Living with credit, New products

Chicago transit takes plastic

Jeremy Simon

Previously, we’ve looked at Big Apple-area credit card payment adoption in taxis and on New York-New Jersey public transportation. Now, it’s time to turn our attention to the Midwest, where the Chicago Transit Authority has just installed fare card vending machines that accept credit cards.

On March 3, 2008, the CTA said it was installing 60 express fare card vending machines that offer that chance to pay for fare cards using Visa, MasterCard, Discover Card and American Express credit cards. The express fare card machines will also take debit cards that bear the logo of those issuers. “Using the express fare card machines, customers will be able to purchase magnetic strip transit cards and add value to either magnetic strip transit cards or Chicago Card,” the CTA says.

Tightwads and spendthrifts may both find fault with the new Windy City system: The minimum value that can be added to a transit card or Chicago Card is $5 at a time and the maximum (as a security precaution) is $25 each calendar day.

The change should please most riders. “Allowing customers the option of using credit cards is one more way we are trying to improve service and be responsive to their needs,” CTA President Ron Huberman said via press release. “The CTA will continue to look for ways to integrate credit cards and technology into our fare media strategy.”

After completing a 30-day testing period, the CTA plans to install the remaining 55 express fare card machines at Chicago rail stations over the next four months.

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