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Fees Could Pile Up For CTA Riders Who Use Ventra Card’s Debit Option

A Ventra machine at a CTA station. (CBS)

A Ventra machine at a CTA station. (CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – CTA and Pace customers who sign up for a prepaid debit card account under the agencies’ new Ventra fare card system later this year would face a bevy of fees and other charges tied to their accounts.

WBBM Newsradio’s Veronica Carter reports, when Ventra launches this summer, it will be the first time U.S. transit agencies have offered transit cards that double as debit cards.

But customers who opt for a debit account on their Ventra card need to read the fine print when they sign up, as the accounts carry a long list of fees and charges.

Ventra will charge customers $2 if they request a paper copy of their debit card transactions. Disputing any charges would cost, too — $10 per hour for an “account research” fee, plus another $2 just for calling the customer service line for an “operator-assisted phone inquiry.”

Simply adding money to a debit account will cost users $2.95 if they reload the account online with a personal credit card.

CTA spokesman Brian Steele stressed the debit accounts are optional, and CTA and Pace riders can get a Ventra card without the debit account. But he said the fees associated with the debit account are not unusual.

“Standard marketplace fees; every card that is available on the market has these types of fees. They certainly aren’t unique,” Steele said.

Linda Sherry, director of national priorities for consumer advocacy group Consumer Action, said while the fees for Ventra debit accounts are disclosed when signing up, it’s a new program, so not everyone will know about them.

“Most consumers, like myself, don’t take really the time to read every detail, and that can cost you,” she said.

Even dropping your debit account on a Ventra card could cost you when you try to get your money back. Ventra charges a $6 fee for a “balance refund check.”

Simply letting your account go idle could end up costing you too. Not only do all Ventra users face a $5 monthly fee if they don’t use the fare card for 18 months, debit card users would face a $2 monthly fee if their debit account is inactive for 18 months.