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Using Google Pay on bus/trains in England, Scotland, Wales (and NOT going to London)

We will spend 3 months in England, Scotland and Wales, traveling via bus and train. We want to each use our own phone and Google Pay to purchase train and bus tickets.

I should probably include that in Google Pay we have the same credit card number, but different names on each card. Is this a problem with tapping in/out for trains?

Any advice or experiences using Google Pay on bus/trains?

Please, no advice for London, we're not going there this time.

Thank you, oh wise ones.

Posted by
6823 posts

This might be helpful. Using Google Pay for Transportation

Regardless, I would suggest that you have it ready to use but if the payee does not accept it, be prepared with a backup credit card or cash. I use Apple Wallet and have found that I can use it in many places, both here and overseas, but there are lots of places that do not take it. So I always have cash or a card ready to use.

I also use Google Pay but it's limited since I do not have an Android phone. That being said, you should not have any problems with having the same credit card and different names, but you may want to let your credit card company know you are traveling. Some don't ask for it; some do; but I think it helps.

Posted by
15551 posts

When you ask about train and bus tickets, do you mean between cities or within a city?

I know the Manchester transit system allows you to use Google Pay on their buses and trams.

For intercity travel, I used the train/bus company apps to purchase tickets directly onto my phone. Most credit card machines accept contactless but there is a limit of 100 GBP per transaction.

However, Google Pay claims that if you unlock your phone you can charge an unlimited amount.

I haven't tried it.

Posted by
33125 posts

unless you are talking about London (you're not) or some metros, you won't be tapping in and out on trains. You need tickets. You can get virtual tickets on your phone for some operators but not others - there are 21 semi-autonomous different companies running trains. They all sell each other's tickets but payment methods vary and only some use virtual tickets. You would need to link the apps to a card. I don't think you can do that with any wallets. Or you can buy tickets from a machine with contactless but they will be full price. Or you can make on-line purchases with a card and collect at the ticket machine inserting the same card.

Provincial railways haven't adopted the same zonal schemes as in London, generally.

You CANNOT just get on a train and hope to pay the conductor or ticket inspector - expect to pay fines starting at £20 plus double the normal fare, often being removed from the service.

Posted by
33125 posts

you may be able to use it on buses, but all bus companies are private and have different rules.

Posted by
18 posts

Mardee: Thank you for the reminders and the link. We travel every year, but this is our first 3-month trip without a vehicle. Every day will be an adventure, and then some.

Frank II: Between cities/towns, sometimes by train, other times by bus. I appreciate knowing the transaction limit.

Hey Nigel: We planned to buy train tickets in advance online and download to our phones, I forgot we don't have to tap in/out for that. I did not know we could buy online and collect at the ticket machine with the same card. That will be extremely useful because our first base in Bridge of Allan is not a staffed station.

I would like to know what you think of the National Rail app; it has bleak reviews. I am leery of getting a senior card on the app, only to have the app fail. So we will take the time to fill out a form and get a physical card upon arrival.

Thank you all for this information!

Posted by
373 posts

@Saxongirl

Using your mobile phone and apps like Google Pay is the future.

A couple of questions:

Do you have a physical card with a chip, or

Has your financial institution set up your account(s) via virtual cards?

Regards Ron

Posted by
18 posts

Hi Ron,
Indeed phone and apps are the future. I use Google Pay frequently and live/die by my Pixel 5a 5G. We have had chips for a long time, but not contactless, and are working with our credit union about that.

Accounts via virtual cards: do you mean my Google Pay? Thanks for asking. I think you are about to teach me something...

We are also going to get a second credit card from elsewhere, just to have the backup. Given this is a 3-month trip, we will need options in case of a problem.

I am a little leery of the National Rail app given its preponderance of negative reviews, especially following its latest "improvements." Once you commit to a senior card in the app, you cannot switch to a physical card. So if the app fails, we are dead in the water. The senior card is a significant fare savings.

Posted by
3122 posts

I'd just like to applaud Nigel for mentioning "there are 21 semi-autonomous different companies running trains. They all sell each other's tickets but payment methods vary and only some use virtual tickets." Wow!

Posted by
33125 posts

Once you commit to a senior card in the app, you cannot switch to a physical card. So if the app fails, we are dead in the water. The senior card is a significant fare savings.

Agreed.

But - I see both "we" and "Senior Railcard" there. Senior Railcards cost £30 each, and if there are two of you that's £60 per year, physical or virtual. If there are two of you, and if you will do all your long distance trains together and most of your short distance ones together, and if you are willing to travel after 9:30 if it is a weekday, then £30 for just one Two Together Railcard is a better deal, putting £30 back into your pocket.

Posted by
18 posts

Thank you so much, Nigel.

The Two Together cards give the same discount as Senior cards, but that time limit is a problem several times in our travels.

BUT, when I searched the National Rail site and acted like I was going to purchase tickets before the 9:30 am M-F slot, it seemed to be okay. It also quoted me the discounted fare for a 7 am train from Inverness to Thurso.

Would the site sell me the ticket, and then I would have a problem when my Two Together card is checked on the train?

Posted by
18 posts

Thanks again, Nigel. Yep, I had previously reviewed the rules and I agree the Two Together will give us less flexibility for travel than the Senior card. We aren't staying in any large cities, and quite a few of our transits will begin before 9:30 M-F.

I very much appreciate your bringing up the subject and poking me to explore the Two Together card. I recall looking at it about 6 months ago, but a lot has happened in the meanwhile.

I did read that National Rail limits contactless transactions to £45. We will purchase tickets in advance, online, for those longer, more expensive transits.

I feel more confident after everyone's contributions. This is our first long-term trip using only train/bus. I just don't want to navigate and keep my driver on the correct side of the road at the same time! We are trying to have a slower, more relaxed trip and are very much looking forward to meeting folks and learning.

Posted by
33125 posts

I did read that National Rail limits contactless transactions to £45.

I haven't looked recently - the national limit used to be £45, several months ago the limit is now £100.

Perhaps they haven't kept the webpage updated, or perhaps they have purposely kept theirs low, but I'd be surprised...