Improved Online Topup

Ordering top up online and collecting when making a journey has just been given a massive makeover. It also includes ordering travelcards. The key changes are as follows:

  • No need to specify a station to pick it up from. It’s available from any station or tramstop which accepts Oyster for travel. You still need to pick it up as part of a journey. Buses and ticket machines cannot be used. (buses will be available later in the year)
  • You only need to wait up to 30 minutes before the order can be picked up.
  • It must be picked up within 3 days or the order will be cancelled and refunded automatically. This includes travelcard season tickets even if the start date is more than 3 days in advance.
  • Only newer Oyster cards can take advantage of this facility. When you log into Oyster online you will be told whether your Oyster is a first generation card or not. As far as I can tell these were issued up to sometime in 2010. If your card is a first generation card then you are recommended to arrange a replacement with the helpdesk. The cards will still work at the moment, but you won’t be able to add products online any more but you won’t be able to use them with the new mobile app (due for release later this year).

I’ve got some serious rewriting of some pages on this site to attend to once I have full details confirmed.

19 thoughts on “Improved Online Topup”

  1. Buses are due to be included later this year.

    New cards can be identified by the inverse D on the back.

  2. Hi Mike,
    You can actually still use first generation cards for online top up as described above.
    It’s really helpful that I don’t have to specify the pick up station any more because I only keep the Oyster cards for guests and due to travel arrangements, their “point of entry” could me Tottenham Hale Tube or Tottenham Hale NR, depending on which train they caught.
    It’s just the app it seems that’s not supported.


    Quote (from online top up screen) here:
    We have developed a new Oyster app. When it is launched later this year, you can use it to manage your Oyster cards.

    However, this is a first-generation Oyster card which won’t work with the app. You’ll need to replace this Oyster card if you want to use the app. The easiest thing to do is to transfer any remaining pay as you go credit to a new Oyster card. This can be another Oyster card you already have, or you can get a new one and simply add it to your online account. Alternatively you can get a refund.

    Instead of getting a new Oyster card, you could use contactless to pay as go. You don’t need to top it up or buy a ticket, and you could benefit from daily and weekly (Monday to Sunday) capping. However initially, contactless cards won’t work with the app.

    • Hi Matthias,

      Thanks for that update. Useful to know you can still top up online. I haven’t got any 1st generation cards so it was difficult to test out.

  3. The 30 minutes seems to be a maximum to cover upload delays. I managed to pick up a top up within 15 minutes of ordering it.

    • Thanks again Matt,

      Do you know whether the top up works on exit or interchange as well as entry?

  4. Hi folks.

    I have an Oyster card for when I take trips to London, once or twice a year.
    I tried to top up today as we are traveling down tomorrow, but couldn’t get there transaction to complete. I have a 1st gen card but am not bothered about the app as I only use the card occasionally.
    I was able to go through the top up process, but when I finalised it threw me out and went back to log on screen. No transaction is showing in my history.
    It seems I should be able to top up on line but can’t?
    I have a small credit left over and hope to be able to top up at a station on arrival, but am obviously not able at this point to get a new card ordered.

    Any ideas why the system won’t work for me?

    • Hi Peter,

      No, sorry. There are some issues with the Oyster online system at the moment. It has hidden all my Oyster cards and TfL have been trying to fix it for a week now. The last time I tried to get an update I was left on hold and gave up after 25 minutes.

    • Brief further update: TfL have fixed my issue and the person I spoke to insisted that 1st generation cards would still continue to work for top up on the website, just not with the new app.

  5. I haven’t been able to access Oyster Online for a week now, so had to use the helpline to transfer PAYG over from my 1st to 2nd gen card.

    The call centre operative told me that they still have server problems.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Martin. I’m now able to get into my online account but it took a third phone call which landed with a knowledgeable clerk who understood what to do.

  6. Me and my girlfriend both have 1st generation, and online top up worked for us both. In fact I’ve also loaded monthly travelcards on to my 1st gen as well as PAYG balances, and that worked too.

  7. It appears Oyster PAYG collection from buses has quietly launched. I’ve been able to collect two orders on bus readers this weekend.

  8. It also seems now that when you sign in to your Oyster account, if you have a 1st generation card, you can have a new card sent to you free of charge.

    Then once you’ve got that, transfer the products between cards, good to go.

    I’m glad TfL saw sense with this – as an early adopter I didn’t want to pay more for another card.

  9. Is it just me or has all the journey history in the app been wiped? It’s still visible on the website but in the app I can only see my latest journey.

    • Hi Nick,

      Sorry, I don’t use the app in anger because contactless works better for me. There may be a connectional issue. The app won’t actually store history, it’ll retrieve it from the database just like the website does.

  10. A quick question on collection – the TfL website says online topups can be collected at tube stations etc ‘and most national rail stations in London’.

    Is there any way of knowing which are the NR stations where it doesn’t work? And, more specifically, will it work at Gatwick Airport?

    • Hi Sam,

      It should be available at any station where journeys can be made with Oyster. Yes, that definitely includes Gatwick Airport. I think the Heathrow Express/Connect stations at the terminals might be the only ones currently excluded, but that’s changing next month as well.

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