Touching in and out

Yellow card reader

How to touch in and out

What you need to do depends on whether you're travelling on buses, trams or rail services.

Buses and trams

Touch your contactless payment card on a yellow card reader at the start of a journey and wait for the green light:

  • Inside a bus when you board
  • At a tram stop before you board

Don't touch it again when you get off.

If a red light shows your card has not been accepted for travel and you will need to find another way to pay for your journey. This could be:

  • A different contactless payment card or another contactless payment device
  • An 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 one of the yellow readers on the tram platform before boarding a tram. Do not touch out at your destination tram stop; if you do, you will be charged another fare

Tube, DLR and rail

On Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail and National Rail services, touch your contactless payment card in on the yellow card reader at the start and out again at the end of your journey.

If you're travelling to or from a station that doesn't have any gates, or the gates are already open, you must still touch in and out.

  • If the gates are open, the yellow readers on the top of the gates will still work
  • At stations without gates you should see a yellow card reader to touch in or out on, close to the station entrance or exit

If your card is approved for travel, you'll see a green light. If there are gates, they'll open. If your card is not approved for travel a 'seek assistance' message will be displayed and the gates won't open. You will need to use another way to pay, which could be:

  • Another contactless payment card or device
  • An Oyster card, or
  • Buy a paper ticket

You must use the same contactless payment card to touch in at the start of your journey and out at the end: if you don't you could be charged maximum fares for two incomplete journeys.

If you don't touch in and out

You might be charged a maximum fare of up to £8.90. You could also be issued with a Penalty fare, or be prosecuted.

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

You might see a pink card reader at a station. They don't record the start or end of your journey; they tell us which route you've taken so we can charge you the right fare. Some routes, like those which avoid Zone 1, are cheaper than others.

Changing trains

If you have to change trains (without changing stations) during a journey, you should:

  • Touch in at the start of the journey and out at the end
  • Touch on a pink card reader if there is one
  • Don't touch any other yellow card readers during your journey. If you do, you may be charged for two separate journeys

If you need to change stations during your journey

  • Touch out when you leave one station
  • Touch in again when you enter another station

In some cases this may mean changing from one train operator to another within the same station complex. For example, when changing from the Tube to London Overground 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 London Overground part of the station.

Same station exits

A same station exit is recorded when you touch your contactless payment 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 fare of up to £8.90. If you then re-enter the same or a different station within 45 minutes, the maximum 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. If you touch in again within 45 minutes at the same time or a different station the minimum fare is refunded and a new journey started
  • 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 fares of up to £8.90

You may be eligible for a refund if you have been charged for a same station exit.

  • We will apply an automatic refund for a same station exit, provided you have not had one in the previous seven days
  • You can also apply by signing  into your TfL online account or by calling us on 0343 222 1234 (08:00 to 20:00 daily (see TfL call charges)
  • You cannot get a refund at a station ticket office for a fare charged for a same station exit

Emirates Air Line

Make sure you use the same contactless payment device to touch in at the start and out at the end of your journey. If you use different cards you will be charged for two journeys.

River Bus

At River Bus piers, touch your contactless payment card or device on the yellow card reader at the start, and out again at the end of your journey.

Only touch in when asked to board by a member of MBNA Thames Clippers staff and remember to touch out at the end of your journey, or when changing boats. A member of MBNA Thames Clippers staff must see you touch in.

If your card is approved for travel, you'll see a green light. If your card is not approved for travel a 'seek assistance' message will be displayed and you will need to use another way to pay. This could be:

  • Another contactless payment card
  • An Oyster card
  • A paper ticket

You must use the same contactless payment card to touch in at the start of your journey and out at the end. If you don't, you could be charged maximum fares for two incomplete journeys.

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