Touching in and out

Yellow card reader

How to touch in and out

What you need to do is slightly different, depending on whether you're using buses, Tube, trams, National Rail or river services, or the Emirates Air Line.

Buses and trams

Only touch your Oyster card on a yellow card reader at the start of your bus and tram journey.

Readers are located:

  • Inside a bus when you board
  • On tram platforms before you board

Don't touch it out again when you get off.

If you've got enough pay as you go credit or a valid Travelcard or Bus & Tram Pass, the card reader will show a green light. If a red light shows - you can't travel again until you either:

  • Top up your pay as you go credit, or
  • Renew the season ticket on your Oyster card

Wimbledon trams:

  • If you travel by tram to Wimbledon station, always touch in at the start of your journey and make sure you touch out at the gates when leaving the station
  • When travelling by tram from Wimbledon station, always touch in at the gates when you enter the station and again on the yellow reader on the tram platform before boarding a tram. You do not need to touch out at your destination tram stop

Tube, DLR and rail

On Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and National Rail services, touch in with your Oyster card on the yellow card reader at the start and out at the end of your journey to pay the right fare.

Readers are located at station ticket gates, platforms and entrances and exits.

If the gates are already open, you must still touch in and out as normal.

If you've got enough pay as you go credit, or a valid Travelcard, you'll see a green light. If there are gates, they'll open. If you don't have enough credit or a valid Travelcard, a 'seek assistance' message will be displayed and the gates won't open. You can't travel again until you either:

  • Top up your pay as you go credit
  • Renew the season ticket on your Oyster card, or
  • Buy a paper ticket

If you don't touch in and out

If you're using pay as you go on Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail, River Bus services or National Rail services in London and don't touch in or out, you may have an incomplete journey and be charged a maximum fare of up to £8.90, or £7.20 on river.

If you have an incomplete journey we don't know where you started or ended your journey meaning we are unable to charge you the right fare.

When you touch in at the start of a Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail or National Rail journey in London, we deduct up to £8.90 from your pay as you go credit.

When you touch out at the end, we work out the right fare for your journey and the amount deducted from your credit is adjusted.

If you don't touch in and out correctly, we don't know what to charge you, so a maximum fare of up to £8.90 is deducted from your credit.

Maximum fares don't count towards capping and don't apply on buses and trams.

When stations are very busy we may leave the gates open to control crowds and ensure that people can leave the station quickly and safely. If so, you might not be able to touch out but we'll aim to fix this for you when you touch in to start your next journey.

Pink card readers

Pink card readers are located at some Tube and London Overground stations. They don't record the start or end of your journey and tell us which route you've taken so we can charge you the right fare. Some routes are cheaper than others, such as those which avoid Zone 1.

Changing trains

If you have to change trains during a journey at the same station and are using pay as you go, touch your Oyster card in on the yellow card reader at the start of your journey and out again at the end. If you see a pink card reader when you change trains make sure you touch your Oyster card on it so we know what route you have taken and can charge you the right fare.

Did you know?

Do you use Oyster to pay as you go for your travel? If you make multiple journeys in a day your fares will be capped. Once the total cost of all your fares reaches a certain amount, you won't have to pay for any more journeys for the rest of the day. This means pay as you go is usually cheaper than buying a Day Travelcard. Find out more

Unless you need to change stations, you don't need to touch your Oyster card on any other yellow card readers during your journey. If you do, you may be charged for two separate journeys.

If you do need to change stations during your journey make sure you touch out on the yellow card reader as you leave and touch in again as you enter the other station. Sometimes you may also have to do this when changing from one train operator to the other.

For example, when changing from the Tube to National Rail at Walthamstow Central, touch out on a gate as you exit the Tube and touch in on a yellow card reader when you enter the National Rail part of the station.

Same station exits

A same station exit is recorded when you touch your Oyster card on a yellow reader when you enter a station, but then touch out to exit at the same station within a set time. This can happen when you change your journey plan, for example, because of service disruption. If you touch in and out at the same station without making a journey, the following charges apply:

  • Between 0 and 2 minutes: a maximum pay as you go fare of up to £8.80. If, having touched in and out within two minutes, you then re-enter the same or a different station within 45 minutes, the maximum pay as you go fare will be refunded and a new journey started. This does not apply if you touched out on a yellow card reader that is not on a ticket gate or take a bus or tram before re-entering
  • Between 2 and 30 minutes: the minimum pay as you go fare from that station
  • More than 30 minutes: the system will assume that two separate journeys have been made. However, they will both be incomplete, so you will be charged two maximum pay as you go fares of up to £8.80

We apply these charges to discourage fare evasion.

You may be eligible for a refund if you have been charged for a same station exit. Speak to a member of staff, go to replacements and refunds or call us on 0343 222 1234 (08:00 to 20:00 daily - TfL call charges).

River Bus

Pay as you go (MBNA Thames Clippers services only)

You can pay as you go using your Oyster card on MBNA Thames Clippers services. You should only touch in on the yellow card reader at the pier when asked to do so by a member of MBNA Thames Clippers staff. These journeys do not count towards a daily cap.

If you don't touch in at the start and out at the end of your journey, or when changing boats, you could be charged a maximum fare of up to £7.20.

Other operators do not accept pay as you go as a way of paying for travel on their river services.

Travelcards on Oyster cards

If you have a Travelcard on your Oyster card, when you touch in on the yellow card reader you'll automatically be charged the discounted pay as you go fare.

Emirates Air Line

Pay as you go

Touch your Oyster card on the yellow card reader at an Emirates Air Line gate at the start of your journey and touch out at the end to pay the right fare.

Travelcards on Oyster cards

Show your Oyster card to the ticket seller and you'll get 25% off your ticket.

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