So I was at a train station, I tapped my Oyster card but it was still showing the previous persons balance. I went to top up thinking it was mine, upon retapping my oyster it said that I initially touched a different one (managed to top mine up in the end) but the first transaction it took the money out of my card.

Will the money bounce back into my account, or did I top up someone’s random oyster account ?

  • 1
    Contact TfL Oyster line and ask them Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 18:56
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    I think you can figure out the answer from here: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/47428/…
    – Anders
    Commented Jul 19, 2023 at 18:59
  • So to summarise what that other answer says in this context, to top up a card, BOTH TAPS must be the same card. If they aren't the payment transaction will be cancelled, eventually. So it is impossible for you to have topped up someone else's card.
    – MJeffryes
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 9:22

1 Answer 1


When you top up an Oyster card, the procedure is roughly:

  • Tap your Oyster.
  • Select and pay for the top-up (this puts an authorisation on your payment card).
  • Tap your Oyster again to load the top-up.

The system checks that both taps were the same card, and if so tops up your card and confirms the authorisation. If they're not, it simply abandons the process, leaving the authorisation in place. The authorisation will therefore drop off your statement within a few days1. If that doesn't seem to happen after a few days I'd get in touch with TfL.

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    Not sure how it is done in this specific case, but the normal procedure is to request an authorisation from the card issuer, and only once the transaction is confirmed (in this case it would be after the Oyster card has been tapped the second time), actually issue the charge (or not if something went wrong). In that case the debit would usually appear as a “pending payment” on online/app banking, and will disappear either very quickly (if they cancel the authorisation) or after a few days (if they don’t and the authorisation just times out).
    – jcaron
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 11:16
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    @jcaron good point, I hadn't actually considered that might be how it works. Will see if I can find out for sure. Edit: found it, will edit the post.
    – Muzer
    Commented Jul 20, 2023 at 14:58

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