How to Check Balances on Charlie Cards

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Get around Boston with a Charlie Card.
Get around Boston with a Charlie Card. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Charlie Cards are reusable plastic fare cards for payment on the buses and trains of the Massachusets Bay Transportation Authority. Frequent riders can save money and time with the use of these cards. Upon first purchase, an initial balance is loaded onto the card. As the money on the card is spent, riders can add more on the computer or through a fare vending machine. The only way to check your Charlie Card balance is by visiting one of these machines.

Visit a subway, train or commuter rail station that houses a full-service Fare Vending Machine. There are more than 500 of these machines in stations throughout the metropolitan Boston area.

Tap your Charlie Card on the target located on the outside, right-hand side of the machine so the machine can access the card’s information.

Press the button on the touch-screen that instructs you to check your balance. After pressing, your balance on the Charlie Card appears on the screen.

Tips & Warnings

  • According to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority as of 2011, at some point in the future, riders will be able to check Charlie Card balances online.

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