MetroCard in New York City
All you need to know about the NYC MetroCard
The MetroCard is a pre-paid card that conveniently allows you to pay for subway and bus transit in New York City. It is necessary to purchase one to gain access to the subway trains. It can be purchased at virtually every subway station.
The card offers various advantages: you don’t have to carry a lot of cash in the City, it fits into any pocket, and depending on your length of stay, transit costs are covered by a flat rate!
The New York subway can be overwhelming at times. Find out about the different ticket options you have, how to not get lost in the New Yorker Subway system and most importantly which trains are running local and express.
The most important info’s about the New Yorker Subway
Things you need to know:
- The MetroCard is also valid for Busses in New York.
- Subway Day Pass Does not exist anymore.
- There are no zones within the New Yorker Subway System. Every ride costs the same. No matter how far you go Zones.
When does it make sense to buy a monthly or weekly pass?
- Up to 3 rides: Single Ride Tickets
- 4 to12 rides: Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard
- Starting at 12 rides: 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard
Which MetroCard ticket is the best for 3, 5, or 7 days in New York City?
- 1 Day: Single Ride Tickets
- 2-3 Days: Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard
- 3-7 Days: 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard
- 7-10 Days: 7-Day Unlimited Ride & Pay-Per Ride MetroCard Kombi
We are going to explain the different tickets in a little bit and of course we share how to buy NYC subway tickets. You’ll see that buying a MetroCard in New York City is super easy. Note that without purchasing a ticket you won’t be able to access the platforms.
While buying a NYC subway ticket you have different options. You can either buy a single ride ticket or a MetroCard ($1) which you can fill with money. For every ticket option except the Single Ride Ticket you’ll need a MetroCard.
With the famous yellow New Yorker MetroCard you are able to ride the Subway, the bus or even the Rosevelt Island Tramway. You can refill your MetroCard at every train station.
MetroCard New York Pricing and where to buy a New York MetroCard
Except when you’re buying a Single Ride ticket the price for the MetroCard New York is $1. Additionally you will have to buy the rides..
If you’re not staying in New York City for longer than one month consider the following ticket options.
- Single Ride Ticket: 3 $
- Pay-Per-Ride: ab 5,50 $
- 7-Day Unlimited Ride: 32 $
Are you staying longer than one month? Then this may work for you:
- 30-Day Unlimited Ride: 127.00 $
- Express Bus Einzelfahrt: 6.75 $
- Express Bus Plus 7-Day: 62.00 $
Additionally, there are a few more options regarding the JFK Airtrain
- JFK AirTrain 10-Trip MetroCard: 25 $
- JFK AirTrain 30-Day Unlimited Ride: 40 $
How much is a senior MetroCard?
This option is called Reduced Fare. Seniors pay the base subway or local bus fare which is $2.75. Reduced fare is half the base fare, $1.35 or less with Reduced-Fare MetroCard discounts. Customers who are 65 years of age or older or have a qualifying disability.
What age do you have to pay for NYC subway?
If you take the subway you can take up to three children 44 inches tall and under with you who will ride for free on subways and local buses.
Now you know the MetroCard New York prices. Let’s dive deeper into the pro’s and con’s of each ticket option:
Single Ride Ticket – 3 $
The Single Ride Ticket is a ticket that is only valid for one ride for 2 hoursYou can only buy it at a MetroCard New York vending machine and is valid for one person.
You cannot transfer from the subway to the bus with the single ride ticket.
- A Single Ride Ticket only makes sense when you won’t ride more than three times in total during your stay.
Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard – 5,50 $
Use the Pay-Per-Ride option when you want to refill your MetroCard with a certain amount of money. Before you enter the platform you swipe the MetroCard and are being charged $2.75
Using the Pay-Per-Ride ticket option you have to pay$2,75 per ride which is being charged from your MetroCard credit on your card. Single rides are cheaper using this option.
Buy your MetroCard at any MetroCard vending machine or at a kiosk paying $1 and then add an amount of at least $5.50 to your card. The maximum amount you can add to your card is $80.
Using the Pay-Per-Ride option you will have to pay at least $6,50
After swiping at the turnstile you can ride the subway for 2 hours and are allowed to transfer once from subway to bus or from one bus to the other.
With the credit on your MetroCard you may also use the PATH, AirTrain and Express busses. The price for each transportation option will be charged from the credit on your MetroCard.
It is also possible to combine the Pay-Per-Ride option with an unlimited MetroCard option such as the 7-Day unlimited pass, or the monthly pass.
7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard – 32 $
With the 7-Day Unlimited Ride option you can ride the subway and the bus for 7 days as often as you want.
The 7-Day Unlimited Ride option is valid from the first use of the card until Midnight on the 7th day.
Note:: PATH-, AirTrain- or Expressbusse do not accept 7-Day or 30-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCards. You can fill the MetroCard with additional money and use the Pay-per-Ride option instead.
Be flexible and combine Pay-Per-Ride and Unlimited Ride
Save time and money and combin the Pay-Per-Ride and Unlimited Ride options. You can add a 7-Day Unlimited pass plus $5 (or more) to your card to be able to use one card for multiple transportations such as the AirTrain or the PATH to NJ.
Of course you can also use your Pay-Per-Ride Card for unlimited passes later on.
JFK AirTrain 10-Trip MetroCard – 25 $
Can you buy a MetroCard at JFK? Yes you can! This card is actually special and you can buy at JFK Airport right before you enter the NYC subway station. Yes, you pay the AirTrain after you’ve used it. If you’re not flying into JFK you can skip this part of the article.
Buying the JFK AirTrain 10-Trip MetroCard you’ll get 10 Single Rides with the NYC Subway plus the AirTrain ticket. The ticket is valid for 1 year after purchase and you can purchase it only at the vending machines at JFK airport.
Using this option you’ll save 50% !
For every ride, you’ll pay $2.75 and may use this ticket with up to 4 people at the same time.
Which MetroCard option is the best?
To find out which MetroCard option you may need in New York City you should do the math and calculate how many rides you might take per day, or in total during your stay.
- 1 to 3 rides: Single Ride Tickets
- 4 to 12 rides: Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard
- 12 rides and up: 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard New York
Most of the times we buy the 7-Day Unlimited Ride MetroCard and add extra money to it, if needed.
Tip: Take advantage of the Unlimited Ride und Pay-per-Ride options.
Let’s do the math: 4 Single Ride Tickets cost $12. 4 rides using the Pay-Per-Ride option cost $11 plus $1 for the actual MetroCard, which adds up to $12 as well. Starting at 4 rides you may want to take into consideration if you stick to Pay-Per-Ride or become more flexible.
Let’s do the math again: Using Pay-Per-Ride 12 rides cost $33 plus $1 $ per card. For $33 you can purchase the 7-Day Unlimited
- With the MetroCard Calculator you can find out how many trips you will have avaible depending on the credit on your card.
On top of that the JFK AirTrain 10-Trip MetroCard makes sense starting at 4 trips and you only pay $25 instead of $31.
Now you know what kind of ticket options you have when it comes to the MetroCard New York. In the following chapter, you’ll get to know how to actually purchase a MetroCard in New York City and how to use the card.
How to buy a NYC subway ticket
1. Select Language
Select your preferred language
2. Select your MetroCard type
You have the choice between Single Ride, MetroCard and Fast $9 MetroCard.
Select Single Ride if you only need one ticket for one trip and pay $3.
To purchase a Pay-Per-Ride Card or a 7-Days-Unlimited Card press MetroCard.
- Select $9 MetroCard, if you want to buy a Pay-Per-Ride Card and you want to get done quick. During the following step you’ll pay for the fee and receive the MetroCard. You’re good to go.
3. Refill your card or Get new card
In case you already own a MetroCard you can either select new MetroCard (Get new card) or refill your card
- In case you do not have a card yet select Get new card.
4. Regular MetroCard or Unlimited Ride
If you want to purchase a 7-Days-Unlimited Card select Unlimited Ride and then 7-Day-Unlimited.
If you want to get Pay-Per-Ride credit on your MetroCard select Regular MetroCard.
5. Cash or Credit Card
Most machines take Cash, ATM Cards and Credit Cards. Not every machine excepts Cash. Always have your credit card handy.
Paying with your credit card (Credit Card) works most of the times. Insert your credit card and remove the card as soon as remove your Credit Card is shown on the display.
6. Enter your ZIP-Code
Follow the instructions to please enter your ZIP code and press ENTER on the keypad below.
- You don’t know the ZIP-Code for the card? Enter 00000 (5x Zero)
That’s it. In the end you have the option to have your receipt printed out for you.
How to refill your New York MetroCard
You want to refill your Metro Card or add more money to the card? Follow the steps 1-3 and press Refill your card.
Now your New York MetroCard is ready to use.
Add value to your MetroCard
Select if you want to Add valueand choose your desired amount.
Add time to your Metro Card:
Select during the next step Add time and then 7-Day-Unlimited.
At the end you will pay and then receive your MetroCard, which can be used until the pass has expired or the credit is been used.
New York Subway Map
Ask for a free subway map at the main subway stations.
- Or simply download afree PDF right here.
Is the NYC subway 24 hours?
The New Yorker Subway runs 24/7. During rush hour runs every 2-10 minutes. In between the subway runs every 5-10 minutes. At night until Midnight every 5-12 minutes. From Midnight to 6:30 AM the subway runs every 20 minutes.
How to get around in NYC
You can simply read the subway map and create your own route but if you like it a little bit more convenient, download one of the many apps for the Subway in New York City that helps you to navigate around.
In case you are wondering which NYC subway app is the best: The official app of the NYC Subway is myMTA. They also show you delays. Other than that we mostly use Google Maps, because the app not only shows you the subway but also the busses, bike lanes and routes if you want to walk the distance to your final destination.
Roosevelt Island Tram
Using the New York MetroCard you can also ride the Roosevelt Island Tramway. You can even use your unlimited passes.
Enjoy the views from Roosevelt Island Tramway
The Roosevelt Island Tramway Station is located on 59th Street / 2nd Ave. Take the R toLexington Av / 59 St or4 5 6 to 59 Street. Then it’s only one block walking distance.
Ride the Subway like a local
Generally, there is a difference between express trains and local trains. Express trains, in contrast to local trains that stop at every station of a particular line, do not stop at every station.
Subway lines are marked so that it is easy to tell which type of train services the line: a letter or number in a circle designates a local train. If the letter or number is is in a diamond, you are looking at an express train.
Which NYC subway lines are express?
The subway map also shows which stations are serviced by what type of train. Stations serviced by express trains are indicated by a white dot with a black rim. Regular stations are designated by only a black dot.
From the example on the left, you can see that the 125th Street Station and 86th Street Station are serviced by express trains.
You can also see that underneath every station, there are numbers or letters – these indicate which lines stop at that particular station. In our example, Line 6 stops at the following stations: 86 St., 96 St., 103 St., 116 St., and 125 St. Lines 4 and 5 only stop at 86 St. and 125 St. stations.
Uptown and Downtown
Upon entering a subway station, you will notice clearly marked signs for “uptown” and “downtown.” If you wish to travel north, i.e., the street numbers get higher, then you need to choose “uptown” (you are traveling upwards – at least geographically). If you would like to head south, follow the “downtown” signs.
New York Subway performances
There is a whole new world of artists and performers mostly handpicked by the Music Under New York (MUNY) committee of the MTA. It is totally legal to perform on platforms and subway stations. If you are looking for the best subway stops to catch a great show, check these out:
• Times Square – 42nd Street (Midtown)
• Grand Central – 42nd Street (Midtown)
• Fulton Street (Lower Manhattan)
• Atlantic Avenue – Barclays Center (Downtown Brooklyn)
• 14th Street – Union Square
• 34th Street – Herald Square
• 59th Street – Columbus Circle
• Delancey/Essex Street (Lower East Side)
• Lorimer Street (Williamsburg Brooklyn)
Is there Wifi on NYC Subway?
There is Public Wi-Fi at every Subway Station in NYC. Transit Wireless has launched FREE Transit Wireless WiFi™ in all New York City underground subway stations. Enter a station and connect for one hour of free service as you travel from station-to-station.
How many NYC subway stations have elevators?
Only a quarter out of 472 subway stations have elevators which is a problem for people in wheelschairs or Mom’s with their strollers. Taking the subway in NYC can be a workout itself with all the stairs you have to climb to get to your final destination. Here you can check the accessible subway stations in New York City.
Can dogs ride the NYC subway?
Unfortunately not. Dogs are not allowed on the NYC subway.
I'm a true New York fan! Not only have I visited the city over 20 times but also have I spent several months here at a time. On my blog I show you the best and most beautiful spots of the city, so that you have a really good time! You can also find lots of insider tips in our New York travel guide. Also check out my hotel finder for New York!
Leave a Reply
This popped up just when i was thinking about a weekly metrocard. Thanks
Helpful article but did not mention how to get a senior metro card which is what I am interested in. I live out of state but come into NYC frequently to visit grand children and wanted to know if I could purchase on line.
you would need to apply for a reduced MetroCard. You can do so by mail or in person. Take a look here: http://web.mta.info/nyct/fare/rfindex.htm
Hi, I am travelling with a school group of 55, are we able to purchase metro cards before we travel to NY? Thank you
you could order your MetroCards online but it’s more expensive to do so. If you have several chaperones, it’d be best to split up and get them directly at the ticket machines. If you do want to buy the MetroCards beforehand, have a look here.
You should put a caveat in the How to Buy a Subway ticket and How to refill your MetroCard.
The MetroCard Vendng Machines can only do one transaction at a time.
There is a limit of 2 transactions per day using a debit or credit card. If you try for a 3rd transaction on the debit/credit card you will get a message on the screen that the transaction cannot be completed. No further explanation as to why the transaction won’t complete is never given.
Many times I have seen someone buying the $3.00 Single ride card for each person in their (and there are more than 2 people in their group) by paying with a debit/credit card only to be stopped on the 3rd try by the ‘Unable to complete transaction” message.
The Regular (or Pay-per-ride) MetroCard can handle up to 4 people. If you have 3 or more people in your group go for the Regular MetroCard and not the $3.00 single ride card. 4 fares on a new MetroCard is $11.00 plus the $1.00 new card fee for a total of $12.00. That is the same as getting 4 single fare cards (total $12.00) and it is done in one transaction (and you won’t run into the 2 transaction per day limit I mentioned earlier). Plus the Regular MetroCard can be refilled while the single fare card cannot.