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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 Thameslink.

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 online
  2. Buy your ticket
  3. Start using The 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’.

We’ll post your Key Smartcard to you in 3-5 working days.

Register for your Key Smartcard

Log in to your account

2. Buy your ticket 

Once you have your Key Smartcard, you can buy a season ticket online or from ticket machines at one of our stations outside London. You can buy a weekly, monthly or annual season ticket. 

If you’re continuing your journey around London, you also have the option to add a Travelcard to your Key Smartcard.

When buying tickets online, you’ll need to:

  • allow at least two hours before you’re due to travel
  • choose a station where you’ll start using your Key Smartcard (you can do this at most of our stations, but you can’t do it in the London Travelcard area) 

Check stations where you can use The Key Smartcard

3. Start using your Key Smartcard

When you arrive at the station, touch your Key Smartcard on the card reader. 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.

You will also need to touch in and out if you change onto London Underground, Transport for London or Gatwick Express 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.

Need to know more?

Read our answers to frequently asked questions about The Key Smartcard.

Download our pdf guide to The Key Smartcard to find out more.

You can also read the full terms and conditions for using The Key Smartcard.

Don't have The Key Smartcard?

Register online now to receive the smarter way to travel