Interactive MTA/New York MetroCard Calculator to Avoid Overpaying


Below, I outline the methods used in the above chart for avoiding leftover amounts when purchasing rides on a MetroCard, as well as thresholds for purchasing unlimited rides for both 7-day and 30-day passes.

MTA MetroCard Information and Cost Optimization

The Metrocard bonus adds 5% to the total purchase price, which can be represented as follows:

where T is the total added to the MetroCard, P is the amount paid, and the 1.05 is the total plus the added 5%.

Therefore, if we want to purchase 5 rides and avoid having leftover change on the MetroCard, we need to calculate the approximate amount (in multiples of $0.05 per MTA's requirement) to add to the card to get closest to the cost of 5 rides while also incorporating the extra 5%. This can be calculated in the following manner:
where Π is the total added to the MetroCard, n is the total number of rides, C is the price per ride. If we input 5 as n and $2.75 for C, we can calculate the amount needed to minimize the leftover change:

And if we insert this total back into the equation above using the total above (using only multiples of $0.05 as the P above), we get:

So we follow all of MTA's rules (multiples of $0.05, 5% bonus) and we end up with only $0.01 leftover. If you want to test this, you can go to MTA's website and see their bonus calculator here or check out another calcualtor here (by


Remember to always round -UP- when calculating the total for the desired number of rides, otherwise you will end up with a large amount left over just shy of another ride.

Interactive MTA/New York MetroCard Calculator Description

Using the method above and an algorithm that optimizes cost and unlimited ride options, I created the interactive chart at the top of this page that shows subway riders when to buy single purchase amounts, 7-day unlimited passes, and 30-day unlimited passes. For cases beyond 7 days in the city, I have also included an optimized mix of single pay options and 7-day options. For amounts greater than the 30-day unlimited cost, I have recommended the 30-day unlimited pass. In every case, the chart shows the rider which option is financially advantageous based on the days in the city and rides per day.


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