What's the best MTA subway card for you to buy?

This post is part of our 2016 NSOP newsletter series, Required Reading. If you’re not subscribed yet, why the hell not? Get essential Columbia and Barnard content delivered straight to you throughout orientation.

You’re in New York City; the subway is going to be a big part of your life. You’re probably thinking to yourself, “Considering my status as a phony New Yorker, which MTA card should I buy?”

The MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) offers different types of cards. You’ll probably be choosing between these bad boys:

  • A pay-per-ride card
    • Price for card: $5.50
    • Each ride costs $2.75
    • You get an 11 percent bonus if you add more than $5.50 to your metro card. (I.e., if you add $10 to your card, you’ll actually have $11.10 to spend on your frequent runs to Whole Foods.)
  • An unlimited weekly card
  • An unlimited monthly card

It takes a subway to get to most places in NYC from campus, but before you cough up that Ben Franklin for the 30-Day Unlimited card, you need to objectively consider just how frequently you’ll be leaving the Mo-Hi bubble.

Check out these graphs:

If you’ll be taking the subway 12 or more times in a week, get a weekly card.

If you plan on riding the subway more than 43 times a month, then grab a monthly card.

Happy subwaying! For more advice on hacking the New York subway, check this out.

Veronica Grace Taleon is Spectrum’s Associate Editor and a rising Barnard sophomore. She has an intense fear of all orange (B, D, F, M) lines, loves the red (1, 2, 3) lines, and doesn’t even know how to get to the green (4, 5, 6) lines. Reach her at


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