Redeem Those Expired MetroCards — Like Right Now

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We're willing to wager a guess that inside your jacket pockets, old wallets, and cluttered purses, there lies a treasure trove of discarded and expired MetroCards. While it would seem that these yellow-and-blue tickets are of no use to you now — holding only a couple cents here and a dollar there — that assumption is totally false. The New York Times likens it "digital loose change" and points out that those old cards can be traded in for the outstanding balance for up to two years after the expiration date. Cha-ching! Though a couple of dollars might not sound like jackpot, a little bit here and a little bit there adds up to an average of $50 million a year. The MTA certainly benefitted from the almost $500 million worth of unspent balances that accumulated between 2000 to 2010. Take a moment to let that sink in.

To cut down on this "phantom fare influx," the MTA implemented a $1 surcharge for new MetroCards and encourages riders to reuse their cards. Doubling as an environmental tool to reduce litter and unnecessary production, the surcharge doesn't totally rid the system of unspent MetroCards, though. Gene Russianoff, the staff attorney for the Straphangers Campaign, a riders’ advocacy group, attributes most of the unused fares to tourists and out-of-towners, as many New Yorkers opt for the unlimited, monthly passes which aren't redeemable. But, if you happen to be sitting on any old cards with value left, we'd suggest making it your weekend project to gather all those cards up and get your money back. It will be almost as good as when you accidentally find a $20 bill in an old pair of jeans. Almost. (The New York Times)