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How The Key Smartcard works

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

How to renew your Season ticket the Smart way

Our Key Smartcard is the easier, faster way to buy, renew and use your train Season ticket. It’s free to apply, won't wear out, and comes with lots of additional benefits too.

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 The 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 The Key Smartcard; you don’t have to pay a deposit, only the cost of your normal ticket

1. Register online

Simply register for an account with us online, then select ‘apply for The Key Smartcard.

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 not deposit and no postal change – only the cost of your normal ticket which will be pre-loaded to 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