How to buy a San Francisco Clipper card

By David Flynn, June 30 2016
How to buy a San Francisco Clipper card

Flying into San Francisco? A Clipper card makes it much easier to get around on the city's trains, trams and cable cars.

Instead of fishing around for notes and change or standing in line at ticket machines, this prepaid public transport card gives you tap-and-go convenience.

There's a US$3 payment for the card itself, on top of which you can load as much credit as you'd like.

Given that the train between the airport and downtown costs around US$10 each way, and cable cars are a flat $7 per ride, we'd suggest $50 is a decent amount for a business trip of a few days with a little sight-seeing on the side.

(An unused credit will still be sitting on the card for your next visit to San Fran.)

The ideal place to pick up a Clipper card is on arrival at San Francisco Airport, but oddly they're not sold at the airport's BART Station – only at the airport information booth across from Starbucks, just before you enter the BART staton – and that booth is staffed only from 8am, which isn't much good if your flight lands early in the morning.

You can also buy a Clipper card from the booths at several downtown BART stations, at Walgreens and at red MUNI ticket machines.

MUNI runs the city's public transit network of buses, light rail, cable cars and trams or 'streetcars' – which includes a selection of trams from around the world, among them two classic Melbourne trams which run along the F Line down Market Street.

Need to add some money onto your Clipper card? Drop into Walgreens, head for a red MUNI or blue BART ticket machine or visit the Clipper website.

If you decide to use a ticket machine to top up your card, this is most easily done at the blue BART machines because they only allow for Clipper top-ups, whereas MUNI machines present you with a dizzying array of card top-up options.

Also read: Travelling to Hong Kong? Grab an Octopus Card!

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

12 Dec 2018

Total posts 1

For a tourist, it will not make much sense if you use the Clipper website to add Money to the Clipper card. It could take some days until the Money will be available for the transfer to your Clipper card. Once the value will be available, then the value automatically will be loaded to your Clipper card, just the next time you tag the card to a card reader.


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