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Contactless is rolled out on London buses

Much like the way the Oyster card works, you’ll be able to use your contactless card on most London Buses from the 13 December 2012 to pay for a single bus journey.

To pay for a journey, you will just need to touch your contactless card flat on the yellow card reader as you board the bus – exactly the same as when you use an Oyster Card.

Contactless is a function on certain debit, credit and charge cards that allows you to safely make a quick and easy payment for goods or services for an amount that is £20 or less without entering a PIN.

Where you see the contactless wave displayed (like the one on this page) and have a contactless card, you can make a contactless payment where the amount is for £20 or less.

For further information on using your contactless card on London Buses, please go to Transport for London’s website that can be found here.

Using your contactless card to pay

How do I know if I have a contactless card to pay on the bus?

If you have a contactless enabled card, you should be able to see the symbol on the front of your card. If you don’t see the symbol you should get in contact with your card issuer to see if they issue contactless card.

How do I pay with my contactless card on the buses?

To pay with a contactless card on the buses, all you have to do is touch your chosen contactless card to pay for your journey flat on the card reader to make the payment, just like you would if you were paying with your Oyster card. You may have to take your contactless payment card out of your wallet where you have more than one contactless card (for example, this could be your Oyster card or building pass) in it.

Some issuers of contactless cards have issued a sticker which you can attach to your mobile phone. This will work on the buses in the say way that a contactless card would work.

How will I know if I have been charged?

You’ll hear an acceptance beep, and see a green light when you touch your contactless card against the reader, much like when you pay by Oyster. If you’re unsure if you have paid for a journey, ask your bus driver for confirmation.

If you get a red light, your card has not been accepted and you will need to use another payment method. If you have touched your wallet, check to make sure that there is only one contactless card in it as the reader would detect more than one card and give a red light.

What is a card collision?

This is where more than one contactless card has been presented to a contactless card reader. The reader would not know which card to accept and reject the transaction. A contactless card could be a contactless payment card, Oyster card, building pass or any other type of card or token that uses contactless technology to transmit information.

I don’t have contactless card, how do I get one?

Contact your issuing bank to see if they are issuing contactless cards.

Why can’t I get a receipt when I use my contactless card to pay for my bus journey?

Although you won’t be able to get a printed receipt for each bus journey that you use your contactless card to pay with, you will be able to see the transaction on your monthly bank statement.

Will the bus driver give me a print out of my ticket, if I use my contactless card?

No, but you’re able to see these transactions on your monthly bank statement.

What are the benefits of using my contactless card, above using my Oyster?

Unlike with the Oyster, you don’t need to worry about topping up your card. As long as there are sufficient funds in your account, you can use your contactless card. It’s also cheaper than paying with cash; so you’ll only be charged a single fare of £1.35.

Can I still use my oyster card, instead of a contactless card?

Yes. If you don’t have a contactless card, or even if you do, you can still use your Oyster card. If you have a contactless card, please be sure to keep your Oyster card separately from your contactless card or there is a possibility that you could be charged on your contactless card, rather than your Oyster.

The right card

I’ve tapped my wallet onto the ticket machine but it has charged my contactless card, rather than my monthly pre-paid Oyster card. How do I get my money back?

Contact TfL, but ensure that in future you keep your contactless cards separate from your Oyster, if you want to pay with your Oyster card.

I had two contactless cards in my wallet and the wrong one was charged what can I do?

It is your responsibility to ensure that you use the card that you intend to pay with. If you expect that taking the charge off the wrong card may cause a difficulty with that card account, please speak to that card’s issuer. It is always best to take out the contactless card you wish to pay with from your wallet and touch it onto the card reader.

I tried to pay with my contactless card but it didn’t work. Why?

Check that the contactless card that you are trying to use has the contactless symbol on it. Your card may not be contactless enabled. If you know that you have a contactless card, you may have to touch it against the card reader for a second time, as the reader may not have picked up the transaction. Another reason that it may not have worked is if you did not remove your card from your wallet when you tapped in, the reader may have become confused as to which card to debit. Take your card out of your wallet and try again until you hear an acceptance beep and see the green light on the reader. It could be that your contactless card is broken and for this or any other reason where your card did not work, please contact your card issuer for advice if necessary.


Is the contactless card safe to use on the buses?

Yes, it is as safe as paying with contactless cards in any other retail outlet.

Can the bus payment readers be hacked and money taken out of my account fraudulently?

There has been no record of this happening.

The first time I’ve used my contactless card is on the bus and it was declined. Why is that?

Card security means there is a set number of times you can use your contactless card before you need to enter a PIN. If this happens on a bus, you will need to use either cash or your Oyster. This may be inconvenient, but card security always comes first.

Revenue inspection

If I’ve paid with my contactless card and a London Bus inspector wants to see my ticket, what do I need to show them?

The ticket inspector will want to see your payment card, to check the last four digits of your card and its expiry date, and match it to a list of those that have paid for travel on that journey. They should not ask for you to hand the card over or to see the security code on the back of your contactless card.

I thought I’d tapped in, but the ticket inspector said that I’d not, and now TfL are charging me a penalty fare.

It is your responsibility to ensure that the payment on the bus has worked. In future, make sure that the reader has beeped an acceptance and you see a green light. If you have any queries, check with your bus driver. TfL has an appeals process for penalty charges, so please contact TfL if you’d like to appeal.

If you have any further questions, click below to access the Travel for London Contactless site (

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