CTA Ventra Card Timeline & Benefits

Important Ventra Card Timeline
The Ventra Phase-out period is accelerating and some important deadlines are fast approaching. Below is a timeline to keep you up-to-date:
Monday, October 7th, 2013
  • Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus will no longer be able to have value loaded on to them, either online or at the CTA rail station vending machines.
  • Rail station vending machines will no longer sell magnetic striped stored value cards or period passes.
  • Pace offers a new 30-day premium pass for customers using Ventra.
Friday, November 15th, 2013
  • Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus will no longer be accepted on CTA buses/trains and Pace buses.
  • Customers will no longer be able to add value to stored value magnetic stripe cards. They will need to spend down balances or transfer their existing balance to Ventra cards.
  • CTA and Pace will no longer sell magnetic striped passes. Customers need to use up existing passes by December 15.
Sunday, December 15th, 2013
  • The CTA and Pace will no longer accept any magnetic stripe fare cards.
  • Ventra replaces all CTA and Pace existing fare media.
Balance transfers to Ventra
The CTA and Pace encourage customers to spend down their balances on current fare cards. As a convenience to customers who want to transfer their balances from current CTA and Pace fare media, the agencies have announced 27 dates starting in mid-September through December 15th at multiple locations throughout the region to allow customer to transfer their balances to Ventra cards. Customers may bring a maximum of five eligible fare media cards at a time with a combined minimum of five dollars in transit value on the cards to transfer to a registered Ventra card. For more information about Ventra and to obtain a Ventra Card, click here  or call (877) 669-8368.

Ventra Card Benefits For Everyday CTA Riders, By Fare Media Type

view online

Ventra Benefits

Ventra TM Cards are the new card issued for use on CTA (and Pace) to pay fare. They perform all of the functions of current Transit Cards, passes and Chicago Cards, all of which are being retired before the end of 2013.

We encourage you to spend down balances on Transit Cards and Chicago Cards and switch to using a new Ventra Card as soon as possible. If you have a Chicago Card Plus or a registered Chicago Card, you’ll receive a card in the mail after having confirmed your address with us. Once you’ve started using Ventra, you’ll have lots of new fare options (see how below).

Ventra basics

Here are some of the basic things to know about our new fare system:

  • New Ventra Cards will be available from any Ventra vending machine and from hundreds of retailers around town (a number that will grow into the thousands).
  • Getting a Ventra Card is effectively free: The $5 cost for the card is immediately returned as Transit Value for use for fare (or toward buying a pass) when you register the card. You just need to do it within 90 days. You can do this by phone or on the Web.
  • Ventra Cards can hold both value and passes, and can be loaded at machines, online and even directly over the counter at retailers.
  • Ventra Cards are first and foremost a transit farecard. Every card will have an active Ventra Transit Account when you get the card.
    • In addition to the Ventra Transit Account every card comes with, Ventra Cards can also host an optional Ventra Prepaid Debit account.
  • If you ride CTA regularly, you should use a Ventra Card (or a personal, contactless bankcard). You can use these cards just like the existing Transit Card—and buy and load value and passes entirely with cash (and at no extra cost).

Learn what some of the new benefits you can look forward to with Ventra:
Which type of card do you use to pay today?


Transit Card CTA Pass Chicago Card Chicago Card Plus
Transit Card Passes 
(1-Day, 7-Day, 30-Day, etc.)
Chicago Card Chicago Card Plus






Benefits you can look forward to:


Transit Card
What’s new for Transit Card users

Transit Card is the stored-value, reloadable farecard you’ve been able to buy from machines in train stations or in “packs” with pre-loaded value fromretailers like drugstores and Currency Exchanges.

Some people would get these reusable cards and throw them away. We are offering new, disposable Ventra Tickets, but these aren’t intended for use by regular riders. If you ride CTA even once a year, you should pick up a Ventra Card (or use a personal, contactless bankcard) and load Transit Value or passes onto that.

The new Ventra Card is a sturdy, hard plastic card you tap to a reader when boarding and keep indefinitely. Just like Transit Cards you can load them with cash or with a credit/debit card (though every machine will now accept both!). There are lots of benefits to the Ventra Card over the old cards.

Here’s what’ll be new for you with Ventra:

  • Ventra Cards are good for five years. You just get the card once and load and use it indefinitely. When your card is near expiration, if you registered, we’ll let you know and you’ll get a new one in the mail for free.
  • Ventra Cards, if registered, protect your fare. If you lose a Transit Card with $20 on it, you’ll have lost the entire value. If you lose a Ventra Card with $20, we can transfer your remaining balance to a new card (minus  the replacement fee).
  • There will be lots more places to load value. With Transit Cards, you’d need to buy them in pre-loaded packs or find a vending machine—lots of people would end up with multiple cards this way. With Ventra, not only will you be able to load your card at any machine (they take both cash and cards), you’ll be able to walk into thousands of retail locations(corner stores, drug stores, etc.) and have them load value onto your card right at the register—it’ll be super easy to load with cash, even if you don’t often get near a train station.
  • You’ll have more fare options and it’ll be much easier to get the best possible fare. Before, your card was good only for pay-as-you-go fare, and finding a pass when you wanted one could take some effort. Ventra Cards can also be loaded up with passes. You can even apply remaining value on your card toward the purchase of a pass right at any vending machine or online.
  • New cards will have more robust “passback” features—up to seven people can share the same card and with Ventra, not everyone will need to start riding at the same place (you can meet up with someone on the way and pay for them with your card). You can even ask the driver or station attendant to let you pay a reduced fare for a qualifying rider travelling with you.
  • You can set up autoload any time you like. You can set up your card to load itself automatically from the Ventra website—and unlike how it was with the old system, you don’t have to have a special card to do this nor are you required to use autoload once it’s set up (you can just turn it off at any time you decide you want to switch back, unlike with Chicago Card Plus where it was mandatory).
  • You don’t even have to use a card issued by us. If you have a credit or debit card with the contactless payment symbol (), you can create a Ventra Transit Account on that card, and load value and passes onto that. In other words, a card already in your wallet could be the only card you need to carry!