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
The Key Smartcard is our contactless smartcard which means you can buy tickets at home and 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.
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.
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
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.
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
- To buy tickets from a station ticket machine (non-Oyster machines only):
- Touch the card reader with your Key Smartcard
- Select the ticket you require and add your Railcard (if applicable)
- Make your payment
- Touch your Key Smartcard on the card reader again to load your ticket
- Your Smart ticket is ready to use
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.
|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.
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
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
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.
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
Replacing and transferring the key
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.
Refunds and compensation
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.