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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 Southern.

Getting The Key

Can I still get The Key Smartcard if I don't have access to the website?

Our smartcard is only available by registering through our website.

Can I transfer my paper Season ticket to The 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.

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 manned 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 Smartcard?

When applicable, railcards can be used with tickets bought for The Key Smartcard (only on the Southern network). Please ensure you select your railcard type when you buy your Key tickets online or at self-service machines. Railcard discounts are not valid on season tickets.

Buying tickets

How do I find tickets for The Key Smartcard online?

Sign in to your online account and select the toggle for “Key Smartcard fares”.

Are the cheapest fares always available on The Key Smartcard?

Not all fares are available on The Key Smartcard. There are certain point to point fares, particularly those to or from other operator's stations which we are not able to sell at this time. Therefore in some cases alternative fares may be available on paper. If you are making an online purchase you should de-select the 'Key Smartcard fares' option to see the full range of fares available.

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

No, you must have bought a ticket for your Key Smartcard before travelling. Buy tickets online or at any of our ticket machines at outside the London area.

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

No, Buy tickets online or at any of our ticket machines at outside the London area.

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

Yes, The Key Smartcard can hold up to 5 tickets at a time. However, when buying online only one ticket can be purchased per transaction (at no additional cost). Our system has a limit on how many tickets can be uploaded to The Key at a card reader from a single transaction. Additional tickets can be purchased after you’ve loaded a ticket on to your card at the card reader/validator. When buying from a ticket machine, you can buy multiple tickets.

Will all ticket types be available on The Key Smartcard?

We are working hard to ensure the most suitable ticket types are available on The Key. If the ticket you need isn’t available on The Key Smartcard we recommend you continue to buy a paper ticket from stations.

Registering the Key

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

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. For repeated misuse, we reserve the right to disable your Key Smartcard.

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?

Key Smartcard readers are located on all Great Northern, Southern, and Thameslink station ticket gates or near the entrance/exit to those stations outside of the London Travelcard area where The Key Smartcard is accepted. If you have a Travelcard ticket on your Key Smartcard you can use any Oyster reader within the Travelcard area.

Travelcards, Oyster cards, and other networks

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

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

Can The Key Smartcard be used on Gatwick Express services?

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

Will The Key Smartcard work in London?

Yes, as long as you load a Travelcard on to your Key Smartcard 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).

Replacing and transferring The Key Smartcard

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

If your Key Smartcard stops working or it’s lost or stolen, we’ll block it and send a free replacement to your registered address. Log in to your account or get in touch with us to cancel your existing card. We’ll give you up to 3 free replacements over 12 months. Any subsequent replacements will need to be investigated and we may need to retain your Key Smartcard.

Is my Key Smartcard transferable to other people?

No, your Key Smartcard is not transferable and can only be used by the person whose name is on the card. For your own security, your Key Smartcard will be retained if someone else other than you is found to be using it. If your Key Smartcard is being used fraudulently then those involved could be liable for prosecution.

Refunds and compensation

Can I claim compensation for delayed journeys when travelling with The Key Smartcard?

Yes, if your train journey is delayed by more than 15 minutes or more you can claim compensation under our Delay Repay scheme. To claim compensation, please visit our Delay Repay page.

How can I get a refund for my Key Smartcard?

Log in to your online account and follow the prompts. We will contact you within 28 days of receiving your request. For refunds on tickets bought using a self-service ticket machine, please call either Southern Customer Services on 03451 27 29 20 or Thameslink and Great Northern Customer Services on 0345 026 4700.

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