Home Ground Transportation (Bus, Lyft, Subway, Taxi, Train, Uber, etc.) Don’t Throw Away An Expired New York MTA Metrocard

Don’t Throw Away An Expired New York MTA Metrocard

by joeheg

The MTA of New York has done a lot of work to bring their payment system into the present. Previously, the only way to pay your fare on a bus or subway was to use a Metrocard. The system was horribly outdated, overly confusing, and left tourists with random amounts of money left on their cards at the end of a trip.

On our most recent trip, using the subway from JFK to lower Manhattan and getting from our hotel to Times Square, we didn’t have to use a Metrocard. That’s because the city has completed the task of installing OMNY contactless readers at every subway station and on every city bus. I tapped my iPhone and Sharon used her Apple Watch to pay our fare. Using the Express Transit feature, we didn’t even need to unlock our devices before making the payment.

This doesn’t mean we could do without a Metrocard since the turnstiles to get out of the JFK Airtrain stations at Jamaica Station and Howard Beach do not have OMNY readers, yet.

Until then, you’re forced to use your Metrocard to pay the $7.75 fare. If you don’t already have a Metrocard, tack on an additional $1 for a new card.

I knew this, but I hadn’t added a Metrocard to my “travel wallet shuffle” list. Fortunately, Sharon had a card stuffed in the back of her wallet. It had a $0 balance and expired 6 months ago, but that was no matter. It still would save us some money.

I walked to the machine and went to add funds to a card. When I put in the expired card, the machine asked if I wanted to exchange the old card for a new one. I tapped “yes,” and it spit out my old card. I added $15.50 to the new card (the exact fare for 2 Airtrain rides) and paid for the reload.

I’m not even going to get into discussing why the machine doesn’t offer $7.75 or multiples thereof as an option, favoring choices of $10 and up. I had to manually type how much I wanted to load on the card to prevent a balance from remaining when we were finished.

Once the Airtrain at JFK completes the changeover, we’ll not need a Metrocard. That’s good because the MTA will discontinue them in 2023 in favor of a newly launched OMNY card.

Until then, I’ll keep a Metrocard in my wallet when we travel to New York in case of emergencies.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary


Amy Fischer January 3, 2022 - 8:57 pm

One time I had an expired metrocard that had $70 on it. I was taking the express bus regularly but then my commute changed. I mailed the card into the Brooklyn office that handles the things and thought I would never get it back. 7 months later they sent me a new card. I was happy.

Jennifer Barbour January 6, 2022 - 10:01 am

Yes I always keep my metro card, and put it in for a new one, I even told my friends, especially when we are low income every dollar counts.

Thanks for posting, because I never thought about posting this info.

John Lister January 6, 2022 - 11:39 am

Not just that. If you’re going to or from Westchester using their Beeline buses, you should use your MetroCard so you can get the free transfer at least until the buses are converted to OMNY.

Robert Mazzella January 6, 2022 - 5:08 pm

The fares are $2.75, not $7.75.

Harvey Wachtel January 8, 2022 - 5:16 pm

$7.75 is the fare for the AirTrain to/from JFK.

Gerald Caporicci January 6, 2022 - 5:25 pm

I read quickly so I may have missed, but at present a big disadvantage of OMNI is that it doesn’t allow for unlimited weekly or monthly fares. It wouldn’t be unusual for a visitor to be on the subway six times in one day. At $2.75 per tap, a 7 day unlimited metro card is likely a much better value. It feels like the MTA is exploiting the convenience of OMNI to capture a bit more revenue. I understand that this will be corrected in the future when OMNI will be programmed to automatically give you the lowest fare – that is stop taking $2.75 per ride once you meet the 7 day max. Unrelated, it will also accommodate senior discounts.

Rimma Kaminsky January 7, 2022 - 5:44 am

How people with discounted metrocard will pay for fair .This is not an option with omni machines

Stephanie L. January 9, 2022 - 11:18 am

I Don’t Think The MTA Shouldn’t Phase Out The MetroCard Period, Because A Lot Of People Aren’t Tech Savvy, With The Technology Of The OMNY Payment Machine, And Most People Are Especially Unaware For/OF Identity Theft, OR Just Theft IN General, Especially Older People, Some People Just Doesn’t REALLY Understand How The System Works, Not To MENTION, DON’T Want To Learn About How, Because For MOST PEOPLE It’s TOO Complicated

Vincenta Hunt January 10, 2022 - 12:55 am

The mat doesn’t care about the ppl. Elderly people used to MTA trains and buses please explain to me how to hell is it going to use the credit card on this new system where they probably don’t want you getting robbed from in the streets in on the Internet please explain to me how to actually going to use this and how they going to prevent being hacked. Sorry but I’m getting my own car or I’ll walk to work.i refuse to use my bank card to but used on the train or but. Sorry I just cant

joeheg January 10, 2022 - 11:33 pm

I imagine that’s what the new OMNY card is going to be useful for. I hope the include services like other places in the world where daily/weekly/monthly/senior tickets will be trackable if you use the same card for all transactions.

joeheg January 11, 2022 - 10:04 pm

You have way more personal experience and persistence dealing with this as a local. Since I’m an occasional visitor, I simply wanted to let people know not to throw away their cards because they have a zero balance.

Catherine Hayes January 12, 2022 - 2:28 pm

How will seniors pay half fare with OMNI?

Trichice26 April 15, 2022 - 9:02 pm

How will people with Fair Fares be able to use OMNI?

joeheg April 15, 2022 - 10:52 pm

For now, people who use the Fair Fares program are being told to continue using the MetroCard system. OMNY is working on adding these fares, as well as other discounted rates to the system.


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