Swiping a MetroCard makes subway and bus travel around New York City a bit more convenient. What may be inconvenient is determining how much money you have left on the card. To avoid getting stuck with insufficient fare when you're pressed for time, load a customized amount of fare onto your card, buy an unlimited pass or have fares automatically replenished.
How to Check Balance
As of June 2015, the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority does not offer a way to check MetroCard balances online. You also cannot add to your card online. Balance checks and adding money to the card must be done at a MetroCard vending machine or a subway station booth.
The MTA also sends mobile MetroCard servicing centers to places such as senior centers and shopping areas to make it easy for people to refill or obtain cards. Use the search tool the MTA provides to find a store that sells MetroCards.
Calculate in Advance
Save yourself the headache -- and potentially a missed train -- of swiping your card and finding there's not enough fare left. Calculate how many rides you expect to take and load that exact amount on the card. The MetroCard calculator lets you enter the existing balance and amount you want to add to the card, and figures out how many trips that allows. It takes into account the 11 percent bonus riders get by adding fares to MetroCards. If you're buying a new MetroCard, the calculator takes into account the card fee and the amount you'd like to add. This way, you're not stuck with a card that runs short, and you may mark the calendar with the date fares run out based on your regular usage.
Do your calculation before stepping up to the MetroCard kiosk, and click "other amounts" to enter your custom dollar value.
You also can load an unlimited ride pass onto a MetroCard. The seven-day option, which allows as many subway and bus rides as you need until midnight every day, is a good option for tourists exploring New York City for a week. An Express Bus Plus version of the seven-day unlimited pass is insured against theft or loss when you use a credit or debit card to buy it. Unlimited passes are available for 30 days and come with insurance.
You have to buy a separate pass for use on the JFK AirTrain, either for 30 days of unlimited use or for 10 trips within six months.
The MTA also can ensure your balance never runs dry by automatically refilling the MetroCard from a credit or debit card. The EasyPay card comes with online access to manage your account, and automatically adds $30 to the balance when your card falls below $20. You also may use EasyPay with a 30-day unlimited pass, and you'll be charged on a monthly basis to replenish the card.