CTA Ventra card: How to activate if you don't have activation email

Many readers are saying they can’t activate their Ventra cards because they either unknowingly deleted the email with their temporary username and password, or just never got it. You use that username to log in to ventrachicago.com and create your access code – kind of like your four-digit debit card PIN.

But what do you do if you don’t have that email? Here’s a tip from a CTA spokesperson. (This applies to all registered Chicago Card and Chicago Card Plus customers):

For customers who are unable to locate that email, they can call the activation line at 888.824.8802 (this is on the sticker affixed to their Ventra card when it arrives in the mail). When they’re prompted to enter their access code, they can press zero to be transferred to an operator – average wait time is 4 minutes.

The operator will verbally provide a temporary username and will likely activate the card while the customer is on the phone, and send an email to the email address associated with the account that provides a temporary password so the customer can log in to ventrachicago.com and set up their permanent username and password, and also retrieve an access code that they would need in the future if they wanted to check their balance online, for example.

Access codes were NOT emailed to customers. They must log in with their username and password to retrieve their access code.  (An access code is necessary to provide security for our customers so no one else can activate their card and use it.)

And  here’s another tip about registering the Ventra card:

Activating a card is not the same thing as registering. Chicago Card Plus customers are already registered and don’t need to register it again. We have recently updated the web site to be clearer by showing that these customers are already registered if the customer clicks on “registration.” Note that customers who buy Ventra cards at retailers and vending machines do not need access codes.

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  • Thank you, Mr. O'Neil, for the fantastic follow up on behalf of we the stranded Ventra/CTA commuters with no activation email.

  • This may or may not help anybody, but the email I got with my login and password had the subject "Convenience is coming" and it was sent by updates@ventrachicago.com. I thought it was spam at first. Maybe this information will help somebody search their mailbox.

  • In reply to Olaf1:

    Until your post, it had not occurred to me . . . if the Ventra people sent out a gazillion temporary username/password "Convenience is coming" e-mails around the same time, perhaps the messages wound up blocked by automated spam filters. I do not check my Yahoo spam folder regularly. I mean, really, how much cheap Canadian Viagra can one man use? But now I will be on the look out for less bawdy "Convenience is coming" messages.

  • "Chicago Card Plus customers are already registered and don’t need to register it again."

    At least acknowledgement from a CTA source that the statement that "they were waiving during 2013 the $5 fee to be credited on registration" was a scam.

    Also, one would assume that the CCP users were their best customers, but apparently they were the ones treated as dirt.

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    Access codes were NOT emailed to customers. They must log in with their username and password to retrieve their access code. (An access code is necessary to provide security for our customers so no one else can activate their card and use it.)


  • This isn't correct. I am a CCP holder and never received any email after Your Ventra Transition Update on August 20. My card finally arrived yesterday, October 8, with no further emails. I followed the above steps. You need to hit the * key, not 0, to get an operator. However 2 calls so far have been dropped.

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    I have a Chicago Card, not a Chicago Card Plus. I received a Ventra card in the mail. I tried to register it, or whatever you do on the phone, but I didn't have an access code. I tried to register it, or whatever you do, online, but I didn't know I needed a special username and password - and it does not show up in my inbox. I called today and was on hold for almost a half-hour. I finally talked to a customer service rep, and guess what? She couldn't help me because the computer system was down. This is taking up entirely too much energy for something as simple as train fair.

    However, she told me I could add money to my Chicago Card, and I thought that was cut off on October 7. It would be nice if Ventra or the CTA had a single resource that explained all this.

  • In reply to Annie Logue:

    As has been mentioned before, if you have a regular Chicago Card, not a Chicago Card Plus, you might as well just go get your own Ventra Card (from a CTA Ventra machine, Jewel, or CVS) and avoid the hassles. Balances will not be automatically transferred from regular Chicago Cards. To transfer balances from a regular Chicago Card, you have to go to one of the transfer events (where they will give you a free Ventra Card) or mail it to the Ventra service center next January.

  • In latest news (Tribune CTA has backed off on the dates for no longer selling mag stripe cards nor allowing reloads of Chicago Cards, citing the customer service problems. Also, there is supposed to be another round of email. Claypool is acting like he got the message from Monday's events.

  • In reply to jack:

    That means that tens or even hundreds of thousands of mag stripe cards were stored by the CTA & were going to be scrapped until this disaster occurred!
    Nice way to waste more money!

  • In reply to ScooterLibbby:

    Not necessarily, Cubic could have decided to make more.

    What may be the waste of money is that instead of pulling out the preexisting vending machines, CTA has to maintain both systems that much longer.

    The real question is that we don't know what compelled CTA to make the U-Turn at about noon today.

  • I just checked my credit card statement last night and both it and my Ventra card are being charge when I take the CTA. I have my credit card as far away in my wallet from the side I put my Ventra card because I thought that would avoid the possible issue. So apparently you have to take out your Ventra card every time to avoid this. This is ridiculous. Everyone has to fumble around with their wallets as they board unless they want to be double charged, I guess.

  • In reply to Myshkin:

    That's actually worse than what the original study reported, which was only the closest card.

    I suppose it would be easier to protest your credit card statement. At least you have federal law protection there.

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    I actually didn't even get my Ventra card in the mail until after the original deadline to add value to your Chicago Card. I also did not get the email containing my access code. I was prepared to assume I just deleted it, until I was told they have problems with my email service provider, AT&T. The lady I spoke to phone was nice, but I only got talk to her after waiting hold twice for 30+ minutes; I got disconnected when I thought my phone call was about to be answered the first time. Pretty annoying that I don't have a reasonable way to get the balance from my Chicago Card transferred. A lot of us never had any reason to go with the Chicago Card Plus.

  • The incompetence of the CTA and its rollout of the Ventra card is staggering. All of the problems CTA customers are currently experiencing could easily have been anticipated and avoided. The instructions for registering/activating/using the Ventra card could not be less clear had the CTA intentionally made the instructions opaque. Many should be fired and or sued for this level of negligence.

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    What a frustrating nightmare this is. I have two Chicago Plus cards, one for me, and one for someone who is not longer under my purview. Complication #1

    Plus, I had the temerity to move in mid-August (like a significant amount of other people in this city) so I just now got my Ventra card in the mail. Complication #2

    Complication Number 3: I believed the dire warnings about the Ventra change and I've never had a CCP card that lasted more that 18 months. The current one had reached the stage where it was registering only 30% of the time, so I tried to buy a Ventra card at the CVS at Broadway and Berwyn the day they went on sale, and the staff there were clueless and directed me to the Berwyn L station. (Complications 4 and 5).

    I finally got the mailed one activated. But it had a 0 balance, even though I have a $14 balance on my CCP card. Complication 6.

    Given all the mess around this, and my own experience, I don't dare try to call them and have them merge my two Ventra cards. I guess I'll keep the one I bought aside for a rainy day.

    I'm not an idiot. Actually, I work in technology. But what a joke this process has been.

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE just bring back tokens. Those worked. And, CTA, don't give me stories about employee theft under the token system. I expect the true amount of employee theft pales under the cost for this mess of a Ventra rollout. And at least that lucre went to working class people. Who knows where all the Ventra money is really flowing.

    Finally, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU Kevin for this blog. It is exponentially more useful than the Ventra site in trying to figure this thing out.

    Now I have two accounts and two cards to manage.

    To make matters worse, Ventra put all my mailed card info under the other person's account. When I change all that to me and save, and the Ventra site says "OK!" and I see me new information, I feel all warm and fuzzy. Click some links, go back, and my changes are gone.

    Call Ventra and refuse to wait 30 minutes.

  • I'm not sure if this has been covered yet or not, but here goes. First, while the CTA has agreed to start back selling the magnetic cards until the glitches are worked out, apparently they are no longer supplying venues like currency exchanges with the magnetic cards, because I went to purchase another 30 day magnetic pass at the currency exchange and was told by them that once they ran out, the CTA did not send them anymore and they only sent them the Ventra Cards. That of course meant I was forced to buy the Ventra card, which I had not planned to do until Dec. I decided to check with a couple other places like CVS, Walgreens, Jewels and was told the same thing. The CTA would not supply them with more magnetic cards once they ran out, only Ventra. I was told by the currency exchange that upon purchase of the Ventra card, I didn't have to do anything else- It was ready to use. I decided to look up the balance today (10-20) so that I can see if it reflects the correct amount- what do you know, the amount said "0". I thought ok, let me to activate it or register it and maybe the amount will change. The only thing that changed was from "0" to 5.00 and it shows that I purchased 100.00 card on the date and place, but it does not show the balance as 105.00 instead of 5.00. It also says "Start Date-In Queue". Does anyone know if this means that my correct amount will be reflected once I swipe it tomorrow? I know I have to keep checking online to see my balance, but I wanted to know if there is something else I need to do that I have not done.

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