Recently, a BBC News article highlighted the shocking fact that 66 million inactive Oyster cards are estimated to amounted to a wealth of around £400 million.

The article, found here, delves into the idea that these 66 million Oysters have not been used in at least the past year and that Transport for London (TfL) are sitting on a fortune that could be claimed back by passengers. So, how can you claim back this money? And how much fortune actually is there?

Where are these Oyster cards?

Simply put, they are everywhere. These little blue cards get left in your coats, bags and around the house. However, they also get lost in unexpected places. Locations such as tube and train stations and bus stops are a given. However, places like family attractions, arenas, hotels, shopping centres and universities also find large numbers of lost oyster cards.

During summer, NotLost handled lost property enquiries for 25+ festivals. These included Eastern Electrics, BST Hyde Park and more. As expected, we received enormous numbers of enquires about lost phones, driving licenses and bags. However, we had a far smaller amount of oyster card enquires.

Thus, we ended up with a LOT of unclaimed oyster cards.


We were learning, and still are, the best way to handle these unclaimed items with care and sensitivity. As discussed in a previous blog, TfL do not accept these oyster cards back again. Therefore, the next rational step was to shred them and dispose of them sustainably.  

However, it would seem now we were missing out on a small fortune of money on these Oyster cards.

How much could I claim?

BBC claim the average balance on an unused Oyster card is just £3.46. However, you also have to add on the £5 deposit needed to get the Oyster in the first place. Furthermore, there are 784 cards in circulation with the maximum balance of £90 on them! There could be any sum of money on there, so why not just have a go?

How do I get the money back off of these old Oyster cards?

NotLost have provided an easy guide on how to gain any money you might be entitled to from old Oyster cards. Hence, simply follow the flowchart and find out how you can get some cash back! Firstly, f the oyster card is your own and you don’t use it anymore, follow the left side. Alternatively, if you are a member of a business with an abundance of cards that are not yours, follow the right side

Oyster card flowchart

Download this helpful PDF chart here

So, how did we get on? 

Firstly, we headed down to Blackfriars Station with the expired lost Oyster cards remaining from the festivals. Next, at the ticket machine, it was easy to refund the cards that had £0-10 on them – we got £25 out of just four cards! However, we found quite a few cards held more than £10, thus we could not claim this money. 


Time to donate!

In order for the cash on these Oyster cards to go to good use, we are passionate that it is donated to Railway Children. Railway Children is an international children’s charity working with street children in India, East Africa and the UK. They fight for vulnerable children who live alone and ensure they get to street children before the streets get to them. In order for any cash left on these cards to get to the charity, we recommend packaging up your Oyster cards and posting them to their HQ at: 

Railway Children
1 The Commons
CW11 1EG
United Kingdom

railway children logo

In future, all of our Oyster cards in expired lost property will be taken to the charity drop off points at Liverpool Street or Kings Cross St or packaged and sent to Railway Children HQ. Will you get involved by giving back? It’s super easy, means the money is not sat there unclaimed and, most importantly benefits someone in need. 

It’s easy to claim the money off your Oyster card for yourself and just as easy to donate it to someone in need! 

Here at NotLost, we’re not only passionate about lost property. We also care about the environment, sustainability and partnering with charitable causes. However, if your lost property process needs a revamp then look no further. Head to our how it works page or explore some of our successful case studies