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Last updated: 10:04

How does The Key Smartcard work?

How to get The Key Smartcard, add tickets, and use it on train journeys when you travel with Great Northern.

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 get The Key Smartcard

The Key Smartcard is a free, secure, easy-to-use smartcard which you can use on most of our trains.

It’s ideal if you travel in and out of London and want to avoid queues when buying, collecting and using your season ticket.

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

  1. Register for a 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 charge for a Key Smartcard; you don’t have to pay a deposit, only the cost of your normal ticket

1. Register for a Key Smartcard 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 for applying for The Key Smartcard under ‘My Account’.

You can also purchase a ticket at the same time.

We’ll post your Key Smartcard, there’s no deposit and no postal charge – only the cost of 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

When you arrive at the station, touch your Key Smartcard on the card reader or validator. This will normally be at the gate or 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 your Key Smartcard, you can purchase a ticket at the same time which will be pre-loaded to 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. 

When buying tickets online you need to:

  • Select the Key Smartcard fares button on the main purchase screen
  • Choose a station to collect your ticket and start your journey
  • 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?

Read more FAQs

Take a look at the full terms and conditions

Don't have The Key Smartcard?

Register online now to receive the smarter way to travel