It sounds like you have cancelled the direct debit instruction with your bank, but your Oyster card still thinks it’s got auto top-up enabled. I don’t believe that settling this debt will resurrect the direct debit, but your card still thinks it has auto top-up. If you are not using the card then you’ve not a lot to worry about, but if you’ve given it to someone else then you’d probably better get in touch with the helpdesk to have the card cancelled.

  676. Hi Mike |I want to set up auto top up on my sons oyster card but with payment coming from my card. When I try to submit it wont accept is this because the name on the card is different. Is there another way of doing this?

  677. Hi Ann,

    Is your son’s Oyster card listed on your online account? You might need the helpdesk to assist, but it’s definitely possible as I have my kid’s cards on my account. Once there, you should be able to set up auto top up under your details.

  678. Hi Mike,

    I have recharged my oyster card with £20 and the card was not recharged and again i tried with £20 and card recharged with £20.
    I thought that the amount which was charged 1st time will credit back to my account.
    But after 48 hours amount got credited to my account and at the same time it got debited. how to claim that amount from oyster.

  679. Hi Vivek,

    A failed top up usually takes 3-4 working days to disappear from your account.

  680. Hi Mike,

    Its almost 10 day, i recharged my card with 20£ on 1/9/2015 and on 3/9/2015 amount reverted on my account but same time again deducted. I dont know why.
    Is ther any other way to get my Amount Back.


  681. Hi Vivek,

    After this length of time I suggest you contact your bank and dispute the transaction.

  682. Thank you Mike.

  683. Hi Mike.
    I topped up my pay as you go oyster card with cash this morning at a local sweet shop as my card only had 10p credit. I was given a receipt.
    I need to use the card for a journey tomorrow but my online account is still showing only 10p. Will I be able to make the journey in the morning if the online account has not been updated? Many thanks.

  684. Hi Sian,

    Yes, you will. Many shops only connect to the central database at the end of each day, but the money will be on your physical card.

  685. Thank you Mike 🙂

  686. Hi mike, my 16+ oyster has just expired but I have some money on it. Can I still use it as a adult oyster?

  687. Hi Simran,

    My understanding is that you can’t, but you can get a refund of the credit at an Underground station, or by calling the helpdesk.

  688. hi mike i just bought a weekly travelcard zones 1-3 online and it says the activation station however i need to get a bus to get to the station. will i be able to get the bus to the station?

  689. Hi Nik,

    You will, but it will charge you a bus fare. If you have zero balance then you’ll need to add the £1.50 before you can activate the travelcard. This can be done at the station ticket machine.

  690. Hi Mike, I need to report my oyster card as lost/stolen but I can’t do this while it’s in the red (by 25p.) Is there any way I can top up online without having to actually touch the card to a scanner in order for me to be able to then report it as lost/stolen? I would call up and ask but I work 8-8 which is exactly the times it tells me to call and it’s very difficult for me to get enough time at work to sort this out over the phone!

  691. Hi Mary,

    No you can’t top up wiithout the card. But you can report it lost with a small negative balance. The deposit is there to mitigate against the loss so you don’t actually owe TfL any money at the moment.

  692. Hi Mike
    I wondered if you knew if there was any way to get auto top up on an 18+ Oyster card please? It’s not apparent online.
    Many thanks in advance.

  693. Hi Lucinda,

    It certainly should be possible. You need to add the card to an oyster online account (not the same as the photocard account) where you can then order online top up and set auto top up at the same time. I did it once on child zip cards but they took so long to use up the credit I cancelled it again.

  694. Hi Mike, thanks for a very informative website. Just a quick question, hopefully a simple one. As an occassional visitor to London I keep a payg card w/out auto-topup. Usually I topup online and collect it on my first day there. If I need more credit, are the topups I do at a staffed tube counter or the topup machines at the station available immediately, or do I have to do somehting to ‘collect’ them like I do the online one?

  695. Hi Phil,

    Yes, they are available immediately. You need to touch your Oyster on the reader again at the end of the transaction so the credit can be added to the actual Oyster card.

  696. Thanks for the quick reply, Mike.

  697. Hi mike I have just ordered a travel card but I don’t get how to activate it. I currently have 0 balance on my Oyster card as it is completely new and have chosen to pick the order up in Waterloo station. Does that mean that my card will be activated right away when I travel from Waterloo to bond street or must I manually top up my card first. Can i pick up the travel card with a 0 balance on my Oyster card when I make my first journey from Waterloo (chosen station) to bond street

  698. Hi Ashley,

    Yes, you can collect a travelcard with a zero balance providing it is valid on that day. You will then be able to travel within those zones for free.

  699. Hi Mike,
    Can I have an auto top-up travel card. I have linked my oyster to my online account but can only see an option for pay-as-you-go auto top-up?

  700. Hi Olivia,

    Auto top-up is only for PAYG. When you use a travelcard within 5 days of expiry the gates warn you that the ticket is soon to expire.

  701. my daughter has 16+ oyster
    I want to do auto top up for her, but she uses it for bus mainly. The list of stations on website for activating top up does not include dartford which is our closest oyster station.

  702. Hi Alice,

    I’m confused. I’ve just tried to order auto top-up on one of my cards and Dartford [National Rail] appears as an option in the list of stations. However, you cannot pick up the order without making a journey. Fortunately the off-peak fare to Crayford is almost the same as the bus fare (80p versus 75p).

  703. My local corner shop charged my daughter 80p to top up her PAYG Oyster card. Are they allowed to do that?

  704. Hi John,

    They might be if she used a credit card, but I’d be surprised if they were allowed to do it for cash. I’d call the helpdesk tomorrow and complain.

  705. Thanks for the reply Mike. I have seen discussions about retailers passing on charges that banks levy for small transactions on cards but this was a £20 top-up with a £20 note!

    I assume the shopkeeper takes a cut from TFL but charging extra seems a bit cheeky. But then, I’m not a small shopkeeper. 😉

  706. Hi John,

    I’ve checked with the helpdesk and that is definitely not allowed. If you or your daughter can contact them either by phone (options 2, 6) or email contactus@tfl.gov.uk with as much detail as possible then they’ll pass it onto the department to deal with.

  707. “If you complete this process before 11pm then your order will be available from the next day, otherwise it will be the day after.”

    So in true last century style, instead of activating your request immediately, TfL’s computer system updates customer data in an overnight batch job (which evidently runs at 11pm. Slow… hand…. clap.

    What I also love is getting the emails telling me there’s a refund pending on my card, but I have to go to some random station I hardly ever use to collect it. Another… slow…. hand… clap.

  708. Hi Richard,

    You’re being a little unfair. The technology behind Oyster (which was just about last century) required that no central communication could take place while touching in or out. The Oyster card is the master data storage unit so all transactions must be made with that present. So yes, online purchases/refunds are sent to a specific station in an overnight batch because the station is the only server that can carry out the transaction and know that it’s been successful.

    The next phase of Oyster is being worked on and will switch the processing and storage to the back office. The Oyster card will act like a contactless payment card simply identifying itself to the reader. It’s obviously quite a complex transition and they need to be absolutely sure they’ve got it right before putting it live.

  709. Hi,
    I have an Oyster card from a previous trip to London and I am trying to register it online to top it up in advance of my next visit. However, I live abroad and the registering page does not allow foreign address and telephone numbers. Can you please advise if I can still register and top up the card online?
    Thank you

  710. Hi Helen,

    This is an issue which I hear from time to time. I don’t think you can register an Oyster card to a non-UK address. Do you have a friend or family member in the UK whose address you could borrow?

  711. Paul Thornett

    It appears that, like so many other facets of life in UK these days, you cannot use any kind of top up if your credit card was issued outside the UK (which, unsurprisingly, is true of the vast majority of credit cards).

  712. Hi Paul,

    I have heard that foreign issued credit cards cannot be used for online purchases, but I’m sure they can be used at ticket machines. I’d also wager that the vast majority of credit cards used to top up Oyster are issued in the UK.

    This doesn’t mean that I agree that they should prevent online usage of foreign credit cards. I’d be interested to know what they say if someone complains in writing (or by email).

  713. Hi,
    I’m new to oyster card, I only ever use the bus but need to top up. If I top up online do I still need to goto my local rail station to activate the balance or do I just continue to use the bus & it still updates automatically!!?

  714. Hi Gd,

    Sadly you can’t use a bus to activate online top-up.

  715. Hi Mike,
    Something you may or may not know the answer to.
    From January 2nd 5-10 Oyster card holders travel for free on National Rail within zones 1-6 – which is fantastic news.
    However, I can’t find out how to get a refund back on the PAYG credit on my daughters 5-10 Oyster as from January she won’t need it!
    TfL said I can log into my online account and transfer the product to another Oyster but when I tried this it isn’t available for the 5-10 Oyster Card so a bit of dud information there.
    I can’t be the only person in this situation so wondering if you knew what the best solution would be? 🙂

  716. Hi Chris,

    Ha! I hadn’t thought of that. I’ve just gone onto my account and tried to transfer the credit from one of my kids zip cards and it tells me that I can do it, but it will cancel the card at the same time. That’s not what is required of course. I’ve now just called the helpdesk and they say that over the phone they would need to do the same thing. However, at a tube station they can refund credit without cancelling the card. If that is true then it’s a solution, but not ideal where someone rarely goes anywhere near a tube station. You can also leave the credit on there and it will be transferred when you apply for a zip 11-15 card for the same child. Again, a solution, but maybe not ideal if the child is nearer 5 than 10.

    I think this is a scenario that hasn’t been thought through properly, and I’ve asked the helpdesk to feed the issue back to the relevant department.

  717. Hi Mike,
    As the fares are going up on 2nd january 2016 & with all the tube station ticket offices now shut on the network i was at a loss as to how to renew my annual bus oyster pass but having spoken to the oyster helpdesk yesterday they did inform me that most of the tfl ticket stop shops were issuing the yearly bus passes to the oyster cards however as i pointed out there is no information clearly visible on there site of what people need to do they said it was an issue they are aware of & they are still working on it to make the public aware??!!.
    So fortunately my local newsagent that does oyster was able to help me with my annual bus pass renewal but be warned most make a charge if using debit/credit cards.

  718. Thanks for the update, Moth.

    It is somewhat concerning that people might be charged extra for using debit/credit cards as a result of the tube ticket office closures.

  719. Hi
    Hopefully you can help. My daughter got a new Oystercard today and topped it up for monthly travel using her debit card. She had it stolen from her coat pocket shortly after. Oyster are telling her there is nothing they can do without the number on the card (the receipt was with the card and also stolen) and the bank cant help either.. Any suggestions please,she is devastated as she doesnt have any spare cash to replace it.. Thank you..

  720. Hi Mandy,

    Sadly there really isn’t anything they can do without the Oyster card number. This is why they strongly recommend registering Oyster cards.

  721. My daughter got sold student monthly bus and tram rather than monthly tube. TFL have refused to re credit unless oyster gets stopped. This doesn’t help as she needs student card to get to placement for next 8 weeks. Also as at uni does not receive post as easily as home. Can she re top up oyster for month tube and overground? Is this available online? And is there any chance of any refund at end of the 8 weeks. Many thanks in advance

  722. Hi Nicki,

    Personally I would go back to the place that sold the wrong ticket and ask them to resolve the issue. Yes she can put a travelcard on the Oyster as well, but I’m not convinced that they will refund the bus one after 8 weeks. Having said that, I’m surprised they say that the card has to be cancelled. I would try to escalate that issue within TfL because that’s a serious financial penalty if it really is an error that she didn’t make.

  723. can i still make a journey with my oyster card from zone 3 to zone one with £1.30

  724. Hi Stephen,

    I’m not sure what you are actually asking here. There are no single fares including zone 1 for £1.30 unless you are a child. The absolute minimum balance required to make a journey (where you haven’t already capped) is the cheapest single fare from that station. I’m not aware of anywhere within zones 1-9 with an adult single fare below £1.40. If you don’t have enough money to make the whole journey your card will be left with a negative balance when you touch out and this will need to be cleared before you can use the card again.

  725. Hi

    I am wanting to top up online and then activate at the first station I use. I will be arriving into st Pancras and then walking through st pancras to the underground and will be travelling via tube to Vauxhall. When selecting the station to activate top up do I choose Kings Cross (London underground / National Rail) or St Pancras (National Rail)? It’s very confusing.


  726. Hi Nick,

    The Underground station is called Kings Cross St Pancras so I’d choose Kings Cross.

  727. Hello, i was topping the oyster up, actually i was topping up monthly travel card, i inserted the bank pin code and i touched the yellow thing to finish my transaction but i didn’t pay too much of attention on this so i kinda didn’t finished the transaction, so however i haven’t topped up my oyster but bank took the money out. What should i do now? Its still saying its pending on the bank acc. Could someone after me touch the yellow thing and top up with my money?


  728. Hi Edvinas,

    No-one else can top up with your money. The amount won’t actually be claimed by TfL, but the authorisation will remain for up to a week, depending on how long your bank keeps them. As long as you haven’t exceeded your limit you can try again to add the travelcard.

  729. As of mid November 2015, non Chip and Pin cards won’t be accepted at most Tube ticket machines.

    See https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/308014/response/758549/attach/3/Oct%2015%20Redacted%20Pt%201.pdf for details

  730. Hi

    I’ve just tried to top up via pay as you go machine. I thought I’d tapped the second time after inputting my debit card PIN. I got to the barriers and it hadn’t topped up. Could the person behind me have placed their card on the reader and claimed the money as i I’d authorised the payment. Or does the machine recognise the tap in card to begin top up differs from the card tapped at the end.

    I’m worried I’ve been charged twice!


  731. Hi Carly,

    Don’t worry. The machine won’t add your credit to the next card – it does check that it is the same card as before. It also won’t charge you, but the authorisation will remain on your account for about a week.

  732. andrea.gargiulo

    Hello Mike,

    I have toped up my card using Pay as you go and chose Victoria Station as a pick up location. How can I change the station to Hanger Lane? I will not go to Victoria until I leave London, which is in two weeks. I cannot top up my card online as its waiting for me to go to Victoria and activate the payment.

    Thank you for you time


  733. Hi Andrea,

    I don’t think there is a way to pull the top up back from Victoria before the 8-day pick up window expires. At that time it will be refunded. You probably need to top up manually at a ticket machine or shop in the meantime.

  734. andrea.gargiulo

    Alright, thank you.

  735. Mike – A question for you:

    Similar to others above, I have a son who only uses his oyster card for bus journeys, therefore very difficult to set up auto-top up (or make any top-up at all via the internet).

    However, the question is: If I do manage to set up auto-top-up on an occasion when he is using the train/tube (and therefore makes a journey to activate it), will the *subsequent* auto-top-up work if he is only using the buses????

    Thanks, David

  736. Hi David,

    Yes it will. Once auto top-up is activated on the card starting any journey with a balance under £10 will trigger the next top-up. This is added to the card straight away and the request for funds from the bank occurs the next day.

  737. I will be arriving in London at Euston station and have topped up my card to be activated at Euston underground, however I start my journey from Euston Square. Can I activate my top up at a ticket machine at Euston underground or will it automatically top up when I start my journey from Euston Square.

  738. Hi Glyn,

    Sadly neither will work. You need to start a journey from Euston itself. Can you take the Victoria or Northern (City) lines to Kings Cross and then change to the Circle/Met/HamCity there?

  739. Hi Mike,
    I have auto-top up on 3 Oyster Cards and today I noticed on my online bank statement there was a charge for a £20 auto top up. I thought it was a bit unusual as I’ve got a Travelcard on my Oyster with more than £10 credit still on it and the wife hasn’t been anywhere. I then checked my e-mails to find that this auto top up apparently applies to a journey on route B11 on 27/11/15!. Even worse I can’t check to see if they took the funds for this in November last year as my online banking only goes back 2 months :(.
    It just seems an extremely excessive amount of time for an Auto Top Up to be applied – It’s usually within 2 or 3 days after the card used has dropped below the £10 threshold.
    It also concerns me that if it’s genuine then they should at least apologise and e-mail and say sorry we didn’t take the £20 initially, we’ll debit it in a few days time – as it has been over 2 months!!!

  740. Hi Chris,

    I’m sure that your bank could provide details of any transactions if you ask them. I’m surprised you only get access to two months though – mine is over a year.

    Anyway, it doesn’t surprise me that the top up related to a bus. You aren’t the first person who has had a delayed transaction from a bus, though it doesn’t usually take this long. As to an apology, that would be nice, but I don’t think they should have to give you any more notice. They’ve already given you 2 months free credit 🙂

  741. Hi Mike,
    I am a visitor in London & I have a an oyster card for a whole month. However I may have need to top up for another 2 or 3 the weeks. How do I do not that paying cash. Does your machine accept cash.

  742. Hi,

    Ticket machines accept cash and cards.

  743. Hi!
    I work in a hotel as supervisor. Our customers usually abandon their unwanted Oyster when they leave. So our guys collected about 50 in last year. Is there any chance to get the £5 refund and have a nice staff drink?

  744. Hi Steve,

    I’m not sure. If they are visitor cards then no. Visitor cards have a £3 activation fee which is not refundable. If they are normal blue cards then I think they need to be registered before a refund can be made, and then only to the registered owner.

  745. I topped up my Oyster card in a shop this morning of £5.00 and have not used it yet I’m due into work soon and need to get a bus but when I looked to check my balance online it isn’t showing up

  746. Hi Stephanie,

    Transactions from shops are often the slowest to make it through to the central system. The balance will update online shortly after you use it, or by tomorrow when the shop transaction gets through. As long as your balance wasn’t negative before the top up you will still be able to make one more bus journey in the unlikely event that something went wrong with the top up.

  747. Hi, my son has an 11-15 zip oyster which he has only ever used on buses. We are going to London on Wednesday, according to TFL the off peak price is 75p with his Oyster, how do we pay this fare? Do I add credit to his oyster, is this possible?

  748. Hi Miranda,

    Yes. Credit can be added at ticket machines and ticket stop shops in the same way as adults do. You’ll need £1.50 for the day no matter how many journeys you make.

  749. Hi,

    When doing a top up is there a difference between Kings X and StP – do I have to touch my card at different places?


  750. Hi Chris,

    Some London terminals are combined with their Underground equivalent for topup collection purposes. I’m not sure whether that applies at Kings Cross or not, or even whether St Pancras is included as well. If you can I would select the correct station. If you are arriving on a long distance train and going to the Underground then choose Kings Cross St Pancras Underground station.

  751. So which do I choose KGX or STP as there are 2 different options in the drop down list!

  752. Hi Chris,

    Ah, they’ve changed the list since the last time I used it. Kings Cross says National Rail or Underground whereas St Pancras International says National Rail (or separately HS1). So if you want the Underground you’ll need to select Kings Cross.

  753. Hello. Can any one help me. I have my oyster card linked to an automatic topup on my debit card. My debit card expired Jan 2015 and at that time TFL sent me an email saying my card had expired and to change my card details on the system. I did not read that email (thinking it was just another one of those boring emails telling me my card had automatically topped up). Since then my card has automatically been topping up £40 at a time. So that has been for over 12 months now. Today I received an email saying I owed £240 to Oyster and they were cancelling my card.
    It seems absurd that my card would keep topping up even though the card it was linked to was no longer in use!
    TBH I dont care if I can’t use my Oyster card anymore as I will just use contactless credit card. But am I liable for this £240 payment? Can TFL take me to court over it?

  754. Have you used most of those top ups to travel over the year? Yes, you do have to pay. I am also surprised that they carried on topping up. Usually they cancel the card if you ignore the first failed auto top up notification. However, you are still liable to repay everything you’ve used less the remaining balance on the card and the deposit, if there was one.

  755. Manual top-up website details are wrong. It says…”Online at the Oyster website. Follow the same steps 1-8 above, “. Well, if you read what steps 1-8 will do, you will find that you have just configured Auto-Topup which is probably not what you wanted to do.

  756. Hi Mike,

    Nice selective quoting there. After the comma it says “but only select an amount to top-up (you can also add just £5 if not adding auto top-up).” I think this makes it clear that you are not setting up auto topup.

  757. Hello, quick question please.

    Once I have activated my auto top up (at tube station) will all consecutive auto top ups work from the bus as I only use the bus to travel?

    Thanks so much

  758. Hi Melanie,

    Yes, once activated auto top-up works everywhere.

  759. Hi Mike

    I lost a oyster card which I believe is an unregistered oyster card. However in the past I have used my debit card to top it up but only at a tube station on the machines. I’m a little concerned my bank details could be hacked. Since its unregistered I can’t get it cancelled. Can you advise in any way?

  760. Hi Joanna,

    The debit card details are not stored on the Oyster card, so simply having your lost Oyster card will not enable anyone to get hold of your details. I’m not even convinced that the payment card details are retained once the funds have been transferred to TfL. The only benefit someone finding your card could get is your unused PAYG balance and the deposit.

  761. Hi Mike.

    Thank you for getting back to me. Thank you so much. There was actually a negative balance on the card but I was just concerned people could get hold of and use my details.

  762. Ah, well you haven’t lost that much then.

  763. I topped up with 20.00 at a shop today…but it is not reflected in my online balance? Do I have to make a journey for it to be showing online?

  764. Hi Andrew,

    Sorry for the delay responding. You’ve probably now seen the answer which is that shop terminals often only update the central Oyster system at the end of the day. If you’d used the card in the meantime then that would have updated the balance. It was always on your card though, so no need to worry.

  765. Chloe Marie

    I brought an oyster card in wembley to use to travel on the tube, but as i live in surrey i need to use it more for busses. however when i go to top it up it says that i can’t touch in on busses? is there a setting i need to change?
    Thank you 🙂

  766. Hi Chloe,

    There could be a couple of issues. What part of Surrey are you trying to use the Oyster in? Are the buses run on behalf of TfL (are they red with a white roundel on the sides)? If they are not then Oyster isn’t valid on those buses. If they are TfL buses then it looks like your Oyster card has no money on it so you need to top up.

  767. Help! My son is in London on his own staying in a host house and travelling by bus to a summer school. He has asked me to top up his Oyster card – but when I go on-line to do this I think I would have to nominate an underground station for him to go to activate the top up. He can’t do that – he’s not near one. What can I do?

  768. Hi Kim,

    If you top up online then yes, you do need to receive the top up as part of a rail (or tram) journey. You’ll need to transfer the money to him another way so he can top up at a newsagent or other Oyster outlet.

  769. Hi,
    I topped up my oyster card from a shop today around 7.00 pm. But when I checked the details online around 11.00 pm the amount has not come up to my online system. How can this happen ?

  770. Hi Dam,

    Transactions made in shops will often not be reflected on the online system until the next day. The topup will be on your card though. If you use the card in the meantime the balance will be updated online, but the topup will still not show properly.

  771. Hi Mike, last night at the tube station I was in the process of topping up my oyster, I touched on and used my debit card after I entered my pin a man came up and touched his oyster card on so I was unable to do mine. I immediately called the staff over and he said I wouldn’t be charged, meanwhile the man who had touched his on was showing me that he didn’t get my money and he only had £2.50 on his. He said he thought I had finished but I so obviously hadn’t. The tfl guy told me I had to do the transaction again so I did. It was for £20, but today I have £40 pending on my account, I was so angry with the man I’m sure he was trying to rob me but the tfl mam wasn’t at all bothered. Thanks

  772. Hi Jodi,

    I can understand your frustration. It’s just possible that the man was trying to rob you, but as you can see the system is wise to the fact that a different Oyster was offered after payment and didn’t complete the transaction. The fact that he hung around to prove that he didn’t get your top-up suggests that it probably was a mistake.

    As to the extra £20, the 2nd FAQ covers this scenario. You won’t be charged twice.

  773. Hi Mike.

    I’ve just registered my daughters Oyster Zip so that I can setup auto-top-up. Eventually, I’ll have to add one for each of my four children and this got me thinking – how will I tell them apart?

    Is there a way to label/name each card registered to my account? If not – what are the changes this can be added in a future update? I’m sure I am not the only person who would value this.

    Thanks in advance. Tony.

  774. Hi Tony,

    I agree it would be a good move. There was an app which I used for a while which did allow you to name the cards, but it doesn’t seem to exist anymore.

  775. Hi Mike,
    On 27.08 at the crofton park station oyster card maschine took my 20GBP, I’m now back in the Netherlands. How can I raise a complain about that? Thank you

  776. Hi Karolina,

    Can I clarify exactly what has happened? You tried to top up with £20 but it failed? Has the transaction actually appeared on your statement as a confirmed sale?

  777. I tried to top up my oyster from East Croydon station on 3rd Sept for £15 but it failed saying “sorry unable to topup Oyster”(Similar message). So I did it again with £15 and it was successful. But today when I checked my account, there are 2 debit for £15 from southern railway on 3rd Sept. I should get my money back for the failed topup. Where can I launch my complaint? Please help.

  778. Hi Sameer,

    Are both debits confirmed transactions, or is one of them pending? A failed topup will have authorised which leaves a pending transaction for upto a week, but this drops off when it isn’t claimed.

    If it has genuinely been charged twice then you can call Southern customer services. If no joy there you can dispute the charge with your bank.

  779. I made a top up on Monday (11/09/16) of £10 each using my debit card on two Oyster cards (totalling £20) but I did not touch the second round. Now my bank balance has been reduced by £20. I have called my bank and they said it is a pending transaction and that Oyster can refund me anytime. I have also called Oyster but they told me they needed prove that my balance has been deducted. But because it is a pending transaction, it is not reflected in my statement. Right now I’m really upset as well because I have to close my bank account by Friday (16/09/16) because I’ll be leaving the UK the next day. Please help me.

  780. Hi Jovynn,

    If you didn’t complete the transaction then it won’t be confirmed and will fall off your bank balance in about a week. There’s nothing you can do to speed that up, sadly.

  781. Update on my post on 8th Sept for oyster recharge failed but deducted the money….. I yet to get my refund. I called southern customer care,they are saying they can not help…I need to check with TFL!!!

  782. Hi Sameer,

    You didn’t answer whether both transactions are appearing as proper transactions or whether one is just pending. If both transactions are proper and are shown as Southern Rail then you do have a claim with them. If they refuse then I would call your bank and dispute the charge.

    If one charge is pending then it will drop off any day now and the reserved funds will be available to you again. You won’t actually see a refund transaction, but you also won’t see the second debit transaction either.

  783. Hello,
    I live miles away from London and have not used my oyster card for a few years. It is registered but I cant remember my user name to top up online. How can I check the balance and then top up?

  784. Hi Tony,

    If you know the answer to the security question then the helpdesk will be able to confirm the balance. They may also be able to help with logging in. You now use an email address rather than a username, so all may not be lost.

  785. Good evening. I have just received my 18+ photocard through mail and it has been loaded with £5. Must i only start my journey from an underground or tfl rail ? Can i start using it on a bus ? Thank you.

  786. You can start using the card on any mode of transport.

  787. So if someone has an Oyster that needs to be topped up, and plans for a night bus journey at 2:00 after midnight, is he stuck for the night if he hasn’t topped up AND activated before?

  788. Hi Shimmy,

    It depends on the exact circumstances. If the Oyster card has between £0 and £1.45 inclusive then he can make one bus journey which will put the card balance negative. If the card is already negative then he will have to find an outlet to top up before he can travel. I’m not sure what you mean by activated unless you are refering to an online topup. If that is the case then yes, the card would need to be used at the nominated rail or tram station/stop before the topup is loaded. There are places in Central London where topups can be made through the night. Also rail/tube/dlr stations if there is a ticket machine outside the station buildings.

  789. Hi, Mark

    My son’s 11-15 Zip expired at the end of Sept and there is some credit left in it. Now he is using 16+. I would like the outstanding balance to be transferred to his new card. When he goes to the nominated station to pick up, can he just touch in and out at the same station without making an unnecessary journey? Will he be charged for the maximum fee in this case? Or can he ask the station staff to cancel the entry charge as you advised earlier to a query? Many Thanks!

  790. Hi Daisy,

    That advice is actually very old as it relates to when there were ticket offices at tube stations. However, I believe they should be able to cancel the entry charge on the ticket machines using their staff menu. If the credit was on the 11-15 card when you applied for the 16+ card then it should have been transferred automatically by loading the new card with it. If you added the credit afterwards then the helpline should be able to arrange to transfer it, or they may arrange for it to be refunded to you if you explain that he rarely makes train journeys.

  791. Hi,
    I visited London a few weeks ago and the first time I topped up my own and my girlfriends oyster card I never tapped a second time. I used my Debit card. But the money is still marked as out of my account on my online bank statement. It says above it should have refunded after 3 or so business days but it’s been around 3 weeks now. I refunded the cards and gave them back when we left London. Is there anything I can do at this stage?

  792. Hi Kevin,

    You can call your bank and query the pending transaction. It normally should have been cleared by now.

  793. Hello,

    I topped up on Saturday the 8th in Kings Cross but forgot to tap after I had paid by card. The amount has been taken from my bank account, how do I go about getting a refund please? After I realised my mistake I then topped up by another £5 which has also been taken from my account.

    Thanks very much,


    Thank you very must.

  794. Hi Alice,

    Don’t panic just yet. The amount has been authorised but not yet taken. The failed amount won’t be taken and the authorisation will be reversed later this week.

  795. Hi Mike,
    I repeat my problem.
    “On 27.08 at the crofton park station oyster card machine took my 20GBP”
    You said:
    Hi Karolina,
    Can I clarify exactly what has happened? You tried to top up with £20 but it failed? Has the transaction actually appeared on your statement as a confirmed sale?
    My answer is:
    I went thru all the steps, and on the end I should have touched my card and received money back as I wanted to top up 5 pounds. I touched and I heard the notice like the money (my change) was going out, but it didn’t. I thought ok, it just didn’t give me the change. I was in hurry so I toped up my boyfriend card with exact 5 pounds and we rushed for the train. While trying to check in my card didn’t work (no money), so the machine took whole 20 pounds and didn’t give any credits. I’m sure someone can check if the machine had 20 pounds extra. Could you please advise?
    Thank you

  796. Hi Karolina,

    I’m so sorry, I didn’t realise it was actual bank notes. Usually this problem is with credit/debit cards.

    I agree that the machine should have been over that day, and that this should have been noted. Crofton Park is run by Govia Thameslink Railway, so I suggest you contact them. Make it absolutely clear that you inserted a £20 note and didn’t get any change, or a top up. Oyster would normally be referred to TfL, but as this is an issue with the actual ticket machine, Thameslink need to respond. This page on their website gives all the details of how to contact them.

  797. Hi Mike

    I have made a web top-up for my Oyster selecting “Saint Pancras International HS1” as the collection point.
    However I am unable to find where this is as the closest tube entrance from the Eurostar arrival hall in “Kings Cross”.
    Any idea where is this “SPC HS1” collection point in the station or where I could get this info ? I still have 4 days remaining to collect my purchase before it is refunded.

    Thanks in advance.


  798. Hi Jean-Michel,

    That is a very specific gateline leading to the Southeastern High Speed trains to Stratford International. It is platforms 11-13 at St Pancras International. The single fares are £5.40 peak and £3.80 off-peak. If you don’t want to make that journey then you probably need to let the order run out so it can be refunded.

  799. Hi mike,
    I’ve just recently received my student oyster photo card and purchased a monthly travel card online, but when it says to activate it at a chosen station does that mean that I have to place the photo card on the yellow card readers on the barriers that let you in and out the station? and do I get an actual travel card after it is activated or do I just use my photo card as the travel card?
    I’m not used to ordering online and its my first time to activate a product ordered online so I’m a bit confused.

    Thank you.


  800. Hi Angel,

    Your photocard is a special Oyster card which can store travelcards and PAYG credit. Once you touch in for the first time at your nominated station the travelcard is loaded onto the photocard. You don’t get an actual paper travelcard, but inspectors have a handheld machine that can tell what is on your photocard.

  801. Dear Mike,

    Thank you very much.

  802. Hi Mike,

    I’m trying to set up the auto top up for my boss and I’m confused as doing it online, he was charged the £10. He just tried to initiate it at the right station and he said it prompted him to pay another £10. It’s possible he was incorrect, but as I’ve never done it, can you please explain exactly how it works? He initiates it on a yellow card reader and then.. walks away? I need to know exactly how he has to address this for this to work. Thanks!

  803. Hi Angel,

    He needs to pick it up as part of a journey. When he touches in or out at that station the system will add the top up to his balance. Online top up doesn’t work at ticket machines. Hope that helps.

  804. Hi Mike,
    My wife and son have gone to Great Ormond St Hospital for 2 weeks of treatment and we organised Oysters for both, my son with a Zip 11-15. We selected Victoria as the activating station when adding the credit, however, my sons Zip card would not activate, it just said ‘seek assistance’. As Victoria was very busy, due to all the engineering works diverting the trains there, my wife could’nt find anyone to ask. A tourist gave them his travelcard, so they continued to GOSH. What can they do now to activate his Oyster? Do they still have to go to Victoria or can they activate it at Holborn or Russell Sq underground?
    Many thanks for your help.

  805. Hi Simon,

    First question is did you select Victoria NR or Victoria LU? Did your son touch in at the start of the journey? Was there any credit on the card at that time? Sorry for the number of questions, but I’m not clear what has happened without more information.

    The top up does have to be activated at the selected station, either on touch in or touch out as part of a journey. I think it is likely that the card has a negative balance if it came up with seek assistance. The best course of action right now is to go to an Underground station and try and add some cash at a ticket machine. You can also check the journey history. If you need help then the visible staff in the ticket hall will be able to help. There is a possibility that the card may be faulty, though I’ve not heard this before with a brand new card.

    Hope this helps.

  806. Hi Mike, thanks for the informative website. I will be in London on 28th November and plan on doing an online top up so it is ready to collect on my first journey.

    When I top up online, is the top up available 8 days from day I do the online top up or 8 days from the day it becomes available to collect when I touch in or out at the tube gates? I’d hate to have to go through the whole process again for the sake of waiting an extra day or two.

  807. Hi Phil,

    It’s 8 days starting with the day it becomes available.

  808. Hi Mike, today afternoon i tried to top up my oyster card at plumstead station. I touched on the yellow reader, i selected 20 pounds, insterted my card. Paid it, said remove the card and touch on the reader. when i touched on the reader said error with my oyster card. i touched again it cam up my old balance that was -1,50 but they took the 20 pounds from my bank card. what can i do how can i get my money back?

  809. Hi Lore,

    The amount was authorised but will not be collected. It should drop off your account within the next week.

  810. Hi guys. Could someone explain me please. Why there is no way (or maybe is?) to top up Oyster card online without “Select your activation station” I only use buses and don’t want to visit any activation station.

  811. Hi Dayrider,

    The top up has to be made at a pre-arranged station so that it can be stored on that station’s server until you pick it up. All the readers at that station talk to the same local server so they can ensure that it is only picked up once. You cannot predict in advance which physical bus you will be on hence you can’t activate on a bus.

  812. Thanks Mike. I thougt that I can just send money transfer to their system. Oyster has unique number I suppose. Looks like there is no online connection to the readers in the buses. Have cctv online connection to the security station?

  813. Hi dayrider,

    I’ve no idea about CCTV. The money actually has to be recorded on your physical Oyster card which is why it has to be picked up at a station or tram stop.

  814. Thanks Mike. Could someone explain “same station exit” case. When you touch in Oyster, changed your mind and immediatelly touch out. Why they charge card and how much it takes?

  815. The charges are levied to protect against mis-use of the system. How much is deducted depends on a number of factors, but the Same Station Exit page explains the general principles.

  816. I was overcharged on exiting Wimbledon (from East Putney) last week, allegedly for touching a pink reader. I used the only reader I could see and the time I left the station is recorded, yet I was still charged £5.30 for a £1.70 fare. This put me in the red, so I am now unable to make a refund claim online until I top up. So I topped up at my local shop a couple of hours ago and the credit hasn’t yet been added to my account (will it ever be? Or is there always a delay?). So I am still trapped in the Kafka-esque world of Oyster. My only option seems to be to make a complaint.

  817. Hi Peter,

    Are you saying that you exited the station after touching a pink reader, but without touching any reader on the gatelines? If yes, then that is the problem because pink readers will never end a journey, so the incomplete journey charge remains. Shop top ups usually update the central system overnight, but the credit will be on your card. If you use the card then the revised balance will get to the central system a lot quicker. As for sorting out the refund, you can always call the helpdesk and explain what you did. They will almost certainly arrange a credit to be picked up from a station of your choice.

  818. Hi, I purchased a monthly travel card online, on Sunday 29th Jan 17, I had an email confirming it was ready at my chosen station. I went to my chosen station this morning, and touched in to begin my journey, however the increased balance did not show up, it was the same as before. Do you think something has gone wrong? Many thanks for your help.

  819. Hi Lorna,

    Sorry for the delayed reply. A travelcard is a ticket, it doesn’t add to the PAYG balance. You should now find that journeys within your chosen zones are free.

  820. I have been able to to up my oyster card using green Rail Travel Vouchers issued when occasionally delayed by National Rail TOCs. I get the impression there may be different opinions among staff about whether this should be / is possible, but I have been able to do it.
    Not all TOCs who run ticket offices at stations which also offer TFL services will allow oyster top up (regardless of payment method) at their ticket windows however, and obviously there is no way to use the vouchers on the self service machines. Is there a list anywhere of those TOCs/stations that do?

  821. Hi Jon,

    Yes, it’s here under NR Stations Issuing Oyster Cards.

  822. Hi,

    I have just topped up my oyster card for a visit to London tomorrow. However I stated I wanted to activate it at Euston (National Rail) station as that is where our train arrives. I have now just read that you need to activate it at the start of your journey and I am not travelling from there so should have chosen Euston Underground. What can I do?

  823. Hi Amanda,

    If you ordered the top up today then it is possible that the helpdesk can cancel it, but I’m not 100% on that. If it was yesterday or before then they definitely can’t cancel it. In either case if you don’t pick it up by touching at Euston then it will automatically be refunded after 8 days.

    If the order cannot be cancelled then you will have to top up at a ticket machine when you arrive because you can’t have more than one top up instruction at different stations at the same time. You can still use credit/debit cards at station ticket machines.

  824. Thanks or getting back to me.
    Would it work if I swiped my card as I left Euston station even though i have not made a journey using the oyster card to get there?

  825. Hi Amanda,

    No, and yes. It would add the top up but it would then charge an incomplete journey which you’d need to get refunded by the helpdesk.

  826. Hi,
    Today I topped up my oyster card at the station and it failed for two times. Then I move to the other machine and finally, it was successful for the third time. Although in the first and second attempt it notified me that no charge may apply on my Debit card now I can see that It reduced 3 times off my Debit card according to my bank account, however, I cannot see the transaction because of the weekend.
    what should I do now? will this amount be refunded?

  827. Hi Fati,

    The two failed transactions have been authorised, but they will not be collected from your bank. The authorisations will drop off after about a week.

  828. Hello,
    I was wondering if I would be able to top-up my 11-15 Oyster Photocard at a TfL Ticket Machine?

  829. Hi Scott,

    Yes you can.

  830. Hi, I topped up my Oyster card yesterday for my wife to use today from London Bridge (National Rail). The top up has not been triggered when she used the card at London Bridge an hour or so ago. What should I do? Many thanks. Peter

  831. Hi Peter,

    There are a number of things which might have gone wrong. Did you request the top up after 11pm? If not, did you receive an email about 2am confirming that it is ready to pick up? If you did, did she use a gate at the National Rail station, or was it the Underground?

    On a practical level, the top up will be refunded if it isn’t picked up within 8 days. She can always top up at a ticket machine if desperate. She can use credit/debit cards or cash.

  832. Hi,
    I topped up my oyster on the machine at Uxbridge station with my bank card. After entering my pin it froze tben said payment had been cancelled but after checking mu bank acc the money has been taken out but oyster not topped up.
    Any advice? Thanks

  833. Hi Rebecca,

    The transaction has been authorised but will not be collected. It will drop off your bank account in about a week.

  834. Hi,

    I am arriving at Euston on Friday morning and the only tfl journey I will be making that day will be a transfer to Paddington either by bus or Circle/H&C from Euston Square.

    On Monday I will be back in London and making an unspecified number of journeys.

    My current balance is £2.85.

    If I add a £10 top up to be activated at Paddington on Monday will I be able to make the journey to there on Friday using what I already have or does the activation of the top up have to be the first journey made after I purchase it?

    Can you also clarify that I can make the journey to Paddington with only £2.85 to my name?

    I know I have enough to cover either the tube or bus fare but don’t know if you have to have a minimum amount of spare ‘change’ on your card at any one time. (Tube travel will leave me with only 45p left).


  835. Hi Martin,

    Yes, £2.85 will be fine to make the tube journey on Friday. If you have already ordered the top-up then it may well get added when you touch out at Paddington. It will only be added at Paddington though, so touch in at Euston Square will be completely unaware of the pending top-up at Paddington.

  836. Hi, i topped up payg online of £45 but I did not activate within the 8 day period at my selected ststion as i did not travel. Will the money be automatically refunded to my Oyster card or my bank card or do I need to contact Oyster direct to do it? I have since topped up £40 again but the £45 did not show up when activated at my chosen station. Can you clarify please.

  837. Hi Brett,

    If the 8-day acivation period is exceeded then the order is cancelled. The refund will be back to the bank/card used originally to pay for the order. It may take a few days to arrive. I would have thought that you ought to get an email confirming what was happening. You certainly do when you activate the top up, confirming that the balance has been increased.

  838. Hi, daft one this. I bought an Oyster Visitor Card in Sheffield years ago and still use it on my trips to London (once or twice a year) but I cant do auto top-up with it, so I have to manually top up each time. Can I top up at the ticket machines at Sheffield National Rail station before I go or just have to do it when I get to London?

  839. Hi Mark,

    You can’t top up at Sheffield, no.

  840. Hi, I’ve just got a 5-10 Zip Oyster card for my daughter. Do I need to put money on it to use it? Everywhere we will be travelling will be free (I know there are exceptions, but we won’t be using those in the near future). Just wanted to make sure we can use it without having to have any money on it. I did read that you have to tap in and out with it when you travel, even on the buses and trams, which are free anyway. Thanks.

  841. Hi Mel,

    There is no need to top up a 5-10 zip card unless you want to use one of the few services where payment is required.

  842. Hiya

    I topped up my pay as you go oyster card today at a train station using my bank card, the first transaction was accepted but it wasn’t updated on my oyster so I had to do it again. will I be charged for two payment if so how do I get my money back because I didn’t receive a receipt

  843. Hi Sash,

    As long as the ticket machine knows that the update to the Oyster card failed then you won’t get charged twice. Both transactions will have been authorised but the first one will not be claimed and the authorisation should drop off after about a week.

  844. Loh Mei Zhen


    I am.a visitor to UK, it seems that i tried topping up my oyster visitor card with my credit card, and it was approved. But it seems that my oyster card didn’t get topped up as it still.showed i have -4.30. What should i do as i didn’t have a receipt and how can i get a refund?

  845. Hi Loh Mei Zhen,

    Although the transaction was approved, if it didn’t get loaded to the card you will not be charged. It may look like you’ve been charged on your card, but that charge will drop off after about a week.

    When you top up at a machine, remember to put the Oyster card back against the reader until the machine confirms that the top up has successfully loaded.

  846. Dilys Shepherd

    I am an infrequent visitor to London and need to change the top up point as I arrive in London (on my Oyster). I cant find where I can do this on the online Oyster site – is there a way of doing this please?

  847. Hi Dilys,

    The nominated station is no longer required as top ups and refunds are both now available throughout the system. I do need to update my page though, so thanks for the nudge.

  848. Dilys Shepherd

    Thanks Mike!

  849. I’m totally confused. I’ve just got a zip16+ and have topped it up £20 was told on the phone that I could activate it the same day at a train station. But I only want the card to use on the bus. I went to the station and was told I had to put another £5 on as the card hadn’t topped up yet. I tapped in and the gentleman cancelled by trip as I didn’t need to go anywhere I just needed to activate it does that mean that when my £20 goes I don’t have to activate it. Thank u

  850. Hi Amanda,

    Something appears to have gone wrong here. If you order top up online or over the phone then it needs to be collected as part of a rail journey. You should be able to collect it at any station from 30 minutes after the order is placed. This is the new system which started earlier in the summer. They do intend it to be available on buses as well, but not until later in the year.

    How did you add the new £5? You shouldn’t have needed to do that as the top up was waiting for you to touch on a gate. I think you now should have £25 on there.

  851. Hi Mike, my balance is still only showing as £5. The man at the station did say it only takes 30 mins to show but still nothing only the £5 that I done at the station with him. It did say online when I topped it up that I had to activate it from 11th-18th but nothing is showing on my balance yet. Will I still need to go to the station to activate it when it appears. I’m totally confused I only want it for the bus to college. Thank u

  852. Hi Amanda,

    Having 8 days to activate (pick up) the top up is the old system. Did you have to select a station? I’m really not sure what has happened here. The 11th is only today though, so it may get picked up if you make a rail journey now. If it doesn’t get picked up then you will get your money back, probably just after the 18th.

    For future reference, online top ups are not suitable for people who only use the bus, at the moment. When the pick up is rolled out to buses later this year it will be.

  853. Hi Mike, thank you for your help. So how do I top up my card to use on the bus?. Also can I just get the train attendant to cancel my journey once I have tapped in as I don’t need to go anywhere on a train.

  854. Hi Amanda,

    You can top up at Oyster ticket stops (local shops eg newsagents) or the ticket machines at any rail station in the Oyster area. These top ups get added to your card at the time so you can just use them. For the £20 already ordered, you can ask the attendant if they’ll cancel the touch in, but this isn’t a practice that is encouraged. You’ll have more luck if the station is quieter. If you don’t pick it up it will get refunded back to your bank.

  855. Hi Mike. On Saturday 14th I attempted to top up my oyster card using a new £5 note at the oyster ticket machine at Greenwich DLR station. Once the £5 note was taken the screen continued to show they payment options before timing out. I tried pressing the return cash button but had no luck in getting back my £5. The machine took the money without putting it on my oyster card. I am therefore £5 short. Do you know of anyway I can get that money back?

  856. Hi Megan,

    Assuming that this was a DLR machine then contact the helpdesk to see what to do. If it was a Southeastern ticket machine then you’ll need to contact Southeastern.

  857. I topped up my Pay as you go oyster at a train station and forgot to tap the card the second time to add the top up. Why did it take my money and gave my change back with it activating on my card. Abit stupid isn’t? Just making our journeys harder and confusing than they already are. How do I get my money back or can I top up my card with the money it’s already taken from me?

  858. Hi Aneesa,

    Unfortunately this is the way it has to be. If it added the credit before taking the money people wouldn’t pay. It could potentially have withheld your change, but most people paying by cash will be adding the value of the note they insert. To get your money back you’ll need to contact the company who operates the ticket machine. You may simply be able to go to the ticket office, or they may be able to give you a number to call.

  859. Out of interest, are PAYG Oyster Cards capable of holding more than £90?

    I know that is the top-up limit (and pending top-ups are taken into account), but it’s always phrased as the maximum amount an Oyster card is able to hold, and I am slightly curious as to whether there are any circumstances where it wouldn’t apply. For example, a digital top-up performed while mid journey with the maximum fare having been deducted, refunds being issued and picked up at barriers, peculiarities with Auto Top Up, or two top-ups being initiated via different methods at the same time e.g. £50 via Oyster Vending Machine, £50 booked for collection via TFL site/Oyster app.

    No particular reason for asking other than curiosity, by the way.

  860. Hi Chris,

    I believe £90 is the maximum. If you ordered £50 online and then added £50 at a ticket machine before starting a journey then I reckon the online order would fail and you’d get a refund a few days later. Auto topup on it’s own would never fail and neither would a digital topup mid journey because the maximum you can top up in either case is well below £90.

  861. hi, regarding autotopup shouldn’t the £10 point at whcih the topup is triggered be increased , since alot of fares are more than £10 now such as london to gatwick, you could board with £10.50 on your card and technically not have enough credit to complete your journey?

  862. Hi John,

    I’m sure that the £10 limit will get reviewed at some point. For me the bigger problem is that at Gatwick at certain times and at Victoria P13/14 you can be denied entry when your card has auto topup set because the threshold required on the card is over £10.

  863. I have a visitor oyster card which I plan to top up online and my mum has a regular oyster card that has arrived through the post with money already on it. Will we need to activate either of the cards when we get to London? We are arriving at Euston but going to the hotel first before getting the tube from Russell Sq.

  864. Hi Claire,

    Both cards can be used straight away as long as they have credit on them. The one small issue for you is that visitor cards cannot be topped up online. You can top up at Euston when you arrive, either the National Rail ticket machines, the Underground ticket machines or the TfL Visitor Centre off the main concourse.

  865. Hi, I have just got a 16+ zip for my son who will be using it for bus travel from Epsom to Kingston. Having added credit to the card for his journey on Monday, it tells me the card needs activating but only from a train station. I have selected our local train station to activate it but it is not a manned station so there will be noone to help me with my query – do I just scan it once to activate it but then also do I get charged as no actual journey will be being made? Once I’ve done this once, can the credit start being used immediately and is there any time frame by when it needs using up? Thanks in advance!

  866. Hi Fezza,

    I’m slightly confused here. Topups can be collected on buses or trains, but only as part of a journey. You don’t need to specify a station anymore. I’m not aware that a card needs activating, and two of my sons have had 16+ zip cards. Did you order the credit as part of the order for the card? I wonder if there’s a different issue at play here. If you can tell me the exact order you have done things so far I may be able to work it out.

  867. Mell Stewart

    Hi Mike,

    Is it possible to buy top up vouchers? Am supporting some young people with work experience placements over summer and it would be good to find a way to support their travel expenses without them having to come into my office and/or without me having to access/ask them to access their on-line accounts. Is there an on-line credit system similar to a ‘gift voucher’ or the pay as you go mobile phones system whereby I can give the YP a code/reference which will allow them to collect the top up I have purchased from any station? This would also be really helpful for the likes of my daughter who often arrives in London from uni to discover she hasn’t got enough on her oyster and doesn’t have any money on her!

  868. Hi Mell,

    Sorry for the delay. I’m not aware of any such schemes, but I agree something along the mobile topup lines could be a good idea.

  869. Hi,

    Can I put more than £50 on my oyster? I want to budget and would like to have the money all on my oyster for my travel that month. i’d like to top up £120. Is that possible?

  870. Hi Alice,

    The maximum PAYG credit is £90.

  871. Hello I’ve just topped up my Oyster card and it says I’ve got till the 5th of December to pick you up I’m not travelling till the 5th of December will that be end of business day on the 5th of December

  872. Hi Zoe,

    Yes, it will be available all day on the 5th.

  873. Iacopo Barlotti

    Hi, I’m trying to register my card on oyster.tfl.gov.uk/oyster/guest/registerCustomerCard.do
    but I always get the “Your phone number must only contain numbers and include a minimum of 11 digits. Please check your entry and try again” error.

    I’ve tryed a lot of numbers, even 0000000000000000, without spaces or else.
    What can I do?

  874. Hi Iacopo,

    I think all zeroes will be rejected as an invalid number. You need to put your real phone number in.

  875. Iacopo Barlotti

    Thanks, but I’m from Italy 🙂

    I finally managed to register with a London phone number

  876. Hi Iacapo,

    That explains it then. That’s a definite drawback of the current registration system which I wish they’d fix. There’s no reason why overseas people shouldn’t register their cards.

  877. Hi Mike,
    I’m trying to set up auto top up for my son’s 11-16 Zip and I can’t for the life of figure out how to do. This is a replacement card for one he lost and I managed to set it up on the previous one. I’ve gone to the account page, then gone through to ‘top up tay as you go or buy Travelcards’ but then I don’t get the option to set up autopay, just ‘pay as you go’, ‘travelcard,’ or ‘Bus and Tram’. I’ve gone round the house but am at a loss.

  878. Hi Saj,

    I’d be prepared to bet that auto topup is already set up. When they issue a replacement zip card they transfer as much as they can over. I’ve just logged into my son’s zip card and tried to add topup and I get the same options as you, but he does have auto top up set. Go back to the list of Oyster cards and see whether it mentions auto top up under the balance.

  879. ahh that could be it. Can”t see auto top up set up but i’ll know soon as his balance goes below the trigger.

  880. Hi there, I always top up my children’s Zip cards online, but recently, despite putting in my bank card details and receiving an email to confirm that my order was successful, the money is not actually being added to the cards, nor is the money being taken out of my account… any ideas?? TIA

  881. Hi Claire,

    That’s a weird one. I take it they try to collect within the 3 days after the order is placed? I think the helpdesk may have to look into that.

  882. Hello Mike,

    I have £30-odd worth of Rail Travel Vouchers issued as compensation for delayed journeys. I’d like to use them to top up my Oyster PAYG balance, however judging by the past comments it can be a bit of an adventure!

    I have come across this at c2c’s website: “You can also use the vouchers to top up your Oyster card at Fenchurch Street, Limehouse, Barking and Upminster.”

    Are you aware of any other stations in central London where I can do it as much hassle-free as possible, or is Fenchurch St my best bet?

    Thanks ever so much

  883. Hi Jan,

    Marylebone and the Thameslink ticket office at St Pancras International should also be fine.

  884. Thank you, that’s amazing! As it happens, I usually arrive into Marylebone when I go to London – perfect. Thanks again!

  885. I topped up my oyster card at Ewell West train station and when held my oyster card to the reader to finish the transaction it said it has not been read properly and would not charge me and to try again. I then repeated this (both times typing my pin) and I have been charged twice but only got the one £10 top up, how do I get a refund?

  886. Hi Ellie,

    It’s extremely unlikely that you’ve actually been charged twice. Please read the second FAQ which covers this situation in detail.

  887. Hi Mike,

    Is there any way to top up an Oyster Card by an “unusual” amount?

    I have an odd balance of (at the time of writing) £2.76. I think a few years ago I used it for a river cruise, hence the odd amount. I also have a 26-30 railcard attached to the Oyster, which may mean some £x.x5 type fares (if that makes sense).

    Is there anyway of topping up my Oyster card so that it becomes an even amount?

  888. Hi Hamish,

    TOC ticket machines will let you add amounts ending in x.x0 and x.x5. Underground machines let you add odd coins but I don’t know whether they take bronze. Your best bet might be an Oyster ticket stop shop.

  889. Further to the above, Underground TVMs don’t take bronze (and many of them are increasingly not keen on 5p) and online top up is in multiples of £5 only and given this, I doubt a Visitor Centre would be much help either. I suspect an Oyster Ticket Stop is your only option.

  890. Now there are single fares on the Oyster network costing as much as £25, shouldn’t the minimum balance be equal to that?

    More concerning, I find it troubling that there stations where the entry charge is less than the minimum balance, but where the maximum possible fare is greater than the minimum balance. For example, you’d be allowed to touch in with £10.01 at a Central London station (and your card wouldn’t be topped up), but if checked by an RPI immediately prior to arrival at Gatwick in the peak, you’d potentially be subjected to a Penalty Fare for having an insufficient balance.

    In my opinion, Auto Top-Up as a scheme is no longer fit for purpose. It should either increase the minimum balance to be equal to the highest possible fare, or if that is too unpopular, invest in re-engineering the system so that the card is topped up to the maximum possible fare from the reader where it was touched in.

  891. Hi Mike,
    is it possible for TFL to bill me twice for auto top ? i just realised i have 2 transactions of auto top up on my bank statement when there was only one top up. I double checked my journey history on my Oyster account online and the top up is just once.

  892. Hello
    How do you stop auto top on a Oyster card?
    Many thanks

  893. Hi Martha,

    It is extremely unlikely. The most likely explanation is that the charge didn’t cancel the authorisation entry so it looks like you’ve been charged twice. The authorisation entry will be dropped after a few days. If this doesn’t answer it then query the second charge with your bank.

  894. Hi Stephen,

    You order a cancel auto-topup along with a normal manual topup from the TfL website.

  895. Hi Adam,

    I have a lot of sympathy with your points. I expect the minimum balance will rise at some point, but it may not be to as much as the maximum fare. The seamless interchanges provided by stations such as Farringdon mean that it’s possible to end up at Gatwick from just about anywhere without needing to exit from the system.

    I should also say that if I hear about someone being penalised when using auto topup I will offer to assist fighting the penalty. It would definitely be unfair.

  896. I’m planning on planning a journey into London at some point later this year or earlier next year. I usually top up online so that my credit is ready to collect a few days later on my arrival. Last time I was down there I had eight days from the online top up to collect it and I had to nominate a station for collection. Looking at your instructions, it looks as though there’s been quite a change.

    Now there are only four days to collect your top up (which won’t bother me, I shall just top up closer the date). Just to confirm I’m reading it correctly, I no longer have to nominate an underground station to collect my credit?

  897. Hi Phil,

    Yes, that’s correct. You can even pick it up on a bus now.

  898. Hi, My autotop which I have had for years has been removed – and even following the above sets, there seem no option for me to put it back onto my account.

  899. How do I know that my Seniors rail card has been added to my Oyster card.

  900. Hi Eileen,

    Sadly there is no customer facing way of telling. One of the staff at a tube station would be able to tell you, plus of course you will get discounted off-peak fares and caps.

  901. Hi Rallen,

    You still need to touch your card on a reader as part of a journey to activate the auto topup feature.

  902. Hello, I recharge my oyster with my bank card. He told me it was done, but when I used it it didn’t work and they deducted the money in the bank. any advice? thank you so much.

  903. Hi Robert,

    It’s probably not a proper charge, just an authorisation. It’s similar to the second FAQ.

  904. thank you so much! mike

  905. Hello Mike
    I’m going crazy try to find out how is the correct way to put the phone number, I’m getting “Your phone number must only contain numbers and include a minimum of 11 digits. Please check your entry and try again.” even if I put a valid london number. What is the right format to use?
    thank you

  906. Hi Lucia,

    Basically you don’t put any spaces or dashes, and make sure that zeros are 0 and not O. So the TfL main number would be entered as 02072221234.

  907. Hi. I set my son up with a 16+ zip Oyster card and I want him to be able to top it up online easily but as it’s in my name I always have to do it. I could give him my email and password but I’d like him to have his own log in so he can top up/pay as you go as and when he needs to. How do I do that please?

  908. Hi Carolyn,

    There are two sorts of accounts. One is the photocard account used to order zip cards or replacements etc which has to be in your name unless he’s over 18. The other is a standard Oyster account which can have blue Oysters and zip cards added to it. You can set one up in his name, but if the card is already attached to yours you’ll need to ask the helpdesk how to unattach it first. I’ve never done that myself.

  909. Hi Mike,

    Are you aware of issues with the TfL Oyster app in relation to Oyster Journey History for Oyster Cards?

    I’ve been intermittently getting blank journey history, and consistently getting significant delays in journey history being updated (usually overnight, rather than 15 minutes as it used to be). I have a second generation Oyster card (with a “D” on the reverse), and it used to work until recently, so that’s not the issue.

    The TfL App helpdesk say they’re aware of the former issue, which is caused by “the system used on the app being different to that of the web browser version of your account”.


  910. Hi Chris,

    I’m aware in so far as I sometimes get frustrated of an evening. It also affects history of Contactless cards too. However, during the day it usually seems to update in the normal timeframe.

  911. Hi,

    It seems to be behaving itself as of last week. (Now I say that!)

    Incidentally (and way too late now!), I saw your response to Eileen on 18 July 2019 12:38 pm. There’s no way to see on the online site that I know of, but if the Oyster card is tapped on a TfL LU ticket machine (with classic UI, not sure about the pilot ones such as at Heathrow T5), it does display “Railcard discounted” (or something like that) in small text at the top left. I believe this change was made fairly recently, I hadn’t noticed it before. I assume that applies to all types. That also disappears once the railcard expires.

  912. That’s good to know, thanks Chris.