How-to: Making contactless payments (including Pay apps and contactless bankcards) at Ventra readers


Contactless payment methods include payment apps and bankcards with the wave symbol

Ventra accepts standard contactless payments for fares right at the turnstile or bus reader, from a Ventra Card on Google Pay, Ventra Card on iPhone and Apple Watch, mobile wallets/Pay apps and contactless bankcards. 

If you have a contactless card from your bank or a phone, watch or other device with a contactless Pay app set up, you can use it directly for a Pay-as-you-go fare with Ventra instead of needing to get a card or ticket from us first!

Payment methods with the wave symbol—where you can make contactless payments at places like retail checkouts and vending machines—work for direct, Pay-as-you-go payments at Ventra readers.

Popular mobile wallet/Pay apps we accept include:


Ventra Card on iPhone and Apple Watch

With Ventra Card on iPhone and Apple Watch customers can tap their iPhone or Apple Watch to pay for rides using transit value or passes. To get started with Ventra Card on iPhone and Apple Watch, download the new Ventra app.  Ventra Card in Apple Wallet brings all the features of a Ventra Card to your iPhone or Apple Watch, including the ability to load and manage transit value and CTA and Pace passes, autoload, pre-tax transit benefits from your employer, account management features in the Ventra app and more. Ventra Card on iPhone or Apple Watch can be used at all Ventra readers on CTA buses, CTA ‘L’ station faregates and Pace buses.

Click here learn more about Ventra Card on iPhone and Apple Watch. 


Ventra Card on Google Pay

With Ventra Card on Google Pay, riders can tap their Android device on CTA trains and buses and Pace buses to pay for rides using transit value or passes. Ventra Card in Google Pay brings all the features of a Ventra Card to an Android device. Plus, riders can view their transit balance, check their pass expiration date, and quickly connect to the Ventra app to add transit value and/or passes all in the Google Pay app.

Click here learn more about Ventra Card Google Pay. 


Pay-as-you-go (PAYG)

Just tap your contactless card or device on the center of a fare reader target. The PAYG fare for the service you're riding (see agency fares) will be deducted for your first ride.

 NEW: Transfers are now available when riding with PAYG on CTA and Pace!

If using a Pay app, be sure to have the app present the same funding source every time you tap to make sure you get the best fare.

See fare information from the service you're riding, such as CTA or Pace, for complete rate details and policy.


How charges appear on your app/statement

Fare is calculated automatically based on the rides you take and charged to your card's account like a standard "credit"-type transaction.

Your credit or debit card (either if a contactless card or loaded into a mobile device's wallet/Pay app) may be authorized for $5.00 when you first tap 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).

For example, if you only took $2.50 worth of rides, you may see a pending $5 authorization occur in your payment app and banking app, but after the charge has been reconciled you'll only see $2.50 on your bank statement.

Depending on the app/service you used, you may or may not see detailed (or even final) charges in your Pay app, but you will see the total fare actually charged, in up to $5 increments, in your bank's online transaction history and on your bank statement once fares are fully reconciled with your bank.


Tips for using contactless cards/mobile devices/Pay apps at a Ventra reader

Tap your device or contactless card directly to the reader's target

Tap your card or the back of your device flat against the yellow target on the lower part of bus fare readers or on train station turnstiles for a reliable read, every time.

Get your device ready, first, for fastest entry

When using a Pay app, you may need to open your phone's Pay app or authenticate on your device and tap again, if prompted.

Many devices have shortcuts to make them ready to pay before you tap to the reader. Here are some tips for common devices:

  • If you're using Apple Pay, the Ventra system is now set up for Express Transit mode. You can ready your iPhone or Apple Watch with Apple Pay for a contactless PAYG payment using tips from Apple.
  • If you're using Google Pay, you can ready many Android phones/devices to make a contactless payment by simply unlocking your device as you walk up. For more, check out tips from Google.
  • If you're using Samsung Pay, you can ready your device from its locked state by swiping up from the bottom edge of the phone to open Samsung Pay. You'll need to use the fingerprint reader or enter your unlock code to pay. For more, see tips from Samsung.
  • If you're using Fitbit Pay, you'll need to pull up your card on the device's screen. See tips from Fitbit on how to pay.


Avoid "card clash"!

Whenever you pay, tap only  your desired payment method to a Ventra fare reader: we recommend you remove the payment method from your wallet.

Ventra can accept payments from many different card/payment types. Taking your card out (or tapping only your mobile payment device—with no other cards along with it) makes sure that the payment method you intended to use covers every part of your trip.

(Never attach any cards that might be used for payment to your phone, such as bankcards with the [wave] symbol, or Ventra Cards or Tickets from a vending machine.)


Additional tips for using Pay apps

Using multiple cards in your Pay app

Always use the same card on the same device on Ventra readers to make sure we can follow your trip and make sure you get the best fare, including free out-of-system transfers as well as paid transfers per CTA or Pace fare policies. See agencies' websites for rate details.

Shared cards for your household

If you and someone else in your household share a card (or two cards with the same card number issued by your bank), or you want to be able to use a second device as a backup in case your battery dies, please be sure to use different payment cards in your Pay apps when paying fare to avoid any conflicts.

Using multiple devices with the same card (or card number)

Many card issuers allow you to set up your payment cards on multiple devices, such as on your watch and your phone.

To avoid conflicts and make sure the correct fare is paid, our system only allows a card to be used on one device at a time: if you've used the same payment card on multiple devices, the most recent device that you've used to pay a fare with your bankcard will become the active device for that card in our system and that card may not work if you try to use it again using one of your earlier-used devices to pay with that card at a Ventra reader.

We recommend choosing a device you'll always use when paying fare and using only that one with any given card. If you replace it with a new one, the new device will automatically take over for that payment method in our system.

What do I do if the reader says "Stop" when I tap?

This may be the result of having used your payment method on another device more recently than the one you tried to pay with (such as tapping your watch to ride once and trying to go back to using this card on your phone).

If this happened and you'd like your previous device to become the active one again, simply call Ventra Customer Service at 1-877-NOW-VENTRA and a representative can help. (In the meantime, you may need to use another payment method to ride.)

They can also help you resolve any other issues, such as if the reader says "Stop" because a charge for a previous Pay-as-you-go ride you took was not accepted by your bank.