Transit Provider Electronic Fare Media Frequently Asked Questions
- What is a Merchant Account?
A Merchant Account is a bank account established under agreement between an acceptor and a merchant acquiring bank for the settlement of payment card transactions. A Merchant account allows a business to accept payments with debit or credit card, such as the TRANServe Debit Card.
- How do I set up a Merchant Account?
You should be able to get a Merchant Account from your personal bank or through another financial institution that specializes in e-commerce. The information below will assist:
- Federal Tax ID / SSN if sole proprietor
- Contact Information
- Estimated number of van pool riders
- Routing & Account # for depositing funds
- Owner Information – Home Address, DOB, Phone Number
- Possible credit check
- What if my bank can’t setup a Merchant Account?
TRANServe has conducted research on several bank institutions that offer Merchant Accounts. For more information, contact our Electronic Fare Media Team at 202-366-9244 or EFMSupport@dot.gov.
- What is a Merchant Category Code (MCC)?
An MCC is a four-digit number assigned to a business by Visa or Master Card. It classifies the business by the type of goods or services it provides. Public transportation providers have specific MCCs to indicate transit passes.
The TRANServe Debit Card accepts the following Merchant Category Codes:
- 4789 (Transportation Services)
- 4131 (Bus Lines)
- 4011 (Railroads)
- 4111 (Commuter Transport, Ferries)
- 4112 (Passenger Railways)
- How long does it take to obtain a Merchant Account?
The average time it takes to set up a Merchant Account is 3-5 business days.
- What fees should I expect when setting up a Merchant Account?
Fees vary based on the amount of risk your business poses to the bank or financial institution. Merchant Accounts often require "per transaction" authorization, setup, equipment and monthly fees. Early termination fees may also apply. Depending upon your contract with the banking institution may waive certain fees when you mention the merchant account in order to accept the new TRANServe Debit Card.
- How do I accept a Visa payment with the TRANServe Debit Card?
Manual Payment: This form allows you to set up customer accounts that charge their TRANServe Debit Card automatically, on a pre-determined date each month. Automatic payments reduce your customer service expenses and guarantee payment.
Online Payment: By adding a simple payment form, you can enable customers to pay you directly on your website. Repeat customers can even create accounts to save their payment information for fast and easy repeat payments.
Offering customers an online payment form enables you to accept online payments through the ways mentioned above: either credit card, debit card or e-check.
Portable Readers: Using a data input device allows operators to process payment on the go, making it quick and easy to close out sales transactions. Credit card payments are made on the spot using a wireless terminal signal. Many laptops and cell phones integrated with this technology can be used as credit card readers.
- How does my business receive the funds cleared through a Merchant Account?
Generally, it takes one business day for accounts associated with a Merchant Account to receive funds and 2-3 business days for non-associated accounts. If there are any credit challenges, the underwriters can apply an additional funding delay for approval. For specific, please check with your bank institution.
- When are funds available on the TRANServe Debit Card?
Your transit beneﬁt funds will be electronically deposited to your TRANServe Debit Card on the 10th day of each month.
- What happens if a participant’s transit benefit does not cover the full cost of his/her home to work to home commute?
Mass Transportation costs that exceed the amount of the participants transit benefit must n be paid with personal funds.
- Why does the TRANServe Debit Card have restrictions?
The TRANServe Debit Card is restricted to allow purchases from approved transportation authority Merchant Category Codes (MCCs). One control mechanism built into the TRANServe Debit Card that addresses regulatory compliance is the use of restricted MCCs. This means the debit card will be declined if used in the retail network. The restricted MCCs are used to safeguard transit benefits from fraud, waste, and abuse.
- Can participants use the TRANServe Debit Card for non-transit expenses?
No. It is fraudulent to use the transit benefit for any purpose other than home to work to home commuting by means of mass transportation. Participants certify to this when they submit their transit benefit applications. At each swipe of the Debit Card, participants are personally certifying that they are using the Debit Card and the transit benefit in this manner.
The use of the TRANServe Debit Card will authorize transactions only to vendors that are identified as Transit Authorities through their Merchant Category Code (MCC).
- Is the participant responsible for activating their TRANServe Debit Card?
Yes. Before the participant can use their TRANServe Debit Card, they must call Chase Customer Service or visit www.ucard.chase.com to activate their card. This phone number is located on the back of the card and on the card carrier in the envelope that contains the card. Chase’s Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system and cardholder website will lead you through the brief activation process. When activating the card, they should be prepared to answer some security questions (e.g. work zip, work home, agency specific common ID) and select a four-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN).
Note: TRANServe Debit Cards do not have a monetary value until they are activated by the participant.
- How can participants check their Debit Card balance?
Participants can check their account information online at www.ucard.chase.com. The first time they access the website, they will be asked to register their account. They should be prepared to answer some security questions (e.g. work zip, work home, agency specific common ID) to set up their user name and password to access the website. They may also call Chase Customer Service at 1-866-891-6951.
- What do participants do in the event of a lost, stolen, or damaged Debit Card?
If a TRANServe Debit Card is lost, stolen or damaged, participants should notify Chase Customer Service at 1-866-891-6951or visit www.ucard.chase.com to have their card cancelled. A replacement card will be issued and unused funds will be safe. In addition, the participant should notify their Point of Contact to ensure any funds remaining on the Debit Card are transferred to the new Debit Card.
- What is the process in returning excessive transit benefit funds?
The Office of Management and Budget has designated the Department of Transportation (DOT) as the Lead Federal Agency to inform commercial entities and assist in the timely return of federal funds. Please follow the following link for specific information on this process:
- How do I get current information and updates from TRANServe
Electronic Fare Media Frequently Asked Questions
- How do I use my TRANServe Debit Card?
Here’s how the TRANServe Debit Card works:
- Get your TRANServe Debit Card as directed by your agency.
- Activate your card by calling Chase Customer Service at 1-866-891-6951 or by visiting www.ucard.chase.com.
You will need the following information:
- Work phone number
- Work zip code
- Your agency-assigned Common Identiﬁer
- Your transit beneﬁt funds will be electronically deposited
to your TRANServe Debit Card on the on the 10th day of each
- Select the “Credit” option when purchasing transit fare
- Any transit beneﬁt funds you do not use by the end of the
9th day of the following month will be returned to your agency.
It’s easy, safe and convenient!
If you have additional
questions or would like more information about the TRANServe
Debit Card Please contact your Agency Transit Benefit Program
- What is the goal of electronic
The primary goal of the transition to Electronic
Fare Media is to use a single fare media delivery system that
offers enhanced internal controls to preserve the transit benefit
by deterring waste, fraud, and abuse.
- Why change from paper
The DOT transit benefit program provides a non-taxable subsidy
designed to encourage federal employees to use mass transit
for their home to work commute.
In 2007, TRANServe determined an operational shift was necessary
given the fraudulent actions of a few participants receiving
the transit benefit as investigated by General Accountability
Transit authorities across the nation are moving away from
paper fare media and are implementing electronic fare media
such as the Orca, “Q”, SmarTrip & Breeze cards.
- What is the TRANServe Debit
The TRANServe Debit Card is a Visa branded electronic
fare media card provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation. It
will provide agency approved federal employees the ability to
receive their transit benefit electronically.
- Who is eligible to participate
in the TRANServe Debit Card Program?
The Debit Card is open to agency approved federal
employees who use public transportation for their home to work
to home commute and are not named on a worksite parking permit
at any Federal Agency nor participate in a carpool.
- How do participants get their Debit Card?
One of two ways:
- The TRANServe Debit Card will be delivered to your Agency’s
POC(s) for distribution, or;
- TRANServe will continue to distribute at a designated location.
- When can participants begin using the Debit
Funds will be loaded to the Debit Card and available for use
on the 10th of each month. Participants will be able to
use the funds through the 9th of the following month.
are not eligible to pick-up paper fare media after transitioning
to the Debit Card.
- How do participants activate the Debit
Before you can use your TRANServe Debit Card, you must call
Chase Customer Service or visit www.ucard.chase.com to
activate it. This phone number is located on the back of your
card and on the card carrier in the envelope that contains
the card. Chase’s Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system and
cardholder website will lead you through the brief activation
process. When activating your card, you should be prepared
to answer some security questions (e.g., work ZIP code) and
select a four-digit Personal Identification Number (PIN).
Note: Debit Cards do not have a monetary value until
they are activated by the participant.
- What are the security questions?
Cardholders are asked to confirm the following:
- Common Identifier*,
- Work Phone Number, and;
- Work Zip Code**
* Common Identifier is a required field. Certain Agencies have opted for alternative security verification for the Debit Card. This alphanumeric field holds up to 25 characters. Please refer to the agency POC for instruction for this field. If your Agency is already using the TRANServe Electronic Application System, this information is contained in the Common Identifier Help menu.
**The Work Zip Code is the POC zip code for their place of
employment. This information will be provided to you
at distribution. If your Agency is already using the TRANServe Electronic Application System, this information is contained in the Common Identifier Help menu.
- What is a PIN number and when do participants
The PIN is a four-digit number that the participant
selects to access his/her account online. The PIN should
be kept in a secure location and not revealed to anyone. The
participant must use the PIN to:
- Check their balance;
- Review transaction history;
- Change their PIN; and
- Contact customer service
Note: You will not use your PIN to make any purchase transactions.
- Can participants add their own funds to
the Debit Card?
No, only JPMC can make deposits to Debit Card Accounts. Participants may not make deposits
in any form.
- What should participants select when using
their new Debit Card?
Select “credit” for the transaction to process successfully. Do not select Debit to pay for fare media, even if prompted. Selecting Debit could prevent a transaction from completing.
Each participant is required to activate his or her new Debit Card before its initial use.
- Where can participants use the Debit Card?
Use the Debit Card at a point-of sale (POS) merchant where the
Visa logo is accepted. Purchases can be made from a number
of mass transit vendors. However, participants can only
use the Debit Card to purchase fare media for their regular home
to work transportation. Any transportation costs that exceed
the amount of the transit benefit will need to be paid for with
- Can participants use the Debit Card to
make multiple purchases from more than one Transit Authority?
Yes, participants can use the Debit Card at a point-of-sale
(POS) merchant where the Debit Card is accepted. However,
only use the Debit Card and the transit benefit for regular home
to work transportation.
- Can participants make purchases online
with the Debit Card?
Yes, many transit authorities provide the convenience of purchasing
fares online. Participants may use the Debit Card at an online
merchant where the Visa logo is accepted. However, they can only
use the Debit Card and the transit benefit for regular home to
- What happens if a participant’s transit
benefit does not cover the full cost of his/her home to work
to home commute?
Any transportation costs that exceed the amount of your transit
benefit will need to be paid for with your personal funds.
- Can participants use their Debit Card
for non-transit expenses?
No, it is fraudulent to use the transit benefit for any purpose
other than Home to Work to Home commute using mass transportation. Participants
certified to this when they submitted the application. Also,
at each swipe of the Debit Card, participants are personally
certifying that they are using the Debit Card and the transit
benefit only for their regular home to work transportation.
The use of the TRANServe Debit Card will authorize transactions
only to vendors that are identified as Transit Authorities through
their Merchant Category Code (MCC).
- Why do participants have to certify?
Use of the Debit Card is the participant’s personal
certification that they will:
- Surrender the Debit Card to their employing Federal Agency
- Not be named on a worksite parking permit at any Federal
Agency or participate in a carpool.
- Not transfer or authorize the use of their Debit Card to
- Ensure that the amount of the transit benefit they receive
does not exceed their actual monthly commuting cost by public
- Use this card and the transit benefit only for their regular
home to work transportation.
- How can participants check their Debit
You can check your account information online at www.ucard.chase.com.
The first time you access the website, you will be asked to register
your account. You should be prepared to answer some security
questions (e.g. work ZIP code) to set up your user name and password
to access the website. You may also call Chase Customer Service
- What happens to unused funds on the Debit
Card at the end of the monthly cycle?
Any unused funds on the account will be swept off the Debit
Card at the end of the monthly cycle (9th of each month). The
participant’s certified amount will be re-loaded at the beginning
of each monthly cycle (10th of each month).
- What if the participant’s Debit Card is
In the event a participant is attempting to use the Debit Card
at a Transit Authority and the card is not accepted, contact
Customer Service at 1.866.891.6951.
- What do participants do in the event of
a lost, stolen, or damaged Debit Card?
If your TRANServe Debit Card is lost, stolen or damaged, you
should notify Chase Customer Service at 1-866-891-6951 or visit www.ucard.chase.com to
have your card cancelled. A replacement card will be issued and
your unused funds will be safe. In addition, the participant
should notify their POC and/or transit benefit manager (TBM)
to ensure any funds remaining on the Debit card can be transferred
to a new Debit Card.
- How do I get a replacement Debit Card?
If your Debit Card is lost or you need a replacement card for
another reason, you must contact the JPMC Customer Service at
1.866.891.6951 or visit www.ucard.chase.com to
initiate the replacement card process.
- Is there a cost for a replacement Debit
No. At this time there is no charge for a replacement
- How long does it take for a participant
to receive his/her replacement Debit Card?
Once you have contacted JPMC Customer Service and requested
your replacement Debit Card, the agency Point of Contact should
receive that Debit Card within 5 calendar days.
- Where does a participant pick-up his/her
replacement Debit Card?
Replacement Debit Cards are mailed to the agency Point of Contact.
- I have a name/address/other change for
my employee, what do I do?
Use the current Agency designated process for completing changes
to your participant record.
- An employee changes agencies, what happens
to his/her Debit Card?
Debit Cards assigned to a user must be returned to the POC when
the individual departs from their agency, or at the request of
- An employee is no longer employed with
the federal government, what happens to his/her Debit Card?
When the employee leaves the agency, based on the agency’s
policy, the employee should submit a withdraw request and return
the Debit Card to the agency Point of Contact (POC). When
the POC receives a request to withdraw a participant(s) from
the Debit Card program, he/she should redeem the card from
the participant and notify the TRANServe Transit Benefit Manager
(TBM) via email or the agency’s web app of the request for
The TBM will withdraw the participant from the program. Requests
received by the 20th of the month will become effective by
the 10th of the following month.
Example A. Withdrawal requests received by
the TBM on Jan 19th will be processed and the participant’s
card will NOT be funded on February 10th.
Example B. Withdrawal requests received by
the TBM on Jan 21st will be processed and the participant’s
card will NOT be funded on March 10th.
The POC should immediately destroy the Debit Card received
from the participant.
- Will participants be charged when the
Debit Card renews in three years?
No, there will not be a charge to the participant or the agency
when Debit Cards are renewed every three years. It is necessary
to replace the Debit Card due to normal use.