Touching in and out
Why touch in and out?
So we know where your journey started and ended and can charge you the right fare if you're using pay as you go.
How to touch in and out
What you need to do is slightly different, depending on whether you are using buses, trams, rail, river services or the Emirates Airline.
Do you keep your Oyster card in your wallet or purse with your other cards?
Do you keep your Oyster card in your wallet/purse with your bank cards? If so, you may have noticed that you occasionally get a red light and the ticket gates don't open when you touch your Oyster card on a yellow card reader, even though you have enough pay as you go credit or have a valid Travelcard on your Oyster card. This may be because you are experiencing 'card clash'.
Many cards are now issued with contactless technology - the same as Oyster cards:
- Most bank, credit and charge card companies are issuing new cards ready for contactless payments
- Many companies and educational establishments also now issue their staff and students with contactless cards for cashless or as building entry passes
If you touch your Oyster card on a yellow card reader when it is in the same wallet or purse as another contactless card, the reader may detect more than one card. When this happens the card reader doesn't know which one to read so rejects them and you could experience any of the following:
- The ticket gate does not open
- You get a red light when you touch in on a yellow card reader on a bus, ticket gate or validator
- On buses, where contactless payment cards are accepted, your fare could be charged to a card that you did not intend paying with
To avoid card clash:
- Don't touch your entire purse or wallet on the yellow card reader
- Get into the habit of separating your Oyster cards from your contactless payment cards
- Only touch one card on the reader when touching in and out
Later in 2014, when contactless payment cards are accepted for travel on Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground and most National Rail services in London as well as buses, one of the following could also happen:
- Your fare could be charged to a card you did not intend paying with
- You could be charged two maximum fares if the card reader reads one card when you touch in at the start of your journey and a different card at the end when you touch out
Remember to separate your Oyster card from other contactless cards when touching in and out.
Bus and tram - touch in only
What to do: Touch your Oyster card on a yellow card reader only at the start of a journey:
- inside the bus when you board
- at a tram stop before you get on a tram
Don't touch it again when you get off.
What happens: If you've enough pay as you go credit or a valid Travelcard or Bus & Tram Pass, the card reader will show a green light. If a red light shows - you can't travel until you top up your pay as you go credit or renew your season ticket on your Oyster card or buy a paper ticket.
- If you travel by tram to Wimbledon, always touch in at the start of your journey and make sure you touch out at the gates when leaving Wimbledon station
- When travelling by tram from Wimbledon, always touch in at the gates when you enter Wimbledon station and again on the yellow reader on the tram platform before boarding a tram. Do not touch out at your destination tram stop
What to do: Touch your Oyster card on the yellow card reader at the start and end of your journey.
If you're at a station without gates or the gates are already open you must still touch in and out.
What happens: If you've enough pay as you go credit, or a valid Travelcard you'll see a green light. If there are gates, they'll open. If you don't have enough credit or a valid Travelcard a 'seek assistance' message will be displayed and the gates will not open. You can't travel until you top up or renew your season ticket on your Oyster card or buy a paper ticket.
If you don't touch in and out
You may pay a maximum pay as you go fare of up to £8.50. You could also get a Penalty fare or be prosecuted.
When stations are very busy we may leave the gates open to control crowds and ensure that people can leave the station quickly and safely. If so, you may not be able to touch out but we'll aim to fix this for you when you touch in to start your next journey.
Pink card readers
You might see pink card readers on some Tube, DLR, London Overground and National Rail stations.
They're not for recording the start or end of a journey but for route validation (they tell us your route, for example, you may be charged less if you don't travel through Zone 1).
Touch in at the start of the journey and out at the end
- Touch in at the start of the journey and out at the end
- Touch on a pink card reader if there is one
- Don't touch any other yellow card readers during your journey. If you do, you may be charged for two separate journeys
If you need to change stations during your journey
- Touch out when you leave one station
- Touch in again when you enter another station
In some cases this may mean changing from one train operator to another. For example, when changing from the Tube to National Rail at Walthamstow Central, touch out on a gate as you exit the tube station and touch in on a validator when you enter the National Rail station.
Same station exits
A same station exit is recorded when you touch your Oyster card on a yellow reader when you enter a station, but then touch out to exit at the same station within a set time.
This can happen when you change your journey plan, for example, because of service disruption. If you touch in and out at the same station without making a journey, the following charges apply:
- Between 0 and 2 minutes: a maximum pay as you go fare of up to £8.50. If, having touched in and out within two minutes, you then re-enter the same or a different station within 45 minutes, the maximum pay as you go fare will be refunded and a new journey started. This does not apply if you touched out on a yellow card reader that is not on a ticket gate or take a bus or tram before re-entering
- Between 2 and 30 minutes: the minimum pay as you go fare from that station
- More than 30 minutes: the system will assume that two separate journeys have been made. However, they will both be incomplete, so you will be charged two maximum pay as you go fares of up to £8.50
We apply these charges to discourage fare evasion.
You may be eligible for a refund if you have been charged for a same station exit. Speak to a member of staff, go online or call Customer services on 0343 222 1234 (08:00 to 20:00 daily).
Pay as you go (Thames Clippers only)
Show your Oyster card at the kiosk on the pier or to a ticket seller on the boat. You can pay for a paper ticket using your pay as you go credit - this is 10% cheaper than the cash fare. This does not count towards the daily price cap.
Other operators do not accept pay as you go as a way of paying for travel on their river services.
Travelcards on Oyster cards
Show your Oyster card to the ticket seller and you'll get a third off your ticket.
Pay as you go
Touch your Oyster card on the yellow card reader at an Emirates Air Line gate at the start of your journey and touch out at the end to pay a discounted fare.
Travelcards on Oyster cards
Show your Oyster card to the ticket seller and you'll get 25% off your ticket.