How to use your smartphone to pay for the bus in Reykjavík

The Reykjavík bus system just took a huge step towards better service to their customers by introducing a new app for your smartphone that you can use to buy tickets for the bus. Before this app, if you didn’t have a bus pas of some kind, you had to have exact change to use the buses because the drivers didn’t accept cards and they couldn’t give change. Now however you just need to download this app, connect it to your credit card and buy a ticket on the go and have it ready the next time you have to take the bus.

You can download the Strætó app for Android here and for iPhone here.

Setting up the app

I downloaded this app just now and it was super easy to set up and figure out and in less than five minutes I was good to go. I have to give Strætí huge props for providing this app both in Icelandic and English but so many times people forget to think about our foreign guests when they introduce new solutions.

Getting the app to speak your language

Stræto app

Find the settings

If you hit the red button in the top left corner of your screen you will get to this window. Here you have to hit the gearwheel in the bottom left corner which will take you to the settings in the app.


Settings menu

In the settings menu you can find the language setting and change it from Icelandic to English. It will probably make more sense for you from here on.

Connect the app to your phone

Strætó app

SMS Authentication 

In the settings menu you will find a tab “Registered Payment Card” that you need to hit and that takes you to a SMS authentication window. Here you put in your phone number and the app will send you the pin number in a text.


SMS Authentication

Once you get your pin number, enter it here and press next. Pretty self-explanatory really.This will take you to the next screen where you put in your credit card number.


Register your credit card


Register a new card

Click “Register a new card”. You can have multiple cards registered and use them all to buy your ticket.


Register a new card

Put in all your info and hit Register Card. Now you are all done and you can start using the app to buy your tickets.

Using the app

Buy your ticket


Buy ticket

Here you can choose how many tickets you want to buy. If you buy a ticket for multiple travelers you have to travel together for the remainder of your journey as you can’t split up the ticket. If you forget then the app will remind you when you add the extra travelers.

Pay for ticket.

Once you’ve chosen what kind of ticket you need it’s time to pay for it. The card you have set up is the default method of payment but if you have more than one card registered you can choose the card you want to pay with before you hit pay. Simple as that. You know have a ticket available next time you need the bus.


Using your ticket


Activate your ticket

You don’t have to use your ticket right away and it doesn’t expire until you activate it. The ticket is valid for 75 minutes once it has been activated so of you need to take more than one bus you want to leave it till last minute to activate it.


Ticket validity 

Once you activate the ticket the the clock starts ticking. Once you’ve showed it to the driver you can always revisit this screen to see how much time you have left on your ticket. Who knows, if you just have to pop in somewhere you might even be able to use it on your way back too. Super simple. Super convenient.

At the moment the app is only available in Reykjavík and can’t be used to travel between zones outside of the city. It’s also only available for adult tickets so you can’t take advantage of youth prices or special prices for senior citizens either.

The app is really easy to use and for anyone that plans to use the buses during their visit, especially those who plan on staying for long periods of time, this is a great app to make your life that little bit easier (and your pockets lighter because you no longer have to carry those damn coins around).

Finally, this app is also a journey planner so you can see the fasted way to get from A to B while in Reykjavík and there’s a live map that shows you where the bus you are waiting for is at any given moment. I never use that though.

Spread the word


36 thoughts on “How to use your smartphone to pay for the bus in Reykjavík”

  1. Aimee says:

    This is awesome! but do you know if it requires you to have a local number? Tried to use my own number and it only fits like 7 digits.

    1. mm Auður says:

      I wasn’t sure since I couldn’t test it but it does seem that way if there’s only space for 7 digits. Maybe if you send them an e-mail they can change this in a future update but you could also think about getting an Icelandic SIM card once you are here:

      1. Jon Andri says:

        We will be adding a support for foreign numbers in couple of weeks.
        Thanks for a great article about the app 🙂

        1. Awesome! Just in time for my upcoming visit!

        2. Dawn says:

          Is there any way to register a credit card and use the app without a (foreign) phone number? We’re preparing to come this weekend.

          1. mm Auður says:

            I don’t think so, they need the number to send you the confirmation code.

      2. Emily says:

        As of 1 March the app now accepts foreign phone numbers (either with + or 00 and country code). Yay!

  2. I’m with Aimee, it won’t take my number. I didn’t plan on getting an Icelandic SIM card since my phone company offers free SMS and data in Iceland and a pretty low rate for minutes. It would be cool if they added this feature. Still there’s always the fallback to cash which is what I usually use when travelling. 🙂

    Thanks for the great info! I’m excited about getting to visit Iceland.

  3. selina says:

    I was wondering if you could tell me if there are monthly tickets available and where I can get those?! I will be doing my internship here in Reykjavik until the end of july and i have to go to work by bus.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. mm Auður says:

      Yes, you can buy a monthly card (9300 ISK) and 3 months (21000 ISK) either at the Strætó website (all in Icelandic and you need an Icelandic kennitala): You can also buy it at Hlemmur bus station.

  4. sarah says:

    Ohh 🙁 They still haven’t added foreign numbers yet! It just keeps saying ‘Server Error’ when I try my UK mobile number.

    1. mm Auður says:

      They did let me know that it was now possible to use foreign numbers so it should work. I don’t know…

      1. When I was there in March I didn’t get a server error, but I never received the confirmation message and was unable to use my phone to pay for the bus. I hope they fix it before my next visit. While I didn’t really need the bus next time I need to see more of the city and countryside.

  5. Cecilia Xausa says:

    Update on 13 May, just tried the app, the journey planner works really well but can’t use it to pay as it won’t accept foreign numbers.

  6. Pavlina says:

    Hi, going to Iceland in few days, I got the app but I am not receiving the SMS 🙁 Maybe they are still working on this…
    thanks for all your help on this blog, it is great blog!

  7. Maarten says:

    Great app. Except that I don’t receive a sms.
    Still working on the foreign numbers?
    Getting a ticket in the bus wasn’t possible according to the busdriver.

    1. mm Auður says:

      They are advertising on the buses in English so it should work but if it doesn’t you should contact them through and ask them.

      You can of course pay with money on the bus to – but the app is handy when you don’t have any coins on you (which I personally never have)

  8. Jonathan says:

    Thanks for the information. I’ve just installed it on my phone and I received the SMS to my UK number no problem.

  9. Graham says:

    this looks like a really useful app and an even more useful review!
    Just a couple of questions to clarify….
    Bus tickets are only based on time, not destination?
    Does Mossfellsbaer count as being outside the Reykjavik zone?


    1. mm Auður says:

      Yes, it’s only based on time and not destination, as long it’s within the greater Reykjavík area. You can’t buy a ticket for destinations outside of Reykjavík through the app.

      Mosfellsbær is part of the Greater Reykjavík area.

  10. Farid says:

    I failed at SMS authentication step. Put in my local number, and I don’t receive any SMS to authenticate it. Or do I have to be in Iceland for it to work? I’m outside of Iceland at the moment, authenticating it with my local number.

    1. mm Auður says:

      If it’s an Icelandic pay-as-you-go number you probably need to be in Iceland.

  11. Anna says:

    Hi. Does it work for Reykjavik to Hafnarfjordur, or does that count as outside Reykjavik? Do all bus trips cost the same whether you travel 2 minutes or 30 minutes? Thanks.

  12. Kim says:

    I just got this to work with my international phone after trying for about a year and even got one of my credit cards to work. So maybe they have fixed the bug… If you were having trouble in the past with a non-Icelandic phone and/or credit card, try again…

  13. Chris says:

    Do I need a data connection (3G/4G/wi-fi) to activate the ticket?

    1. mm Auður says:

      I believe you do need data.

  14. John says:

    And the best part is when you get error 500 when trying to activate your ticket.

  15. Allison Kim says:

    I’m from US and was able to successfully register using my US number. Just add 001 in front of your number and it will do! For other countries, it will be 00 and then your country code. Perhaps we can add this to the instruction for SMS authentication? 🙂 Thanks for a great post!

  16. Yay! It did work with international numbers! I’ve tried to register with regular intervals since 3 years ago, and I have never gotten any SMS code, before now. I think it is a month or two since I tried the last time. Norwegian number by the way.

    I got this email from Strætó back in 2014:

    > I´m sorry to inform you that there is a little trouble with our Strætó app and foreign phonenumbers.
    > We are looking into the matter and trying to fix it.
    > I´m sorry for the inconvience.

  17. Margaret says:

    Download of the app was easy, and no problem with the foreign phone number (July 2017).

    Too bad that the terms of service are only in Icelandic! I do appreciate that the there is an English option for using the app.

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Yes, I’ve been hearing from more people that it’s working now.

  18. Fay says:

    I’ve tried registering with my US num while I’m in Iceland right now and am not getting the SMS. Seems like it’s not bug free yet…

    1. mm Auður - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      It seems to matter which day you do this almost but most of the people I’ve talked to have told it works fine for them. Did you put in the number with the right country code and everything?

    2. Allison Kim says:

      You must put “001” as a country code, then your number. So it would be like 001 415 555 1234.

  19. Jody Ceanford says:

    Is anyone familiar with error message: camera error, failed to activate camera
    This is preventing me from activating my ticket. I removed the app and reinstalled it and continue to receive the message

    1. mm Hrannar - I Heart Reykjavík says:

      Hi Jody

      For technical issues I recommend that you contact directly. I have never had any troubles with the app on my Samsung Galaxy, android phone.

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