Clipper® is a reloadable fare payment system accepted on all transit agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area, including SamTrans. You may load SamTrans Monthly passes or cash for paying fares.
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: current Monthly Pass; fare credit from another transit agency (such as a two-zone or greater Caltrain Monthly Pass); or cash on the card.
Visit the Clipper website for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I start using Clipper?
Riders can also purchase a physical Clipper card:
Adult (ages 19-64) Clipper cards can be purchased at San Mateo County Transit District Administrative office in San Carlos and participating Walgreens locations, as well as at a few other retail outlets. The the full list of Clipper retail vendors.
Discounts – Youth and Seniors
To qualify for a discounted Clipper pass, Youth (ages 5-18) and Senior (ages 65+) customers must fill out an application to obtain a Clipper card.
Senior and Youth 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 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.
Customers with Disabilities/RTC Members
Disabled fare customers must have a Regional Transit Connection Clipper-compatible card. For more information or to obtain one, please call
How much does a Clipper card cost?
An Adult Clipper card is free for a limited time by downloading a virtual card via the Clipper mobile app via the App Store or Google Play. A minimum of $3 cash value is required to be loaded to the card when obtaining the Adult Clipper card on mobile for the first time.
Otherwise, physical cards cost $3. The fee is waived if you sign-up for Autoload and obtain the card at the same time online. 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 passes 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
- Select Caltrain ticket machines
Products/cash may also be loaded through the Clipper website or over the phone with the Clipper Customer Service Bureau, but the pass/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 validator 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 tap my card every time I ride, even if I have a Monthly Pass?
Yes. Regardless of whether you use cash value or a pass, you must tap your card to the onboard validator every time you board. Your tap 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 value 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 value 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?
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 tapping more than once on the same bus within a 5-minute timeframe. This feature was built in to protect you from accidentally tapping and being charged twice.