Best Way to Return a SmarTrip Card to the Owner?

Photo by PoPville flickr user m01229

“Dear PoPville,

I found a Smart Trip card today between Portals I and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. While WMATA says to return the card to their office in Chinatown, I’m curious whether they notify registered Smart Trip card users of their card being found and whether anyone has successfully received their card from WMATA after losing their card.

My plan is to drop the card off after work tomorrow (earliest time I can get there during normal business hours) unless there is a better way to return the card to its owner.”

9 Comment

  • I would say just toss it. Folks can register their cards online to prevent loss of balance, you just have to report it as lost and they’ll send you a new card. Hopefully the owner did that because there really isn’t a way to prove who it belongs to. Someone who didn’t register their card probably isn’t likely to have written down the number anywhere either.

    • It is registered.
      I hope the person who lost it somehow sees this and I can return it to them. Here’s to hoping!

      • Excellent! Hopefully either that, or they requested to be sent a new one. Either way as long as no one uses it, they’ll still have their balance and such and there’s no cost. Three cheers for the benefits of registering cards!

  • Tough call. I might hang onto it for a couple of weeks, then tap a farecard machine to check the balance. If it’s been zeroed, then it’s almost certainly a registered card that someone called in and had the funds transferred. If it’s still got a usable balance, I’d probably donate it to someone less fortunate who could get some use out of it, like finding cash on the street. If someone had federal commuter benefits on it, they almost certainly would report it lost within a week or two, so I find if it extremely unlikely that you’d risk abusing that program. What I’d really hate to do is send an unregistered card with a balance back to WMATA, as that seems to benefit no one.

  • Just drop it in the mail to WMATA and forget about it.
    I found a SmartTrip card once, tiny balance, wasn’t registered, so I registered and kept it for guest use.

  • I found a Smart Card last week, called the WMATA smartcard program and reported it by the # on the back. They cancelled it on the spot and were going to contact the owner to notify them. They asked me to drop off the cancelled card at a metro booth at my earliest convenience. Seems a bit more proactive in case someone lost it out of their pocket and hasn’t yet figured out if it is lost or hiding somewhere in their pockets or apartment. Metro will reach out to the owner and reissue a card if the owner is reachable.

  • Try to register it. If you can’t, then you know it belongs to someone and you should return it to Metro. If you can, then it’s the owner didn’t register it and the card + value are yours. FYI, the card *must* be registered to get Federal commuter benefits.

    a Metro rider with an unregistered card

  • I just found one on the street too and searched this topic. I called the customer service number and they told me that if the number is registered, they could reach out to the owner with my contact info and I could return it. I gave them the card number and they found that the card was unregistered, so there’s nothing that they can do about it! But if you call, they can tell you!

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