Since the new year, I’ve been riding the DC metrorail daily. Here in the DC region, they have an RFID commuter debit card called SmartTrip (also just like an EZ Pass for cars). In order to park at the metro (well, really to LEAVE the parking lot), you need to pay with a SmartTrip card. You just hold it up to the scanner and walk (or drive) on through. Quite a bit faster than the normal paper tickets. You can still ride the train with regular paper tickets though.
My employer also participates in pretax commuting benefits through WageWorks. It’s an EFT directly out of my paycheck into a SmartBenefits account, which is linked to my SmartTrip card. Basically, I pay $110 pretax per month to ride the metro, plus another $40 out of pocket.
How I lost the card
Because I walk a mile home from the metro station, and it’s summer time, I tend to remove my dress shirt, leaving just my white undershirt. I sling the dress shirt over my laptop bag and begin the hike. With the 90+ degree temps and no shade on the walk, if I don’t want pit stains on my button-ups, I need to do this little trick.
I also got into the habit of sticking my card in my shirt pocket while riding (normally it’s in my wallet) instead of keeping it in my pocket or wallet. Well, you can see where this is going. I had the card in my shirt pocket when I threw my shirt over my bag. I didn’t realize I did this until I walked in the house. I immediately drove back to the metro, parked on the street with my flashers on, and searched the area. I combined driving and walking to search the entire mile, but the card was already gone.
Protecting your SmartTrip Card
I was smart though. Unlike my coworker who lost an $80 card and couldn’t get the money back, I registered my SmartTrip card with Wmata. Click here to register your card (it’s so stinkin’ easy!).
By registering, you get any money that was in the account at the time you called (so call quickly!) transferred to a new card. They take out $5 to pay for the new card, but mail you the card for free.
When I got home from my search, I jumped on my WageWorks account to find out my SmartTrip card number (I didn’t have it written down), then called Wmata to report the card as lost. I gave them the number and verified the account, and they canceled the card immediately. Turns out I still had the same balance remaining on the card as I had expected. They mailed out the new card that day (Friday) and it arrived today (Wednesday). They said to expect 3-5 business days, and it was! By the way, you won’t need to register the new card (they do it for you).
Since it was the end of the month, WageWorks has already removed the $110 from my paycheck and placed it into my SmartBenefits account. I need to call them to see if they can link the account to the new card. Other than that, I just need to make sure I don’t lose the card again! Just make sure YOU protect your money by registering your SmartTrip card!