You May Need to Upgrade Your SmarTrip Card Before You Return to the Office

Cards made before 2012 are about to become obsolete.

Photograph by Flickr user Andrew Bossi.

Hundreds of thousands of SmarTrip cards will not work with the new fare gates and bus fareboxes Metro intends to introduce beginning this summer. If you’re using a card that you bought before 2012, you’ll need to upgrade to a new one, the transit agency says. The old cards use an outdated chip technology.

You can check if your card needs to be upgraded by looking at the serial number. If it starts with “0167”—as do millions of SmarTrip cards in service, you don’t have to do anything, Metro says. If you do need to replace your card, the agency offers several options to transfer your balance to a new card, including mailing in your old card or using an online system. You’ll need to register your card with Metro before you do anything. Currently, there’s no process to transfer SmartBenefits balances, though Metro says it will notify customers who log in to the system here as soon as it develops that capacity.

The new gates won’t roll out till at least June.

Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute,, and Washington City Paper. He lives in Del Ray.