Time to Clean Up Your MetroCard Act

Tips on dealing with odd balances

By Emily Feldman
|  Monday, Nov 30, 2009  |  Updated 11:00 AM EDT
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Time to Clean Up Your MetroCard Act

Next time you buy a MetroCard, thow down an extra $4.50, $6.75 or $15.65 to get your money's worth.

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There once was a time when a ten-dollar-bill could buy five subways rides and a whole bonus ride at no extra cost. (Emphasis on whole).

But in March, 2008, the MetroCard bonus formula changed and the nightmare of odd amounts of useless change left over began. The switch from a 20 percent to 15 percent bonus formula has filled many-a-wallet with MetroCards that, perhaps, one day could be appropriately refilled. It has also filled many-a-strap hanger with frustration and lament as he tosses his insufficient card to the trash.

"I have a whole pile of them sitting in a jewelry box on top of my dresser," Megan Hunt, a 36-year-old Chelsea resident told the Daily News. "There are at least 40 cards and some only have a nickel. I don't know what to do with them, but I can't throw them out."

Another commuter, Laura Bowman of Mount Pocono, Pa., told the News that she has "a bunch of cards with just 20 or 40 cents each."

No more. It's time to get savvy.

First, did you know you can bring your pile of left-over MetroCards to the nearest token booth to consolidate your fare? Do it.

Then, check out the MetroCard Bonus Calculator, a website set up by a Brooklyn commuter and computer programmer, Steven M. O'Neill, who wanted to figure out exactly how much to feed the machine in order to get a round balance.

Next, check out these quick tips, courtesy of Jim Schwartz, a market researcher, who teamed up with friends to compile a Transit Calculator Spreadsheet to find out exactly how much money to put on a card to end up without a balance:

For zero balance after the final swipe, put the following amounts on a new card: $4.50, $6.75, $15.65, $29.35, $31.30, $45, $60.65, $74,35, or $76.30.

And if all of that is still too much to deal with, sign up for an EasyPayXpress, which will automatically replenish your MetroCard from a credit or debit account.

Now, you have no excuses for having 15 cents left on your card.

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