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Picking up prepaid train tickets

I'll be travelling to England this month, and I've purchased train tickets from both South West and Virgin. In both cases, I understand I need to pick up the tickets from the unattended kiosks at the station upon arrival, which will require the card I paid with as well as my booking code. But is there any need to enter the PIN for the card I used? The card I used was not a chip-and-PIN card (it's an American chip-and-signature card), because I habitually use my Amazon card for most online purchases. I do have a chip-and-PIN card available, so if necessary, I should be able to cancel and re-book.

Can anyone confirm whether the PIN is required, or if any chip card should be fine for this purpose?

Posted by
8632 posts

You should be able to pick up all your tickets at any manned ticket station at the start of your trip with your booking code. Just step into the ticket office and let them help you. Your chip and signature card will work fine there. I am assuming that you will have access to a regular train station with a ticket office at your point of entry.

No PIN needed. You just put the card in then take it out again. You've already paid. It's just for ID.

(In fact it doesn't always seem to need the card you used for the transaction, just any card... but I wouldn't rely on that.)

Posted by
5383 posts

Whether it needs to be the same card can depend on both the operator and the station. It is intended to stop people buying tickets in bulk and reselling.

Posted by
4630 posts

I'm guessing here but I think it just reads your personal details off the magnetic strip, not the chip, so you don't even need a chip.

Posted by
8889 posts

What you definately do need is the alphanumeric code that came with the confirmation. You will need to type that in.
You do not need to enter a PIN, it just uses the card for an ID check to stop somebody else stealing your tickets. Even if the card has expired in the meantime, you can still use it.

There is a YouTube video "how to collect your tickets":
And text/picture info here:

I have read you can use a different card with the same name on it, but I have never dared try this myself.

Posted by
631 posts

as long as the machine can read the card details (number, expiry) it should be fine, it's just matching the card to the booking which has already been paid for. Make sure you let the machine print everything before you walk away. A one way journey gets a ticket, round trip gets two, reservations get a ticket for each seat, multiply by the number of people - and add a receipt! It can look like you're making carneval decorations when you pull the chain of paper out.

Posted by
11294 posts

I had some difficulty getting my pre-booked Virgin Trains ticket out of the machine (I don't remember specifics), so I went to the ticket window. With the booking reference number and my credit card, they retrieved it in seconds, and I was on my way. I inserted the card's chip, but didn't need a PIN (it's a chip and signature card). Easy-peasy.

Posted by
631 posts

I'm not suggesting that anyone on this forum would be so dumb but.......

I once had to help a woman who was trying to collect her train ticket from the parking pay machine!

Posted by
43 posts

Thanks to help from this forum, I was able to figure out the prepa train ticket situation. Our first train was at Bath. I followed the prompts, entered the reservation number, used the original credit card I had purchased the tickets with, and the tickets popped out. I then was brave enough to get all of the tickets, to be used in different cities, some round trip, some had reserved seats, and different rail companies----all from that same unmanned ticket booth. It was quite a stack of tickets as one trip also had separate tickets as you had to transfer to a bus at Didcote Parkway. I then had to carefully check each set of tickets as we used them to make sure I had the correct ones and all of them!! But it worked.