Which DC Metro Fare Card Should You Buy?

Which DC Metro Fare Card Should You Buy?
In a previous article, I noted the three types of fare cards available to you on the Washington, DC metro. Here is an excerpt:

“There are three types of fare cards on the Washington, DC metro: the day pass, the traditional fare card, and the SmartTrip. The day pass is just what you might think – a pass that you pay a set fee for which allows you to ride all day. The traditional fare card is like the day pass except that it can be used multiple times on multiple days until the value of the card reaches zero. The SmartTrip is like a traditional fare card except that it is formed like a credit card and contains a magnetic strip that you can glide across the entrance/exit turnstiles for faster commuting.”

Now that you know what options you have available, the time has come to choose between them. For regular travelers, the traditional fare card is your best option. This card allows you to budget a set amount of money for travel. And you can use the money on your card for the duration of your trip. If you know you will be traveling a lot on the metro, buy your first card at $20. And then add on in intervals of $10 or $20 as needed. You don’t want to put too much on your card after your first purchase because the money left over cannot be refunded. If you buy a card and you have $3 left, you cannot get that $3 back. But the card is useful if you travel wisely.

When you are nearing the end of your trip, and you want to make sure you have just enough money for one last trip and nothing more, use the fare charts on the side walls just above the card kiosks to help you determine your fare. These are located in every metro station and list how much money you’ll need on a card to get from that station to your destination.

Day passes are advised for travelers who will be spending only one day on the metro, frequently getting on and off stops without spending very much time at any one place. Since most people who live and travel in DC actually spend time at their stops, this option is not advised for most.

The SmartTrip card is the one used most frequently by locals. This card makes traveling through the turnstiles easy and faster than going through with the paper fare cards. Because the cards themselves cost $5 to purchase, it’s not a good deal for short-term travelers. However, if you plan to be in Washington, DC, for a month or more, buy the SmartTrip card and save yourself some time.

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For related articles, check out the Washington, DC destinations page at the start of the MidAtlantic USA site.

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