It’s Rail Aid month, and there’s a reminder that if you have an old Oyster card knocking around, you can donate the unused credit to the Railway Children charity, which supports at risk children in India, East Africa and the UK.

TfL has supported Railway Children for many years by enabling customers to donate Oyster cards which are no longer required in donation boxes located on the network, such as at Heathrow Airport.

What you can do now though is use ticket machines in tube stations and some bus stations to donate unused Oyster card credit to the Railway Children.

Thanks to the pandemic and working from home, a lot of people have switched to pay as you go ticket purchases using contactless payments via their bank card instead of having a season ticket on an Oyster card. If the Oyster card isn’t being used, it could have some unspent credit on the card that could be donated to charity.

Customers at any London Underground station can donate credit or deposit from their Oyster card on any of the larger ticket machines that accept notes, by simply touching their Oyster Card, selecting refund option, then selecting charity refund option and touching their card again.

Ticket machine screen display

Money raised by Rail Aid helps the charity to deliver services, partnering with grassroots organisations with local knowledge and established community relationships, supporting projects specific to the needs of the local area.

Andy Byford, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “The pandemic has had a huge impact on everyone and this month, across the railway industry, we are giving a real focus to supporting Rail Aid and helping children who are at risk. I’m delighted that we’ve already been able to help with more than £300,000 in donations since 2009 and hope that we can build on that figure going forward. I would encourage everyone to consider donating unused credit to supporting this important cause.”

In addition, customers at London Overground stations can also donate directly to Railway Children by choosing to add a donation when topping up their Oyster cards at certain ticket machines at 81 stations across the network.


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  1. Ricky says:

    The ticket machines only give you a refund (charitable or otherwise) if you have £10 or less on your card. If you have more you’re directed to the Oyster website which I hope also has the charity option, though I haven’t checked.

  2. Chris Rogers says:

    Maybe we should be donating to TfL, since they seem to need the cash…

  3. Mary Mullins says:

    I have Oyster Cards belonging to people now sadly passed away. Is it possible for me to post these to a named person so that any outstanding balance might be used for the Railway Children Charity?

    M.M. Isle of Wight

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