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SmarTrip vs. CharmCard?

New England
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SmarTrip vs. CharmCard?

I am planning a 2 day trip to DC. I was thinking of purchasing a SmarTrip card, but since it costs $5 and I will probably be riding the Metro only 4 times while there, I realized that it would not be worth it and I would be better off paying the $1 surcharge per trip. Then, I saw that Baltimore offers a CharmCard which the website says can be used on the DC Metro as well. This card costs only $2.50 and I can purchase it online. But I am unclear on whether the CharmCard also charges a fare without the $1 surcharge, like the SmarTrip card does. Does anyone know?

Maryland
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for Baltimore
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1. Re: SmarTrip vs. CharmCard?

They are the exact same card with different labeling, fully compatible with both systems. The only difference is the cost of the card from the two different agencies. Metro was supposed to lower the cost of the SmarTrip card to the same $2.50, just hasn't happened yet.

Chelmsford, United...
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2. Re: SmarTrip vs. CharmCard?

Hi

Could someone clarify the following copied from the MTA website FAQ section, as on the one hand it seems to imply that the card CAN be used in both Baltimore and DC and yet it also says that the pass is 'only accepted to ride in the region where you purchased it'.

What fare is accepted to ride in the Washington, DC region?

Stored value is always accepted to ride in the Washington, DC and the Baltimore region. If you purchase a pass in either Washington, DC or Baltimore, the pass is only accepted to ride in the region where you purchased it.

What is the difference between CharmCard® and the SmarTrip® card?

The SmarTrip® and CharmCard® may look different on the outside, but they are the same smart card on the inside. In fact, you may use either one interchangeably in the Washington, DC and Baltimore metropolitan areas to pay your transit fare and to exit Metro parking lots in the Washington, DC area.

I will be travelling to Baltimore in June and then coming down to DC for a few days so was hoping to buy a 7 day pass in Baltimore which I could continue to use in DC but on reading the above am now a little confused........

Many thanks

Washington DC...
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3. Re: SmarTrip vs. CharmCard?

It's right there in what you copied. If you have cash value on the card it can be used both places. If you have a pass, it is only good for the city you bought it in. So if you buy it in Baltimore, it won't work in DC. And vice versa. But if you have $20 value in the card, you can use that value in both cities. So your plan will not work. Sorry.

Olney, Maryland
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4. Re: SmarTrip vs. CharmCard?

Baltimore's fares are much lower than DCs. A Day pass for unlimited bus and rail travel is $3.50 That wouldn't be a single ride on Metro during rush hour (if you're going more than 5 miles in the DC area). I suggest that every day in Baltimore, get a Day Pass put on it ($3.50, as I said).

When you get to Washington, just have a lot of cash on to ride buses and trains at the best price possible. During any 2 hour period, Bus->train or Train ->bus gives you a discount on the second fare. Bus->bus during that 2 hours is a free transfer. Train->bus->bus = Train fare, then discounted bus, then free bus.

So when you get started, put about $20 or $30 on your Charm Card. Then every day buy a day pass in Balto, and the amount left gets lowered by $3.50. You must always have enough to buy your fare.

Then in Washington keep using it, and adding more as needed. You may go below zero, and the next time you add money, you will be bringing it up to zero, then a positive value again.

Washington DC...
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5. Re: SmarTrip vs. CharmCard?

Central Baltimore also has the free Circulator buses that will get you lots of places, especially the places tourists go. So you might not need any money to ride in Baltimore, depending on where you are staying. http://www.charmcitycirculator.com/

Maryland
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for Baltimore
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6. Re: SmarTrip vs. CharmCard?

DC also has a network of Circulator buses that are $1 using the card, with free transfers within three hours to other Circulators (including return trips on the same route)-so make sure you consider these as well when in Washington as an alternative to the Metro. http://www,dccirculstor.com

washington dc
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7. Re: SmarTrip vs. CharmCard?

Or you could just relax, realize that you are quibbling over the cost of a soda or 1/3 the cost of a Starbucks Latte, understand that mass transportation in cities is already saving you lots of money (with no public transportation you are stuck with taxis) and invaluable time (otherwise spent in gridlocked traffic) and just accept the $1.00 "loss!" in buying a Smartrip card!

Seriously, is $2-3.00 really worth the effort you are expending here? The OP is not going to Baltimore. They only say they are spending 2 days in DC.

richmond
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8. Re: SmarTrip vs. CharmCard?

+1 for the Circulator buses. They have an app that tell you the closest bus stop and where. We find the buses are often faster than using Metro for short distances.

Chelmsford, United...
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9. Re: SmarTrip vs. CharmCard?

Many thanks for all your input.......

Darrell - put that way, makes perfect sense, not sure how I didn't see it before...thanks again

Cedar Falls, Iowa
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10. Re: SmarTrip vs. CharmCard?

Does the Charmcard work for Metro in Arlington VA, traveling to DC?