Chicago Card Plus - Frequently Asked Questions

Chicago Card PlusCTA Take it everywhere
Chicago Card PlusChicago Card PlusCTA Take it everywhere




FAQ's

Chicago Card Plus Home




FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)



About Chicago Card Plus®
Using a Chicago Card Plus®
Charges to Your Credit Card
Replacing Lost/Stolen/Damaged Cards
Expiring Chicago Card Plus Cards
Account Management Options
Transit Benefit Fare Program
Transit Benefit Employers
Transit Benefit Third-Party Administrators
Transit Benefit Employees





Questions about the Chicago Card Plus? Click on our FAQ's for Answers


About Chicago Card Plus®back to top

What is a Chicago Card Plus®?

Chicago Card Plus is a farecard with its balance kept in an online account. Fare transactions are recorded to the account each time a Chicago Card Plus is touched to the touchpad on any CTA or Pace fare equipment. You can use your Chicago Card Plus to pay a full fare or transfer at any rail station or on any CTA and Pace bus.

Does Chicago Card® offer these same benefits?
Chicago Card offers touch-and-go boarding and fare protection. Chicago Cards do not have online accounts. Therefore, online fare reloading, 30-Day Passes, account management features and the RTA/CTA Transit Benefit Fare Program are not possible.
What are the benefits of Chicago Card Plus®?

Chicago Card Plus offers numerous benefits:

  • Fare Choices - Choose between Pay-Per-Use fare payment, where full fares and transfers are deducted from your online account each time you ride, or 30-Day Passes, which provide unlimited rides for 30 consecutive days beginning with the first ride taken using your Chicago Card Plus.
  • Online Reloading - Pay-Per-Use customers will have their accounts automatically reloaded each time their account value falls to $10. Accounts will be reloaded with the customer's pre-selected reload amounts. 30-Day Pass customers will have their accounts reloaded with a new 30-Day Pass on the 27th day of each 30-day cycle. The new 30-day cycle will not begin until the first ride is taken following completion of the current 30-day cycle.
  • Quicker Boarding - To board a bus or enter through a rail station turnstile, simply touch Chicago Card Plus to the touchpad on the front of rail station turnstiles and bus fareboxes on all CTA and Pace buses.
  • Protected Fares - If a Chicago Card Plus is lost, stolen or damaged, simply go online or call the CTA to report the problem. A replacement card will be issued and the balance in the account at the time the CTA was notified of the theft or loss will be available to the cardholder. Account Management - Fare transactions can be viewed for each card in an account, and personal information can be changed by visiting chicago-card.com or by calling CTA Customer Service at 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282), TTY: 1-888-CTA-TTY1 (1-888-282-8891), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Using a Chicago Card Plus®back to top

How and where can I use my Chicago Card Plus®?
To board a bus or enter through a rail station turnstile, simply touch your Chicago Card Plus to the touchpad on the front of rail station turnstiles and bus fareboxes on all CTA and Pace buses. Chicago Card Plus is accepted for full-fare payment on all CTA rail and bus routes, and Pace buses. Metra does not accept CTA fare media.
Can Chicago Card Plus® be used to pay reduced fares for seniors, customers with disabilities or students?
At this time, reduced fares for customers with disabilities and students are not available with Chicago Card Plus.

For more information about reduced fares, see Reduced Fare & Free Ride Programs.

Will my RTA Reduced Fare Permit SmartCard change to Chicago Card Plus®?
No, this program will not affect your reduced fare SmartCard. You will continue to use the same card.
What are the minimum and maximum amounts I can reload to a card in my account?
As a Pay-Per-Use customer you can reload as little as $10 and as much as $80 to a card in your account. As a 30-Day Pass customer you may have no more than one current and one future 30-Day Pass on a card in your account. This is because reloading of a new 30-Day Pass does not occur until the 27th day of the current 30-day cycle.

As a customer enrolled in the RTA/CTA Transit Benefit Fare Program, your account can carry up to $300. Once that amount is reached your pre-tax reloading will be suspended. The balance is still available for use but no additional money can be added to the account. Pre-tax reloading can resume once the balance has fallen below $300.

What is a reload amount?
If you are selecting a Pay-Per-Use fare choice, you will need to select a reload amount. A reload amount is the dollar amount that is charged to your credit card and added to your account each time a specific threshold is reached. If using the Pay-Per-Use fare choice, reloading will occur each time your account balance dips to $10. At this time your credit card is charged the reload amount that you have specified ($10, $20, $40, $60, or $80). A 30-Day Pass fare choice does not require a reload amount because your credit card will be charged $100 (the cost of a new 30-Day Pass) on the 27th day of each 30-day cycle, thereby adding $100 to your balance.
What are my fare choices?

Pay-Per-Use: Full fares and transfers are deducted from your online account each time you ride.


30-Day Pass: Provides unlimited rides for 30 consecutive days beginning with the first ride taken using your Chicago Card Plus®.

What will the bus farebox and rail station turnstile displays read when I use my Chicago Card Plus®?
Your choice of Pay-Per-Use or 30-Day Pass fare options may not be accurately reflected on bus fareboxes and rail station turnstile displays but will be accurately reflected in your account. Therefore, you can obtain your balance when logged on to your account or by calling CTA customer service.
Can Chicago Card Plus® be used to pay for more than one customer at a time?
Just like traditional farecards, passback privileges allow up to seven customers to board the same bus route or pass through the same rail station turnstile using one card. Each passback ride will have the appropriate fare (full fare or transfer) deducted from the card owner's account. Each customer will touch Chicago Card Plus to the touchpad on the front of rail station turnstiles and bus fareboxes on all CTA and Pace buses, then pass the card back for the next customer to use.

If using a 30-Day Pass, up to seven customers can board the same bus route or pass through the same rail station turnstile using one card within up to an 18-minute period. The first customer's fare is recorded as an unlimited ride using a 30-Day Pass. Each passback ride will be considered Pay-Per-Use. The appropriate fare (full fare or transfer) is recorded to the card owner's account and charged to their credit card. The charge will include all passback charges, plus $10, which will be immediately available for future fare payment. The additional $10 is charged to ensure that you are able to continue using the passback feature if you choose.

There is one circumstance where a Chicago Card Plus cannot be used to pay for up to seven customers: If six or fewer customers begin their trip while using one card, and they attempt to transfer to another bus or rail line with customers who were not present at the origin of the trip, the card will not be accepted for fare payment of the additional customers.

When can I change my fare choice?
If you are a Pay-Per-Use customer, you may change to a 30-Day Pass at any time. Your credit card will be charged $100 (cost of a 30-Day Pass) minus the amount remaining in your account at the time of the change. Your 30-Day Pass will begin with your next ride.

If you are a 30-Day Pass customer, the Pay-Per-Use fare transactions will begin upon completion of the current 30-day cycle. The change should be made prior to the 27th day of the current 30-day cycle. This prevents automatic reloading of a new $100 30-Day Pass. If the change is made after the 27th day, the $100 that was automatically charged to your credit card will be available for Pay-Per-Use fares upon completion of the current 30-day cycle.

How do I change my reload amount?
You can change your reload amount by logging on to your account at chicago-card.com and clicking on the "Manage Fare Preferences" link. Or you may call CTA customer service at 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282), TTY: 1-888-CTA-TTY1 (1-888-282-8891), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

If you are enrolled in the RTA/CTA Transit Benefit Fare Program and would like to change your reload amount, you must notify your employer of this change. Your employer will notify the CTA of this change the next time its administrator submits an order.

If I don't use the card for a while, will it still work?
Yes. Each Chicago Card Plus has a life cycle of four years. To obtain a card's expiration date or to order a replacement, call CTA Customer Service at 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282), TTY: 1-888-CTA-TTY1 (1-888-282-8891), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can also check a card's expiration date at the passenger information unit (PIU) located at all CTA rail stations.
If I keep my Chicago Card Plus® in my wallet next to a credit card, will it get demagnetized?
Your Chicago Card Plus contains no magnetic material and therefore cannot be demagnetized.
If I keep my Chicago Card Plus® in my wallet next to another smartcard, will it still work?
Often, if there are two or more SmartCards next to one other, neither one can be read. If you have your Chicago Card Plus next to, for example, your work door access card, the turnstile or bus farebox may have trouble reading your Chicago Card Plus. You may need to keep one of the SmartCards in a different place for both to function properly.

Charges to Your Credit Cardback to top

When will my credit card be charged?
As a Pay-Per-Use customer, your credit card is first charged when you set the initial value of your Pay-Per-Use fare choice: $20, $40 or $60. Unless otherwise indicated by the CTA, the $5 purchase fee for Chicago Card Plus is waived for first-time users. Your credit card will be automatically charged each time your Chicago Card Plus account is reloaded with additional money. This occurs when your account value falls to $10. The amount charged to your credit card depends on the reload amount you selected: $10, $20, $40, $60, or $80.

As a 30-Day Pass customer, your credit card is first charged the cost of a 30-Day Pass when you select a 30-Day Pass as your fare choice.  Your credit card will be automatically charged the cost of a 30-Day Pass on the 27th day of each 30-day cycle. The new pass will take effect with the first ride taken after the current 30-day cycle has ended.


Replacing Lost/Stolen/Damaged Cardsback to top

What if my card is lost, stolen or damaged?
If your Chicago Card Plus is lost, stolen or damaged, and you would like to obtain a replacement card, you should log on to your account at chicago-card.com and click on "Replace Card". Or you may contact CTA Customer Service at 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282), TTY: 1-888-CTA-TTY1 (1-888-282-8891), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Once you notify the CTA that your CCP is lost, stolen, or damaged, your CCP will be turned off immediately so that it will no longer work.  Once your CCP is turned off, it may not be reactivated or used again.  Your card will be replaced with the value remaining in your account when the CTA was first notified, minus a $5 replacement fee. You must provide your name and PIN to enable the balance to be transferred to a new card. If a Chicago Card Plus that operates as a 30-Day Pass is lost, stolen or damaged, the timing of the 30-day cycle cannot be reset.
What happens if my Chicago Card Plus® doesn't work on a bus or at a rail station?
If your Chicago Card Plus does not work, immediately notify the customer assistant at the rail station or the bus operator. To get a replacement card you should visit chicago-card.com or contact CTA Customer Service at 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282), TTY: 1-888-CTA-TTY1 (1-888-282-8891), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
How will I receive a replacement card?
Replacement cards can be mailed to the shipping address listed in your account information or picked up at CTA headquarters at 567 W. Lake Street, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. When contacting CTA Customer Service to report a lost, stolen or damaged card, let them know which delivery option you prefer. Replacement cards picked up at CTA headquarters will be available 3 business days after the request is received. For delivery via mail, cards should be received between 5-7 business days of the customer's notice to the CTA.
Why do I need a PIN for a Chicago Card Plus®?
Your PIN (personal identification number) is needed only when you call CTA Customer Service. The customer service representative will ask you to provide the name associated with the card for which you need assistance, along with its PIN. This practice is used to determine if you are the owner of the card and because CTA does not want you to provide your account password over the phone. You do not need your PIN to log on to your account.
If I find my Chicago Card Plus® after reporting it lost or stolen, can it be reactivated?
A Chicago Card Plus will not be reactivated once reported lost or stolen.

Expiring Chicago Card Plus Cardsback to top

How can I check my card’s expiration?
Chicago Card Plus cards expire after approximately four years. You can check the expiration date for your card online by logging onto your account (the expiration date is noted next to the cardholder’s name) or by waving your card near the reader at any Passenger Information Unit (located at most CTA train stations, near the kiosk).

For detailed information about how to check the expiration date on your card(s) and how to renew your card manually, you can also read our "How-To Guide” on Checking the expiration date and renewing a Chicago Card Plus.

How can I replace my expiring card?
The easiest way is to renew your card online. You should receive an e-mail within 45 days of your card expiring with instructions, or log into your Chicago Card Plus account where you’ll find instructions on how to renew (if your card is expiring soon).

For detailed information about how to check the expiration date on your card(s) and how to renew your card manually, you can also read our "How-To Guide” on Checking the expiration date and renewing a Chicago Card Plus.

You can also:

  • Visit the CTA Sales Center located on the second floor of CTA's headquarters at 567 W. Lake Street, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. A Photo ID will be required for this transaction.
  • Call 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282), TTY: 1-888-CTA-TTY1 (1-888-282-8891), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.

Account Management Optionsback to top

Can I order more than one Chicago Card Plus® for my account?
Chicago Card Plus accounts may have up to five Chicago Card Plus cards. An account may have only one credit card on file, which will be charged for all reloading activity.
How can I check my card balances?
Balances for each card in your account may be obtained by visiting chicago-card.com or by calling 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282), TTY: 1-888-CTA-TTY1 (1-888-282-8891), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. through 7 p.m. There may be a short delay in the posting of transaction data.
Can I change the personal information in my account?
You can change the personal information in your account (e.g., PIN, phone number, e-mail address, mailing address, credit card information) at any time by visiting chicago-card.com or by calling 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282), TTY: 1-888-CTA-TTY1 (1-888-282-8891), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
If my Chicago Card Plus is deactivated and I provide updated credit card information, will it be reactivated immediately?
No. Your Chicago Card Plus will not be available for immediate use. Once your credit card has been successfully charged for reloading purposes, your Chicago Card Plus will be available for fare payment within 5 business days. This information can be provided by logging on to your account at chicago-card.com or by calling 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282), TTY: 1-888-CTA-TTY1 (1-888-282-8891), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Will my personal information (given when setting up my account) be sold to telemarketers?
The CTA will not sell or disclose your personal information without your written consent, unless required to do so by law. See the privacy policy for more information.
Will I be notified of any problems with the credit card listed on my account?
You will receive an e-mail message notifying you when your credit card authorization fails. You will also receive notification when your credit card is due to expire. Card expiration notification will occur one month prior to expiration and two weeks prior to expiration. If there is no valid credit card on file, CTA will be unable to reload your account and your Chicago Card Plus will be deactivated once the balance reaches $0.
How can I cancel a specific card in my account or the account altogether?
Please note that canceling a card or account is a final action. Once a cancelled card's balance has reached $0 it will be permanently disabled. You may cancel specific cards in your account or the account altogether by logging on to your account at chicago-card.com or by calling 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282), TTY: 1-888-CTA-TTY1 (1-888-282-8891), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. You will need your username, password, and PIN to execute the cancellation. Cards that are associated with the Transit Benefit Fare Program must cancel their pre-tax reloading before they can be cancelled themselves.

Transit Benefit Fare Programback to top

Is Chicago Card Plus® offered as a fare payment option in the RTA/CTA Transit Benefit Fare Program?
Yes. Your pre-tax payroll deduction can be applied directly to your Chicago Card Plus account. Speak to your HR department to find out if your employer offers the Transit Benefit Fare Program and Chicago Card Plus. Or click here to learn more.

Transit Benefit Employersback to top

What must I do to offer Chicago Card Plus® to my employees?
In order to offer Chicago Card Plus to your employees enrolled in the RTA/CTA Transit Benefit Fare Program, you must submit an employer enrollment form. This form will allow you to designate your company's Chicago Card Plus administrator. This administrator will receive an e-mail message containing the username and password for your company's online account.

You must also submit employee enrollment forms for each employee that chooses Chicago Card Plus as his or her fare payment option. These forms should be submitted at the same time as the employer enrollment form or anytime thereafter. Each employee must have an e-mail account in order to establish a Chicago Card Plus account. Each employee account will be linked to the employer account, thereby enabling the company administrator to submit the online order form each month. Click here to download the enrollment forms.

What does a Chicago Card Plus® online account allow my company's administrator to do?
The online account allows your company's administrator to make changes to and submit the online order form between the 5th and 15th of each month. Submittal of this form allows an employee's pre-tax payroll deduction to be applied to his or her Chicago Card Plus account by the 1st of the following month. The administrator is the only one who will be able to change an employee's reload status (active, suspended or cancelled) and change an employee's reload amount ($30, $45, $60, $80 or $100). The administrator will also be able to view reports from previous orders and make changes to the employer account (e.g., password and payment method).
What are the payment methods?
Payment may be submitted in one of two methods: ACH Pre-Authorized Debit or company check. If paying via ACH, the CTA will debit your company's account shortly after the close of the update window; this transaction will occur only during months that an order was submitted. If paying with a company check, it must be postmarked by the 15th of the month during which the online order form was submitted. The check must be made payable to the Chicago Transit Authority and mailed to the following address:

Chicago Card
Chicago Transit Authority
901 W. Division Street
Chicago, IL 60642-4216

Are there any status changes that can be made only by the employer or only by the employee?
Only the employee will have the ability to change his or her fare choice. The two fare choices are Pay-Per-Use and 30-Day Pass and can be changed when the employee is logged on to his or her account or by calling CTA Customer Service at 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282), TTY: 1-888-CTA-TTY1 (1-888-282-8891), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. A change in fare choice may require a change in reload amount, which can be changed only by the employer's administrator. For example, if an employee changes to the 30-Day Pass fare choice, but does not change his or her reload amount to $100, and has not provided credit card information to his or her account, the change in fare choice will not take place if the account has insufficient funds to pay for the 30-Day Pass.

Only the administrator can change an employee's reload status. A reload status is either active, suspended or cancelled. Active means that the reload amount specified on the online order form will be posted to that employee's account. Suspended means that pre-tax dollars have been temporarily suspended from reloading to an employee's account. An employee's status will be automatically changed to cancelled after five consecutive months of suspension. Cancelled means that an employee has discontinued pre-tax reloading.

What if my company uses the services of a third-party administrator?
Your Chicago Card Plus employer account will be linked to your third-party administrator's (TPA) account provided the following: that you included your TPA's information when you submitted your employer enrollment form, or you submitted the new TPA form if you hire a TPA after your employer account has been established or change from one TPA to another.

Your TPA will have access to your employer account and will make changes to and submit the online order form each month on behalf of your company. As an employer administrator, you will have access to your account but only your TPA can make changes to and submit the online order form.


Transit Benefit Third-Party Administratorsback to top

What must I do to offer Chicago Card Plus® to my clients' employees?
In order to offer Chicago Card Plus to your clients' employees enrolled in the Transit Benefit Fare Program, you must submit a third-party administrator enrollment form. This form allows you to designate your company's Chicago Card Plus administrator. This administrator will receive an e-mail message containing the username and password for your company's online account.

Each of your employer clients must submit an employer enrollment form to establish a Chicago Card Plus account. These accounts will be associated with your TPA account provided each employer listed you as its TPA when submitting its enrollment form. If an employer hired you after its account has been established, the new/change TPA authorization form must be submitted in order to provide you access to the employer account.

Employee enrollment forms must be submitted for each employee who chooses Chicago Card Plus as his or her fare payment option. These forms may be submitted at the same time as the employer enrollment form or anytime thereafter. Each employee must have an e-mail account in order to establish a Chicago Card Plus account. Each employee account will be linked to the employer account, enabling the TPA to submit the online order form each month. Click here to download the enrollment forms.

What does my company's Chicago Card Plus® Third-Party Administrator online account allow me to do?
Your administrator will be able to assign users to individual employer accounts. Users will be given access to employer accounts to which they have been assigned. The online account allows users to make changes to and submit an online order form on behalf of your employer clients between the 5th and 15th of each month. Submittal of this form allows an employee's pre-tax payroll deduction to be posted to his or her Chicago Card Plus account by the 1st of the following month. The user will also be able to change an employee's reload status (active, suspended or cancelled), change an employee's reload amount ($30, $45, $60, $80 or $100), view reports from previous orders and make changes to the employer account (e.g., password and payment method).
What are the payment methods?
Payment may be submitted in one of two methods: ACH Pre-Authorized Debit or company check. If paying via ACH, the CTA will debit your company's account shortly after the close of the update window; this transaction will occur only during months that an order was submitted. If paying with a company check, it must be postmarked by the 15th of the month during which the online order form was submitted. The check must be made payable to the Chicago Transit Authority and mailed to the following address:

Chicago Card
Chicago Transit Authority
901 W. Division Street
Chicago, IL 60642-4216

As a TPA, you may submit one ACH payment or one company check for all clients, or submit individual payments.


Transit Benefit Employeesback to top

How can I use Chicago Card Plus® through the RTA/CTA Transit Benefit Fare Program?
In order to use Chicago Card Plus through the Transit Benefit Fare Program your employer must establish an online account. Once that has been done, you will submit an employee enrollment form to establish your own Chicago Card Plus account. Your account will be linked with your employer's account to allow your pre-tax dollars to be posted to your account. If you already own a Chicago Card Plus, the employee enrollment form will allow you to notify CTA of your card's serial number and PIN so as to link this card to your employer's account.
When will my pre-tax payroll deduction be applied to my Chicago Card Plus® account?
Each month your employer will submit an online order form specifying the amount to be applied to your account. The order form must be submitted by your employer no later than the 15th of the month and your payroll deduction will be posted to your account by the 1st of the following month.
Are there any status changes that can be made only by me or only by my employer?
Only you will have the ability to change your fare choice. The two fare choices are Pay-Per-Use and 30-Day Pass and can be changed when you are logged on to your account or by calling CTA Customer Service at 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282), TTY: 1-888-CTA-TTY1 (1-888-282-8891), Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. A change in fare choice may require a change in reload amount, which can be changed only by your employer. For example, if you change to the 30-Day Pass fare choice, but do not change your reload amount to $100, and have not provided credit card information to your account, the change in fare choice will not take place if your account has insufficient funds to pay for the 30-Day Pass.

Only your employer can change your reload status. Your status is either active, suspended or cancelled. Active means that the reload amount specified on the online order form will be posted to your account. Suspended means that pre-tax dollars have been temporarily suspended from reloading to your account. Cancelled means that you have discontinued pre-tax reloading. Cancellation will occur if you leave your employer or choose to leave the Transit Benefit Fare Program. It will also occur if you have been suspended from pre-tax reloading for five consecutive months. You will need to submit an employee enrollment form in order to receive future pre-tax reloading through your employer’s account.

Is there a maximum value that I can keep on my Chicago Card Plus®?
The maximum value that can be held on your Chicago Card Plus is $300. Reloading via a pre-tax payroll deduction will be suspended if your account value reaches $300. The suspension will be lifted once your account value falls below $300. You should receive an e-mail notifying you of this suspension when it occurs.
How long will my pre-tax dollars be available for transportation?
Your pre-tax dollars will be available for transportation for 12 months from the date they were posted to your account. No refunds will be issued.
Do I need to supply credit card information to my account?
You do not need to supply credit card information to your account. In the event that your pre-tax dollars are not sufficient to pay for transit prior to the next posting of pre-tax dollars to your account, you may choose to supply credit card information to your account to enable your card to be used until the next pre-tax posting. Your credit card will be charged only if your account balance falls below $0. The charge will include the negative balance plus $10, which will be immediately available for future fare payment. The reason your credit card is charged the negative balance plus $10 is to avoid having your account balance repeatedly fall to a negative amount.
If my employer provides me with RTA FareChecks, will I be able to redeem that check and have its value added to my Chicago Card Plus® account?
FareChecks may be redeemed at CTA headquarters at 567 W. Lake Street, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In order to do this your account must be linked to your employer's account or you must have valid credit card information listed on your account.




    Chicago Card Plus Home Page    |    Chicago Card Home Page CTA Home Page
    Legal/Disclaimer    |    Privacy Policy    |    Conditions of Use    |    Contact Us    |    Search Copyright © 2014 Chicago Transit Authority