Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Notes on replacing a lost Oyster card

Oyster Card
Oyster Card by david55king on Flickr, used under a Creative Commons License

I managed to lose my West Yorkshire MetroCard last week, and, along with it, my Oyster Card. You may think it’s odd that a non-Londoner like me would have an Oyster card, but there are actually hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of people like me who own these cards despite making only occasional trips to London. It’s because it’s so much cheaper using one of these cards on public transport in London, even for short visits, and the credit balance on them doesn’t expire.

So anyhow, I managed to lose my card, which I’ve had since 2005. Luckily, I’d registered it online – and if you have an Oyster card and have not registered it online, you should do so. This is because it will make your life significantly easier if you lose it. As I had registered my card, it was a simple case of filling out a form to get a new card.

Your new card will probably get to you in around 3 working days. This is pretty good going, especially if you rely on your card for daily travel and have a travelcard loaded onto it. Interestingly, you card is dispatched from somewhere in Aberdeenshire, in the far north of Scotland. This seemed slightly bizarre until I remembered that someone I know who lives up there takes calls for a London cab firm.

What’s more, your replacement card is free – you don’t need to pay for a new one – and any balance on your old card is moved over. Also, your old card is cancelled. So, if having lost it someone finds it, it’s useless to them, and they can’t spend your credit.

Your new card also comes with a new Oyster card wallet. The new wallets are charcoal grey – when I got mine 7 years ago, it was the same pale blue as used on the card. The wallet also advises you in three places that the card is re-usable – on the cover and also inside. Presumably people binning their cards after only using them for a short time is something of a problem.

So I now have my West Yorkshire MetroCard in a London Oyster wallet, thus confusing people.

My experience with replacing my West Yorkshire MetroCard was slightly more painful. Replacing the card, which is paper with a passport photo taped on and not a smartcard like Oyster, cost £5, and it was again 3 working days until the replacement arrived – sadly, this was over a weekend – due to it being part of a corporate scheme with my employer. The £5 cost is in spite of my MetroCard being two pieces of card with a photo stuck on one of them, as opposed to Oyster which is a smartcard. Eventually Metro will roll out smartcard versions of the MetroCards but it may be another couple of years yet.

One Comment

  1. Personally, I recommend people NOT registering the card: I paid cash for mine at a Tube station, and maintain it with cash. Oyster cards contain a complete record of where you’ve been, when – I’m not prepared to link that to anything personally identifiable.

    I don’t keep more than ~£10 on the card at any one time – it wouldn’t be a disaster if I lost it.