The Key Smartcard
Answers to frequently asked questions on using The Key Smartcard when you travel in and out of London with Great Northern.
Getting the key
Can I still get a Key Smartcard if I don't have access to the website?
Can I transfer my paper Season ticket to my Key Smartcard?
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 Smartcard 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 Smartcard?
Can I buy a ticket for The Key Smartcard on the train?
No, you must buy a ticket for your Key Smartcard and collect it before you get on the train. Buy tickets online or at any of our ticket machines outside the London area.
Can I buy tickets for The Key from any other train operators or London Underground stations?
Is there a limit on how many tickets I can buy for The Key Smartcard?
Will all ticket types be available on The Key Smartcard?
Where can I purchase tickets for the Key card?
|Ticket type||Buy online||Buy at ticket machines (non Oyster machines only)|
|Annual season tickets and Travelcard season tickets for Tube, buses, London Trains, 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|
Ticket machines between Waterbeach and Kings Lynn are coming soon.
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.
If I buy my Annual Season ticket on a Key Smartcard, do I still receive my Gold Card benefits?
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.
Registering the key
What details do you need when registering for a children’s 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.
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 Smartcard?
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.
What happens if my Key Smartcard stops working or my card wasn’t read properly when I touched in?
We’re here to help. For these and other queries, please get in touch with us.
Where will I find Key Smartcard readers at stations?
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.
Travelcards, Oyster cards, and other networks
Can I load Oyster pay as you go onto my Key Smartcard?
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
Can The Key be used on Gatwick Express services?
Will The Key Smartcard work in London?
Replacing and transferring the key
How do I get a replacement Key Smartcard if it is lost or stolen?
If your Key Smartcard stops is lost or stolen, we’ll block the card and send a free replacement to your registered address with any valid tickets at the time of replacement pre-loaded to the card so it’s ready for you to use. 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. If you have a season ticket, we recommend that you buy a weekly ticket whilst waiting for your replacement Smartcard to arrive. 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 your Smart 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.
How do I get a replacement Key Smartcard if it becomes damaged or stops working?
The Key Smartcard is designed to be durable and should keep working reliably for a long time, but if your Key Smartcard stops working, we’ll send a free replacement to your registered address with any valid tickets at the time of replacement pre-loaded to the card so it’s ready for you to use. 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.
Whilst waiting for your new card to arrive you will need to buy paper tickets to travel. If you have a season ticket, we recommend that you buy a weekly ticket whilst waiting for your replacement Smartcard to arrive. 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 your Smart season ticket is active at the time of loss. Where the card has been damaged or stopped working, no admin fee will be charged.
Is my Key transferable to other people?
Refunds and compensation
Can I claim compensation for delayed journeys when travelling with The Key Smartcard?
If your train journey is delayed by 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.