Compass Card Service Center

By email:
By Phone: (619) 595-5636 or 511 (and say "Compass")
MTS Transit Store

Travel Tips

Each time you board the bus, tap the Compass Card flat on the special Compass Card validator on the bus. Look for the Compass Card symbol on or near the fare box.
For the COASTER, Trolley, and SPRINTER, look for the Compass Card validator on the station platform and tap the card on the Compass Card symbol. At MTS Trolley stations, you can use the ticket vending machine to validate your Trolley trip; simply tap your Compass Card flat on the target.

Riders Must Always Tap

Always tap your Compass Card on a validator before you board the COASTER, Trolley, or SPRINTER, or as you board the bus. Tapping your card keeps it current and tells the fare inspector or conductor if you have a valid pass and if you tapped before boarding.


Frequently Asked Questions

Basic Compass Card

What is a Compass Card and how do I use it? The Compass Card is a “smart card” that holds different types of transit passes on one convenient card.

To use it, make sure it’s loaded with a valid pass and tap the card on a validator at any rail station platform, ticket vending machine (for the Trolley) or on any bus.
Note: Always tap before you ride! You may be cited for failing to tap your Compass Card on the Compass symbol at a Trolley, BREEZE, or COASTER station validator or Ticket Vending Machine on the Trolley platform.

Where do I buy or reload a Compass Card?
Adult Compass Cards are available for purchase at any rail station ticket vending machine, , over the phone and online. All types of Compass Cards (Adult, Senior/Disabled/Medicare and Youth Compass Cards may be reloaded at any rail station ticket vending machine, over the phone and online. Also all types of Compass Cards can be purchased at Customer Service Centers in the NCTD service area or at the MTS Transit Store located in Downtown San Diego. View all purchase options Purchase New | Reload a Compass Card.  Note to purchase and/or reload a discounted pass on an S/D/M or Youth Compass Card you must have proper proof of eligibility.  MTS Requirements | NCTD Requirements

Do Compass Cards have any special care or requirements?
Compass Cards contain a tiny computer chip in the card. The card may no longer work if it is bent, punctured, or sent through the washing machine. Compass Cards cannot be demagnetized, so they can be stored in your wallet next to credit cards. If you have more than one “smart card” in your wallet, the validator may not recognize your Compass Card if they are stored next to each other. Your Compass Card can be read through plastic sleeves if you prefer to use a lanyard case.

Do Compass Cards expire?
Compass Cards have a 5-year lifespan. Newer cards have an expiration date printed on the back of the Compass Card. If you are unsure of the expiration date of your card, you can look it up here or call. Remember: the expiration date of the Compass Card is different than that of the pass on the card. A Compass Card will need to be replaced if the card expires while you have an active pass. The Compass Card replacement may be subject to a replacement fee. Please contact the Compass Card Service Center for assistance.   

Why should I register my Compass Card? How do I do it?
If you register your Compass Card, the Compass Card Service Center can cancel your card and transfer any remaining fares if it’s lost, damaged or stolen. The pass transferred to the replacement Compass Card will have the same expiration date as the pass loaded to the original card.  To register, visit the reload page, call the Compass Card Service Center or download the forms to register by mail. 

How do I tell if my card was accepted by the validator? How do fare inspectors or conductors know I tapped the validator before boarding?
On rail validators, a green light will flash and a “Thank You” message will display if a valid card is tapped. A yellow light or two beeps mean your card is about to expire, and a red light and three beeps means that your pass or card is no longer valid.
On Trolley Ticket Machine the screen will display a “√” after the pass is tapped.  If the screen displays an “ X” it means either the pass and/or card is not valid.
Inspectors and conductors have handheld units that tell them if a pass is valid and if it has been tapped on a validator recently. If you have not tapped before boarding, you may be cited. 

Are Compass Cards transferrable or can I get a refund for my unused pass?
Compass Cards are non-transferrable and fares cannot be refunded. 

Fares and Passes on Compass Card

 What types of passes are available on Compass Card?
You can purchase a Compass Card with 1-day, 2-day, 3-day, 4-day, 14-day, 30-day and Monthly passes at regular Adult fares. All passes are valid consecutive days, beginning on the date of purchase.
Discounted Senior/Disabled/Medicare passes are available in 30-day and Monthly denominations with proper ID. NCTD Discounted Fares | MTS Discounted Fares
Note: S/D/M and Youth passes cannot be purchased at ticket vending machines, but they can be reloaded at the machines.

What’s the difference between a 30-day pass and a Monthly pass?
A 30-day pass is valid for 30 consecutive days after activation and a Monthly pass is valid for a calendar month, regardless of the number of days in the month. A 30-day pass can be reloaded at any time. A Monthly pass can only be reloaded on the 20th of the current month through the 15th of the next month. 

Can I still use cash to board MTS Bus, Rapid, Rapid Express or Trolley or NCTD, BREEZE, COASTER or SPRINTER?
You can still use cash to buy one-way fares for any bus or rail route. The bus will not issue change and requires exact fare. You can also reload your Compass Card using cash at a ticket vending machine or at a retail outlet.

Can I load my Compass Card with a day pass on the bus?
You can add a 1-day pass to a Compass Card on the bus by tapping your card on the farebox, inserting the $5 payment into the machine, and tapping and holding the card until the farebox reads “1-day pass added” and shows the expiration date. Exact cash fare is required.

How do I use a ticket vending machine to reload my Compass Card?
Select the fare you’d like and follow the instructions on the ticket vending machine screens to add a pass to your card. Please confirm the start and end date of the pass before submitting payment. 

Can I load multiple passes on my Compass Card at once?
You can load up to two identical passes on a Compass Card. Only the same pass type will activate one-after-the-other. If you load two different passes, they will activate at the same time. Contact the Compass Card Service Center with any questions about what pass might be best for your travel needs.
Example: If you load two 4-day passes on the same day, you will have a valid Compass Card for 8 days. If you load a 4-day pass and a 3-day pass at the same time, you will have a valid Compass Card for 4 days.

Can I switch between 30-day and Monthly passes?
To change between 30-day and Monthly passes you need to call the Compass Card Service Center line and, if eligible, an agent will change your pass type.

Can I set my Compass Card to reload automatically?
Yes. To setup automatic reloading, you need to register your Compass Card and provide a credit or debit card number. You can setup automatic reloading online or by phone.
A new pass is available five days before the current pass expires. The credit card on file will be charged within 24-48 hours after the new pass has loaded to the Compass Card. Contact the Compass Card Service Center, before a new pass is loaded, to discontinue automatic reloading and prevent future automatic billing if you wish to cancel.

What happens if I turn 18 and I have a Youth Pass?
Youth passes are valid until the end of your 18th year. You will no longer be eligible to use or renew your Youth Pass when you turn 19 years old.

Lost, Stolen, Damaged or Defective Compass Cards

What if my card is lost, stolen or damaged?
If you have registered your Compass Card in advance, you can call the Compass Card Service Center to notify us of your issue and your card will be turned off immediately. A replacement card will be sent to you via mail with the remaining balance of your card. Replacement Compass Cards can also be processed at an NCTD Customer Service Center or the MTS Transit Store located in Downtown San Diego. Your first replacement card is free if the card is registered; additional replacement cards are subject to a $5 fee. The replacement fee for an S/D/M Photo Compass Card is $7.
If you didn’t register your card, we cannot migrate any fare to a new card or provide a replacement card.
Once a card has been reported lost and deactivated, it cannot be reactivated if it is found. 

What do I do if my card stops working?
Contact the Compass Card Service Center by phone and a representative will assist you in determining the issue with your card. Your card may be broken, defective, or it could have been deactivated because of suspicious activity. If your registered card has been damaged and you’ve already received a replacement, you will be charged a $5 fee for the replacement.

What do I do if I get an error message when I tap my card on a validator or farebox?
Contact the Compass Card Service Center by phone and a representative will help you sort out the issue. If you need to travel and purchase a cash fare, save your receipts in case you are eligible for a reimbursement. 


Are ticket vending machines accessible for sight-impaired riders?
All ticket vending machines have an audio button and headphone jack.

I travel with a personal care attendant. Do we both need Compass Cards?
NCTD BREEZE buses and SPRINTER trains allow personal care attendants to ride free with cardholders that have specially marked “PCA-yes” reduced-fare Compass Cards. There is no discounted fare for attendants on MTS buses or Trolleys.  Attendants traveling alone are not eligible for reduced fares on NCTD transit service.

Employee Transit Benefit Programs

How do I apply employee transit benefits to my Compass Card?
You can use a pre-paid commuter card to reload or purchase a pass at any ticket vending machine, MTS Transit Store/NCTD Transit Centers, or online/by phone. Paper checks/vouchers can be redeemed at the Transit Store or NCTD Customer Service. Pre-paid commuter cards cannot be used at community outlets located throughout San Diego.

How much can I deduct as a pre-tax benefit for using public transportation?
The pre-tax benefit is $255 a month. Check with your employer to determine if the benefit is offered and if you are eligible to participate.