The MetroCard is your access pass to the subways and buses in New York City. Find out how this little card can be a big part of your trip.
Prices and Options
The MetroCard is a card used to access the New York City subway system and city buses. It does not include commuter railroads like the Long Island Railroad or the Metro North.
To use the card, swipe it at a turnstile in a subway station or dip the card into the farebox on a bus.
You can purchase a MetroCard from:
When you purchase a MetroCard to use the New York City Subway System, you will have to decide between the following two options:
A $1 "new card fee" applies every time a new MetroCard is purchased.
*This is the cost per ride if you are using a pay-per-ride card. If you purchase a single ride card, which is for one time use only, it will cost $2.75.
This depends on how much you plan to use public transportation during your visit. If you intend to really get around the city and will be primarily using public transportation instead of taxis, then it is probably worthwhile to buy an unlimited card.
To get your money out of an unlimited card, you will have to use it every day and at least a couple of times each day. If you are sightseeing all day and you dont stay in the same area, this shouldnt be a problem. Just going from your hotel to one place and returning to your hotel is already two rides.
Also take into account the additional effort of having to keep track of how many rides are left on the card and continually stopping to put more money on the card. In our experience, tourists often find that it is less money and less hassle to get the unlimited card.
The table below shows the number of times you have to use an unlimited card to make it cheaper than using the pay-per-ride option.*
|7-Day Unlimited||13 rides in 7 days|
|30-Day Unlimited||45 rides in 30 days|
*This comparison does not take into account the small bonus you get when you use a pay-per-ride card (described below).
You can get a little bit of a deal with the pay-per-ride card. If you put $5 or more on a card, you receive a 5% bonus. This usually doesnt add up to much and you will likely end up with a balance that is a weird denomination like $1.15 that doesnt pay for a ride and can't be used unless you add more money.
Sharing is allowed for pay-per-ride cards but not for unlimited cards. With a pay-per-ride card, you can use it and then pass it behind you to another person for up to four people. The unlimited card can only be used for one person at a time. To protect against sharing, it cannot be used at the same subway station or on the same bus route for 18 minutes following each use.
Up to 3 children can ride for free as long as they are no taller than 44 inches (112 centimeters) in height and accompanied by a paying adult.
Your MetroCard balance is protected against loss or theft ONLY IF you have a 7-day or 30-day Unlimited Pass and you purchased the card from a vending machine using a credit, debit, or ATM card.
If these conditions apply to you and your card is lost or stolen, immediately call 511 to reach the Balance Protection Program. You will be refunded in the form of a credit back to your credit or debit card for $7.14 per day remaining on your 7-Day card or $3.47 per day remaining on your 30-Day card.
The amounts are based on the day you notify them of your loss.
You might also like: