For years, public transport in Budapest felt outdated. But in June 2019, they took a big step forward into the 21st century with mobile tickets for Budapest’s public transport.
While you can still get a paper ticket for public transport in Budapest, there’s also an app available for mobile tickets, or mobiljegy in Hungarian.
Here’s everything you need to know about Budapest’s mobile tickets!
- Where do I download the mobile ticket app & how do I sign up?
- How do I buy a mobile ticket for Budapest?
- Do I validate my Budapest mobile public transport ticket?
- How do I show my mobile ticket during an inspection?
- Can I still use a paper ticket for public transport in Budapest?
- Paper vs. Mobile: Pros and Cons
- What else do I need to know about Budapest’s mobile ticket?
Where do I download Budapest’s mobile ticket app & how do I sign up?
The app is called Mobiljegy for public transport by Nemzeti Mobilfizetési Zrt. You can search for it in the app store.
The app is available in English, and signing up is very easy.
Once installed, fill in the form to register. Then choose the invoicing method (personal or business). I went with personal, as this will apply to most people.
Fill in your address and continue. You will receive a confirmation email with an activation link. This link will take you to Nemzeti Mobilfizetési’s website to log in, but you don’t need to log in here. You can now log in to your account on the app.
As you sign in for the first time, the app will ask you for permission to access your location and if you’d like to receive notifications.
You will then see the ‘My tickets’ screen. This is where you can purchase your first ticket.
How do I buy a mobile ticket for Budapest?
You can buy your Budapest mobile ticket from the app’s home screen once you’re logged in, or click the + icon that says ‘Purchase’ on the bottom of your screen.
Tickets available on the app are:
- 100E Airport Shuttle Bus single ticket
- 24-hour Budapest travel card
- 72-hour Budapest travel card
- 7-day Budapest travel card
- 15-day Budapest pass, also for parents, pupils, students, pensioners and business
- Monthly Budapest pass, also for parents, pupils, students, pensioners and business
After you pick a mobile public transport ticket/card/pass, you will see a screen to add details.
You can set the validity here. Please note the ticket won’t become valid for two minutes after purchase. You can’t just hop on a bus and buy your ticket when the control staff gets on. You also can’t rush to the bus/tram/metro and buy your ticket on the way unless you’re lucky (try at your own risk 😉 ).
Add the ID number from your ID-card, passport, driving license, travel ID, or student ID. An ID-number is required so you can’t transfer your ticket.
For the 100E airport shuttle bus tickets, you can enter the number of tickets and it doesn’t need to be linked to an ID.
There seems to be an option to save a card, but I haven’t managed to save one yet. So after filling in your details, tap on ‘Next’ to see the overview screen. The ‘Pay’ button on this screen will take you to an in-app browser page to add your credit card details. Go ahead as usual. Just so you know, you don’t need to create an account here if you don’t want to.
As soon as your payment comes through, you’ll see a screen that lets you know your purchase was successful. Now your ticket will show on your ‘My ticket’ screen.
Do I validate my Budapest mobile public transport ticket?
On your ‘My tickets’ screen, there will be a green ribbon on your ticket when it’s valid. Most of the time, you won’t need to scan a QR code before boarding.
In some cases, you’ll need to present a valid ticket to the driver or control staff. That’s when you scan a QR code. Simply click the ‘Scan code for ride’ button on the ticket and scan. An animation will pop up on your screen, and that’s what you show to the driver or ticket inspector. Note that you’ll need a live data connection to validate your ticket.
- Buses with front-door boarding. On buses that only allow front-door boarding, you will need to scan a validation code as you get in. The validation code is a QR code that’s usually located next to the entrance door, on the validation machine, and the driver’s screendoor.
Airport shuttle bus 100E only allows front door boarding. In case you bought tickets for your friends or family, please note you’ll need to validate every ticket one by one.
- Metro stations. Many metro stations have guards at the entrance of the metro stations to check your ticket. You can find the QR codes on ticket machines and validation machines located around the entrance. Alternatively, click the ‘Metro stations’ button in the top right corner of your ticket and simply select the correct station before walking in. This is an excellent option during rush hour!
As I said, your ticket isn’t usually checked. However, sometimes control staff will enter for a mid-transport inspection.
How do I show my mobile ticket during an inspection?
Sometimes control staff will come into buses and trams for a mid-transport inspection or to check everyone coming out of a metro station. In this case, click on ‘Details’ on your ticket’s bottom and show the ticket code on your phone for the ticket inspector to scan.
You can recognize control staff by the purple/blue armbands with the BKK logo. They should be wearing this on their upper arm, although many inspectors don’t put this on until they are on the bus/tram/metro, and it’s left the station.
Can I still use a paper public transport ticket in Budapest?
Yes! If you’re more comfortable with using paper tickets, go ahead! These are still available at ticket offices, and the purple ticket machines located at train stations, metro stations (usually above ground!), and many bus stops.
In fact, not all tickets are available on the mobile ticket app! If you want to get a single ticket or the 10-ticket booklet, you still need to go the paper way.
Paper tickets vs. mobile tickets: Pros and cons
Pros of Budapest’s mobile public transport tickets
On one hand, the mobile public transport tickets in Budapest are excellent. There’s a much smaller chance of losing my phone than losing a flimsy paper ticket the size of my pinky finger (for single tickets) or a credit card (for day/week tickets).
It also saves you from queueing at the airport or busier stations, and you can buy your tickets ahead of time. While you’re waiting for your suitcase to roll off the luggage belt, or while you’re having breakfast and planning the rest of your day, for example.
Cons of the mobile ticket app
But, just like everything, also Budapest’s mobile public transport tickets come with disadvantages.
Not all tickets are available yet. You’ll still have to line up for single tickets, for example.
Sometimes it takes a minute for the app to load, which can be a problem if you’re in a hurry. Try to remember to open the mobile ticket app before you need to scan, just in case.
Your battery can die! You use your phone a lot while exploring Budapest, so if you don’t have an external charger (or already finished that too), you’ll need to make sure to have enough battery left to get home. If your phone dies anyway, buy a single paper ticket at the ticket machine for 350 HUF (about €1) to avoid fines.
What else should I know about Budapest’s public transport app?
- What do I need for the app to work? You need a live mobile data connection and a working camera on your phone.
- Can I buy tickets for my friends/family on my phone? Yes, but you will need to buy each ticket separately and add everyone’s personal ID-number. During validation or control, each ticket has to be shown separately, so for faster service, it’s recommended that everyone buys their ticket on their own phone.
You CAN buy more than one airport shuttle bus ticket in one transaction, and you don’t need to link it to ID-numbers, but these still have to be validated one by one.
- Can I buy my ticket in advance? Yes! You can buy tickets up to 30 days before their validity starts.
- How do I see if my ticket is valid? A green ribbon with a checkmark and ‘Valid’ will show on valid tickets. There will also be a text informing you until when the ticket is valid. For more info, click ‘Details’ in the bottom left corner.
- Is a mobile ticket cheaper than a paper ticket? No, paper tickets and mobile tickets are the same price.
- What happens if my phone dies or I have no data connection? In that case you can’t show a ticket, and you’ll be denied boarding or issued a fine. Remember that the control staff doesn’t make exceptions for tourists, so make sure to charge your phone and have a good connection. If not, please buy a paper ticket for your ride. Single paper tickets are 350 HUF, or about €1. A fine is 8000 HUF / €25 when paid on the spot, or twice that if you pay later.
- Will more tickets become available? Yes, more tickets will be added. The mobile public transport tickets started as a test in June 2019 and only the 100E airport shuttle bus tickets were available at that point. More mobile ticket options have been added since, and more should be added in the future. You will need to update your app to see added tickets.
For more answers to frequently asked questions, check out this page from BKK.
- Your complete guide to public transport in Budapest
- How to get from Budapest airport to Budapest city center
- Budapest airport to Budapest city center: 100E vs. 200E + M3
Have you used Mobiljegy? What’s your opinion?
P.S. You can also pin this post so you can easily refer to it later:
[…] recently wrote a blog post about using mobile tickets in Budapest’s public transport. I omitted the website’s name to display the full title, which I think is more relevant for […]