How To: Swipe a New York City MetroCard

by  Amanda Black | Jul 8, 2013
Taxis in NYC
Taxis in NYC / deberarr/iStock

You're a tourist in a new city and the last thing you thought about when planning your trip was how to not look like...well... a tourist when using the public transportation system. We've all been there. But, the worst thing you can do in New York City is get stuck swiping your new metro card at the turnstile over and over again during rush hour. Today, I spied some unsuspecting travelers who made this mistake. So let's break it down so this doesn't happen to you. Here's the quick and easy guide on how to use a New York City MetroCard.

Step 1: Buy your card at any machine in a subway station.

Step 2: If you've already purchased a card, have it out and ready to go. (Don't go digging around in your bag directly in front of the turnstile or you'll be greeted by increasingly angry locals looking to get by you.)

Step 3: Approach the turnstile; the bright yellow and blue side of the card should be facing towards you with the black stripe at the bottom (see photo).

Step 4: In the direction you're walking (towards the turnstile), swipe the card swiftly through the metal slot on your right in one smooth move (it looks like a credit card swipe). Do not swipe it towards you, swipe away from your body. And swiping it slowly won't work.

Step 5: Once you see the entry sign light up and you see the word GO appear on the circular screen, you're all set to enter the subway. You'll also see how much you've been charged and how much you have remaining on your card.

Step 6: Walk through the turnstile; don't stop. Note: If you're carrying a suitcase, you can either hoist it over the turnstile before you swipe or bring it after you. You can also request that a station employee (if there is one in a nearby booth) let you go through the emergency exit door after you've swiped your card in the turnstile so you don't have to hassle with the bag.

Good luck and don't get stuck in the turnstile!

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