Earlier this summer, New York unveiled its first phase for contactless payment on the city’s public transportation network. The payment system is similar to many others around the world, like in London (Oyster Card) and Sydney (Opal Card).
New York’s version is called OMNY (One Metro New York), and it is the first public transit contactless payment system that connects directly with the card issuers in the U.S.
For now, OMNY is only available at 16 subways stations along the heavily-trafficked 4/5/6 subway line from Atlantic Ave-Barclays Center in Brooklyn to Grand Central Station in Manhattan as well as all Staten Island buses. It is also only available for now as a pay-per-use service, at $2.75 per ride.
Eventually, other subway and bus lines will receive OMNY’s contactless payment option and within a couple of years, the physical MetroCard payment option will be obsolete.
Contactless Cards And Mobile Wallets
To pay for a ride on NYC transit with OMNY, you must either use a contactless card OR a mobile wallet. Many cards already come as contactless or you can request it specifically via your issuer.
This is the symbol you would see on your card if it was contactless.
MasterCard has had an offer for free rides on Fridays in all of June and July at OMNY-equipped stations if you use a contactless Mastercard or connect it to a mobile payment service like Apple Pay or Google Wallet.
AMEX Offer For OMNY
Now, American Express has a targeted offer for 4x Membership Rewards points when using contactless payment with OMNY.
I saw this offer on my AMEX Platinum which lasts through December 31, 2019 and is good for any full-fare pay-per-ride service using OMNY. Unfortunately, as mentioned, OMNY is only functioning as a pay-per-ride service which means it is not yet optimized for weekly passes, monthly passes, senior passes, etc. Therefore, this may not be the most useful offer for anyone who lives in New York and relies on a multi-use pass.
However, it is great for people (like me) who do not ride the subway everyday and also live along the 4/5/6 subway line. Tourists will also find this useful for the occasional subway ride in the city. Since the offer lasts through the end of the year, it is likely that other subway and bus lines will have the OMNY payment option turned on by then. The maximum number of Membership Rewards points you can earn with this offer is 1,000 points.
Which Other Cards To Use For Public Transit?
If this AMEX offer doesn’t quite fit the bill for you, there is a host of other cards that make sense to use for public transportation purchases. Each of these cards have a host of benefits, but I highlighted the transit earnings sweet spots.
- 3x points on dining and travel including transit, subways, buses, ferries, etc.
- $300 travel credit
- 2x points on dining and travel including transit, subways, buses, ferries, etc.
- 3% back on transit including parking, tolls, trains, buses, taxis, subways, ferries and rideshare services
- 3 points per $1 spent on gas stations, rideshares and transit
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