Clipper® is a reloadable fare payment card that can be used to store a SamTrans Monthly Pass and cash. Clipper card also is accepted on various transit agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area. For the latest list, click here.
As you board the bus, touch your card to the Clipper logo on the card reader located on your right (before the farebox). The device will read the Clipper card to see if you have a valid fare document: current Monthly Pass; fare credit from another transit agency (such as a two-zone or greater Caltrain Monthly Pass); or cash on the card.
Download the Clipper Retail Locations Brochure here (PDF, 924KB).
For more information on Clipper, visit www.clippercard.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Where can I buy a Clipper card?
- How much does a Clipper card cost?
- How do I load a Monthly Pass or cash to my Clipper card?
- How does Clipper know what fare to deduct?
- I have a Youth Clipper card, what happens when I turn 19?
- Do I need to tag my card every time I ride, even if I have a Monthly Pass?
- I have a Local Pass, but need to take an Express route. How do I pay the difference?
- Can I combine my Clipper card and another form of payment to pay for my ride?
- Will the same fare credit privileges apply for VTA, AC Transit, Muni and Caltrain?
- Can I use my card to pay the fare of someone traveling with me?
Where can I buy a Clipper card?
Adult (ages 19-64) Clipper cards can be purchased at San Mateo County Transit District Administrative office in San Carlos between 8 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. and participating Walgreens locations, as well as at a few other retail outlets. A list of the vendors in San Mateo County is available at www.samtrans.com/ClipperRetailLocations.The full list of current vendors is available on the Clipper website at www.clippercard.com/retail.
Youth and Seniors
Youth (ages 5-18) and senior (ages 65 and older) customers must fill out an application to obtain a Clipper card. Applications are available on the Clipper website or by calling 1-800-660-4287 (TTY 650-508-6448). Completed applications and proof-of-age may be submitted by mail, e-mail or fax as indicated on the application. To receive a card immediately, you can apply in person at the San Mateo County Transit District Administrative office in San Carlos weekdays between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. or at other Clipper designated locations. The applying Senior/Youth does not have to be present.
Note: A Youth Clipper card will automatically change to an Adult Clipper card once you turn 19. Please refer to FAQ's below for more information.
Clipper® START for Qualified Riders
The Clipper® START program offers a 50% fare discount for adult low-income SamTrans riders. To learn more and apply for the discount, visit the Clipper® START website.
Disabled fare customers must have a Regional Transit Connection Clipper-compatible card. For more information or to obtain one, customer may call 1-800-660-4287.
How much does a Clipper card cost?
Adult Clipper cards cost $3. The fee will be waived if you sign up for Autoload at the same time you obtain your card at www.clippercard.com. There is no fee for Youth and Senior Clipper cards.
How do I load a Monthly Pass or cash to my Clipper card?
Cash or products can be loaded your Clipper card immediately by going to:
- Participating transit agencies
- Clipper retail outlets such as participating Walgreens
- Downtown San Francisco Muni fare machines
- BART ticket machines
- Add Value Machines at San Francisco or Palo Alto Caltrain stations
Products/cash may also be loaded through the Clipper web site or over the phone with the Clipper Customer Service Bureau, but the product/cash may take up to five days to be loaded onto the card.
Clipper also offers Autoload where your card is reloaded each month automatically. For more information, visit www.clippercard.com or call the Clipper Customer Service Bureau at 1-877-878-8883.
How does Clipper know what fare to deduct?
A customer who qualifies for one of the discount categories (youth, senior, disabled) must apply for the appropriate Clipper card. When they travel using cash, the onboard Card Interface Device recognizes the type of card and deducts the appropriate cash value.
I have a Youth Clipper card, what happens when I turn 19?
On your 19th birthday, your Youth Clipper card will automatically change to an Adult Clipper card. This means youth discounts will no longer be granted and adult fares will be required. Note: If you have a Youth Monthly Pass on your card, it will be cancelled. This will happen even if it is the beginning or middle of the month. If you have cash value on your card, the Clipper system will automatically start deducting adult fare.
If your card is set up for autoload and your 19th birthday is coming up, follow these steps: 1) Disable Autoload before the new pass is loaded. This will prevent a product from being loaded that you will not be able to fully use. 2) After your birthday has passed, set up Autoload to load an adult pass.
Do I need to tag my card every time I ride, even if I have a Monthly Pass?
Yes. Regardless of whether you use cash or a Monthly Pass, you must tag your card to a card reader every time you board. Your tag is your proof of payment.
I have a Local Pass, but need to take an Express route. How do I pay the difference?
The Local Monthly Pass will provide a local fare credit. The additional fare required for the Express route will be paid with cash from the Clipper card. If you do not have enough cash value on your Clipper card to pay the difference for the upgrade, your pass will not be accepted and you will need to pay full cash fare for the ride.
Can I combine my Clipper card and another form of payment to pay for my ride?
When using Clipper, you must pay your entire fare with the pass and/or cash on your Clipper card. You cannot combine cash, tickets or tokens with a portion from your Clipper card.
Will the same fare credit privileges apply for VTA, AC Transit, Muni, Caltrain?
For current inter-agency transfer information, click here.
Can I use my card to pay the fare of someone traveling with me?
Clipper cards are for individual use. Each rider 5 years of age or older must have his/her own card. The Clipper cards also have a feature that stops you from tagging more than once on the same bus within a 5-minute time frame. This feature was built in to protect you from accidentally tagging and being charged twice.