CTA's Ventra website lists fees related to card usage

Let the transparency begin, albeit a little late.

The Ventra website just posted a page with details on its fees. Check it out.

Here are some highlights, or lowlights, depending on your perspective.

Ventra transit card

  • $5 – Transit account dormancy fee: If a rider goes 18 consecutive months without using their Ventra Transit Account, there will be a $5.00 dormancy fee deducted from any stored transit value each month. Just one transit ride will reset the dormancy time frame. Riders will not be charged if there is no transit value in the account.
  • 50 cents – Limited use media fee: To offset production costs, a Limited Use Media Fee will be included in the purchase price of disposable Limited Use Tickets. The Limited Use Media Fee will not apply to tickets issued at O’Hare and 1-day passes from vending machines. Note: no mention of the 25 cent transfer fee tacked on, whether you need one or not.

Prepaid debit card fees

  • Up to $4.95 – Adding fund: Load Cash at Participating Reload Agent Locations (this fee may vary by reload network agent). Note: OK, thi sone I don’t understand. I assume they mean if you don’t use a Ventra machine to load your debit card?
  • $1.50 – Domestic ATM withdrawals.
  • $2 – Bank Teller Over-the Counter Cash Withdrawal
  • $2 -Monthly Maintenance Fee (only applies after 18 consecutive months of no load activity). Note: Better keep using that debit card.
  • $6 – Request balance refund check

CTA President Forrest Claypool noted on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight Tuesday that the CTA would earn about $500,000 on fees from the Ventra card.

All I have to say is: Caveat emptor. And consider NOT using the debit portion of the Ventra card.

(A big shout-out to CTA Tattler reader VernaB, who first brought this new Web page to our attention.)



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  • Note what it says on the FAQ page:

    "Q: How do I add transit value, passes or prepaid debit funds at retail locations?

    Transit Account: You can add transit passes and value at all official Ventra Retail Locations. A full list of Ventra Retail Locations will be available closer to launch.
    Prepaid Debit Account: You can load Prepaid Debit funds at participating Money Network® Reload Network Agent Locations."

    They don't list an option for loading the debit account at Ventra machines. Of course, the FAQ page may not be complete or up-to-date. I had also been making the assumption that the debit card could be loaded at Ventra machines, but do we have any real evidence it can?

  • Verna could be right about the mysterious $2 opt-out fee being the same as the no paper statement fee. Though I fail to see how "Periodic Monthly Paper Statement (optional: view online at no charge)" could have evolved from or to "opt out customer service transaction" as a description. Customer service is kind of generic and if they were talking about statements or no statements you would think they would have said so. And I don't think Hilkevitch was just making up the one in his graphic..

    At this point I wouldn't trust anybody involved with this whole scheme anywhere along the line to say what they mean or mean what they say or even have any idea themselves what they mean at any given moment.

    Though I still wouldn't mind having Mr. Claypool confirm that there will be no "opt-out" charge imposed on people (such as myself) who now have no intention ever to convert their Ventra card to a debit card.

    Caveat is right. Cash may be hopelessly old-fashioned and uncool but it still works to buy stuff, and it it doesn't spring all sorts of surprises on you once you have it out of the ATM, does it? So I will feed my (chuckle) Ventra card (sorry, the name still sounds like the anatomical term for stomach or belly to me) with cash, and I will use it only for transit rides.

  • I still feel them sneaking into my pocket forcing me to pay their plastic fee's as opposed to using good old fashion legal tender which they can not slap a fee on as easily. A fee For All indeed.

  • Tribune just posted an article reinforcing what I said before about what CTA gets out of the debit card fees, i.e. more than what it would get without the debit card.

    However, the article says that CTA does not get the $5 dormancy fee on the transit card portion. Since this fee does not seem justified, then who does get it?

  • In reply to jack:

    As far as the dormancy fee goes, I think they are playing games with words: The CTA already has your $5. When you added money to the transit portion of your card 18 months ago, the CTA got all the money. Now, after 18 months, they will provide you with $5 less travel service than they would have if you hadn't let your card become dormant.

    Example: 18 months ago, you put $15 on the transit portion of your card. You haven't use the card since then. The CTA got your $15 18 months ago. Now 18 months later, they will redeem your card for only $10 worth of services.

    Before becoming outraged about the $5 dormancy fee, remember that the Transit Card expired 15 months after it was issued (not 15 months after it was last used). So at 15 months plus 1 day, you lost ALL the value of your card. With the Ventra card you just lose $5 per month starting 18 months after the card is last used (not 18 months after it was issued). This is an improvement over the Transit Card.

    For the sake of completeness: Chicago Cards didn't expire until 4 years after they were issued. If money was added at a CTA vending machine to a Transit Card during the 60 day period immediately preceding its expiration, a new card expiring in 15 months was issued.

  • In reply to VernaB:

    The recitation on when the fee is to be taken was not necessary.

    The issue is (a) what cost does the dormancy fee cover,* and (b) if CTA isn't getting it, who is?**

    The public should be informed.

    *As compared to CTA saying that there are costs for manufacturing disposable tickets and hence CTA will be charging an additional 50 cents.

    **If some entity is gouging the unaware, we should know what entity it is, especially for such reasons as it was reported that CTA was adamant that dormant amount on RTA reduced fare cards be assessed the dormancy fee, even though the MetaBank debit card feature is to be deleted from those cards.

    CTA's explanation that "other cards have dormancy fees" is not sufficient.

  • Great Stantis cartoon on Ventra today.
    This isn't behind the Trib's paywall


  • I heard Claypool on the radio this morning talking about how wonderful the debit feature will be for people who don't have access to a checking account. I still don't understand why gouging the poor is such a good idea.

  • In reply to Cheryl:

    Because we gouging the poor is better than someone else gouging the poor.

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