Using contactless payment cards

Using your contactless payment card to travel is simple.

Use one card for contactless travel

It's important that you use the same contactless payment card for all your journeys. Using different cards to pay for travel means that you won't be able to benefit from capping.

On rail services, if you touch in on a card reader with one contactless payment card and touch out with a different card, you could be charged two maximum fares for two incomplete journeys. Similarly, on Emirates Air Line and River Bus services, if you touch in with one card and out with another, you will be charged two fares.

Contactless payment symbol

Watch out for card clash

If you touch more than one contactless payment card (including an Oyster card) together on a card reader you could get a red light or you could be charged on a card that you didn't intend to pay with. This may be because of card clash.

If the reader detects more than one card, it doesn't know which card to take payment from. If you get a red light it means you won't have paid for your journey and if you are at a ticket gate it may not open.

Once you've chosen the contactless payment card you want to use, you'll need to separate it from any others before touching it on a yellow card reader.

Find out more about card clash and how to avoid it.

Yellow card reader

Using your contactless payment card

Just touch your card flat on the yellow card reader when you enter and leave a station, or a River Bus pier. Remember that on buses and trams you only need to touch in. Find out more about touching in and out.

If you don't touch in and out, we don't know where you've travelled, so can't charge the right fare.

When you touch the yellow card reader, a green light should appear. This means your card has been accepted. If a red light appears, it means that your card has been rejected and you'll need to use another way to pay.

Did you know?

You can use contactless or Oyster to pay as you go for travel on some services that are outside zones 1 to 9, including train services to Gatwick Airport. Find out more

You can only pay for one person per journey with a contactless payment card. If you are travelling in a group, each person will need a separate contactless payment card or other method of payment.

Our Conditions of Carriage and contactless payment card Conditions of Use apply when using contactless payment cards to pay for travel.

Incomplete journeys

If you don't touch in and out, we won't know where you've travelled. We call this an incomplete journey.

If you don't touch in at the start of your journey, you could be charged a maximum fare (up to £8.90), face a Penalty fare of £80 or be prosecuted. If you don't touch out at the end of your journey you could be charged a maximum fare.

Every journey has its own maximum journey time. If your journey takes longer than the maximum travel time allowance, you could be a charged a maximum fare.

Incomplete journeys and maximum journey times only apply for rail journeys.

Pink card reader

Pink card readers

Journeys which avoid Zone 1 are cheaper than those which include travel through Zone 1. If you see a pink card reader when changing trains at a Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail or National Rail station, touch your contactless payment card on it to show that you haven't travelled through Zone 1. We can then charge you the right fare for the route you took.

Paying for your travel

You are charged an adult-rate pay as you go fare when you use a contactless payment card. The total cost of all the journeys that you make in one day is calculated at the end of each day and a single charge is made to your contactless payment card account. Find out how fares are charged.

When you touch your contactless payment card on a card reader, you are:

  • Authorising the cost of a single journey to be taken from your card account
  • Agreeing to pay any unpaid fares. This is usually for a journey that you have made in the past, for which payment was subsequently declined by your card issuer

To work out how much your journey will cost, please see our single fare finder.

Our Conditions of Carriage and contactless Conditions of Use apply when using contactless payment cards to pay for travel.

Ticket inspection

If you have used a contactless payment card to pay for your journey, you must touch it on an inspector's portable card reader when asked. You do not need to give your card to an inspector for it to be checked.

On buses, if you show the wrong card, the bus inspector will be able to see that the card was not used at the start of the bus journey and ask you to touch the correct card on the reader.

On rail services, the revenue inspection will be recorded.

You can see revenue inspections in your journey history in your contactless and Oyster online account. If you have a query about a revenue inspection that you cannot resolve online, contact our Customer Services on 0343 222 1234 (TfL call charges).

Our staff can't see any of your card account or personal details when you touch your card on a portable card reader.

Lost or stolen cards

If you lose your contactless payment card you must tell your card issuer as soon as possible.

If your card is damaged, contact your card issuer. Do not send damaged contactless payment cards to TfL.

Card expiring soon

If you have signed up for a contactless and Oyster online account, we will send you an email reminding you when your card is due to expire. We will do this 14 and 3 days before the expiry date, with a final reminder on the day the card expires.

If you use your contactless payment card on the day it is due to expire, it will not be accepted for travel if you touch in after 00:00 hours.


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