Southern Brooklyn

Open Thread: Has Money Magically Disappeared From Your Metrocard?

Source: Flickr / paulmmay

We got a call late last week from a distressed reader, upset that $9 she had placed on her Metrocard disappeared the very same day. And, when she went to get something done about it, she found agency reps very unhelpful:

On Monday July 23rd @ 9AM I used my debit card to put $9 on a metro card that already had $9 on it. The screen showed a total of $18 and some change. When I got done working at 2PM I went to head home, when I swiped my card there was just over $6 and some change left after 1 use… I figured no big.. I will tell them at the booth, they should be able to help. NO GO… I got to the booth and was told by a very frank attendant, that there was nothing he could do for me, and that I needed to call customer service, and gave me and envelope to mail in my card, but I had to pay to mail it… I told him I knew he didn’t make the policy, but to make people wait a month for their money is a stupid policy. He again just said there is nothing he could do…

Something really needs to be done about this… The MTA is basically stealing from the people…

The reader added over the phone that she fears money disappears from cards like this all the time, and the agency benefits from people unwilling to seek reimbursement through the overwrought process, which includes forms, postage and a 30-day wait.

Like our reader, I know I’ve had money magically disappear from my card at least once. And, another time, when a newly-purchased card with $10 on it refused to work at any turnstile, the agency never responded after I mailed it in with the appropriate form. At the time, I chalked up the first incident to a quirky mechanical error, and the second to “lost in the mail.” But I’ve heard this story from others, too.

So, has money ever disappeared from your Metrocard? Have you ever sought reimbursement from the MTA? Let us know!

Comment policy


  1. this happens to me. I wait for the 30 days or w/e it is and get my money back. 

    p.s. the Brighton Beach station entrance near the Chase bank, the 2nd turnstile on the right side of the station, DON’T GO THRU IT!!! it will say PLEASE SWYPE AGAIN and you will but it will charge you double. The station agent has been notified, they do nothing about it… THAT NEEDS TO BE FIXED!!!

  2. also just to chime in my experience is that in Bklyn, the Bronx or Queens the station agents suck. most of the one’s in Manhattan are much nicer and help with mostly everything

  3. It has happened to me a few times, but the city is such a rush that I just add more money and forget about it.

  4. Granted, I haven’t had to deal with this for several years – I guess I’ve been lucky. But when I last had to mail in a defective card, the envelope was postage-paid. Has that policy been changed? (I hope not.)

  5. I mailed mine in (the card itself had about $40 on it). I made sure to take a photo of the metrocard’s number in case the MTA never responded and I needed evidence. It took well over 4 months before I got my replacement card. I don’t understand why they can’t have a system where they just transfer the money over to a new card at any ticket booth. 

  6. Yes this has happened to me. Always get a printed receipt whenever you get a metro card so you have proof when needed. You can xerox a copy for yourself and send them the original along with the envelope given by the station clerk. Make copies of everything. Yeah, it’s a drag but it’s more of a drag that “they” the MTA are getting away with taking away people’s hard earned money. Cheers!

  7. I’ve had a few times in the past where a turn still would say to swipe again and then before I know it, I’ve been charged twice.

  8. I consider the fare very cheap, so the couple of times I feel I’ve been double-charged, I feel I’m still way ahead of the game. Especially considering how far I go and how often I use the system. And considering how much better it is than 25 years ago. I’m not about to raise a fuss about a rare snafu.

  9. A month to get your money?!? You should be so lucky. I had an issue with a Metrocard back in October and even with follow up calls to “Customer Service” was told that action on my card was “pending”. I eventually got a new card 6 months later. This sucks because a) the MTA already has your money and b) you need to shell out additional funds simply to cover your initial investment for transportation that you had previously paid for. 

  10. This is an ongoing accurance with these Metro Cards & the MTA could not care less. They take about 2 months to replace. You think the MTA would bring these issues to the table when they have there board meetings or there big lunches.
    Boils down to many are being mailed back and they can not keep up with it. Its like not there most importment issue. Their issues are for the public to pay more for mass transit. Its one big mess. Nothing like the token.

  11. My unlimited card was slightly defective. It only worked part of the time on buses. It could have been checked for defect at any token booth. Instead, I was told to buy a new card and mail the defective card in with a thirty day wait for my money. I decided to just use the defective card until it expired. I could have proven purchase with a receipt for the card.

  12. I told this story before, but here it is again. I have an Easypay card, so all my uses are documented online.

       Twice I noticed I got charged for a free bus transfer. The first time i let it go. The 2nd time I decided to see what’s up, even though I didn’t really care, I mean if this happens once a year, no big deal.

        It doesn’t bother me I couldnt get my 2 bucks back. But the thing was CLEARLY online, and, I don’t know if the customer rep was just plain stupid (I hate calling people stupid, but wtf else?) or he just was told what to say, but it was in  black and white (literally, on the internet), and I finally hung up out of exasperation. The dude was just talking jibberish to me.

    I sent an email also, but got back some form letter that didn’t address the situation at all.

       This hasn’t happened to me in a couple of years now, maybe MTA fixed whatever the bug was in the system, but talking with customer service was really messed up. The guy had no interest in helping me.

  13. Forget money disappearing! I purchased two (!) nonworking 30-day unlimited Metrocards (about three years ago and around 3 months apart), followed all the instructions, filled out the paperwork, and mailed in the cards. About nine months later, after hearing NOTHING from the MTA, I hired a lawyer who wrote a letter to the MTA, and had my replacement cards within a month. The MTA is a money hungry sinkhole and is a complete scandal. I would like to know what they do with the billions of dollars we pay them in fares every year, but I’m convinced we will never know.

  14. I had one of the machines eat my $20 bill and never issue the card. Thankfully the attendant was nice enough and let me into the train for free, I mailed it in and a few weeks later I got a new card in the mail. But I do feel like money disappears from my card fairly quickly, considering I dont use it that often

  15. In case you’re unaware, the MetroCard system is being replaced with a new smartcard system, with the cards administered by banks (most people will use their own RFID credit or debit cards). One of the reasons the MTA is moving away from MetroCards is to get out of the business of dealing with the physical cards, which they’re not properly equipped for.

    The MTA is well aware of the problem.

  16. I’ve had buses claim to charge me a fare when they should have given me a transfer – but when I checked my balance the next day, it turns out that they hadn’t actually deducted a fare.

    Is it possible that that happened to you, or are you certain that you were docked a second fare?

  17. By the way, are you sure you want to go back to tokens? No free transfers from bus to subway? No unlimiteds? No discounts for spending more than $10 at a time?

    If so, I think you’re in the extreme minority.

  18. Reading these comments it is clearer then ever that the MTA is nothing more then an evil entity. When the original railroads were built I am sure their creators would have cringed if they knew what would be happening 100 years down the line. Sad how they can get away with nickel and dimeing people like this.

  19. I bought a 20 dollar card, rode two subways and two bus transfers and by that evening only had less than 5 dollars on the card! Sent the card in and have yet to hear anything from them- or get a replacment card. What I really hate though is when you have a small balance on a card- under 2 dollars and the bus takes all the money- and I STILL have to pay the bus the entire fare for the ride- not the balance of what they took from my card- but the entire fare! Sometimes the drivers are really nice and tell you to go sit down- but mostly they just look at you and want the coins.
     I am sure MTA collects hundreds of thousands from casual riders like myself, who don’t check our balances before getting on a bus and get scammed for the amount taken from card PLUS the full fare that we are charged when our cards balance is too low for the ride! If the balance is not enough for the fare- why do they take the monies left on the card?

  20. Yes I am aware of the new smartcard system they will be comming out with. Lets see how this is going to work. I hope it will be better.
    Thank you Andrew

  21. My wife spent 20 bucks to refill her metrocard, it took her money but didn’t update her metrocard. and the attendant did nothing.

    if it was me.. i would ask the attendant for a 20 dollar metro card, then give him the old one and be like it’s there buddy… here’s a receipt and walk away.

  22. Shadow: “Listen, pal, gimme a new metrocard like I’m your best buddy, capisce?”
    Clerk: “One moment please.” &ltquietly pushing police alert button&gt

    Two minutes later…

    Shadow: “Don’t tase me, bro!!!”

    The end.

  23. Don’t forget if there is not enough money on your MetroCard for a full bus fare and you try to pay by combining teo MetroCards, you will be charged the full fare on the second card and will lose the remaining money on the first card.

  24. What do you mean they are not properly equipped to deal with physical cards? Isn’t 16 years enough time for them to be properly equipped?

  25. I’m stating a fact, not making an excuse. It seems pretty clear that the procedures for dealing with MetroCard problems don’t work well.

    Did the super rich waste enough $$ looking for life on the moon?
    Does the internet really have billions to spend on this and NASA does not?
    Is this Gov’t working with private business to the fullest?
    PS…Be safe with this storm.

  27. You obviously hit your head when you took that fateful dive off the bridge 45 years ago.

    Now I know why you use that handle: YOU CAN’T REMEMBER IT!

  28. I remember you did not use this handle last time you chirped in. Coward. Don’t like me too freaking bad. Coward ass people like you go back under a rock.

  29. I also bought a monthly pass, that was defective right-out-of-the-cellophane wrapper.  Mailed it in.  I did not get full value, but half.  This was due to processing times.  Yet I mailed it out the same day that this event happened.  To make matters worse, the check bounced.

  30. […] New three-legged transfers were also put in place in 2009 when the B61 was split into the B61 and B62 in Downtown Brooklyn. These three-legged transfers that remain are lot listed or publicized. You just have to know they exist. Today, few even realize why certain extra transfers do not cost extra, probably attributing not being charged extra for a third bus as a mistake or a glitch in the system. […]

  31. I think if you go to 3 Stone Street, they might help. Or maybe it’s 130 Livingston Street.

    In response to the article, I think the postage on the envelope is already paid, since it’s one of the business envelopes.

  32. I took the train if  12 round trips 3 months and it has happened 7 times to me.  In columbus circle the machine just never printed a $20 card and gave me no receipt.  I just took it as a loss as many have done i try to buy single rides and pay a quarter more and they got me twice  but to top it off today I buy a two fare from the clerk but when I get to come back it say insufficent funds but the clerk buzzed me in got lucky. They Rob Us!!!!

  33. Oh yes! Im a student and one time i forgot my metro card, the rude agent scolded me for leaving my card, she could have have me a break it was 5:40 a.m its obvious to forget something at that time. She refused to let me thru, i asked around the train station for 2.25 to buy a metro card. The agent watched me like a hawk how quickly this kind lady handed me $3:00. I walked over to the machine and got a metro card. It said $3.00 , $.50 change. I clicked finish and walked over to scan in of course the card didn’t work, it said insufficient fair AFTER JUST PUTTING IN $2.25. I had a receipt too but the agent of course was of no use. Well to end this situation the cop that was there let me thru, the MTA IS cr**p! 2.25 isn’t worth the service, smell and stress that strucks every New Yorker. Someone has to do something about this ASAP! I didn’t mail my card in but i could just hypothesis the outcome, NOTHING!

  34. According to wikileaks this is illegally done on purpose. Thousands of metrocards are randomly chosen daily to be double charged. Less than 1% of strap-hangers will request their money back.

  35. This has been happening a few times for me recently. I had $3 and change on my card today AFTER swiping to go to work but when I tried to swipe it to go home, it said I had insufficient fare.

  36. This has happened to me almost every time I’ve put money on my metrocard for the last few months. CROOKS. The MTA are crooks, case closed. Now I have to put only one ride on a metrocard in case I get robbed again. My technique is smart because the first time I decided to only put one ride on the metrocard in case of being robbed, TA DAH…my 2.50 disappeared. So I went to the person in the booth and they allowed me to go through the doors without paying again. It’s sad I have to think of ways to avoid being robbed by the only transit system we have.

  37. Recently I boarded a bus and my Transfer which was supposed to be there after I took the train, was not there and I was charged for the bus ride. I filed a claim and in about 2-3 weeks I got a new metrocard from MTA with the amount I cmailed. Even less recently, I had the same incident as above, and I also filed a claim, but haven’t gotten any response yet. So, yesterday, I had a different incident with the same MetroCard. A subway turnstile took 2 rides from my MetroCard at once. I just files a claim about 5 minutes ago and in my statement, I explained what happened, also mentioned about my other recent incidents as well as threatened to collect sig. for petition to file a law suit against MTA. If I don’t hear back from them within the next 2 weeks, I will create a webpage to gather signatures for a petition and will post everywhere on boards like this one.

  38. I just recently brought a $20 metrocard 2 weeks ago, while my vehicle is getting repaired, so I used my card maybe 3×, saved the metrocard for a rainy day, & my remaining balance has completely dissappeared. I am angry because I have low tolorance for inconvience. Now that I had to add $ to it, I cant return this card until im done with my balance because I dont trust the system not even with my balance…

  39. The MTA is ripping everyone off!!! Just today I tried to put $10 on my metro card which already had $5 on it…I used my credit card so it asked for my zip code I enter it and it tells me wrong zip code I RE-ENTER 3 TIMES!! I hear my train coming and don’t have any more time to try again so I leave with only $5 on my card.. I later check my statement to see the MTA charged me $30!! $10 for each time they failed to accept my zip code!!!

  40. this always happens to me every morning thankfully the worker lets me go through after I already paid it’s very annoying because I’m afraid to even put in more than 2.50 on my metro card because it happens so frequently

  41. I just moved here a month ago and I’ve noticed almost $30 lost from my card this month, usually $10 goes missing a few days after I refill my card. It makes me angry that they are stealing from people. It probably happens way more frequently, but people don’t notice it. I am going to the metro office, and I will not stop if they don’t help me! Maybe we could get some kind of petition, something, to get them to do something about this.

  42. This just happened to me! My job puts $102 every first of the months and I was very upset because I thought they were so late but later we saw that as soon as the money was placed in my metrocard it magically disappeared the same day. So I’m short by $204

  43. This actually happened to me a while ago. I always add to my metrocard in $10 increments (I just go to/from work so an unlimited is a waste of money). One day right after I added $10 I get to a turnstile and got crotch-blocked with an “INSUFFICIENT FARE”. I check on the Metrocard machine and the card suddenly had a read failure or something. Looks like the card just stopped working, so I told the toll booth lady and yes they can’t do anything so they gave me an envelope with a form. Good thing I had my receipt too. They gave me a replacement $10 card but it took about two months.

  44. Awwwh i thought i was the only one. Same thing happened to me when i put 10 on my metro2 days ago. It just sainsufficient fare. So me being in a rush i just put 6 dollar more on it think oh the money will be wirex into my metro card viva electro magnetic wave. So anyway the card had work when i put money on it. Even yesterday morning it work but in thr evenling ot just said invalid card. Like wtf i lost another 2:50. Im wonder if this is karma for going through door sometimes with out paying {8: ()]

  45. I hate the MTA I had my nieces visiting me and I placed 20 on my Mertocard and when I went to use it it told unsufficient funds and I had to go thur the process before and I am still waiting on my first responds

  46. 40th street Bryan park station. They have cops there waiting for you to jump the turnstile. Why? BACUASE the machines there will delete your $2.50 from your card. The machines don’t instantly recognize any card with under $5.00 on it. If you have under $5.00 you HAVE to swipe two or three times OR get it all deleted. There is no human worker there in that entrance so there is no help. But the police wait in the wings for you to try and jump the turnstile. Many times I have been tempted, because I don’t buy monthlies. I add $5 daily.

  47. This happends to me on the daily and even when buying from the tellers…. Sometimes $20 disappear $10 it not fair the mta is stealing money and not to mention that the machines EAT METROCARDS AS WELL!!!!

  48. yep it has happened to me over the past but just last week I had to buy a $25 card with a charge of $1 I used it once, went to used it again and it was $0.00 balance. This totally screwed me over because I had my 3 kids with me to go to a dental appt. the biggest problem is I live on long island and you cannot buy any metro tickets unless you’re by a train station. obviously if you’re taking a bus there are no trains around. not even a deli to get what $16 in change to get on the bus. Well now I owe the dentist $200 for missed appointments! and after losing al this money I have 3 kids who need dental work.

  49. Oh yeah…Just happened. Added .85 to my MetroCard, which should of had a total of 2.95. But instead it had 20 cents. Was magically used, when I didn’t use right after paying.

  50. well i got a two ride card and then went to my friends place on myrtle ave to watch the soccer game and play some afterwards and then on my way back i swiped my card and it said insufficient funds so i talked to the boothe lady and she was like ok go through, she was a nice lady


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