Guide to contactless travel

With contactless payment options becoming more widespread on public transport, it’s important to be aware of potential issues that may arise when using contactless payments for travel and how to best avoid them.

Card clashes

It’s important to tap only the one card you wish to use to pay for your travel. Card clashes can occur if you tap more than one card at a time on the reader, for example if you tap your whole wallet against the reader.

This can cause the following issues:

  • The wrong card could be charged
  • The card reader may not be able to read any card
  • One card may be read at the beginning of a journey, and another card at the end, meaning that you are not charged the correct fee or twice

To avoid these issues, it’s important to take your Rooster Card out of your wallet and only tap this against the contactless reader.

Devices near your Rooster Card

Keeping your Rooster Card next to a device that has a NFC (near field communication) chip in, such as a phone, can also cause problems when making contactless payments. This can cause interference when trying to make the contactless payment, meaning that the card reader cannot read the Rooster Card.

To avoid this from happening, keep your Rooster Card separate from your phone, especially when making contactless payments. It’s important to only tap your Rooster Card on the card terminal.

Transport companies blocking cards due to declines

Some transport companies (including buses) may block a card for a set amount of days if a card is declined via contactless; the period of time this block is in place varies between service providers, you can view some examples below. If you think your child has been affected by this then please reach out to us via or via the Contact Us button in the app.

Most transport companies do a zero value (£0.00) authorisation on the card when you tap the contactless reader to check your card is active. They then charge the card the following morning. This means if you’ve then spent your bus money elsewhere between the journey and the following morning, the bus company is unable to authorise the payment for the journey, they are likely to block your card.

How long the card is blocked varies from company to company, some will unblock the card the day after they’ve successfully settled the payment, others will leave the block in place for a set number of days. There’s a table below with some examples.

Company name No of days blocked for Link to the company's help page
Stagecoach 45 - Or permanently if your card is declined 3 times Stagecoach help page
First Buses 1 - They will try to take the funds again, and once funds have been taken, they unblock the card First Buses help page
Lothian Buses Until you’ve been to their site and paid any outstanding fees Lothain Buses help page

If your child’s card is being declined when trying to pay for travel via contactless, then please get in touch with us on or via the Contact Us button in the app. We can then check if the bus company has since collected the money for the journey and can advise on when the card can be used for travel again.