The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) recently advised they will soon be phasing out the first generation of SmarTrip cards as new faregates are installed around the region. If you currently use a SmarTrip card that was purchased prior to 2012, it’s important to update your card before June 2021 to ensure access to the full Metro system.
Check Your SmarTrip Card
It’s easy to see if your SmarTrip card is one of those being phased out. Simply look at the back of your SmarTrip card and you should see numbers at the bottom which indicate your card’s serial number. If your SmarTrip card’s serial number contains the number series 0167, no action is necessary and you can continue to use the card to access the system now and into the future.
If your SmarTrip card does not contain the number series 0167, that means it’s time for a new SmarTrip card. Keep reading to find out how to receive a replacement at no charge.
What about virtual SmarTrip cards?
If you're using a virtual SmarTrip card on your iPhone, Apple watch, or Android device, you don't need to take any action. While these virtual cards have serial numbers that contain 0176 or 0177, instead of the number series 0167, these types of cards will still be accepted across the Metro System.
If your SmarTrip card’s serial number does not contain the numbers 0167, and you're not using a mobile payment option WMATA is offering a few ways you can receive a replacement card and transfer any remaining balance for free. Before you take any action, you’ll want to register your SmarTrip card or take a photo of the serial number for reference.
If you’re enrolled in a transit benefit program
If you’re enrolled in an employer-provided transit benefit program via SmartBenefits, WageWorks, or another provider, you’ll need to take the following steps to transfer your balance and employer benefits to your new card.
- Tap your SmarTrip card to any Metrorail or bus farebox.
- Purchase a replacement card online, on your mobile phone, or in person at a Metro Station, CommuterStore, or other participating retail store.
- Within seven calendar days from when you tap your old SmarTrip card, visit WMATA’s online self-service portal and follow the instructions to complete the balance and benefits transfer – have your old card and new card handy.
If you’re actively using metro
If you’re not receiving transit benefits on your card, but still actively using it, you can transfer your balance and request a new card online. If choosing this option, you’ll need to tap your new SmarTrip card to a Metrorail or Metrobus farebox within a couple of days, which is why this is best for those actively using the system.
If you’re not currently using metro
If neither of the above scenarios sound like you, WMATA’s offering a mail-in option for those who don’t need their card right away. Even better, in addition to transferring your balance to the new card, they’ll also provide you with an additional one-time $5.00 stored value on the card.
Print and fill out this form then mail the completed form and the SmarTrip card you need replaced to the address shown. Once the form is received, a new card will be mailed to you within 10 business days.
If you want to replace your card in person
Last but not least, if you need to replace your card in person, you can do so by making a trip to the Metro Sales Office, located in the Metro Center Metro Station (enter at 12th St & F St NW). The office is currently open every Tuesday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Help Spread the Word
Arlington Transportation Partners (ATP) has resources you can use to inform your employees, residents, or office tenants of this upcoming change. Share this short video to help resolve any questions and ensure everyone can continue to access and enjoy the Metro system.
Photo Credit: Sam Kittner/Kittner.com for Arlington Transportation Partners
Editor's Note: This blog was first published in April 2021 and has been republished with new information written by Marie Cox.