Featured Questions

Do you have questions about Ventra? Below, you’ll find answers to the most frequently asked questions by CTA and Pace riders.


Ventra 101


Registering Your Ventra Card


Activating Your Ventra Card


Managing Your Transit Account


Paying with Mobile Devices


Paying with Contactless Bankcards


Special Fares: RTA, U-Pass, Student Cards & Group Sales


Ventra 101

What is Ventra?

Ventra is the convenient fare payment system for CTA, Pace and Metra that allows customers to pay for train and bus rides throughout Chicagoland. Customers can easily manage their account online and choose from several different contactless fare payment methods:

  • Ventra Card for CTA and Pace.

  • Ventra Tickets: Single-ride and one-day passes.

  • Ventra App: Metra mobile tickets, CTA/Pace account management and more.

  • Mobile payments like Apple Pay, Android Pay, Samsung Pay and more.

  • Personal contactless bank-issued credit and debit cards can be used for transit.

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Where can I get a Ventra Card?

You can purchase a reusable Ventra Card at a variety of places, including the following locations:

  • Online at ventrachicago.com.

  • Via the Ventra App.

  • Ventra Vending Machines in CTA rail stations and select suburban locations.

  • Participating Ventra Retailers (find one near you).

  • By phone at 1.877.NOW.VENTRA (1.877.669.8368).

  • The Ventra Customer Service Center at 567 W. Lake Street, 2nd floor (at CTA headquarters).

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How much is the Ventra Card?

There is a $5 purchase fee for the Ventra Card, which is returned to you as transit value upon registration within 90 days of purchase. The fee is waived if you order online or by phone (though a minimum value load or pass purchase is required), as you’re automatically registered.

Customers can also pay for rides with a credit or debit card that has this contactless symbol Contactless_Symbol_Ventra_Blue or with compatible digital wallets or payment apps such as Apple Pay or Google Pay.

Single-ride and one-day Ventra Tickets are available at Ventra Vending Machines in all CTA rail stations.

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How do I use Ventra on trains and buses?

Remove. Tap. Go. Just remove the Ventra Card, ticket or contactless bankcard that you want to use to pay for rides and tap it on the center of the card reader. Wait for the green “Go” message to appear on the screen and board your train or bus. 

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Where can I add passes and transit value?

You can add passes and transit value to your Ventra Card at a variety of places, including the following locations:

  • Ventra Vending Machines in CTA rail stations and select suburban locations with cash, credit or debit.

  • Participating Ventra Retailers (find one near you).

  • The Ventra App (available for download at the App Store and Google Play).

  • Online or by phone (1.877.NOW.VENTRA) with credit or debit.

  • Ventra Customer Service Center, 567 W. Lake Street, 2nd floor, with cash, credit or debit.

When using a contactless bankcard or mobile wallet to pay, you’ll be charged a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) fare when you board. Transfers are now available between services when using contactless PAYG and are charged at the same rate as when using a Ventra Card. Click here for fare details.

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What can I do at a Ventra Vending Machine?

You can purchase a new Ventra Card or Ventra Ticket with cash or a credit or debit card. You can also add passes and transit value to your Ventra Card and even check your balance.

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How do I add passes and transit value at a Ventra Vending Machine?

Adding passes and transit value at a Ventra Vending Machine is easy. You can buy all types of passes, including 7-Day or 30-Day passes, or load value onto your Transit Account and quickly check your balance with a tap of your card. The machines accept credit/debit cards, in addition to cash.

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How can I contact Ventra Customer Service?

  • The Ventra Customer Service Center is open Monday through Friday. It is located at 567 West Lake Street, 2nd floor, Chicago, IL 60661 – at the CTA headquarters. The Ventra Customer Service Center’s operating hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST.

  • The Ventra Customer Call Center can be reached at 1.877.NOW.VENTRA (1.877.669.8368). The Ventra Customer Call Center’s operating hours are Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. CST and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. CST.

 

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Registering Your Ventra Card

Why should I register my Ventra Card?

Registering your Card will make your transit experience safer and more convenient. Registration benefits include the following:

  • The Ventra Card purchase fee ($5) is returned to you as transit value.

  • Your account balance is protected if Card is lost or stolen.

  • Account management is available online, in the Ventra App or by phone, so you can add passes and transit value, set autoload preferences and view ride history.

  • A new Ventra Card is automatically mailed to you before the expiration date.

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Do I need to register my Ventra Card?

If you ordered your Ventra Card online, by phone or via the Ventra App and it arrived in the mail, your Ventra Card is already registered. If you purchased your Ventra Card at a vending machine or at a retail location, it will need to be registered in order to take advantage of registration benefits.

You may choose not to register your Ventra Card and reload passes and transit value at vending machines and retail locations.

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How do I register my Ventra Card?

Register your Ventra Card online by calling 1.877.NOW.VENTRA (1.877.669.8368) or selecting “Register a Ventra Card” within the Ventra App.

The $5 purchase fee will be refunded to your Ventra Account as transit value if you register within 90 days of purchase.

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What is a Ventra Card “Nickname,” and why do I need one?

Choosing a “Nickname” for your Ventra Card while registering helps to keep track of your Cards in case you own or manage more than one. For instance, if Janet and her two kids, Bill and Lisa, all use public transit with a Ventra Card, Janet can pick a nickname for Bill and Lisa’s Cards so she can tell them apart when managing each Card online.

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Will Ventra keep my information private?

We’re committed to keeping your personal and financial information safe and secure. Please see the Ventra privacy policy to learn more.

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Activating Your Ventra Card

Do I need to activate my Ventra Card?

Ventra Cards purchased at a vending machine or retailer are already activated and can be used right away.

However, if you received your Ventra Card in the mail, you must activate it before using it to pay for transit. Learn how to activate your Ventra Card.

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How do I activate my new Ventra Card?

Click here for our step-by-step guide to activating your Card so you can ride CTA and Pace.

Please note: If your Ventra Card arrived by mail, you will need to first activate it before riding CTA and Pace.

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How do I get my access code?

To find your access code:

  • Log in to your account with your username and password.

  • Log in, or Don’t know your username/password?

  • Then, click “Account Settings” to find your access code.

  • You only need an access code if you are calling from a phone number not registered to your Ventra Account when activating your Ventra Card.

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Managing Your Transit Account

How do I manage my Ventra Transit Account?

After registering your Ventra Card, you can manage your account, view transit balances and add transit value and passes online at ventrachicago.com using a computer, smartphone or tablet. Just click here and enter your username and password to get started.

You can also manage your Transit Account in the Ventra App, over the phone by calling 1.877.NOW.VENTRA (1.877.669.8368) or by visiting the Ventra Customer Service Center, 567 W. Lake Street, 2nd floor (at CTA headquarters).

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Can I set up autoload on my Ventra Card?

Yes! When you register your Ventra Card, you can set it and forget it by setting up transit value or passes to autoload every month. Learn more about your autoload options.

  • Autoload a pass: Log in to your Ventra Transit Account and select "Add pass with autoload." If you already have a pass, switch the autoload button to "ON" and follow the prompts.

  • Autoload value: Log in to your Ventra Transit Account and turn the transit autoload button to "ON." Select your preferred autoload amount and follow the remaining prompts.

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What dollar amount can I add to my Ventra Transit Account?

You can add up to $100 per transaction to your Ventra Card, up to a maximum $300 value limit. Minimum load values apply, depending on where you add value:

  • Online at ventrachicago.com – minimum load of $5.

  • Calling 1.877.NOW.VENTRA – minimum load of $5.

  • Ventra Customer Service Center – minimum load of $1.00.

  • Ventra Vending Machines with cash – minimum load of $0.05.

  • Ventra Vending Machines with credit/debit – minimum load of $1.00.

  • Ventra Retail Locations – minimum load of $1.00.

  • Ventra App – minimum load of $5.

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I have passes and transit value on my Ventra Card. Which is used first?

Passes will be used on your Ventra Card before transit value. Period passes are used in order of shortest to longest. Learn more here.

Please note: Ventra Cards can be passed back up to six times. If you have pass products on your Card, the first tap will utilize the pass product first. Any subsequent taps will deduct value from transit value only. If you want to pay for multiple rides, make sure you have sufficient transit value.

 

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How do I check my balance at a vending machine?

You can check the balance on your Ventra Card by simply touching your Card to the circular card reader on any Ventra Vending Machine. Learn how to check your balance at a Vending Machine.

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My Ventra Card shows a negative balance. What should I do?

Please contact Ventra Customer Service. Click here to learn how.

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Can I pay for more than one person with the same Ventra Card?

With Ventra, you can pay for up to six additional riders traveling with you. The first tap will utilize value from a pass (if you have one). Any subsequent taps will deduct from transit value only, so be sure to have enough transit value on your Ventra Card. Learn more here.

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What happens if my Ventra Card is lost, stolen or damaged?

If you have a registered Ventra Card, you can request a replacement Card be mailed to you right here! Doing so will deactivate the Card so that your balance is protected. The balance from your old Card will be transferred to your new Card upon activation. It will take 7 to 10 business days to receive a replacement Ventra Card by mail. You can also choose to receive a replacement Ventra Card by visiting the Ventra Customer Service Center at 165 N. Jefferson St.

Please note, however, that active passes such as a 7-day will continue to run during the replacement process and may expire by the time your new Card arrives in the mail. In these instances, visiting the Ventra Customer Service Center is recommended so that your Card can be replaced immediately. There is a $5 non-refundable replacement fee for all replacement Cards, unless the Card is found to have a defect that was not caused by customer misuse or improper handling.

If you do not have a registered Ventra Card, you can purchase a new one online, at Ventra Vending Machines, participating retail locations or by phone.

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How do I order a replacement Ventra Card?

Call 1.877.NOW.VENTRA (1.877.669.8368) or click here (log in, click “customer service”, then select “replace your card”), if your Ventra Card is registered. This will deactivate it and protect your balance. You will receive your new Ventra Card in the mail within 10 business days. The balance from your old Card will be transferred to your new Card upon activation. For information about the replacement fee and pass expiration, click here. You will have to purchase a new Card if it is not registered.

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I am a Ventra app user. How do I know if my mobile device has the latest phone/operating system?

To get the most out of the Ventra app and to ensure you’re able to access future functionality, it’s important your device’s operating system is up to date. If you have a device running on an operating system of Android 6 and older or iOS 9 and older, you should consider updating your device or operating system. Unfortunately, these systems are no longer supported by their manufacturers and this may limit app functionality.  

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Paying with Mobile Devices

Can I use Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay to board with Ventra?

Yes! Ventra is designed to accept industry-standard, contactless payments, which means that you can use a bankcard loaded into digital wallets or payment apps such as Apple Pay, Google Pay or Samsung Pay—instead of a Ventra Card—when boarding a bus or when entering a CTA train station. It’s just like using a contactless reader at a checkout or vending machine.

When using a digital wallet to pay, you’ll be charged a pay-as-you-go (PAYG) fare when you board. Transfers are now available between services when using contactless PAYG and are charged at the same rate as when using a Ventra Card. If using a Pay app, be sure to have the app use the same funding source every time you tap to make sure you get the best fare. Learn more at How-to Use Pay Apps or in Ventra Terms.

Note, your credit or debit card (loaded into a mobile device’s wallet/Pay app) may be authorized for $5 when you first touch it to a fare reader, even though the actual fare is less. This is a temporary pre-authorization, and you’ll only be charged the actual fare once it’s reconciled in your payment account (this usually happens after about a day).

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Can I load regular fares/passes online or set up autoload to use Ventra with Apple Pay or Google Wallet?

Not at this time. These payment systems work much like contactless bankcards and, like those, are compatible with Ventra for pay-as-you-go transactions. Be sure to have the same funding source selected within Apple Pay or Google Wallet every time you tap your device at a fare reader to make sure you get the best fare and transfers.

Later this year, you will be able to add a Ventra Card to Apple Wallet on iPhone. Then, you will be able to tap to pay for rides using transit value or passes.

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Can I import my Ventra Card into Apple Pay?

Not at this time. Later this year, you will be able to add a Ventra Card to Apple Wallet on iPhone. Then, you will be able to tap to pay for rides using transit value or passes.

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Paying with Contactless Bankcards

What is a contactless bankcard?

A contactless bankcard transmits data securely via radio waves when the card is tapped on a card reader. Major banks are switching from traditional cards to contactless cards due to the cards’ increased security, improved durability and quicker payment times.

If your credit or debit card has this symbol Contactless_Symbol_Ventra_Blue  on the front or back, it is contactless and can be used to pay for rides on the CTA and Pace.

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How can I use my contactless bankcard with Ventra?

Remove. Tap. Go. Just take out your bankcard and tap it on the center of the card reader. A full pay-as-you-go fare will be deducted for each ride ($2.50 for CTA trains, $2.25 for CTA buses, transfers are charged at the same rate as when using a Ventra Card; $2 non-premium Pace buses). Note that your credit or debit card may be authorized for $5 when you first touch it to a fare reader, even though the actual fare is less. This is a temporary pre-authorization, and you’ll only be charged the actual fare once it’s reconciled in your payment account (this usually happens after about a day).

To ensure transit fare is deducted from your preferred payment card and avoid “card clash,” please take out the card from your wallet and tap it on the card reader. Then, watch for the green "Go" message to appear on the reader.

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Why are there $5 charges on my account when using my personal bankcard if I only took one ride?

Like other purchases made with a credit card, merchants will often pre-authorize a certain dollar amount. For example, you may notice this when making gas purchases or booking a hotel room. Ventra requests a pre-authorization of $5. This money reflects a pending transaction. Once the transaction processes with your bank (usually by the end of the business day), the amount shown will reflect the actual fares charged, based on the number of rides you’ve taken.

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Why don’t all charges on my bank account reflect the number of rides I’ve taken on a given day? Are these double charges?

Ventra will often combine and process charges at the end of a business day, in batches. For example, if you take two rides for $2.50 each, you may see a single transaction on your bank account for $5. These charges may not correspond with the exact date you took the ride. The time it takes for a transaction to be authorized and post to your account depends on your bank.

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I have multiple contactless cards. Which card will be charged if I tap my wallet?

To ensure transit fare is deducted from your preferred payment card, please take out the card from your wallet and tap it on the card reader. Then, watch for the green “Go” message to appear on the reader.

Ventra is a contactless payment system and will accept payment from either the Ventra Card or a contactless credit or debit card. Since it doesn’t know which of your cards you wish to use, it will deduct your transit fare from the first card that it reads. The CTA and Pace strongly encourage riders not to tap their wallet, in order to ensure fare is deducted from the correct card.

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Special Fares: RTA, U-Pass, Student Cards & Group Sales

Do CTA and Pace offer reduced fares to eligible customers?

Yes. Eligible CTA and Pace customers, including students, seniors and people with disabilities, can receive a reduced fare. Click here to learn more about your fare policy and rider status.

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How do RTA Ventra permits work?

The durable permit works as both your RTA Reduced Fare/Ride Free ID and fare card.

  • If you are a reduced fare customer, just add passes or value to your permit, and tap it on the center of the card reader to board trains and buses.

  • If you are a ride free customer, just tap your permit to board trains and buses — no need to add fare products.

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How do I activate my new RTA Ventra permit?

Just call the activation number on the permit’s sticker, and follow the prompts using your touch-tone phone to activate your new permit. All you need to provide is your Card number (located on the back of the Card), Card expiration date and your date of birth.

Once activated, you will automatically be registered for a new Ventra Transit Account, ensuring your balance can be protected if your permit is lost or stolen.

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How do I use a Ventra U-Pass?

The Ventra U-Pass provides unlimited rides on the CTA for each college semester. Students will use the same U-Pass throughout their college career. As long as you’re enrolled full-time in school, your U-Pass privileges will be loaded automatically.

If your card is lost or stolen, visit your school’s U-Pass administrator to complete a report and request a new card. A non-refundable replacement fee ($50) will be collected for a lost/stolen card.

Your school does not automatically register your U-Pass with Ventra. We encourage you to register your card here to protect purchased passes and transit value if your card is lost or stolen.

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Can I still use the Ventra U-Pass during breaks or at the end of the school term?

Yes. Your U-Pass will function as a regular Ventra Card during breaks or at the end of the school term. To ride the CTA and Pace using your U-Pass between semesters and terms, you must add transit value or passes to your U-Pass at Ventra Vending Machines, participating retail locations or at ventrachicago.com. When your full-time school session resumes, your U-Pass will automatically return to an unlimited riding pass.

Please note: Your Ventra Transit Account must be in good standing prior to your full-time school session resuming for your U-Pass to return to an unlimited riding pass. Check your transit balance at Ventra Vending Machines, participating retail locations or at ventrachicago.comWatch this video to see how to check your balance at a vending machine.

Students may continue to use their U-Pass as a regular Ventra Card after they are no longer enrolled, however, a new, full-fare Ventra Card must be purchased prior to expiration.

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Can I use a Ventra U-Pass on Pace?

You can ride Pace year-round by adding transit value or passes to your Ventra U-Pass.

Please note: You will only receive unlimited rides with U-Pass on CTA trains and buses when your school is in session. To ride Pace at any time or to ride CTA in between semesters and terms, you must add transit value or passes to your Ventra U-Pass at Ventra Vending Machines, in the Ventra App, participating retail locations or at ventrachicago.com. An additional student entitlement is not needed to order a Pace Campus Connection pass. 

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My child is a student enrolled in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). How do I get their Ventra Student Card?

Chicago Public Schools will issue Ventra Student Cards to students directly. See your school's administrator for information on how to get a new Card or if you need a replacement Card.

Note, if your child attends a Chicago Public School and already has a Student Ventra Card, CPS will automatically re-enable the student reduced fare rate on your existing Card when your new school term begins.

Get more information about the Ventra CPS Fare Card here

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My child is a primary or secondary school student enrolled in a non-CPS school. How do I get their Ventra Student Card?

Students who attend non-CPS schools are eligible for the Ventra Student Card program. Some schools issue cards directly, while others do not. Click here to see if your school is on this list.

  • If your school issues Student Ventra Cards directly, see your school's administrator for information on how to get a new Card or ask them to re-enable the student reduced fare rate on your existing Card when your new school term begins. 
 

  • If your school does not issue Student Ventra Cards directly, you can use this order form to order a Card directly from us.
 OR, if you need to re-enable the student reduced fare rate on your existing Card when your new school term begins, send in this order form.

  • Click here for more information.

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How does a student 11 years old or younger get a child entitlement for their student Ventra Card?

Students 11 years old or younger who have a registered student Ventra Card with a student entitlement are eligible to receive a reduced fare outside of school hours. To get the entitlement, a parent or guardian must bring their child’s student Ventra Card with a birth certificate to the Ventra Customer Service Center, 567 West Lake Street, 2nd floor. A customer service representative will add the entitlement to the Card.

This process must be completed for the student to receive a reduced fare outside of school hours. 

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I am a primary or secondary school administrator who would like to purchase Ventra Student Cards in bulk. How do I place an order?

Click here for information.
Click here for the order form.

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I am a college/university student. How do I get a Pace Campus Connection pass?

Click here for information.
Click here for the order form.

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I am a school administrator at a college/university. How do I provide my students with Pace Campus Connection passes?

Click here for information.
Click here for the order form.

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Does the CTA offer group sales for organizations and institutions?

Yes. If you have any questions regarding the program, click here for an expanded FAQ. For specific questions or assistance placing an order, please call 1.866.869.2246. You can also fill out the CTA Group Sales Order form here.

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Does Pace offer group sales for organizations?

Yes. Pace will provide Ventra Tickets for non-profit organizations (NPO) only. Please email Pace at bulk.sales@pacebus.com if you have questions or would like to place an order.

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I am an employer who is not currently enrolled in the CTA/Pace’s Ventra Transit Benefits Program. What is it and what should I do if I am interested in signing up?

Ventra Transit Benefits is an employee benefit program administered by employers. It allows employees to set aside pre-tax income – up to $265 per month – for travel on CTA, Pace and Metra, lowering their taxes and easing their commute. There are many program benefits for employees and employers alike. Click here to learn more and sign up!

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