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About The Key Smartcard

Want to know more about The Key Smartcard? Here's answers to frequently asked questions on using the Key Smartcard when you travel in and out of London with Thameslink.

Intro to the Key Smartcard

You can travel by train with The Key Smartcard at most stations on the Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink network, and you can travel on Gatwick Express if your ticket is valid on that service.

Our Key Smartcard works on the South Western Railway network as well, so you can tap in at any South Western Railway station. You can buy a South Western Railway Smart ticket on our website, load it on to your Key Smartcard, and collect it from any South Western Railway station.

Download the map for full details

Ticket type Buy online Buy at ticket machines (non Oyster machines only)
Annual season tickets and Travelcard season tickets for Tube, buses, London Trams, trains and the Docklands Light Railway  Yes No
Monthly or weekly season ticket  Yes Yes
Anytime single and return tickets  No Yes
Off-Peak single and return tickets  No Yes

When you buy a ticket online you must collect it from your chosen station. You can also purchase a ticket from any of our ticket machines outside of London.

*Super Off-Peak tickets are not currently available.

You can currently get a Key Smartcard, and purchase tickets for your Key Smartcard, from a member of staff at these ticket offices:

  • Alexandra Palace
  • Angmering
  • Arlesey
  • Arundel
  • Ashtead
  • Ashwell & Morden
  • Balcombe
  • Baldock
  • Balham
  • Barnham
  • Battersea Park
  • Beckenham Hill
  • Bedford
  • Bellingham
  • Berwick
  • Bexhill
  • Biggleswade
  • Billingshurst
  • Bognor Regis
  • Bowes Park
  • Brighton
  • Brookmans Park
  • Burges Hill
  • Buxted
  • Carshalton
  • Carshalton Beeches
  • Caterham
  • Catford
  • Cheam
  • Chichester
  • Chipstead
  • Christs Hospital
  • City Thameslink
  • Coulsdon South
  • Coulsdon Town
  • Crawley
  • Cricklewood
  • Crofton Park
  • Crowborough
  • Cuffley
  • Denmark Hill
  • Dorking
  • Dormans
  • Downham Market
  • Durrington on Sea
  • Earlswood
  • East Croydon
  • East Dulwich
  • East Grinstead
  • Eastbourne
  • Edenbridge Town
  • Elephant & Castle
  • Elstree & Borehamwood
  • Emsworth
  • Enfield Chase
  • Epsom
  • Eridge
  • Ewell East
  • Falmer
  • Farringdon
  • Finsbury Park
  • Flitwick
  • Ford
  • Gatwick Airport
  • Gipsy Hill
  • Gordon Hill
  • Goring by Sea
  • Grange Park
  • Hackbridge
  • Hadley Wood
  • Ham Street
  • Hampden Park
  • Harlington
  • Harpenden
  • Harringay
  • Hassocks
  • Hatfield
  • Haydons road
  • Haywards Heath
  • Hendon
  • Hertford North
  • Hitchin
  • Horley
  • Hornsey
  • Horsham
  • Hove
  • Huntingdon
  • Hurst Green
  • Ifield
  • Kenley
  • Kings Lynn
  • Kingswood
  • Knebworth
  • Lancing
  • Leagrave
  • Leatherhead
  • Letchworth Garden City
  • Lewes
  • Lingfield
  • Littlehampton
  • Littlehaven
  • London Blackfriars
  • London Road Brighton
  • London Victoria
  • Loughborough Junction
  • Luton
  • Luton Airport Parkway
  • Meldreth
  • Merstham
  • Mill Hill Broadway
  • Mitcham Eastfield
  • Mitcham Junction
  • Moulsecoomb
  • New Barnet
  • New Southgate
  • Newhaven Town
  • Norbury
  • North Dulwich
  • Nunhead
  • Oakleigh Park
  • Oxted
  • Palmers Green
  • Peckham Rye
  • Pevensey & Westham
  • Plumpton
  • Polegate
  • Portslade
  • Potters Bar
  • Preston Park
  • Pulborough
  • Purley
  • Purley Oaks
  • Queens Road Peckham
  • Radlett
  • Ravensbourne
  • Redhill
  • Reedham
  • Reigate
  • Riddlesdown
  • Royston
  • Rye
  • Salfords
  • Sanderstead
  • Sandy
  • Seaford
  • Selhurst
  • Shoreham By Sea
  • South Bermondsey
  • South Croydon
  • Southbourne
  • Southwick
  • ST Albans City
  • ST Neots
  • St Pancras
  • Stevenage
  • Streatham
  • Streatham Common
  • Streatham Hill
  • Sutton
  • Tadworth
  • Tattenham Corner
  • Thornton Heath
  • Three Bridges
  • Tooting
  • Tulse Hill
  • Uckfield
  • Upper Warlingham
  • Waddon
  • Wallington
  • Wandsworth Common
  • Watton at Stone
  • Welham Green
  • Welwyn Garden City
  • Welwyn North
  • West Hampstead Thameslink
  • West Norwood
  • West Worthing
  • Whyteleafe
  • Whyteleafe South
  • Winchmore Hill
  • Wivelsfield
  • Woldingham
  • Woodmansterne
  • Worthing

Which smart ticketing product is best for me? Compare The Key Smartcard and KeyGo bolt on feature.

Tickets available Key Smartcard KeyGo
Buy weekly, monthly or annual season tickets online Yes No
Weekly, monthly or annual Travelcard season tickets for the Tube, buses, trams, trains and the Docklands Light Railway Yes No
Anytime single and return tickets Yes No
*Off-Peak single and return tickets Yes No
Pay as you go No Yes

*Pay as you go on Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink.

KeyGo allows you to use your Key Smartcard for pay as you go travel on Southern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express and Great Northern services. If you have a season ticket already on your Key Smartcard, we’ll only charge you for travel you take outside of this on KeyGo.

If you add KeyGo to your card, you need to make sure that you tap in and out at the start and end of your trip to avoid being charged a £25 incomplete journey fee.

Find out more

Getting the key

Should you need to get a refund, simply log into your account and follow the easy steps. The money will be refunded directly to you.
The Key Smartcard is durable and easy to wipe clean with an anti-viral spray. Just don't put it in the washing machine!

If you are travelling on Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Thameslink and Southern you can set up a KeyGo account on your Smartcard which is similar to 'Pay as you go'. KeyGo will calculate the best day fare for your journeys based upon the tickets you could have purchased that day. You can also buy single and return tickets on the Key on self service ticket machines.

Find out more information on KeyGo.

The Key Smartcard is our contactless smartcard which means you can buy tickets at home and collect via the mobile app, or collect from a gate or validator at a station nominated by you. This will allow you to fast-track through the station and avoid queues at the ticket office.

Order your Key Smartcard here. Please allow 7 working days for your smartcard to arrive at your home address.

We also have Smartcard Kiosks at 12 of our stations where you can register and obtain a Key Smartcard there and then. Find out more about Key Smartcard kiosks here.

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.

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.

16 – 25 Railcard

26 – 30 Railcard

Senior Railcard

Annual Goldcard

Network 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.

Buying tickets

Tickets you buy online:

  • Flexi Season tickets
  • Season tickets

To buy Season tickets online you need to:

  • Under the Season tickets tab, select your journey and the ticket you require
  • If available, the Key Smartcard will be offered as a delivery option. Please note that only one ticket can be bought in a transaction to be offered the Key Smartcard as a delivery option
  • Continue by selecting your payment method. Login to your online account or register for an account to order a Key Smartcard
  • If you already have a Key Smartcard, choose a station to collect your ticket, then continue to payment. Allow 2 hours before attempting collection from your nominated station. At the station, touch your Key Smartcard on the card reader
  • If you have ordered a new Key Smartcard, continue to payment. Your Key Smartcard will be posted to you with your Season ticket pre-loaded and ready to use

From our Ticket Offices:

  • Singles and returns
  • Flexi Season tickets
  • Season tickets

From our self-service ticket machines:

  • Singles and returns
  • Season tickets

Our self-service ticket machines will have on screen instructions.

Not all fares are currently available on The Key Smartcard but more routes are becoming available on a monthly basis. Therefore in some cases alternative fares may be available on paper. If you are making an online purchase, the Key Smartcard will be offered as a delivery option if the fare is available.

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It is not possible to buy tickets on the Key Smartcard on the train. Please ensure you have bought a ticket for your Key Smartcard before travelling. You can buy tickets online or at any of our ticket machines outside the London area.
Yes you can. If another train operator can sell tickets onto Smartcards at the station, you will be able to buy tickets for your Key Smartcard. If you buy your ticket from another operator, you will need to revisit them if you need to refund or change your ticket.
The Key Smartcard can hold up to 5 tickets at a time. However, when buying online only one ticket can be purchased per transaction (at no additional cost). Our system has a limit on how many tickets can be uploaded to The Key Smartcard at a card reader from a single transaction. Additional tickets can be purchased after you’ve loaded a ticket on to your card at the card reader/validator. When buying from a ticket machine, you can buy multiple tickets.
We are working hard to enable more ticket types on The Key Smartcard. If the ticket you need isn’t available on The Key Smartcard, we recommend you continue to buy it on paper.
Ticket type Buy online Buy at ticket machines (non Oyster machines only)
Annual season tickets and Travelcard season tickets for Tube, buses, London Trams, trains and the Docklands Light Railway  Yes No
Monthly or weekly season ticket  Yes Yes
Anytime single and return tickets  No Yes
Off-Peak single and return tickets  No Yes

When you buy a ticket online you must collect it from your chosen station. You can also purchase a ticket from any of our ticket machines outside of London.

*Super Off-Peak tickets are not currently available.

Yes you can. If your Annual Season ticket is for travel in the South East of England, you will still receive your Gold Card discounts on leisure rail travel for yourself and others, if your Season ticket is on the Key Smartcard. The only difference is you will receive a separate Gold Record Card in the post from your Key Smartcard, and your actual season ticket for travel will be held on your smartcard. Use your Gold Record Card when buying discounted tickets for yourself and others.

For further information about Annual Gold Card discounts please visit National Rail Enquiries.

For season tickets held on The Key Smartcard, you may need to produce identification to prove that the card is yours. Suitable forms of identification include a pink photocard (which can be obtained from ticket offices), a passport or driving licence. If you are using your Key Smartcard for train travel on another operator’s services, you will need to obtain a pink photocard if you don’t already hold one.

You can currently get a Key Smartcard, and purchase tickets for your Key Smartcard, from a member of staff at these ticket offices:

  • Alexandra Palace
  • Angmering
  • Arlesey
  • Arundel
  • Ashtead
  • Ashwell & Morden
  • Balcombe
  • Baldock
  • Balham
  • Barnham
  • Battersea Park
  • Beckenham Hill
  • Bedford
  • Bellingham
  • Berwick
  • Bexhill
  • Biggleswade
  • Billingshurst
  • Bognor Regis
  • Bowes Park
  • Brighton
  • Brookmans Park
  • Burges Hill
  • Buxted
  • Carshalton
  • Carshalton Beeches
  • Caterham
  • Catford
  • Cheam
  • Chichester
  • Chipstead
  • Christs Hospital
  • City Thameslink
  • Coulsdon South
  • Coulsdon Town
  • Crawley
  • Cricklewood
  • Crofton Park
  • Crowborough
  • Cuffley
  • Denmark Hill
  • Dorking
  • Dormans
  • Downham Market
  • Durrington on Sea
  • Earlswood
  • East Croydon
  • East Dulwich
  • East Grinstead
  • Eastbourne
  • Edenbridge Town
  • Elephant & Castle
  • Elstree & Borehamwood
  • Emsworth
  • Enfield Chase
  • Epsom
  • Eridge
  • Ewell East
  • Falmer
  • Farringdon
  • Finsbury Park
  • Flitwick
  • Ford
  • Gatwick Airport
  • Gipsy Hill
  • Gordon Hill
  • Goring by Sea
  • Grange Park
  • Hackbridge
  • Hadley Wood
  • Ham Street
  • Hampden Park
  • Harlington
  • Harpenden
  • Harringay
  • Hassocks
  • Hatfield
  • Haydons road
  • Haywards Heath
  • Hendon
  • Hertford North
  • Hitchin
  • Horley
  • Hornsey
  • Horsham
  • Hove
  • Huntingdon
  • Hurst Green
  • Ifield
  • Kenley
  • Kings Lynn
  • Kingswood
  • Knebworth
  • Lancing
  • Leagrave
  • Leatherhead
  • Letchworth Garden City
  • Lewes
  • Lingfield
  • Littlehampton
  • Littlehaven
  • London Blackfriars
  • London Road Brighton
  • London Victoria
  • Loughborough Junction
  • Luton
  • Luton Airport Parkway
  • Meldreth
  • Merstham
  • Mill Hill Broadway
  • Mitcham Eastfield
  • Mitcham Junction
  • Moulsecoomb
  • New Barnet
  • New Southgate
  • Newhaven Town
  • Norbury
  • North Dulwich
  • Nunhead
  • Oakleigh Park
  • Oxted
  • Palmers Green
  • Peckham Rye
  • Pevensey & Westham
  • Plumpton
  • Polegate
  • Portslade
  • Potters Bar
  • Preston Park
  • Pulborough
  • Purley
  • Purley Oaks
  • Queens Road Peckham
  • Radlett
  • Ravensbourne
  • Redhill
  • Reedham
  • Reigate
  • Riddlesdown
  • Royston
  • Rye
  • Salfords
  • Sanderstead
  • Sandy
  • Seaford
  • Selhurst
  • Shoreham By Sea
  • South Bermondsey
  • South Croydon
  • Southbourne
  • Southwick
  • ST Albans City
  • ST Neots
  • St Pancras
  • Stevenage
  • Streatham
  • Streatham Common
  • Streatham Hill
  • Sutton
  • Tadworth
  • Tattenham Corner
  • Thornton Heath
  • Three Bridges
  • Tooting
  • Tulse Hill
  • Uckfield
  • Upper Warlingham
  • Waddon
  • Wallington
  • Wandsworth Common
  • Watton at Stone
  • Welham Green
  • Welwyn Garden City
  • Welwyn North
  • West Hampstead Thameslink
  • West Norwood
  • West Worthing
  • Whyteleafe
  • Whyteleafe South
  • Winchmore Hill
  • Wivelsfield
  • Woldingham
  • Woodmansterne
  • Worthing

Registering the key

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. Make sure when registering for a Child Key Smartcard, you enter your child’s details for an online account.

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

Yes, for all train journeys you should touch in and out, or you may be liable to pay a penalty fare. This is particularly important for users of KeyGo and to benefit from Auto Delay Repay. For repeated misuse, we reserve the right to disable your Key.

At all Great Northern, Thameslink, Southern and London stations, there are card readers available to touch in and out. Some stations operated by other companies do not have card readers and therefore we understand it is not always possible to touch in and out.

We’re here to help. For these and other queries about The Key Smartcard, please get in touch with us.

Smartcard readers are located either at the ticket gates or near the entrance/exit to those stations with freestanding validators. Either way, they are easy to spot with a yellow disk. When travelling in the London area, use the Oyster reader at valid locations.

All Great Northern, Thameslink, Southern and London stations have smartcard readers to collect online purchases, and touch in and out of journeys. Some stations operated by other companies do not have additional card readers to touch in and out. You will only be able to collect online purchases from the ticket machine at these stations.

Options to minimise social contact

  • If you are not travelling as frequently as before, keyGo is our pay as you go option, which might be a suitable alternative for you. Find out more here
  • Contactless pay as you go is a convenient way to travel within London. There is no need to top up or queue for tickets at the station, so just tap in and out with your debit or credit card. Find out more
  • Etickets are a great way to get tickets emailed to you, so you don’t have to queue to collect your tickets at the station. Just select ‘eticket’ as delivery option when you book a ticket. Find out more
  • If you have a Railcard, you can benefit from great discounts. Buy your ticket online, and add your railcard info, to start saving. Find out more

Travelcards, Oyster cards, and other networks

No, Oyster pay as you go is not available on the Key.
Yes, you can now buy Season tickets for travel between stations in the London area. If you have a Travelcard loaded on your Key Smartcard you’ll be able to travel to any London station within the Travelcard zone. You’ll be able to use it on buses, tubes, trams, Docklands Light Railway, London Overground and other National Rail services.
Yes, you can use The Key Smartcard on Gatwick Express services as long as you have a valid ticket that can be used on the Gatwick Express.

Yes you can. You can use your Key Smartcard on any train service as long as you have a valid ticket to travel for that service on your smartcard.

Replacing and transferring the key

Paper Season tickets

Please report a lost or stolen season ticket valid for one month or longer to a staffed Great Northern, Southern or Thameslink Railway ticket office as soon as possible to arrange for a duplicate season ticket application form to be issued.

This is not currently available to report this online.

A non-refundable administration fee of £20 is payable for each duplicate application. This needs to be paid at the ticket office when the request for a duplicate ticket is made. The ticket office will provide a payment receipt for the administration fee and issue a duplicate application form.

If your photocard has also been lost/stolen this will need replacing prior to submitting a duplicate season ticket request. A passport style photo will be required to enable the ticket office to issue a replacement photocard. Details of the new photocard number should be included in the application.

You will be required to complete the duplicate season ticket application form and send it along with the payment receipt to the ‘FREEPOST’ address on the form within 7 days of receiving the application form.

You should also report any theft to the police.

We will refund (with no administration charge) the cost of tickets purchased that match the journey details of the season ticket being replaced while you were waiting for the duplicate ticket to be issued. A letter confirming the dates you are eligible to receive a refund for will be sent to you along with the duplicate ticket. You should take the letter along with the tickets to a Great Northern, Southern or Thameslink staffed ticket office and arrangements will be made for you to receive your refund.

Please note we do not issue duplicates for weekly season tickets.

Damaged paper tickets

If your paper ticket is faded or damaged, or doesn't work in automatic ticket barriers, you can return it to any Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern or Thameslink ticket office where we'll happily replace it free of charge.

Key Smartcard

Flexi Season tickets

The best way to do this is by logging into your account to request this yourself. Log in to your account to cancel and replace your existing Smartcard.

You can also report the loss or theft of a Key Smartcard by calling our team to arrange a replacement:

  • 03451 27 29 20 (for Southern Website issued Smartcards)
  • 03450 26 47 00 (for Thameslink or Great Northern Website issued Smartcards)

You can apply for up to two replacement Smartcards free of charge; further requests may incur a fee.

You will receive your replacement smartcard with any unused day passes for you to use within the original validity 28-day period. If you are close to the end of the validity period and think you might not have time to use the passes, you may want to apply for a refund.

If the lost/stolen season ticket or Smartcard was not purchased from a Great Northern, Southern or Thameslink website or ticket office you must contact the original retailer.

Please note our Ticket Offices cannot issue replacement smartcards.

Season tickets

Please note this does not apply to Flexi Season tickets, please see above for Flexi Season tickets.

The best way to do this is by logging into your account to request this yourself. Log in to your account to cancel and replace your existing Smartcard.

You can also report the loss or theft of a season ticket held on a Key Smartcard by calling our team to arrange a replacement:

  • 03451 27 29 20 (for Southern Website issued Smartcards)
  • 03450 26 47 00 (for Thameslink or Great Northern Website issued Smartcards)

You can apply for up to two replacement Smartcards free of charge; further requests may incur a fee.

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.

When requesting a duplicate season ticket you are agreeing to return the lost season ticket to the Duplicate Office immediately if it is subsequently found.

If the lost/stolen season ticket or Smartcard was not purchased from a Great Northern, Southern or Thameslink website or ticket office you must contact the original retailer.

No, your Key Smartcard is not transferable and can only be used by the person it was issued to. For your own security, your Key Smartcard will be retained if someone else other than you is found to be using it. If your Key Smartcard is being used fraudulently then those involved could be liable for prosecution.

Refunds and compensation

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.

For Smart tickets please use the online Key Smartcard refund form

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