Not owning a car means not worrying about gas prices, insurance rates, accidents, regular maintenance, and theft. Living in NYC means my main means of transportation is public transportation. Usually the subway or a bus. The costs of both can be covered by a NYC Metrocard. A 30-day unlimited metrocard currently costs $112. This isn’t a bad deal considering I once paid $300 in car gas alone.
However, living in NYC can be an expensive place so here’s a few metrocard tips to help you save some extra money.
Get Refunded for a Lost Metrocard
While there are many advantages to using public transportation, keep in mind it is far easier to lose a plastic card than it is to lose an entire car. And at $112/mo, it’s really not something you want to misplace. Thankfully, if you do lose your metrocard, the MTA will refund you!
As long as your metrocard was purchased with a credit/debit card, you are eligible for a refund. To request a lost metrocard refund, call the MTA at 718-330-1234. Provide them with the number of the credit card you used to purchase the lost metrocard. At that time, the metrocard will be deactivated. From the MTA site: Your refund will be in the form of a credit back to your credit/debit card for $3.47/day remaining on your 30-Day card be based on the day you notify us of your loss.
Okay so it’s not a complete refund but it’s better than nothing. Especially if you lose your card just a few days after purchasing it. MTA only lets you do this twice a year. And they charge you for the second time.
Skeptical about the MTA actually doing something they say they will? Don’t worry too much, I’ve requested a refund for a lost metrocard twice over the time I’ve lived here. It was surprisingly painless. The conversation took 5 minutes. And I received my refund within a week.
Another option, if you continuously lose your card, is to use the EasyPay Metrocard. Heads up, I’ve never used this and have heard mixed reviews about it. According to the MTA, the EasyPay metrocard is linked to a credit card and is automatically refilled every month. The advantage is if you lose it, the MTA will deactivate your card and your account will be automatically credited for the remaining days. At the end of each month, before you are charged again, you are given the option to switch to a cash card.
Do You Need an Unlimited Metrocard?
If you use the subway infrequently, an unlimited metrocard may not be saving you money. With the price of Metrocards at $112 for 30 days, this only saves you money if you use it every day, including weekends. If you only swipe twice a day 5 days a week (ie: for work only), you will just break even.
Any less than that and the unlimited is not the best choice for you. For example, if you bike commute one day a week. And also bike around on the weekends. You’ll save about $20 by not buying an unlimited metrocard. Sometimes having a metrocard with cash on it to pay-as-you-go is the cheaper option. Currently, a metrocard swipe is $2.50.
Put Leftover Money on One Metrocard
Sometimes, the ticket booths are actually helpful. When using a metrocard with cash on it, you’ll often find yoursel fwith odd dollar amounts left on them. Fifty cents on one card. A dollar on another. You can’t use a card unless it has at least $2.50 on it. So what are you supposed to do with these extra, seemingly useless cards with valuable money on them?
Bring all of your extra metrocards to a manned subway booth. Tell the agent you’d like them combined onto one card. This will take less than a minute. And you’ll walk away with usable money on one card.
Currently, just buying a metrocard costs $1 minimum. This is rather new in the past year or so. It can seem like a ploy because the cards to expire after two years. Requiring you to spend another dollar just to get a new card. Don’t worry, you can use a booth agent for this too. Just give your expired card to an agent and ask for a new one. They’ll give it to you free of charge. Then you’ll have to go ahead and put your own time/money on it, of course. It’s a little metrocard tip, but still helps saving money.
Pay Attention to Free Transfers
Free transfers are especially important when using a pay-as-you-go card. As long as you don’t exit a turnstile, the transfer between subways is free. There are a few exceptions to this. A small selection of outside subway transfers are also free.
Bus to bus and bus to subway transfers are also free for two hours after your first swipe.
Bonus: From 10p-5a, you can request-a-stop on most bus routes. The bus will let you off right in front of your apt, as long as it can safely stop there. If you have a long walk to the train, this might be a handy option at night.