Smartcard FAQs

You're ready to become the boss of your commute, now it's time to get smarter about Smartcard. We've got all the answers you'll need to make sure you enjoy travel that's easier than ever.

FAQs

There are two ways to get a ScotRail Smartcard:

You can choose a photo or non-photo Smartcard when you apply:

  • Photo Smartcard: Choose for Season Tickets, single, return or Flexipass tickets, any SPT Subway ticket, and for optional extras such as Club 50 membership, Highland Railcard or Under 25 Advance
  • Non-photo Smartcard: Choose if you only buy single, return or Flexipass tickets, or SPT Pay As You Go credit

You should receive your Smartcard within five working days.

No. Your first ScotRail Smartcard is free – but we may charge a replacement fee in some circumstances.

Some of our Smartcard products are age-dependent. We need your date of birth so we can offer you the relevant range of products.

You'll need to upload a passport-style photo if you're applying for a photo Smartcard. Your photo will be printed on the card.

You can’t buy a Smart Season Ticket without a photo Smartcard, and other Smart products – such as Club 50 membership, Under 25 Advance Purchase and Highland Railcard – also need a photo Smartcard.

You won't be asked to upload a photo if you're applying for a non-photo Smartcard (a Smartcard that doesn't have your photo printed on it). You can buy Smart single, return and Flexipass tickets, and SPT Pay As You Go credit to put on a non-photo Smartcard.

A photo Smartcard is our most flexible card. Because it has a photo of you printed on it, you can:

  • Use for all tickets on ScotRail services:
    • Season Tickets
    • Anytime and Off-Peak singles and returns
    • Super Off-Peak Day Returns
    • Flexipass 10
  • Use for all SPT Subway tickets including Season Tickets
  • Add other products you may be eligible for at any time e.g. Highland Railcard

If you join Club 50 in the future, you’ll need to apply for a separate Club 50 Smartcard.

You’ll be shown how to upload a photo when you apply online. You can either upload a photograph or take a fresh one with your device's camera – simply follow the instructions on screen.

Photo rules

  • The picture must be a photo of you and nothing else
  • It must be of passport picture quality (light background, only head and shoulders visible, face not covered and in focus)
  • Your face must be evenly and well lit
  • Your face must not be obscured by hats or hair
  • We prefer colour pictures but black and white images are acceptable too

If your Season Ticket is on your Smartcard, and your photo is printed on the card, you'll no longer need to carry a separate photocard.

You can't put a Smart Season Ticket on a non-photo Smartcard.

1. Buy tickets
Buy Smart tickets online, via the ScotRail App, at our ticket vending machines and booking offices.

2. Load tickets onto your Smartcard

Bought online? You have two options –

  1. We recommend loading your ticket to your Smartcard using our free ScotRail App
  2. Collect at your chosen station

Bought at a ticket vending machine? When your payment’s complete, the machine will prompt you to tap your Smartcard to instantly load your ticket.

Bought at a booking office? Your ticket’s already loaded – you’re ready to go.

3. Tap to travel​
Once your ticket is loaded, tap your Smartcard at the ticket gates or platform validator and wait for the beep. You’re tapped in and ready to roll!

Tickets on Smartcard can be used on the services of any operator, subject to the conditions of the specific type of ticket you purchase.

Your Smartcard can be used on any ScotRail route. You can buy Season, Anytime and Off-Peak tickets for a Smartcard.

Super Off-Peak and Flexipass tickets can also be loaded onto a Smartcard on some routes. It will show on the booking page online whether this is an option for your chosen journey.

ScotRail tickets and products

You can buy:

  • Smart Season Tickets, Anytime and Off-Peak singles and returns on all ScotRail routes
  • Smart Super Off-Peak Day Return tickets on certain routes
  • Smart Flexipass 10 tickets on over 1,350 journey options across 28 routes in Scotland
  • Club 50 membership, Highland Railcard and Under 25 Advance

ScotRail Smartcards are currently accepted on ScotRail trains, the SPT Subway and participating GrassHOPPER bus services. You can also use ScotRail Smart Season Tickets on LNER services.

You can buy SPT Subway tickets and SPT Pay As You Go credit to put onto your Smartcard.

Buy at SPT Subway ticket machines and Subway station ticket offices.

You can now load GrassHOPPER products onto your ScotRail Smartcard.

Buy from the driver on board participating bus services.

1. Buy tickets
Buy Smart tickets online, via the ScotRail App, at our ticket vending machines and booking offices.

2. Load tickets onto your Smartcard

Bought online? You have two options –

  1. We recommend loading your ticket to your Smartcard using our free ScotRail App
  2. Collect at your chosen station

Bought at a ticket vending machine? When your payment’s complete, the machine will prompt you to tap your Smartcard to instantly load your ticket.

Bought at a booking office? Your ticket’s already loaded – you’re ready to go.

You can load ScotRail Smart tickets onto ScotRail Smartcards, and the full range of Scottish ITSO Smartcards.

You can buy Anytime and Off-Peak singles and returns, and Super Off-Peak day return tickets for Smartcard on the ScotRail app.

Click ‘Plan & Buy’ and enter your journey details. You’ll see the Smartcard delivery option if you’re buying tickets at least four hours before you travel.

To load tickets to your Smartcard with the ScotRail App -

  1. Open the ScotRail App and tap ‘My Tickets’ at the bottom of the screen.
  2. Tap the round red button, and scan your Smartcard by simply hold your Smartcard against the back of your phone for a few seconds. Any tickets ready to be loaded, will appear on screen.

NFC (Near-Field Communication) lets two electronic devices communicate when they are close to each other – in this instance your phone and your Smartcard. Most new Android smartphones have the technology built in.

You can collect all ScotRail Smart tickets, plus new and renewed Club 50 membership, Highland and Under 25 Advance Railcards.

You can currently load Smart tickets onto ScotRail and SPT Subway Smartcards using the ScotRail app.

We plan to extend the functionality to other card types in the future.

NFC-enabled Android phones only.

Here are a few things to check:

  • Have you got an NFC-enabled phone?
    Most new smartphones have NFC technology built in. The Smartcard functionality doesn’t work on phones without NFC
  • Do you have the latest version of the ScotRail App?
    Open your App Store and check for updates
  • Is NFC switched on?
    You should be prompted to switch on NFC when you hold your Smartcard against the phone – or check in the phone settings
  • Are you holding your Smartcard to the NFC zone on your phone?
    The NFC zone is the part of your phone where the NFC chip is located. It’s usually the back cover of your phone, but it could also be the screen. Try holding your Smartcard flat against the back of your phone first
  • Is your phone in a case?
    Remove the case and try again
  • It's still not working, what else can you do?
    NFC technology is relatively new and quality can vary depending upon the manufacturer and even the device type

Contact our Smartcard team on 0344 811 0141.

ScotRail Smartcards

Call our Smartcard team on 0344 811 0141. They'll send you a new card, and cancel your old one to make sure no one else uses it. There might be an admin charge for replacement cards.

Once you receive your new Smartcard, you'll be able to get your remaining tickets by tapping your card on one of the following:

  • Ticket gate
  • Platform validator
  • Ticket vending machine
  • ScotRail App

SPT Subway Smartcards

If you’ve lost your Subway Smartcard with ScotRail ticket/s on it, contact the SPT Smartcard team

They’ll cancel your card and arrange a new one. They’ll also manage the process to get your ScotRail ticket/s transferred onto your new card.