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Ventra Benefits

Ventra Card Benefits For Everyday CTA Riders, By Fare Media Type

Ventra TM Cards are the new card issued for use on CTA (and Pace) to pay fare.

We encourage you to spend down balances on Transit Cards and Chicago Cards and switch to using a new Ventra Card as soon as possible. If you have a Chicago Card Plus or a registered Chicago Card, you'll receive a card in the mail after having confirmed your address with us. Once you've started using Ventra, you'll have lots of new fare options (see how below).

 
Ventra basics

Here are some of the basic things to know about our new fare system:

  • New Ventra Cards are available from any Ventra vending machine and from hundreds of retailers around town (a number that will grow into the thousands).
  • Getting a Ventra Card is effectively free: The $5 cost for the card is immediately returned as Transit Value for use for fare (or toward buying a pass) when you register the card. You just need to do it within 90 days. You can do this by phone or on the Web.
  • Ventra Cards can hold both value and passes, and can be loaded at machines, online and even directly over the counter at retailers.
  • Ventra Cards are first and foremost a transit farecard. Every card will have an active Ventra Transit Account when you get the card.
    • In addition to the Ventra Transit Account every card comes with, Ventra Cards can also host an optional Ventra Prepaid Debit account.
  • If you ride CTA regularly, you should use a Ventra Card (or a personal, contactless bankcard). You can use these cards just like the existing Transit Card—and buy and load value and passes entirely with cash (and at no extra cost).

Learn what some of the new benefits you can look forward to with Ventra:
Which type of card do you use to pay today?

Transit Card CTA Pass Chicago Card Chicago Card Plus
Transit Card Passes
(1-Day, 7-Day, 30-Day, etc.)
Chicago Card Chicago Card Plus
 


 

 

 

Benefits you can look forward to:

 

Transit Card
What’s new for Transit Card users

Transit Card is the stored-value, reloadable farecard you’ve been able to buy from machines in train stations or in “packs” with pre-loaded value from retailers like drugstores and Currency Exchanges.

Some people would get these reusable cards and throw them away. We are offering new, disposable Ventra Tickets, but these aren't intended for use by regular riders. If you ride CTA even once a year, you should pick up a Ventra Card (or use a personal, contactless bankcard) and load Transit Value or passes onto that.

The new Ventra Card is a sturdy, hard plastic card you tap to a reader when boarding and keep indefinitely. Just like Transit Cards you can load them with cash or with a credit/debit card (though every machine will now accept both!). There are lots of benefits to the Ventra Card over the old cards.

Here’s what’ll be new for you with Ventra:

  • Ventra Cards are good for five years. You just get the card once and load and use it indefinitely. When your card is near expiration, if you registered, we’ll let you know and you’ll get a new one in the mail for free.
     
  • Ventra Cards, if registered, protect your fare. If you lose a Transit Card with $20 on it, you’ll have lost the entire value. If you lose a Ventra Card with $20, we can transfer your remaining balance to a new card (minus  the replacement fee).
     
  • There will be lots more places to load value. With Transit Cards, you’d need to buy them in pre-loaded packs or find a vending machine—lots of people would end up with multiple cards this way. With Ventra, not only will you be able to load your card at any machine (they take both cash and cards), you’ll be able to walk into thousands of retail locations (corner stores, drug stores, etc.) and have them load value onto your card right at the register—it’ll be super easy to load with cash, even if you don't often get near a train station.
     
  • You’ll have more fare options and it’ll be much easier to get the best possible fare. Before, your card was good only for pay-as-you-go fare, and finding a pass when you wanted one could take some effort. Ventra Cards can also be loaded up with passes. You can even apply remaining value on your card toward the purchase of a pass right at any vending machine or online.
     
  • New cards will have more robust “passback” features—up to seven people can share the same card and with Ventra, not everyone will need to start riding at the same place (you can meet up with someone on the way and pay for them with your card). You can even ask the driver or station attendant to let you pay a reduced fare for a qualifying rider travelling with you.
     
  • You can set up autoload any time you like. You can set up your card to load itself automatically from the Ventra website—and unlike how it was with the old system, you don’t have to have a special card to do this nor are you required to use autoload once it’s set up (you can just turn it off at any time you decide you want to switch back, unlike with Chicago Card Plus where it was mandatory).
     
  • You don’t even have to use a card issued by us. If you have a credit or debit card with the contactless payment symbol (), you can create a Ventra Transit Account on that card, and load value and passes onto that. In other words, a card already in your wallet could be the only card you need to carry!

 

 

CTA Pass
What’s new for pass users

Pre-Ventra CTA Passes  are the thin, plastic, magnetic stripe cards you could buy from only certain vending machines and at select, retail locations. The cards were good for unlimited rides for one person during a specified period of time after the first time you use it and once the pass period ended, you’d throw the card away.

Here’s what’ll be new for you with Ventra:

  • Passes will now be electronically loaded onto your Ventra Card’s Transit Account. Instead of buying a new card every time, you just load passes onto your card—they’ll work just the same way. You can even load multiple passes so when an active pass period in your account ends, the next one can just automatically begin on your next ride, after the first pass period ends—no fumbling with multiple cards, or having to plan ahead. Ventra just works it out for you.
     
  • Ventra Cards are good for five years. You just get the card once and load and use it indefinitely. When your card is near expiration, if you registered, we’ll let you know and you’ll get a new one in the mail for free.
     
  • Your card can be hold any pass you like. All the same pass options you have today will be available with Ventra—1-Day, 3-Day, 7-Day, 30-Day—and you just load it onto your card.
     
  • You’ll never have to go on a hunt for a pass again. With Ventra, because passes are electronically stored, there’s no stock to run out, and every vending machine and every retail location will sell any pass you want. You can even load them online or by phone.
     
  • Your card can also store value for regular fares. You can also add transit value to your card—not just use it as a pass—for pay-as-you-go riding for when you don’t want to ride on a pass. You can even add value and pay for others while riding on an active pass, or have extra value ready and available for when a pass runs out.
     
  • You can set up autoload on your account for more passes. Previously, this was only available for Chicago Card Plus users and only if you wanted a 30-Day Pass. You can set up autoload on your card to work with more passes or value for regular fares.
     
  • Ventra Cards, if registered, protect your fare. If you lose a pass today, you lose its entire value. If you lose a Ventra Card with a pass on it, we can transfer the remainder of an active pass period and any passes you’ve loaded onto the card for future use to a new card (minus the replacement fee).
     
  • You don’t even have to use a card issued by us. If you have a credit or debit card with the contactless payment symbol (), you can create a Ventra Transit Account on that card, and load value and passes onto that. In other words, a card already in your wallet could be the only card you need to carry!

 

 

Chicago Card
What’s new for Chicago Card users

The regular, all-blue Chicago Card was a hard, plastic, contactless card that had the same basic function of transit cards, but with the benefit of being able to register to protect your fares and a card that lasted longer.

Here’s what’ll be new for you with Ventra:

  • There’ll be lots more places to load value. With Chicago Card, you could add value only at select retailers or at two of the three potential kinds of vending machines at train stations. With Ventra, not only will you be able to load your card at any machine (they will all take cash and cards, for both regular fare and passes), you’ll be able to walk into hundreds, and later thousands, of retail locations (corner stores, drug stores, etc.) and have them load value onto your card right at the register—it’ll be super easy to load with cash, even if you don't often get near a train station.
     
  • You’ll have more fare options, making it much easier to get the best possible fare. Before, your card was good only for pay-as-you-go fare, and finding a pass when you wanted one could take some effort. Ventra Cards can be loaded with unlimited ride passes at all vending machines, retail locations or online. You can even apply remaining value on your card toward the purchase of a pass right at any vending machine or online.
     
  • New cards will have more robust “passback” features—up to seven people can share the same card and with Ventra, not everyone will need to start riding at the same place (you can meet up with someone on the way and pay for them with your card). You can even ask the driver or station attendant to let you pay a reduced fare for a qualifying rider travelling with you.
     
  • You can set up autoload. At any time, you can set up your card to load itself automatically with value or passes—but unlike how it was with the old system, you don’t have to have a special card to do this. You can also just turn it off at any time, unlike with Chicago Card Plus.
     
  • You don’t even have to use a card issued by us. If you have a credit or debit card with the contactless payment symbol (), you can create a Ventra Transit Account on that card, and load value and passes onto that. In other words, a card already in your wallet could be the only card you need to carry!

 

 

Chicago Card Plus
What’s new for Chicago Card Plus users

The blue-and-gold Chicago Card Plus was a hard, plastic contactless card that was managed online. The card could be configured to automatically load value for pay-as-you-go riding at regular fare or every 30-Days, automatically, with a 30-Day Pass.

Here’s what’ll be new for you with Ventra:

  • You’ll have new fare options at your disposal. The limitations with Chicago Card Plus fare options will be gone. You can load any pass onto your card—either manually or, with some passes, using the autoload feature.
     
  • You can check your account balance at machines. In addition to online and telephone account management options, you can also walk up to any vending machine and see remaining balance, active passes, passes that are queued up for use, and more.
     
  • You can switch between autoload and manual loading any time. Unlike Chicago Card Plus, you can turn off autoload and switch to loading up your account in person—at machines, online, and what'll be thousands of retail locations around town, etc.
     
  • You can do a mix of autoload and manual loading. Have autoload set up for pay-per-use fares but want a 3-Day CTA Pass for a busy weekend out and about? Just walk up to any machine and load a pass on the spot—even with cash:  Transit Value in your Ventra Transit Account will remain while you use your pass and be deducted from and automatically loaded back up once your three days of unlimited rides is up. You can even apply your transit value balance toward the purchase of a pass!
     
  • New cards will have more robust “passback” features—up to seven people can share the same card and with Ventra, not everyone will need to start riding at the same place (you can meet up with someone on the way and pay for them with your card). You can even ask the driver or station attendant to let you pay a reduced fare for a qualifying rider travelling with you.
     
  • You don’t even have to use a card issued by us. If you have a credit or debit card with the contactless payment symbol (), you can create a Ventra Transit Account on that card, and load value and passes onto that. In other words, a card already in your wallet could be the only card you need to carry!

 


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