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How does The Key Smartcard work?

Find out how The Key Smartcard works, add tickets, and use it on train journeys when you travel with Thameslink.

Use our app to load season tickets to the Key Smartcard

Buy or renew season tickets online with the Key Smartcard, and quickly load your tickets to your Smartcard with our app

How to register for The Key Smartcard

You can order The Key Smartcard and start using it in a few simple steps: 

  1. Register for The Key Smartcard and purchase your ticket online all in one go
  2. Receive your smartcard through the post and start travelling
  3. Buy more tickets as and when you need them to load to your Key Smartcard

There’s no additional charge for The Key Smartcard and you don’t have to pay a deposit - only the cost of your normal ticket

1. Register online

Simply register for an account with us online, then select ‘Get The Key Smartcard with my account'.

If you already have an online account with us, then just log in and follow the options to register for The Key Smartcard under ‘My Account’.

We’ll post your Key Smartcard for free. You only need to purchase your normal ticket which will be pre-loaded onto your card so it’s ready to use.

Register for your Key Smartcard

Log in to your account

2. Start using your Key Smartcard

So, how does The Key Smartcard work? When you arrive at the station, simply touch your Key Smartcard on the card reader or validator. This will normally be at the gate or free-standing validator near the station entrance or exit.

You’ll need to touch out again at the other end when you leave the train.

If you have a Travelcard, you will also need to touch in and out if you change onto London Underground, trams, buses or London Overground services.

On board the train, we may ask to check your ticket using a handheld reader. We may also ask to see some ID to prove that it’s your season ticket, a National Rail photocard is ideal.

3. Buying new and replacement tickets 

When you first register for The Key Smartcard, you can purchase a ticket at the same time which will be pre-loaded onto your smartcard so that it's ready to use once received.

You can buy your ticket 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 available to purchase at our ticket machines outside London.

When buying tickets online you need to:

  • Login to 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 a card reader or validator

Need to know more?

Don't have The Key Smartcard?

Register online now to receive the smarter way to travel