Just a few minutes ago, I have managed to use credit on my Paypal account (without a debit/credit card) to pay for my UK train ticket on a Virgin train. And somehow the system on thetrainline.com allowed me to choose the "self-collection" option without asking for any of my card information.

I do not have my ticket printed out but I have kept the reference number. I'll be leaving on the flight soon and I don't see a chance of me printing the ticket before arriving at the London Euston train station.

How would I collect my ticket from the self-collection machine without a debit/credit card?

  • You should have a confirmation type number - but I think they let you look it up by your name, if I recollect properly. Hopefully a londoner can get you a more complete answer. Worst case you can always go to an agent, they were always very willing to help when I needed help.
    – Joe
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 21:16
  • 6
    Thinking back to this question: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/58606/… you might be able to use any card that fits into the machine to get your tickets, but your reference number should be enough.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 21:20
  • Cools! I'll try it and verify whether they check my name.
    – alvas
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 21:23
  • Printscreen the payment email with the reference number in your phone, and show it to the ticket office , they may check your ID.
    – Him
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 0:10
  • 1
    No you cant collect from the self-collection machine without a debit/credit card
    – Him
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 1:19

2 Answers 2


There's no need to use a specific card at the self-service machines. See this question. In fact, although the confirmation email says "please take the card you used to make the purchase", the recent machines I have used (at least Virgin West Coast and Arriva Trains Wales) merely say "please insert a card for confirmation purposes" - they don't specify it has to be the card you used to book with. You will however need the confirmation code, so keep that with you.

If you don't have a credit or debit card at all, then you have a few options. One is to try loyalty cards and other magnetic stripe/chip cards you have (if any). As the above question shows, at least Nectar cards have been known to work in some situations. It's possible that ATM cards and the like might work as well. The ticket offices are able to print out tickets purchased online, given the confirmation code, so that should be an option -they have asked me for a card for confirmation before, but they must have ways around it - and you are at least dealing with a real person now. Brining the original email and some photo ID can only help here. The ticket offices can also be useful when the machines have longer queues, or are not working properly. You could also ask for another person in the queue for the machines to use their card. People will probably be suspicous of some kind of scam (especially in London), but you can explain your situation clearly and let them do all the operation of the machine. There's a slight risk that they will run off with your tickets, but this seems pretty unlikley.

As a side note - unless you gain some specific advantage from thetrainline.com, you should be aware that they charge an additional fee to book tickets, which are identical to the tickets that can be purchased direct from the train companies - and all the train companies can sell you a ticket for any other - ie. there's nothing stopping you from having bought your ticket for a Virgin train from First Great Western. See this fantastic answer for a guide to UK tickets and purchasing them.

  • Not everyone has a credit/debit visa card. And booking from overseas, the fact that I can use my paypal is useful. Since booking early is advantageous to UK train services, IMHO, it's cheaper to pay for advance tickets + 3rd party handling fee if you're punctual when boarding trains (Disclaimer: I don't gain anything from thetrainline.com neither am I affiliated in any sense).
    – alvas
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 9:29
  • @alvas - Apologies, slightly misread the question.
    – CMaster
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 9:30
  • @alvas - no, you should accept the question that answers your question to your satisfaction. Working on an edit for you though,
    – CMaster
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 9:32
  • In my experience ticket offices will usually refuse to print tickets unless the ticket machines aren't working; I gather the process is quite involved.
    – Muzer
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 17:54
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    Note that it depends on how the ticket is put in the system as to whether any card works or not. (I've heard stories of people phoning up that they don't have their card any more, for whatever reason, and customer services just derestricting the pickup to allow any card.)
    – gsnedders
    Commented Jan 10, 2018 at 2:09

I had managed to collect the ticket that I've bought from thetrainline.com using my Deutsche bank account card that has maestro abilities (not a credit card, i don't really think it's a true debit card too).

The strange thing is that it isn't linked to my Paypal account that I've used to pay for my ticket. So I guess the machine only needed some sort of card with a magnetic strip.

  • 1
    A Maestro card is (normally) a debit card, that you can use in most places that take cerdit/debit cards (including online). Certainly you can use a Maestro to buy train tickets.
    – CMaster
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 9:38
  • Nope. That's not true about Maestro and using it to buy train tickets online, you can't and I've tried with Deutsche Bank's. It does however depends on the bank that issues the card and most probably you can buy from a machine though =)
    – alvas
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 11:27
  • You can use Maestro to buy train tickets online. You might not be able to use a particular card, depending on the rules of the bank issuing it, that is true.
    – CMaster
    Commented Jan 28, 2016 at 11:28
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    In general the ticket machines check the name on the magstrip against the name used when buying the ticket, so you can use any card that has your name on. Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 11:59

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