The truth about Smartcard

Last updated: Thursday, 8 October 2020

Still travelling with paper tickets? If you think Smartcard isn’t for you, you need to read this.

If you’re looking for a cleverer way to travel, you’ll find it with Smartcard. Just buy your tickets online, load onto your Smartcard and never wait in a ticket queue again. Just tap in and tap out. Sorted.

Myths busted

So what’s stopping everyone getting one? We’ll, we’ve heard some rumours about Smartcard that just aren’t true. So we wanted to set the record straight. Here are the top six myths about Smartcard.

It’s only for season tickets

Yes, Smartcard is great for commuters — you can buy a season ticket for one week, one month or one year, or for any period between one week and one year. But it’s great for less frequent travellers too. You can use a Smartcard for a 10-journey Flexipass ticket, and the 50-journey Flexipass between Glasgow and Edinburgh. You can add single tickets, Off-Peak returns and Anytime tickets as well.

You can only buy Smartcard tickets online

Sure, you can buy Smartcard tickets on the ScotRail website and with the ScotRail app. But you can also buy a Smartcard ticket at any staffed ScotRail station, or at one of our ticket vending machines.

I have to wait four hours before I can load my ticket

Buy a ticket at a station ticket desk or from a ticket vending machine, and you can load it to your card straight away.

The first time you buy a ticket online or with the app, it could take up to four hours before you can load the ticket to your card. This is to allow time for various security checks. If you buy online regularly and pay with the same card, the waiting time could be less. The best plan? Buy online the night before you travel. It’ll save you valuable time the next day.

Smart tickets are more expensive

They’re not. Whether you buy your tickets online, at a station or from a ticket vending machine, a Smartcard ticket costs exactly the same as a paper one.

Smartcard doesn’t offer anything I don’t get with a paper ticket

Wrong. Super Off-Peak Return tickets are for Smartcard users only. These tickets get you the cheapest fares when you travel between 11am and 3pm, and after 8pm to and from Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow on weekdays. Plus, Smartcard users can get access to discounts on high-street shopping, food, drink and leisure.

If I lose my card, I’ll lose the tickets loaded on it

You won’t. Log in to My ScotRail, report your lost Smartcard, and we’ll send you a new one within five working days. What’s more, we’ll load it with all your unused tickets already loaded. Now, you don’t get that with a paper ticket.

Ready to get Smart?

There’s lots more information about Smartcard, and how to get one, on our website .