How are MTA MetroCard bonuses calculated? NYCurious

The MTA gives a 5 percent bonus when you add $5.50 or more to your MetroCard.
The MTA gives a 5 percent bonus when you add $5.50 or more to your MetroCard. Photo Credit: Daniel Avila/NYC Parks

This is part of our series NYCurious, where we answer your questions about the city. Tweet or Facebook Message your queries to us at @amNewYork, with #NYCurious.

Question: How do I end up with $0.14 on my MetroCard when the price is $2.75? How do they calculate the “bonuses”?

The odd amount of money left on your MetroCard because of the MTA’s 5 percent bonus won’t be a concern for much longer, as bonuses are going away on April 21 when the new fares take effect. 

But if you’re still curious about how you end up with a balance of only a few cents, scroll down to find out more.

When you add $5.50 (the price of two rides) or more to your MetroCard, the MTA gives you a 5 percent bonus. The bonuses do not apply to weekly and monthly MetroCards.

So if you add $5.50 to a MetroCard that has a balance of $0, with the 5 percent bonus, you will end up with $5.78. After two rides, you’ll be left with just $0.28 on your card. Then, say you add $20 to that card. With the MTA bonus, you will really get $21, and your new balance will be $21.28.

After seven rides, each priced at $2.75, you’ll have $2.03 on your card — not enough for a single ride. But as you keep adding money to your MetroCard, the accumulating bonuses will earn you a free trip, or more.

All these figures also change if you’re buying a new card, which costs an additional $1. So if you only want to pay $20, $1 would be used for the new card, and your balance would be $19 plus the bonus, which is $19.95. After seven rides, you’ll have $0.70 on your card.

To end with a balance of $0, you would have to pay 95 percent of the cost of the number of rides you want, so that with the 5 percent bonus, your balance will be exactly the right amount. 

For example, if you need four rides ($11), you would add $10.48. With the 5 percent bonus, your balance will be $11. If you need 10 rides ($27.50), you would add $26.19, and your balance will be $27.50. Unless of course you ALSO need a new card — then you’d have to pay $11.48 for four rides or $27.19 for 10 trips.

If you’re not sure how much you need to add for a specific number of rides, the MTA has a handy calculator on it’s website