The key smartcard
Answers to frequently asked questions on using the key smartcard when you travel in and out of London with Thameslink.
Getting the key
Can I still get The Key Smartcard if I don't have access to the website?
Can I transfer my paper Season ticket to my Key?
Yes, as long as you have at least one month’s validity remaining and the origin and destination stations of your ticket are Key Smartcard-enabled stations. You must also have purchased your ticket from one of our stations or from our website. Unfortunately it is not possible to transfer your Season ticket if it has been discounted.
You must also have purchased your ticket from one of our stations or from our website.
To transfer your ticket:
- Check that your origin and destination is available on The Key Smartcard by checking the map
- Apply for The Key Smartcard online
- Visit any staffed Great Northern, Southern or Thameslink ticket office outside of the London Travelcard area. See our map
We’ll then contact you when your Key is ready to be collected, usually within 5 working days.
Which Railcards can I use with the Key?
16 – 25 Railcard
26 – 30 Railcard
HM Forces Railcard
Disabled Persons Railcard
When applicable, railcards can be used with tickets bought for The Key Smartcard. Please ensure you select your railcard type when you buy your tickets at self-service machines. Railcard discounts are not valid on season tickets.
How do I find tickets for The Key Smartcard online?
How to buy new and replacement tickets
When you first register for your Key Smartcard, you can purchase a ticket at the same time which will be pre-loaded to your smartcard. It will be ready to use once received.
You can buy tickets online or from a ticket machine at one of our stations outside London. You can buy weekly, monthly or annual season tickets. Single and return tickets are only available to purchase at our ticket machines outside London.
When buying tickets online you need to:
- Log into your online account and select the Key Smartcard fares button on the main purchase screen
- Select your journey and choose a station to collect your ticket. Allow 2 hours before attempting collection from your nominated station
- At the station, touch your Key Smartcard on the card reader
When buying a smart ticket from a ticket machine, please note that these will be loaded immediately to your Key Smartcard.
Are the cheapest fares always available on The Key?
Can I buy a ticket for the Key on the train?
Can I buy tickets for The Key Smartcard from any other train operators or London Underground stations?
Is there a limit on how many tickets I can buy for the Key?
Will all ticket types be available on The Key Smartcard?
Registering the key
What details do you need when registering for a children’s Key Smartcard?
As a parent or guardian of a child aged 5 to 15 years, you’ll need to provide the same information online as you do to register as an adult – name, address, date of birth and contact details. However, you’ll also need to provide a passport-style digital photograph of them for their smartcard.
To complete a child’s registration you must also verify the child’s age at any staffed Great Northern, Southern or Thameslink ticket office along with proof of identification, such as a passport or birth certificate.
Using the key
Does everyone need to touch in and out with the Key?
What happens if my Key Smartcard stops working or my card wasn’t read properly when I touched in?
Where will I find Key card readers at stations?
Travelcards, Oyster cards, and other networks
Can I load Oyster pay as you go onto my Key Smartcard?
Will The Key work in London?
Can The Key be used on Gatwick Express services?
Can I use The Key Smartcard on other operator services?
Aside from travel within the London Travelcard area (with a valid travelcard ticket), your Key Smartcard is valid for travel with other train operators as follows (as long as you have a valid ticket):
- London North Eastern Railway – between London King’s Cross and Stevenage
- East Midlands Trains – between London St Pancras and Bedford
Replacing and transferring the key
How do I get a replacement Key Smartcard if it is lost or stolen?
If your Key Smartcard stops working or it’s lost or stolen, we’ll block the card and send a free replacement to your registered address. Just log in to your account to cancel and replace your existing smartcard. We’ll give you up to 2 free replacements over 12 months. Any subsequent replacements will need to be investigated and we may retain your Key Smartcard.
Whilst waiting for your new card to arrive you will need to buy paper tickets to travel. Please keep these tickets as you will be able to claim a refund for them on receipt of your replacement Smartcard.
Refunds will be processed at any Great Northern, Southern or Thameslink ticket office providing the season ticket is active at the time of loss. A £10 admin fee will be applied to all tickets as per our Smartcard refund policy.
Is my Key transferable to other people?
Refunds and compensation
Can I claim compensation for delayed journeys when travelling with The Key?
Yes, if your train journey is delayed by more than 15 minutes or more you can claim compensation under our Delay Repay scheme. With The Key Smartcard you can benefit from Auto Delay Repay. We can in many cases, tell when you may have been delayed and let you know when you’re owed compensation.
To claim compensation and for further information about Auto Delay Repay, please visit our Delay Repay page. We can also automatically notify you when we think you’ve been delayed. Just tick the box for Automatic Delay Repay in the preferences section of your online account.