News CTA

Personal debit cards that double as Ventra cards can't be registered yet

CTA riders trying to use their personal debit and credit cards as fare cards won't be able to register their cards until sometime this fall, the agency said Monday.

That means these riders can't manage their accounts online and need to stay vigilant about their balances so they're not charged full fares instead of getting transfer prices. Unlike Chicago Card Plus, the transit balances on personal bank cards will not replenish when riders spend down the balances.

"We’re still in the process of transitioning over to Ventra," CTA spokeswoman Tammy Chase said in an e-mail. All CTA riders had the option to start using Ventra, the CTA's new fare payment system, last week.

As part of the rollout of Ventra, riders can obtain a Ventra card that can used as an unlimited pass or a pay-per-ride card.

Riders can also use their personal contactless cards, such as Chase cards, to pay for fares.

A rider can bring his or her personal contactless card to a Ventra machine, available at all rail stations, to put an unlimited pass on the card or set aside money to pay for transit.

But these riders will not be able to check their balances or add additional passes or transit money online. All transactions have to be done at a Ventra machine until the CTA makes registration available online.

Once a rider's balance is spent, though, his or her personal card will convert to full fare, pay-per-ride cards. In that case the rider might end up paying more than he or she needs to. 

CTA riders don't have to have a transit balance on their personal cards, but they will pay full fares each time they swipe, not transfer prices.

The first transfer is supposed to be 25 cents and the second transfer is supposed to be free if all transfers are completed within two hours.

For example, a rider who takes a bus to train pays $2 for the bus ride and 25 cents for a transfer, resulting in a $2.25 ride.

A CTA rider using a personal debit card without a transit balance as a fare card would pay $2.25 for the bus ride and $2.25, resulting in a $4.50 ride.

The charges show up on bank statements initially as $5 swipes but eventually reflect the actual fare ($2.25 for rail rides, $2 for bus rides).

"The time it takes for pre-authorization depends on an individual’s bank—but is typically complete within 24 hours," CTA spokesman Brian Steele said.

Ventra this year will replace Chicago Cards and disposable magnetic stripe cards. Cash is still accepted on buses.

Since CTA riders have started receiving their cards last month, they have reported a variety of glitches from faulty balances to their personal cards being scanned instead of their Ventra cards when waving their wallets in front of the reader.

CTA president Forrest Claypool said last week that glitches were expected in initial rollout.

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Chicago sues red light camera firm for $300 million

    Chicago sues red light camera firm for $300 million

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration has sued Chicago's former red light camera operator, Redflex Traffic Systems, for more than $300 million on grounds the entire program was built on a $2 million bribery scheme at City Hall that has already led to federal corruption convictions.

  • Marrow's 'The Gold Standard' raises the Chicago rock bar

    Marrow's 'The Gold Standard' raises the Chicago rock bar

    The four musicians in Marrow know quite a bit about bringing diverse influences to the table. After all, three of them, singer-guitarist Liam Kazar, singer-keyboardist Macie Stewart and bassist Lane Beckstrom were in Kids These Days, a now-defunct septet that combined jazz, funk, rap and rock in...

  • The Kids These Days family tree

    The Kids These Days family tree

    From its 2009 beginnings to its 2013 demise, Chicago's Kids These Days seemed like one of the most promising acts the city had seen in years. While the band split up at the height of its hype, its members have since gone on to do bigger and better things—seriously impressive considering the hip-hop/rock/jazz...

  • Solid 'Gold': How ex-Kids These Days members came back stronger as Marrow

    Solid 'Gold': How ex-Kids These Days members came back stronger as Marrow

    After the dissolution of Kids These Days, the much-buzzed about Chicago fusion-jazz-rock-rap septet that split in spring 2013 just a few months after releasing its only album, “Traphouse Rock,” some of its members spent what seems like all of 20 minutes bandless. "We were driving back from the...

  • Mr Twin Sister's 'In the House of Yes' is one of last year's hidden treasures

    Mr Twin Sister's 'In the House of Yes' is one of last year's hidden treasures

    Welcome to RedEye's "Song of the Day," an ongoing feature where music reporter Josh Terry or another RedEye staff member highlights something they're listening to. Some days the track will be new, and some days it will be old. No matter what, each offering is something you should check out. Check...

  • GrubHub's weekend customer-support issues made people hangry

    GrubHub's weekend customer-support issues made people hangry

    Technical difficulties at GrubHub and Seamless over the weekend drove hordes of hangry would-be customers to air their grievances on social media. The food ordering and delivery sites, which merged in 2013 and use GrubHub’s back-end technology, errantly accepted payments on Saturday evening without...