Beta intro
Mayor of London

Card clash

If you keep your Oyster card in your wallet or purse with your bank cards, you might occasionally see a red light when you touch it on a card reader at stations and on buses. The red light means you haven't paid for your journey and if you are at a ticket gate, it may not open. This can happen even if you've got enough pay as you go credit or a valid Travelcard on your Oyster card because you could be experiencing 'card clash'.

Many cards are now issued with contactless technology - the same as Oyster cards:

  • Most bank, credit and charge card companies are issuing new cards ready for contactless payments
  • Many companies, educational establishments now issue contactless cards for cashless catering or as building entry passes

If you touch your Oyster card on a yellow card reader when it's in the same wallet or purse as another contactless card, the reader may detect more than one card. When this happens, the card reader doesn't know which one to read so rejects them and you could experience any of the following:

  • The ticket gate does not open
  • You get a red light when you touch in on a yellow card reader on a bus, ticket gate or free-standing yellow card reader
  • On buses, where contactless payment cards are accepted, your fare could be charged to a card that you did not intend to pay with

To avoid card clash:

  • Don't touch a wallet or purse with multiple cards on the yellow card reader
  • Keep your Oyster card separate from your contactless payment cards
  • Only touch the card you want to use on the reader when touching in and out

Later in 2014, when contactless payment cards are accepted for travel on Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground and most National Rail services in London, one of the following could also happen:

  • Your fare could be charged to a card you didn't intend to pay with
  • You could be charged two maximum fares if the card reader reads one card when you touch in at the start of your journey and a different card at the end when you touch out

Remember to separate your Oyster card from other contactless cards when touching in and out.