January 17, 2017

[Expired] New York City Planning Part 3: How Much To Put On MetroCard?

Update: Starting March 2017, The bonus has been reduced from 11% to 5%. New "How Much To Put On MetroCard?" Article

I am a big fan of taking public transportations, especially the subway in New York City. What bothers me is the fact that I never know how much to put money on the the MetroCard there each time so that after my trip, I don't have any remaining money on the card unused as it's not refundable and will expire. That's how the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) makes money off expired and unused MetroCard. So I took some time to do a little bit of research on how to prevent this from happening for my next trip to the Big Apple!

New York City MetroCard

Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard

If you are going to be in New York City just a few days like I will, and will take a few public transportation to get to places there, then getting the Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard makes more sense than the Unlimited Rides MetroCard.

As the name suggests, Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard allows you to add money to the card at the self-service vending machine, then use it to pay for each bus and subway rides in New York City. The thing that I love about this type of MetroCard is you can use it for multiple people. So if you have more than 1 person in your group, you can simply get one card, put the money in it, and use it for everyone in your party. That way you will save money on getting the card in the first place. It costs $1 to get a MetroCard if you don't have one yet. That fee is all calculated in when you try to get the card and put money on it at the vending machine.

How Much To Put On MetroCard?

Currently, the typical fare for a subway or local bus ride is $2.75. When you put $5.50 or more on your card, you will receive an 11 percent bonus. That's great, but it makes the math harder trying to determine how much initially to put on the card so that you don't have too much money left on the card unused at the end of your trip. Thankfully, MTA has developed an online calculator to help us out with that.

The calculator can do the math and calculate the balance for you by telling you how many rides you can get out of the amount you put on your MetroCard. It also gives you an option whether you are refilling or purchasing a new card. It is pretty handy.

If you want a zero balance on the MetroCard at the end of your trip, you will need to pay $23.30 at the vending machine for a new MetroCard or $22.30 if you already have the MetroCard. Here's the breakdown:

Update: Starting March 2017, The bonus has been reduced from 11% to 5%. New "How Much To Put On MetroCard?" Article
  • New MetroCard: $1
  • Put money on the MetroCard: $22.30 + 11% Bonus = $24.753 (Total money on the MetroCard)
  • $24.753 divides by 9 rides = $2.75 each ride (Each ride with MetroCard costs $2.75)
So, if you don't have a MetroCard yet and you put $22.30 on the card, you can ride 9 times on local buses or subway. After the 9th trip, your MetroCard will have zero credit on it.

Keep in mind that within two hours of the time you paid for your fare, you may transfer free from subway to bus, bus to subway, or bus to bus. Subway stations transfer is free as long as you don't exit one station and enter a new station.

As a reminder, you can use one MetroCard for multiple people. So make sure to multiply the bolded amount in bullet #2 with the amount of people in your group, then use the total plus $1 if you have not had a MetroCard.

Go play with that online calculator. It even gives you other suggestions that will give you zero balance on the card. With the current fare set by MTA, the lowest amount of ride that will give you zero balance is 9 rides.

Handy Calculator Suggestions That Will Give MetroCard Zero Balance

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