Ventra

There are now several ways to make Ventra payments. (Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune / November 7, 2013)

Here's how riders can use their personal bank cards and phones to pay for CTA fares.

Paying with personal bank cards
Riders can use their contactless personal bank cards if they have a certain radio frequency chip in their card.

These cards can be tapped at Ventra readers, which will pre-authorize a $5 charge that will later reflect the actual ride cost.

"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 in an email.

For now, riders cannot register their personal bank cards with Ventra to make and track transactions online. They can buy passes and set aside transit money on their card by inserting the card into a Ventra machine at a rail station.

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If they don't buy a pass or set aside transit money on their card, they will pay full price per ride, not transfer prices.

Riders will have to track pass expiration dates and transit purse amounts on their own because there's no way for them to manage their account online. When passes and/or transit purse amounts run out, they pay full price per ride until they buy another pass or set aside money at a rail station.

Paying by phone
Riders need phones with near field communication capability to pay CTA fares and a mobile wallet app, such as Google or ISIS Wallet.
For riders who use the Google Wallet service, things get tricky. Users cannot register their Google Wallet in Ventra or get help from Ventra customer service unless they know their primary account number, according to Ventra terms of service. But a Google spokeswoman said Google doesn't provide this number. It's unclear what riders are supposed to do in that situation.

tswartz@tribune.com  |  @tracyswartz