TfL reminds Oyster customers how to 'get back any money you haven't spent'

02 September 2013
  • Research reveals that most customers like to retain a card even when they don't regularly use it

Transport for London (TfL) is reminding customers how easy it is to get back any money they haven't spent on old or infrequently used Oyster cards.

The new campaign encourages customers who no longer need their Oyster card to return it for a refund.

Research has found that many customers like to hold on to an Oyster card even when they don't regularly use it, however, TfL is keen to ensure that anyone who wishes to get a refund can do so easily and quickly.

More than 40 per cent of those surveyed by TfL knew that they could get a refund of their Oyster deposit and credit and the new campaign is designed to increase awareness of this. Deposits and unused credit can be refunded via TfL Customer Services (0343 222 1234) or at Tube stations.

Shashi Verma, TfL's Director of Customer Experience, said: 'Many customers tell us that they keep spare cards for guests or emergencies and that the vast majority of unused cards are held by infrequent visitors to London. Keeping their card in this way saves the time and effort of having to get a ticket the next time they want to use our services. However, for people who don't intend to use an old Oyster card we want to let them know through this campaign that it's easy to return it for a full refund.'

Of the 60 million Oyster cards issued since 2003, up to nine million are in regular use and around 18 million have been returned for a refund. Of the 25 million cards that have not been used for more than 12 months, seven million have no credit on them while the rest have an average credit of £2.87.

The survey of 1,766 customers who haven't used their card for six-24 months found that the vast majority (77 per cent) plan to keep their card for when they next need it and, therefore, do not want a refund.

Most either hold on to their cards even if they are infrequent users of public transport (39 per cent) or have a spare card for guests or emergencies (22 per cent). Oyster cards do not expire and up to £90 credit can be held on them for future use.

More than half of the customers who were aware they could get a refund have not done so because they were sure they would use the card again. Only a minority said they planned to claim back the outstanding balance (seven per cent) or deposit (six per cent).

Notes for Editors:

1. The Outstanding Oyster Balances research summary can be found here:  and full the report can be found here: 

2. The survey of 1,766 registered Oyster card users who haven't used their card for six-24 months highlighted that most are visitors who keep their card for when they are next in London - two thirds of customers asked did not live in London, including 17 per cent living in the South East and 10 per cent living outside of the UK

3. Deposits have been required for all Oyster cards since May 2009 to prevent cards from being disposed of if they went into negative balance

4. Oyster customers need to set up an Oyster online account at to access their journey history, top up their Oyster pay as you go credit online and use the interactive facilities. Customers can also protect their Oyster card online to ensure any balance is protected if the card is lost or stolen

5. A new poster campaign can now be seen at Tube and rail stations across the network to encourage customers who no longer need their Oyster card to return it for a refund. Copy of the poster is available on request from TfL Press Office