Skip to main content

More from How to Pay Your Fare

Read our step-by-step guides to paying your fare on each MBTA mode, and find info about transfers, where to buy tickets, and more.

How to Pay Your Subway Fare

Before your trip

At most MBTA subway stops, you’ll pay your fare at a fare gate to access the platform. At street-level stops on the Green Line and Mattapan Trolley, you’ll pay your fare at the onboard fare box.

First, choose how you’ll pay your fare

There are 3 ways to pay your subway fare: CharlieCard, CharlieTicket, or cash onboard (only at street-level Green Line and Mattapan Trolley stops).

CharlieCard

charliecard-with-model.jpg

CharlieCards are reusable plastic cards that can be loaded with cash value or 1-day, 7-day, or monthly passes.

CharlieCard holders pay lower single ride fares and can manage their cards online. 

Standard single ride CharlieCard fare: $2.25

Where to get a (free!) CharlieCard 
Learn about transfers 

CharlieTicket

charlieticket-stored-value-with-model.jpg

CharlieTickets are reusable paper passes that can be loaded with cash value or 1-day, 7-day, or monthly passes.

Standard single ride CharlieTicket fare: $2.75

Learn about CharlieTickets 
Learn about transfers 

Cash

At street-level trolley stops, you can use the onboard fare box to pay in cash or to add cash value to your CharlieCard or CharlieTicket.

Cash fare payments do not include transfer options to other modes of transit.

Standard single ride cash fare: $2.75

Then, choose where to buy your ticket or pass

Fare Vending Machines

fare-vending-machine-model.jpg

You can buy or renew 1-day, 7-day, cash value, and monthly passes on CharlieTickets and CharlieCards at fare vending machines. They are located at all subway stations and at the Lynn and Worcester/Union Commuter Rail stations.
 
Most machines accept cash and major credit/debit cards. Some machines only accept credit/debit cards and are clearly marked to indicate they don’t accept cash. 

Onboard Fare Boxes*

charliecard-tap-bus-fare-box.jpg

*Green Line and Mattapan Trolleys only

At street-level trolley stops, you can add up to $20 cash value to a CharlieCard or CharlieTicket at the onboard fare boxes. 

How to use the onboard fare box 

Retail Sales Locations

You can get blank CharlieCards and load any amount of money for single ride fares or a pass (on a CharlieCard or CharlieTicket) at stores located throughout the Greater Boston and Providence areas.
 
Cash and credit/debit cards accepted.
 
Find a store near you

Online

Cash value and passes can be added to CharlieCards online. 

We recommend registering for a MyCharlie account to protect your card if it is lost, stolen, or damaged.

Sign up or log in to MyCharlie
Reload your card without creating an account

When you’re ready to board the subway

How you pay your subway fare depends on whether you board at a subway station or at a street-level trolley stop.

Pay with a preloaded card or ticket

CharlieCard

charliecard-fare-entry-gate.png

To enter subway stations, tap your card on the fare gate target. 

At street-level stops, tap your card on the fare box near the front door of the trolley to board. 

CharlieTicket

charlieticket-insert-fare-gate-wide.jpg

To enter subway stations, insert your CharlieTicket into the slot on the fare gate with the orange arrow facing up and away from you. 

At street-level stops, insert your ticket into the onboard fare box to board.  

The ticket will be returned to you after the machine reads it.

Tip! 3 quick beeps means that either the machine was unable to read your card properly or that you do not have enough money on your card to pay the fare. 

At fare boxes, 1 beep indicates that your fare has been deducted from your CharlieCard. 2 beeps indicate that your fare has been deducted from your CharlieTicket.

Or, add cash value to your card or ticket at a street-level stop

Fare boxes accept coins and bills up to $20. You can’t buy 1-day, 7-day, or monthly passes at the onboard fare box. 

CharlieCard

charliecard-tap-fare-box.jpg

  1. Tell the driver you need to add value to your CharlieCard, and then tap it on the fare box target.
  2. Insert cash or coins up to your desired value. Change is not returned from onboard fare boxes, so any cash you insert will be loaded onto the card.
  3. Tap your CharlieCard to complete the transaction.
  4. Tap 1 more time to pay your fare.

CharlieTicket

charlieticket-insert-fare-box-wide.jpg

  1. Tell the driver you need to add value to your CharlieTicket, and then insert it into the machine, with the orange arrow facing up and away from you.
  2. Insert cash or coins up to your desired value. Change is not returned from onboard fare boxes, so any cash you insert will be loaded onto the ticket.
  3. Remove your ticket from the machine.
  4. Insert it 1 more time to pay your fare.

Or, pay with cash at a street-level stop

  1. Tell the driver you are paying your fare in cash.
  2. Insert the amount displayed on the fare box. 

Tip! If you insert more than $0.25 over the required single ride fare, the excess will be loaded onto a CharlieTicket and dispensed from the fare box.

When you arrive

You don’t have to validate your ticket when you reach your destination.