Myki Online Topup FAQ

One of the main issues with Myki so far has been issues with the Online Topup facility. If you regularly search for myki on twitter, it's one of the main bugbears people have, they bitch and complain and in some instances it's fair enough, there have been problems. But one of the main problems is that a lot of people don't understand exactly how it works. So here, at least in my experience, is an explanation.

First, you need to understand the "card is king" concept. The balance of your Myki card, is actually stored on the card itself. Unlike a bank account or pre-paid mobile phone, where the balance is stored on the computers of the relevant Bank or Telco. So, for instance, if you topup your card at a Myki Vending Machine (or CVM) it's instant. You put the money in the machine, or pay by EFTPOS, and the machine updates the balance on your card. Then, later, the balance will update on the Myki Website. So the balance on the website is only a reflection of the actual balance on the card... which explains why the website balance is not always the same as the card balance if you check it at a CVM. The website will always be a day or so behind, at least, as it takes that long for the topup made at the CVM to reach the Myki Computer and update your balance on the website.

So, when you do an online topup, whats meant to happen is this:

1. You apply for the topup at for arguments sake 10AM.
2. Sometime that evening or overnight, the myki computer gathers all the topup requests into what seems to be called an "actionlist".
3. It sends this actionlist to every single myki reader and vending machine on the network (apparently some 20,000 of them when Myki is fully up and running). NOTE: It does not send it to the blue "myki check" machines. So don't try and collect your online topup there.
4. You touch your card either to the reader or a vending machine. If a vending machine you get a notification that your topup has been automatically applied. If at a reader, you get a green and orange dot/light showing that the topup has been applied.
5. The vending machine/reader then sends confirmation that the top-up has been applied back to the myki central computer. It clears the topup out of the actionlist so next time all devices are updated they no longer know about your topup.

Note: You can't get your topup twice. So if you touch on at one station and receive your topup, and then touch off somewhere else, you won't get the topup again even though it's likely that reader still has your topup in it's actionlist. There is obviously some record of the topup on your card so the reader knows not to apply it again.

So the main reason online top-ups aren't instant is the fact this actionlist has to be sent to every single myki device. This is why, unless a radical redesign takes place, you will never get your online top-up instantly. For example I once applied for an online topup. The next day, I travelled on trams only. I didn't get my topup until the third tram I travelled on, meaning the actionlist doesn't always get to every single device, sometimes it might take longer than 24 hours it would appear.

But, in my experience it's mostly overnight. I've applied for a topup at 10pm and it was there at a train station reader the next morning. But, conversely, there have been times where it's taken weeks for a topup to arrive. Thankfully it appears these problems are (mostly) behind us.

The other main problem can be that once your topup is applied, the reader somehow fails to notify myki central, meaning even though your card is topped up, the topup instruction is never cleared from the actionlist, and so any subsequent topup you apply for will never reach your card. If this happens you have no choice but to contact to the myki call centre to have the topup cleared from the actionlist. This also seems to have been rectified as well mostly, but i'd imagine there are still some instances where this might happen.

Please note: All of the above is only anecdotal, but from what I've experienced in the 10 months since Myki launched in Melbourne it's basically how the system works.


  1. Fascinating - a friend had a problem with this yesterday so hopefully this will clear things up for him.

  2. In addition to this matter, there is Myki's ability to top up via BPay, which I have been using.

    However I annoyed that they say it will take 5 business days to process, when they send you an email just as soon as it hits your Web account, which can be overnight.

    I wish they would be more clear on that.

    This seems to be a separate matter from the time it takes to appear on your card.


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