Oyster card refunds: Cash for old cards, delays & overcharges

Got an Oyster card or use Transport for London (TfL)? There's a chance you may be owed a refund in one or more of three ways - there's big money sloshing about.

If you've an old Oyster card lying around that you no longer use (perhaps because you've switched to contactless), you could reclaim a share of the £332 million stuck on unused cards. You can also get refunds for tube delays, and reclaim up to a year's overcharges from failing to touch out (some have got £70+).

The latest TfL figures show there are more than 56 million Oyster cards out there which haven't been used for a year. And there's a whopping £332 million sitting on them, made up of £168 million in deposits and £164 million in pay-as-you-go credit.

If you no longer need an Oyster card, you can get a refund of both the deposit and any remaining pay-as-you-go credit. (Bear in mind your Oyster card will be stopped when you request a refund of the deposit, and you won't be able to use it again.) Here's how:

  • Online. To apply online, log on to your Oyster account (or sign up free). Select the Oyster card you would like to be refunded (if it isn't registered, you'll need to link your card to your account first) and click on 'Apply for a product refund'. Follow the instructions to get a refund to your bank account.

  • By phone. To apply over the phone, call TfL customer services on 0343 222 1234 (this costs the same as a normal 020 number) with your Oyster card details.

  • At stations. If you have £10 or less pay-as-you-go credit, you can get a refund at tube station ticket machines. Just touch your Oyster on the yellow card reader, select 'Oyster refund' and follow the instructions. The ticket machine will dispense a refund in cash.

  • By post. Write to TfL Customer Services, 4th Floor, 14 Pier Walk, London, SE10 0ES.

Getting a refund can take just a few minutes, and the amounts aren't trivial:

I lived in London for eight years, and built up a stack of pay-as-you-go Oyster cards – it always seemed handy to have another one spare. But when I moved out of London (and started using contactless whenever I visited), suddenly I was left with a pile of blue plastic.

So I logged on to Oyster, spent a satisfying five minutes adding them to my account and claiming refunds, and ended up claiming £67.85 in total.
– MSE Steve

Always claim a refund if your tube's delayed by 15 mins or more. Delays can be fury-inducing, but if your journey is delayed by at least 15 mins, you don't have to put up with it.

Whether you travelled using an Oyster card, contactless card or paper ticket, you can ask TfL for a refund. You'll get the value of a single fare for the distance you travelled.

The delay must be because of "reasons within TfL's control". This includes a defective train, faulty track or overrunning engineering work.

You can apply for a refund by logging on to the TfL website and clicking 'Refunds & replacements', or by calling 0343 222 1234 - though there's now also a free tool that can claim on your behalf. We've full help in our Tube Delay Refunds guide.

Check if you're owed a refund after failing to tap out. If you use an Oyster card or contactless payment on most TfL services (or National Rail in London), you must touch in and out. If not, you'll be charged the maximum fare, usually up to £8.

In 2017 TfL charged passengers a total of £67 million after they failed to tap their cards (though that's the total and not all of that will be able to be reclaimed). Yet there's a quick way to get up to a year's charges refunded, and some have got back £70+.

Just log on to the TfL website to view your journey history. Look for routes with a yellow warning triangle – they're usually incomplete. Then submit your claim by filling in the form below the information. We've a full how-to in the TfL Overcharge Refunds guide.

What if my Oyster card is lost or stolen? If you lose your Oyster card or it's stolen, notify TfL and it will transfer your credit onto a new Oyster card and prevent anyone from using the old card – as long as the card is registered. For more information on what to do in this scenario, see TfL's Refunds & Replacements guide.