Unlimited vs Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard

Unlimited vs Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard: which one to choose?

Before diving in, did you already read our 2 articles about the NYC Subway?

READ ALSO: 5 Things to Know About the NYC Subway

READ ALSO: MetroCard: Key Things to Know

Background

In NYC there are 2 types of MetroCard:

  1. Pay-per-ride: every time you use the subway, you pay the ride
  2. Unlimited: you pay a fixed amount and you can ride the subway as many times as you want.

Both cards cost 1$. Each ride using the Pay-per-ride MetroCard is 2.75$. The unlimited MetroCard costs 33$/7 days.

IMPORTANT: you can use the unlimited MetroCard already from JFK to Manhattan. Read our article for all the info:

READ ALSO: From JFK to Manhattan – Full Guide

Unlimited or Pay-Per-Ride: Which MetroCard to choose?

The choice depends by two factors:

  1. How many times you plan to use the subway
  2. The length of your NYC trip

If you spend 6 days in NYC and use the subway 2 times a day, there is no difference in terms of pricing between the 2 options.

In fact: 2 times x 2.75$ per ride x 6 days = $33. This equals the price of the weekly unlimited card.

However, if you spend 7 days in NYC or you plan to use the subway more than twice/day, the unlimited MetroCard could be a good choice.

The table below is a great summary:

1 Time 2 Times 3 Times 4 Times 5 Times 6 Times
3 Days Pay-Per-Ride Pay-Per-Ride Pay-Per-Ride Equal Unlimited Unlimited
4 Days Pay-Per-Ride Pay-Per-Ride Equal Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
5 Days Pay-Per-Ride Pay-Per-Ride Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
6 Days Pay-Per-Ride Equal Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited
7 Days Pay-Per-Ride Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited

Discover NYC Conclusions

Let’s get now to a conclusion: unlimited vs pay-per-ride MetroCard?

  • 3 days in New York City: the Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard is the best option, unless you plan to use the subway more than five times per day. Highly unusual.
  • 4 day trip to New York: Similarly to the conclusion of the 3-day trip, our recommendation is to go with Pay-Per-Ride in this case.
  • 5 day trip to NYC: also here we recommend purchasing a Pay-Per-Ride MetroCard. You will most likely not use the subways more than twice per day.
  • 6 day trip to New York: if you plan to use the subway twice per day, we recommend purchasing an unlimited MetroCard. In this way you can use the subway without overthinking.
  • 7-day trip to New York City: we advise you to buy an unlimited MetroCard and use the subway to move around the city. It’s the quickest. You will not be sorry.

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