SmarTrip 101

12 Sep

What is a SmarTrip card?
It’s a rechargeable farecard that costs $5. You can use it for Metro trains and buses. Until recently you could go into the negative on your SmarTrip card, but unfortunately that is no longer the case.

Why buy a SmarTrip card?

First and foremost, you need a SmarTrip card because you do not, under any circumstances, want to look like a tourist. But there other reasons too:

  • You need the card to park at a Metro lot. (Not applicable during weekends when parking is free.) At the majority of Metro stations you need a SmarTrip card to exit (I know of at least one exception: New Carrollton). So at these stations there is a machine that will allow you to purchase a card. Parking is available at these stations. Insider’s Tip: If you realize that you forgot your SmarTrip card and don’t want to purchase another one, the person in the parking booth (if it’s staffed) can write you a ticket for the $4.50. They try to tell you that you need to go back inside, but you really don’t. The people in the cars behind you will be mad that you’re taking so long to go through, but that’s worth 5 bucks to me.
  • SmartBenefits. Many employers will allow you to deduct the amount of your choosing from your paycheck to go directly onto your SmarTrip card, which is referred to as SmartBenefits. This amount is not taxed.
  • Safety. Register your SmarTrip card and write down the number that’s on the back in case you lose your card or it gets stolen. That way you can transfer your balance to a new card.

Where do I buy a SmarTrip card?

  • Online. Purchase the card online and Metro will mail it right to you.
  • Metro sale offices. There’s one right inside the Metro Center station (and there’s always a line). Here’s  a list of other locales.

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