Do you have questions about VentraTM? Below, you’ll find answers to the most frequently asked questions by CTA and Pace riders during this transitional period.

Special Fares

Questions And Answers

Ventra 101

How can I contact Ventra Customer Service?

  • The Ventra Customer Service Center is open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST.  It is located at 165 N. Jefferson St., Chicago, IL 60661 – just outside the CTA headquarters.
  • The Ventra Customer Call Center can be reached at 1.877.NOW.VENTRA (1.877.669.8368). Automated and live operator support are available 24/7.

Note: Beginning Monday, April 21, the Ventra Customer Service Center hours will be 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday.

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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

  • 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)

  • Ventra Customer Service Center at 165 N. Jefferson St. (just outside CTA headquarters)

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How much is the Ventra Card?

There is a $5.00 purchase fee for the Ventra Card, which is refunded as transit value upon registration.

Please note: From now through the Ventra transition, the $5.00 fee is waived when ordering your Card online, by phone or when transferring value to a new Ventra Card at balance transfer events. Starting after the transition, the $5.00 fee will be charged when ordering your Card online or by phone, but it will be available for use as transit value when it arrives in the mail.

Customers can also pay for rides with a credit or debit card that has this contactless symbol Contactless_Symbol_Ventra_Blue.

Single-ride and 1-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 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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Can I still use transit value or multi-day passes with Ventra?

Yes. Transit value and CTA and Pace passes can be added to your Ventra Card or contactless bankcard. See pass options for CTA and Pace. The cost of fares remains the same with Ventra.

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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:

  • Ventra Vending Machines in CTA rail stations and select suburban locations with cash, credit or debit
  • Participating Ventra Retailers (find one near you)
  • Online or by phone (1.877.NOW.VENTRA) with credit or debit
  • Ventra Customer Service Center, 165 N. Jefferson St., with cash, credit or debit

With a contactless bankcard, you can pay as you go with a full fare charge each time you tap, or you can load passes and transit value directly onto your personal bankcard at Ventra Vending Machines, entitling you to CTA and Pace transfer discounts. Online account management for contactless bankcards is coming soon.

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How do I use the new Ventra Vending Machines?

The new Ventra Vending Machines are easier to use than the old vending machines. You can buy all types of passes, such as the 7-day or 30-day pass, or load value onto your transit account and quickly check your balance with a tap of your card. The machines will all accept credit/debit cards, in addition to cash.

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How much longer can I use my old CTA and Pace fare cards?

The CTA and Pace will continue to accept Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus during the Ventra transition. You will also be able to use magnetic stripe cards during the transition. If you are not able to spend down the transit value balance on your fare cards before the transition deadlines, you can attend a balance transfer event or participate in the balance transfer mail-in program, which will begin after the transition.

Click here for rules, information and locations for upcoming balance transfer events.

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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?

There are two primary ways to use your contactless bankcard to pay for rides on the CTA and Pace:

  1. Pay-as-you-go (PAYG): Remove. Tap. Go. Just take out your bankcard and tap it on the center of the card reader. The full fare will be deducted for each ride ($2.25 for CTA, $1.75 for Pace). Note that your credit or debit card may be authorized for up to $5.00 when you first tap it on a card reader, even though the actual fare is less. This is a pre-authorization process, and you will only be charged the actual fare once it hits your account. The amount of time it takes for the charge to hit your account may vary depending on your bank.
     
  2. Add passes and transit value: Take advantage of CTA and Pace multi-day passes, as well as transfer discounts, by adding passes and transit value to your bankcard at Ventra Vending Machines at CTA rail stations and participating Ventra Retail Locations. Coming soon, you will also be able to register a Ventra Transit Account to your bankcard to add passes and transit value online or by phone, protect your balance if the card is lost or stolen and manage your account online.

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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 $2.25 each, you may see a single transaction on your bank account for $4.50. 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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Registering, Activating & Managing Your Ventra Card

How do I register my Ventra Card?

Register your Ventra Card by selecting “Register Your Card” on the homepage at ventrachicago.com or by calling 1.877.NOW.VENTRA (1.877.669.8368). The $5 cost of your first Ventra Card will be credited to your Ventra Account as Transit Value if you register within 90 days of purchase. Customers can activate their MasterCard® Prepaid Debit Account after registration.

Please note: If your Ventra Card has your name on it, the Card is already registered. Your Ventra Card is personalized when it is ordered online or by phone. It is also personalized and registered if you have a registered Chicago Card or Chicago Card Plus.

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How do I activate my new Ventra Card?

Click here for our step-by-step guide to creating an access code, activating your Card and using it to board the CTA and Pace.

Please note: If your Card arrived by mail, you will need to first activate it by creating an access code (outlined in the instructions above) and then calling the Ventra Customer Service Center.

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

Choosing a “Nickname” for your Ventra Card 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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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 over the phone by calling 1.877.NOW.VENTRA (1.877.669.8368) or by visiting the Ventra Customer Service Center, 165 N. Jefferson St. (just outside CTA headquarters).

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Why should I register my Card?

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

  • The Ventra Card purchase fee ($5.00) is refunded as stored transit value
  • Account balance is protected if Card is lost or stolen
  • Account management is available online or by phone, so you can add passes and transit value, set autoload preference and view ride history
  • New Ventra Card is automatically mailed to you before expiration date

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Can I set up autoload on my Ventra Card or contactless bankcard?

Yes. You can register your Ventra Card online or by phone, link your transit account to a major credit card or bank account and set it to automatically be reloaded. Autoload will soon be available for contactless bankcards, as well. Click here to learn more.

Note to former Chicago Card Plus customers: While your Chicago Card Plus balance will transfer over to your new Ventra Card upon activation, you will need to link your transit account to a bankcard or bank account to set up your Ventra Card to automatically reload. You can do this by logging in and managing your account at ventrachicago.com.

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I have both passes and value on my Ventra Card. Which fare will the system use first?

Because your Ventra Account can contain multiple fare payment options, your fare will be paid with the first payment method in your Ventra Account containing sufficient value in the following order:

  1. Joint CTA-Pace passes that are valid on both transit agencies’ systems
  2. Agency-specific passes that are valid on just one participating transit agency system
  3. Shorter duration passes
  4. Longer duration passes
  5. Transit benefits value
  6. Transit value

When you board and pay your fare, the Ventra System will determine what types of passes and transit value are available in your account. New passes will not be activated until the pass you are currently using expires. A Ventra Account can contain up to three passes at one time.

If there are no passes and insufficient transit value in your Ventra Account, you will not be able to travel, or you will be charged a PAYG fare if you are using a contactless credit or debit bankcard.

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

 

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

You can add up to $100.00 per transaction to your Ventra Card, up to a maximum $300.00 value limit. Minimum load values apply, depending on where you add value:

  • Online at ventrachicago.com – minimum load of $5.00
  • Calling 1.877.NOW.VENTRA – minimum load of $5.00
  • 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

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What happens if my Ventra Card is lost or stolen?

If you have a registered Ventra Card, please call 1.877.NOW.VENTRA (1.877.669.8368) or click here (log in, click “customer service”, then select “replace your card”) to report your Card as lost or stolen. Doing so will inactivate the Card so that your balance is protected. You can then choose to receive a new Ventra Card in the mail or by visiting the Ventra Customer Service Center at 165 N. Jefferson St. The balance from your old Card will be transferred to your new Card upon activation.

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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Special Fares

Will the CTA and Pace continue to offer reduced fares to eligible customers?

Eligible CTA and Pace customers, including students, seniors and people with disabilities, will continue to receive a reduced fare.

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When will I receive my new RTA Reduced Fare or Ride Free permit?

The RTA began mailing the new hard-plastic permits to Reduced Fare and Ride Free customers in September. All Reduced Fare and Ride Free customers will receive their new permits by December.

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How do I activate my new 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 will the new permit work?

The durable new 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. RTA Reduced Fare and Ride Free permits are for transit use only and will not have the prepaid debit account option.

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How do I use the new 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.

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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.

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Can I use the 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 and to ride CTA in between semesters and terms, you must add transit value or passes to your Ventra U-Pass at Ventra Vending Machines, 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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I am a student enrolled in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). How do I get my Ventra Student Card?

CPS students received their Ventra Student Cards during school orientation prior to the first day of school. New students, who did not receive their Ventra Cards, or those in need of a replacement card, should consult with their school administrator.

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I am a primary or secondary school student enrolled in a non-CPS school. How do I get my Ventra Student Card?

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

Note: Pending Pace Board approval, Pace will not sell the Student Haul Pass after Nov. 13, 2013. Students are eligible to buy the Pace Reduced Fare 30-day pass through Ventra.

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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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Will the CTA continue to 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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Will 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 or transit benefits administrator. How do I transition my company or organization to Ventra?

If your company or organization is enrolled in the transit benefits program, the CTA sent you an electronic spreadsheet (.CSV) template that needed to be filled out with your employees’ transit benefits information by Oct. 25. If you did not receive this email, please contact the CTA’s transit benefits hotline at 1.312.681.4005.

Coming soon: You will be able to enter your benefit loads directly through the Ventra website. You will be contacted when this option is available.

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I am an employee who receives transit benefits using Chicago Card Plus. How do I transition to Ventra?

First, log on to ventrachicago.com to create a Ventra Access Code using the username and password you received in an email from updates@ventrachicago.com this fall. Once you receive your new Ventra Card in the mail, activate it by calling 1.888.824.8802 and entering your Card number and access code.

Your balance will be transferred from your Chicago Card Plus to your Ventra Card within 24 hours of activation. Once the balance is transferred, you can begin using your new Ventra Card. Your Card will be reloaded every month with the transit value or pass specified by your employer.

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I am an employee who receives transit benefits using a check or debit card issued by my employer. How do I transition to Ventra?

First, log on to ventrachicago.com to create a Ventra Access Code using the username and password you received in an email from updates@ventrachicago.com this fall. Once you receive your new Ventra Card in the mail, activate it by calling 1.888.824.8802 and entering your Card number and access code.

You can then add passes and value to your Ventra Card using a transit benefit check or debit card.

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I am an employer who is not currently enrolled in the CTA/Pace transit benefits program. However, I am interested in being a part of the Ventra Transit Benefits Plan. What should I do?

Starting February 5th, visit ventrachicago.com and click the “Transit Benefits” tab to learn more and sign up.

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I have my fare loaded through the Transit Benefit Fare Program (by my employer) but am still using my old Chicago Card Plus: Should I manually transfer value from this card to a Ventra Card that I purchase on my own?

No, we'll soon be sending information, through your employer, to you about how to switch to Ventra.

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Using Your Optional Prepaid Debit Account

What is the Prepaid Debit Account?

Your Ventra Card has two accounts – a transit account and a prepaid debit account. The transit account enables you to add passes and transit value so you can ride on CTA and Pace. The prepaid debit account enables you to use your Ventra Card anywhere Debit MasterCard® is accepted.

Key benefits of the prepaid debit account:

  • Use it to manage your budget and spend only what you load on the prepaid debit account
  • It’s convenient – use it in stores, online at ATMs and to pay bills
  • Funds are FDIC insured
  • No interest charges or minimum balance required

 

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How can I use my Ventra Card aside from transit?

If you activate your optional Money Network® MasterCard® Prepaid Debit Account and load funds, you can use your dual-purpose Ventra Card wherever Debit MasterCard® is accepted. In addition to making purchases, you can load funds via direct deposit, make online bill payments, get cash at ATMs and much more.

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How do I activate my Ventra Card’s Prepaid Debit Account?

Activating your prepaid debit account is easy. Register your Ventra Card online by following these simple steps or calling our Customer Call Center at 1.877.NOW.VENTRA (1.877.669.8368).

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How do I load funds to my Ventra Card’s Prepaid Debit Account?

You can load funds through a participating reload agent; use direct deposit to receive your pay, government benefits and other funds on your Card; or transfer funds from a personal bank account. Click here to find a participating debit account reload agent.

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What fees are associated with the Ventra Card’s Prepaid Debit Account?

One key advantage of the Ventra Card is that there are minimal fees.

  • There is no monthly fee if you load funds periodically to your prepaid debit account. A $2.00 monthly maintenance fee will only be deducted from your prepaid debit account if you don’t load funds on the Card at least once within a consecutive 18-month period.
  • There is no fee for everyday transactions including purchases and getting cash back with a PIN-debit purchase. There is also no fee for balance inquiries online or over the phone, balance alerts, negative account balance or transfers from a personal bank account, among others.
  • Fees will be applied for transactions such as cash loads (varies by reload network agent), ATM withdrawals, transfers from your prepaid debit account to a personal bank account and replacement of a lost or stolen card.

A complete list of fees applicable to your Ventra Card’s Prepaid Debit Account is available here.

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Other Questions You May Have

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

Please contact Ventra Customer Service (see above).

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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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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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Why are the CTA and Pace changing their fare payment system?

The CTA and Pace are transitioning to Ventra for several reasons:

  • Ventra is a step toward achieving a universal fare payment system in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs, where transit riders will be able to use one card or mobile phone to pay for rides on all regional public transit systems.
  • Ventra is a modern fare payment system that will meet the needs of transit riders now, and for years to come, by providing customers with convenient new payment options, including contactless bankcards and, eventually, compatible mobile phones.
  • The existing CTA and Pace fare payment system is nearly 20 years old. It is very costly to repair and maintain, and it does not provide any long-term benefits.

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When will Ventra begin accepting mobile payments?

Ventra will begin accepting payments using compatible mobile phones in 2014. More information is coming soon.

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What do the different Ventra Card Reader screens mean?

The Ventra Card Reader screens show several different messages to keep you informed during your trip. Click here to see all the screens and learn what they mean.

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