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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 if I don't have access to the website?

Yes, give us a ring on 0345 026 4700 and we’ll send you The Key. You’ll need to add tickets to The Key using the ticket machines at your local station.

Can I transfer my paper Season ticket to my Key?

Yes, so long as you originally bought your ticket from us, have at least a month left on your season ticket and your stations are using The Key.

Which Railcards can I use with The Key?

None. You won’t be able to get a railcard discount on a season ticket.

Buying tickets

Are the cheapest fares always available on The Key?

No, not at the moment, as there might be more paper ticket choices – switch off the ‘Key Smartcard fares’ option to see the full range online.

Are there charges for using my debit or credit card to buy tickets online?

No, we don’t charge any booking fee or debit/credit cards fees.

Can I buy a ticket for The Key on the train?

No, you must buy a ticket for your Key and collect it before you get on the train.

Can I buy tickets for The Key from any other train operators or London Underground stations?

No, you can only buy tickets for The Key by logging into your account online or at self-service ticket machines at Great Northern, Southern, and Thameslink stations outside the London Travelcard area.

Is there a limit on how many tickets I can buy for The Key?

Yes, The Key can hold up to five tickets at a time. Although when buying online, only one ticket can be purchased per transaction when you buy online.

When will I be able to buy other types of ticket on The Key?

Soon, we hope. At the moment you can only buy season tickets, and we recommend buying paper tickets for other trips.

Registering the key

Why do I need to give you my personal details when I register for a Key?

This is so we can replace your Key if it’s lost or stolen, along with any season tickets you’ve paid for. You can change your preferences in your account if you want to opt out of things like emails about special offers. We will still contact you about future changes affecting your Key card.

What details do you need when registering for a children’s Key?

We’ll need the name, address, date of birth and contact details, as well as a digital passport-style photo of them. You’ll then need to bring the child to any manned Great Northern ticket office along with proof of identification, such as a passport or birth certificate to complete the registration.

Using the key

Do I always have to touch in and out with The Key?

Yes, you should always touch in and out to make sure you validate your journey; if you don’t, you could get a fine or your Key may be cancelled.

What happens if my Key stops working or my card wasn’t read properly when I touched in?

If that happens then give us a call on 0345 026 4700 and we’ll see what we can do to help.

Where will I find Key card readers at stations?

The card readers are at the ticket gates or near the entrance or exit to the station. Check the Key map to see which stations accept Key Smartcards.

Travelcards, Oyster cards, and other networks

Can I load Oyster pay as you go onto my Key?

No, Oyster pay as you go is not available on the Key.

Will The Key work in London?

Yes, as long as you load a Travelcard on to your Key outside London you’ll be able to travel to any London station within the Travelcard zone. You’ll be able to use it on London Underground, buses, trams, trains, and Docklands Light Railway (DLR).

Can The Key be used on Gatwick Express services?

Yes, you can use the Key on Gatwick Express services as long as you have a valid Gatwick Express ticket loaded on to it.

Can I use my Key Season ticket on Virgin Trains East Coast services?

Yes. If you have an Any Permitted season ticket between Stevenage and London, The Key will be accepted.

Can I use my Key season ticket on East Midlands Trains services?

Yes, if your season ticket is valid for the journey being made.

Replacing and transferring the key

How do I get a replacement Key if it is lost or stolen?

Log in to your account or call us on 0345 026 4700 to cancel your existing card and we’ll send you a free replacement.

Can I transfer my Key to someone else?

No, your Key is not transferable, and can only be used by the person named on the card.

Refunds and compensation

Can I claim compensation for delayed journeys?

Yes, if your journey was delayed by more than 15 minutes. Find out more about our Delay Repay scheme

How can I get a refund for tickets on my Key?

Log in to your account and follow the prompts, and we’ll contact you within 28 days, or call us on 0345 026 4700 if you used a ticket machine.

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