Myki Auto Top-up: Awesome and evil at the same time.

As promised a while back, here is a bit of an explanation on Myki Auto Topup (as seen by me... and experienced by others).

Firstly you need to have your Myki Registered... it can't be an anonymous one.

You'll need to log in to the myki website at and then select "Topup" and "Setup Auto Topup" on the left.

Select the card you want the Auto Topup to apply to (if you have more than one).

On the next screen you need to set the parameters. So, you choose a balance (minimum $10) that you want your balance to fall to, and another amount (the auto top up amount) that you want applied automatically. So for instance, you would say "when my balance reaches $10, please top up $30". I don't see any point choosing any balance above $10 myself. Also you don't want to choose a small top up amount as if you do you'll be debiting your chosen bank account/credit card every other day. Personally if I was using auto top up I'd choose an amount similar to my regular weekly travel amount, but it's completely up to you.

The final step is to input your credit card details. You can also choose a direct debit to your bank account, but this requires a separate printed form and can not be completed online.

Once you've submitted the above, you need to wait until the Auto Topup instruction reaches your card, which in most cases should be the next day (in the same manner as online top ups).

What happens first, is that regardless of your balance, you will get a top up of the amount you chose. So if you chose $30 you'll get a $30 online top up. This means the Auto Topup is now working.

Once this happens, any time your balance falls below $10 (or whatever balance amount you chose) your card will be topped up automatically by your chose amount (eg $30).

This happens by storing an instruction on your card. So, when you touch your card to a reader or vending machine, it sees the instruction on your card. It says to itself "ah, an auto top up instruction on this card. Is the balance lower than the requested amount? If yes, then I will apply a top up of the requested amount. If not, I'll do nothing".

If it does apply an auto top up, what the Vending machine or reader next does, is send this information back to the Myki Central Computer. And this is where your credit card or bank account gets debited the correct amount.

For most people this will work fine. Online top-up is probably best for infrequent travellers or people who only use Public Transport every now and again, rather than regular weekly commuters who will benefit from a Myki Pass instead (and Myki Pass is not covered by online topup, sadly!).

I don't personally use online top up because I use Myki Pass however I know of others who do and they swear by it. Never having to go to a vending machine for top up is simply awesome they say and not having to line up on Monday morning to buy a new ticket is a major bonus.

This is however where the main problem with online topup may occur.

The most common issue would be that your credit card details have changed to the ones myki has on file (eg you get a new card with a different expiry date, you lose your card and get a new one with a new number, etc etc), and the transaction is rejected.

In this case, currently, your myki is BLOCKED. Because you have a top up on your card that has not been paid for, you will be unable to use your myki from this point on. You need to clear this "debt" (I'm not sure how this is done... you can't do a top up any more because your card no longer works).

As far as I'm aware, you need to actually send your card in to have it re-activated, or get a brand new card. I know of people (here's an example) who have had this happen to them.

Apparently this problem is being fixed so that it's not going to be such a major inconvenience if this happens to you, but at the moment it does seem like a major pain if it does.

So, to sum it up:

Auto Topup is awesome when it works.

If your credit card or bank account is declined for some reason, it can be a major inconvenience.

If you are a regular commuter, Myki Pass is probably a better option for you and isn't currently covered by Auto Topup.


  1. Personally I think that the myki pass should have some sort of option to auto-renew or topup. For a regular traveller, it would be fantastic for budgeting to know that you can pay monthly or fortnightly etc for your travel needs. Hassle free. :)


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