How to Get an MBTA Reduced Fare Senior Charlie Card

charliecardIf you’re a Massachusetts resident aged 65 or older, you’re eligible for a reduced fare MBTA Charlie Card.


Please note! If you need help with your MBTA reduced fare Charlie Card or have questions about these cards, please call the MBTA at (617) 222-3200. At the prompts, press…

  • 1 for English or 2 for Spanish, then
  • 2 to speak to a representative, then
  • 1 to talk about Charlie Cards, then
  • 4 for info about fares, including Charlie Cards.

TTY users can call (617) 222-5854 or (617) 222-5146.


As of July 2016, you can ride the bus for 85 cents, the T for $1.10, and the commuter rail for half price. If you’re a frequent rider, it’s worth adding a monthly pass to your reduced fare Charlie Card for only $30. You can visit the MBTA website for details.

Ready to get your own reduced fare Charlie Card? You have 2 options.

  1. Go to the Downtown Crossing MBTA station with your picture ID showing your birthdate. A drivers license, passport, or Massachusetts state ID are accepted. Downtown Crossing is on the Orange and Red lines but can also be accessed by an underground walkway from the Park St station on the Green line. If you use this option, it’s my understanding that you will be given a temporary card that day.
  2. Come to a Charlie Card event at your local Senior Center or other community center. You will need to bring your picture ID showing your birthdate. Your cards will be mailed to you 6-8 weeks after the event. If your local senior center doesn’t sponsor one, ask them to and refer them to the MBTA website for advice on how to do it!

Lost your Senior Charlie Card?

We’ve had some questions about what to do if you’ve lost your Senior Charlie Card. Here’s the advice we were given:

  1. Call (617) 222-3200. At the prompts, press…
  2. 1 for English or 2 for Spanish, then
  3. 2 to speak to a representative, then
  4. 1 to talk about Charlie Cards, then
  5. 4 for info about fares, including Charlie Cards.
  6. Provide the agent with your Charlie Card number or, if you don’t have it, your name, date of birth, etc. They’ll deactivate your lost card and mail you a new one. Your new card should arrive within 7-10 business days.

TTY users can call (617) 222-5854 or (617) 222-5146.

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18 Replies to “How to Get an MBTA Reduced Fare Senior Charlie Card”

    1. Carol, good news: our well-informed, MBTA-savvy volunteers are assuring me that you do NOT need an MBTA Senior Reduced Fare Charlie Card to get the 50% senior discount on commuter rail fares. Just buy a reduced fare senior ticket and show your ID to the conductor when s/he punches your ticket on the train. You’ll need to show the conductor a government-issued photo ID that includes your birth date.

      Also, remember that buying your ticket from a station agent or vending machine is going to be much cheaper than buying it on the train, where conductors have to tack on a surcharge. Of course, if there’s no agent or machine available at the station where you board the train, you won’t be charged the surcharge.

      If you have any further questions, you can call the Keolis customer service center Monday through Friday 6:30am-8pm or Saturdays and Sundays from 7:30am-6pm. Call 617-222-3200 or 617-222-5854 (TTY) and follow the prompts for questions about commuter rail service.

      Good luck, and happy trails to you!

  1. Checking the MBTA site today, 8/29/17, it says that the Senior discounts are available to those who are 65+, and not 60 as stated above.

    1. Hi Bea, great question. Here’s what the MBTA tells us.

      You can apply for the Senior ID Pass 2 weeks before your 65th birthday, and it will be delivered to your home address in time to use on your birthday. The first time you apply for a Senior ID pass, be sure to bring a valid drivers license or state ID to prove age and go in person to the Charlie Card Store at Downtown Crossing Station (7 Chauncy Street, Boston, MA 02111). You can also come in person to a Charlie Card event at a local organization like your local senior center. The Newton Senior Center is holding one on the afternoon of November 29th, 2017. The Brookline Senior Center is holding one on December 20th from 1-3pm.

      Should you have additional questions, please contact the MBTA’s Call Center at 617-222-3200 or 800-392-6100 Monday through Friday 6:30 AM to 8:00 PM or Saturday and Sunday 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, or visit their website at http://www.mbta.com.

      Good luck, and enjoy your Charlie Card!

      1. Can I fill out application for my senior pass I had a stroke in 2012 its hard for me to get to down town I am 64 .ill be 65 in July

        1. Unfortunately, you do need to apply in person, since they need to take your photo for the card.

          However, your local Senior Center might be planning to hold a Senior Charlie Card event that would prevent your having to go downtown. If they aren’t already planning to hold an event, please encourage them to do so! It’s fairly easy, and the MBTA provides a handy guide for doing so. If either you or the staff at your senior center have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at TRIPPS.

  2. Hi! Do you need to be a Massachusetts resident to get a senior id card, as I work in Boston, commuting, I will be 65 on Christmas Day, can i apply for one? Thank-you

    1. Hi Ms. G,

      No, you don’t need to be a Massachusetts resident to get a Charlie Card. And as for timing, you can apply for the Senior ID Pass 2 weeks before your 65th birthday, and it will be delivered to your home address. The first time you apply for a Senior ID pass, be sure to bring a valid drivers license or state ID to prove age and go in person to the Charlie Card Store at Downtown Crossing Station (7 Chauncy Street, Boston, MA 02111). You can also come in person to a Charlie Card event at a local organization like a senior center. Should you have additional questions, please contact the MBTA’s Call Center at 617-222-3200 or 800-392-6100 Monday through Friday 6:30 AM to 8:00 PM or Saturday and Sunday 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, or visit their website at http://www.mbta.com. Good luck, and enjoy your travels on the MBTA!

    1. Hi Betty, no, there’s no charge! After you get the card, you’ll just need to add cash value to it at a fare vending machine. You can also add a monthly pass to your new card for (currently) $30 per month.

    1. If you apply for your card at Downtown Crossing, you’ll get a temporary card that day (on the spot), and your permanent card will be mailed to you soon afterwards. If you apply at a Charlie Card event (e.g., at your local senior center), your card will come in the mail within 2-8 weeks.

  3. Great service, MBTA!

    Along with other valuable IDs lost with my wallet, I had to replace my Senior Charlie Card. A simple phone call and conversation with”Jessica?” (scratchy connection, so I may have misunderstood her name) who took my information and told me a replacement card would be mailed in about 10 days. She was pleasant, efficient, and effective…a fine representative for the “T” and a credit to all members of the organization.

    When I think of all the issues that the MBTA has to deal with each day, I am amazed that things run so smoothly…all-be-it the weather and deferred maintenance issues may throw obstacles in the efficient operations of the “T.” Here in metro Boston, we’re fortunate to have the MBTA.

    How about a bit more tolerance & patience and less grouchiness by the T customers and a demonstration of appreciation for the fine work they perform day in and day out + support of the T personnel. Those folks are no different than we are…except some have to get up earlier in the AM and work later in the PM (or AM) than we may have to. Kudos to the T personnel.

    How about a friendly “good morning” or “thanks for the job well done” to the T driver as one boards or exits a T vehicle?

    1. We agree, Ted! It’s easy to forget how lucky we are to have the MBTA. In general, the staff do a great job getting us from A to B. I personally always try to greet the driver as I get on board a bus or train, and to thank the driver as I step out of the vehicle–even a quick smile or wave is better than nothing. I feel that these little connections between one person and another help make using the MBTA a little more enjoyable for everyone. Happy traveling!

    1. Excellent question, Sue! I called MBTA customer support today, and here’s what they told me.

      • You can transfer from bus to train and vice versa and be charged for only one trip.
      • If you transfer from train to bus, your card won’t be charged any additional money.
      • However, if you transfer from bus to train, you’ll be charged the difference in fare (currently $0.25).
      • You can’t transfer from one bus to another with the same route number. E.g., if you take the 66 bus from Brookline Village to Coolidge Corner, then get off and go to Trader Joe’s for 15 minutes, then get back on a 66 bus and continue on to Cambridge, you’ll be charged for two rides. Also, this means that a round trip journey (where you take the same line both ways) is charged as 2 one-way trips. E.g., if you take the 66 bus from Brookline Village to Coolidge Corner, shop for half an hour, and then catch the 66 from Coolidge Corner back to Brookline Village, you’ll be charged for 2 one-way trips.
      • There’s a 2 hour limit on transfers. So you can change lines more than once (from one line to another) within a two hour period and be charged for only one trip.

      If you have questions about a specific journey, please call MBTA customer support. They’re very helpful!

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