Insider Tips: How to buy a Subway MetroCard

How to buy a New York Subway MetroCard

Buying a MetroCard doesn’t have to be difficult.

We’re here to help you navigate the tunnels like a pro!

Where to Buy MetroCards: 

– Any subway station via machine or teller.

 Some merchants sell select cards. Grocery stores or newsstands who do will have a MetroCard posted in their window.

– You cannot purchase MetroCards on buses.

– The only MetroCards available to purchase online are intended for people who need a card every month. If you are a visitor to NYC it is best to buy your card in the city.

How to Buy MetroCards: 

– Vending machines will take cash, ATM cards, and all major credit cards.

– Tellers can only accept cash.

– If you’re paying by cash at a machine, be aware that the machine can only give up to $9 in change and it is paid out in change, not bills.

– It you’re paying by credit at a machine with a foreign billing address, be aware that they will ask for a billing zip code. Enter “99999” in this field which indicates to the machine that an international card is being used.

Regular Pay Per Ride MetroCards: 

– These can be shared with up to 4 people per card. You can each swipe the turnstile separately or the first person can swipe 4x’s and have everyone follow through the turnstile.
– If you put $5.50 or more on a card, rides are $2.75 one way but you earn a 5% bonus. For example at $20 card will earn you an extra $1.

Unlimited Ride MetroCards: 

– These passes are only good for one person, they cannot be shared. Once swiped you cannot use the card again for another 18 mins.

– The 7 Day Unlimited Pass is $32. It’s good for a full 7 days from the first day you use it.

– The 30 day Pass is $121. It’s good for a full 30 days from the first day you use it. This option is only a good deal if you will be in the city for 3- 4 weeks and plan to use the subway at least twice a day.

**Both Regular Pay Per Ride and Unlimited cards can be used on all the Subway and Bus lines. There is a free transfer between subway and bus or bus to bus. Only the Pay Per Ride cards can be used on the PATH trains.

**Discounts: The MTA states that ”up to 3 children 44 inches (3.6ft) tall and under ride for free on subways and local buses when accompanied by a fare paying adult.”  The city does offer a reduced fare for seniors 65yrs+ but since you have to apply for the discounted card making it inaccessible to non-residents.

All this information and loads more can be found at the MTA website.



Our suggestions for your Real New York Tour: 

Every MetroCard purchase requires a $1 new card fee. Hold on to your cards and refill them when needed. The $1 charge does not apply if you’re refilling cards, only when you’re buying a new card. Our 6 hour tours (NYC in a Day Group and Private Tours) require 3-4 subway rides. You can put $10.50 on a Regular Pay Per Ride MetroCard, and with the new card fee your total will be $11.50. With the 5% bonus you will now have 4 rides on your MetroCard.

Our 3 hour tours do no take many subway trips but having one or two rides on a card will be helpful. The cost of two rides is $5.50, and with the new card fee your total will be $6.50.

The subway is really the most convenient and economical way to get around the city. If you plan on riding the subway a few more times during your stay you should consider putting $21 on a Regular Pay Per Ride MetroCard, which would be $22 total with the new card fee, and you would have 8 rides. If you’re staying in the city for 4+ days then your best option may be the 7 day pass for $32. If you take only 13 trips on the subway this pass reduces the fare to $2.46.

Of course if you encounter any trouble, don’t worry! Our guides would be happy to help you the morning of your tour.

Check out our Most Popular Group Tour of NYC!

NYC in a Day Group Tour $80/person Small Group of up to 13 Guests 6.5 Hour Tour of Manhattan From Central Park to Wall Street By Subway and foot Meets at 1633 Broadway @ 10am

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