With an Oyster Card, there are a few different ways you can arrange to top up, or collect additional tickets, or have balances transferred. Broadly, they are:

  • At a station with a ticket machine (simpler things only)
  • At a station at the ticket office
  • Via auto top-up
  • Arrange with the call centre of website, then collect from a nominated station when you touch in or out

For the last one, you have to nominate a single station to collect at, and it'll be available "from the next day".

I had a balance on an old oyster card I'd lost (but thankfully registered!), which I wanted to transfer to my new card. I knew I'd be in London the next day, so I used the website to request the transfer to my new card at the station I'd be starting at. Unfortunately, my idea of Next Day and TFLs differed, and it wasn't ready for collection when I got to London. I got an email the day after my trip saying it was then ready, which was too late as I'd gone...

What happens now? If you arrange to pick up some money onto your oyster card at a given station, and don't manage to collect it, what happens to the money?


2 Answers 2


Nice question. Not sure what happens if you do not collect your transfer in time. However, as per the question title, if you do not collect your top-up in time (which would have normally been purchased online using a debit or credit card instead of an Oyster transfer), here is what TfL officially has to say:

If you do not add your Travelcard to your Oyster card within 2 days after the chosen start date, or your pay as you go credit within 9 days of the order date, your order will be cancelled and automatically refunded.

For your case, I would suggest to take an additional step after telephoning TfL. The current number is 0343 222 1234 - 08:00-20:00 seven days a week. The only time I telephoned TfL to ask about refunds, I did not get reassuring answers and was told to visit a ticket office to find out. Therefore, after telephoning TfL to find out the answer, I would suggest writing to TfL at http://www.tfl.gov.uk/contact. The TfL team replies to written communication with a high degree of detail. After receiving TfL's reply, you can post the same over here as the correct answer to your question.

Edit: In response to the "Idea of Next Day" in your question, here is what TfL has to say: Pay as you go orders placed before 11pm, will normally be available for pick up the following morning, for a period of up to 8 days. Orders placed after 11pm will take an extra day to reach the pick up location.

  • 1
    I put my order in about 11.30pm, so that'll be why it didn't go through by the next day then! Wish I'd seen that note about 11pm on their website at the time :/
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 18:28

If you pay for a ticket with a credit card and fail to collect it, then they would refund the amount to your credit card. It is hard to tell what happens in your case, but I imagine they will put it back on your lost Oyster card. I guess you need to call then to find out.

  • Unfortunately I think that the Oyster credit cannot automatically be put back on the lost Oyster card. The lost Oyster card should automatically be cancelled when a transfer is initiated. Source: When you click on Transfer products on Oyster Online, the following message is displayed on the webpage: Card number 056673384XXX will be cancelled once the transfer has been confirmed.
    – sks
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 19:53
  • @SumanKrishnaSaha, the transfer might be confirmed when you collect it though....
    – Grzenio
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 21:35
  • It seems likely that a lost/stolen Oyster Card will be cancelled as soon as a request for a transfer is initiated. Otherwise, the lost/stolen Oyster Card might be used in the meantime, while the transfer PayG awaits to be picked up by the replacement Oyster Card at the scheduled station or Tramstop!
    – sks
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 23:52

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