With Compass Cash you can now load a dollar value to your Compass Card to use whenever you want. All one-way fares and most passes offered by the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and the North County Transit District (NCTD) can be purchased with Compass Cash. 

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Loading Compass Cash

Compass Cash can be loaded at all ticket machines, MTS Transit Store, Compass Service Center (619.595.5636), NCTD Customer Service Centers, online (value loaded online may not be available for 48 hours), and participating Albertsons and Vons grocery stores. Amounts from $2.50 to $100 are available. Once your card is loaded, you can use it to purchase most fares.

**Note: Compass Cash cannot be loaded on buses. View participating Albertsons and Vons locations. Other outlets are not able to sell Compass Cash.** 

How It Works

One Way Fares

  • MTS Trolley and NCTD SPRINTER: Tap your Compass Card on the station validator and the appropriate one-way fare will be deducted. A Trolley one-way fare includes a transfer to any other Trolley Line within two hours of purchase. 
  • MTS Bus and Rapid, and NCTD BREEZE: Tap your Compass Card on the bus fare box or stand-alone validator and the appropriate one-way fare will be deducted. A new one-way fare will be deducted when transferring to another bus or rail route. 
  • NCTD COASTER: Tap your card on the station’s validator before AND after riding the COASTER. The appropriate one-way fare will be deducted depending on the number of zones you travel. Tapping after riding the COASTER also provides for a free transfer to SPRINTER and BREEZE services within two hours of first boarding the COASTER. If you do not tap after riding, a three-zone fare will be automatically deducted and an additional one-way fare will be deducted for transfers to SPRINTER and BREEZE. No refunds will be issued. No transfer to MTS Bus, Rapid or Trolley is allowed. 
  • MTS Rapid Express 280/290 and NCTD FLEX: Tap your card on the bus fare box to deduct a one-way fare. 
  • Multiple modes: Just follow the directions above for each mode you ride to deduct one-ways. When making several one-way trips you may want to purchase a Day Pass to save money.

Day Passes

Day Passes are perfect for the person who rides several times a day and uses multiple types of public transit. Trips that include the COASTER or Rapid Express require a RegionPlus Day Pass (available only at rail station ticket machines).

  • MTS Trolley, NCTD SPRINTER and COASTER: Day Passes must be purchased at ticket machines. Before tapping, follow the prompts to load a Day Pass on the machine and then pay with Compass Cash. After pass is loaded, tap card on validator to activate pass for your trip. For COASTER or Rapid Express, select the RegionPlus Day Pass. 
  • MTS Bus and Rapid, and NCTD BREEZE: Before tapping, tell the bus driver that you want to use Compass Cash to buy a Day Pass. If you do not notify the bus driver, a one-way fare will be automatically deducted. You cannot use Compass Cash to purchase a RegionPlus Day Pass on board Rapid Express 280 or 290 (available only at ticket machines).

Protecting Your Compass Cash

Register your Compass Card online. If you lose your card, call 619.595.5636 and any remaining Compass Cash balance at the time the card is deactivated will be loaded onto a new Compass Card by the Compass Service Center, MTS Transit Store or Oceanside Transit Store (deactivation can take up to three days after MTS or NCTD is notified). If you lose an unregistered card, your balance will be lost. Be sure to purchase the correct fare when using Compass Cash. There are no refunds.


Compass Cash FAQs

Can I use Compass Cash on all MTS services?

Compass Cash is accepted on all local, urban, Rapid, Rapid Express and Trolley trips.  Compass Cash is not accepted on MTS rural routes or for Access trips.

Can I use Compass Cash on all NCTD services?

Compass Cash is accepted on all COASTER, SPRINTER, FLEX and BREEZE trips.  Compass Cash is not accepted on Lift trips.

What type of card is needed for Compass Cash?

MTS and NCTD Compass Cash may be loaded only on a valid Compass Card. A card from another transit system cannot be used on MTS and NCTD services. Compass Cash is not accepted or available for purchase on the mobile ticketing app, Compass Cloud.

Can I protect my Compass Cash value against theft or loss?
  • Yes.  But remember, a lost card is just like cash. You will be responsible for any value that is used on your card before the card is deactivated (which can take up to three days after MTS or NCTD is notified).
  • Register your Card online or at the MTS Transit Store or NCTD Customer Service Center.  If your Card is registered, your first replacement card is free. Additional replacement cards in the same 12 month period will cost $5. In order to protect the Compass Cash, the replacement card must be provided by the Compass Service Center, MTS Transit Store or Oceanside Transit Store. More information/registration form
What if I lose my Compass Card and it’s not registered?

Any balance on an unregistered Card cannot be replaced. You must also purchase a new Compass Card for the $2 fee.

What if my Compass Card expires or is damaged and there’s still value on it?
  • Contact a Compass Service Center agent by going to the MTS Transit Store (Monday-Friday, 8 am – 5 pm)
  • Visit the Oceanside Transit Store (Monday-Friday, 7 am – 7 pm)
  • Speak to an agent by calling the Compass Service Center at (619) 595-5636 or 511 (and say “Compass”)
  • Send an email to CompassCard@sdmts.com .
  • If registered, the value remaining at the time of deactivation may be restored onto a new card. The first replacement card is free; subsequent replacements with balance transfer will be $5 per card.
I have a valid Adult, Senior/Disabled/Medicare or Youth Compass Card, where can I go to load it with Compass Cash?

You can add Compass Cash at:

  • Any Trolley, COASTER, and SPRINTER station ticket machine
  • MTS Transit Store at the 12th  & Imperial Transit Center (Monday- Friday, 8 am – 5 pm)
  • NCTD Customer Service Centers at the Oceanside, Vista and Escondido Transit Centers (Monday – Friday, hours vary depending on location; 7am-7pm or 8am-5pm).
  • Online any time at www.sdmts.comor at www.511sd.com/Compass.  It can take up to 48 hours for value loaded online to be available on the card. If you are ordering a new card with a pass product, the card will arrive in the mail with the product loaded and ready for use.
  • Call the Compass Service Center at 619-595-5636. It can take up to 48 hours for value loaded by the Service Center to be available on the card.
  • Participating Albertsons and Vons grocery stores.

**Note:  Compass Cash is NOT sold at retail outlets (other than participating Albertsons/Vons).**

I do not have a Compass Card, where can I go to buy a Card and load it with Compass Cash?
The Adult Card ($2 cost) can be purchased and Compass Cash added at these locations:
  • Any Trolley, COASTER, and SPRINTER station ticket machine
  • MTS Transit Store at the 12th  & Imperial Transit Center (Monday- Friday, 8am-5pm)
  • NCTD Customer Service Centers at the Oceanside, Vista and Escondido Transit Centers (Monday – Friday, hours vary depending on location; 7 am –7 pm or 8 am –5 pm).
  • Online any time at www.sdmts.com; or at www.511sd.com/Compass.  It can take up to 48 hours for value loaded online to be available on the card. If you are ordering a new card with a pass product or cash value, the card will arrive in the mail with the product loaded or cash value and ready for use.
  • Participating Albertsons and Vons grocery stores
  • Note:  Compass Cash is NOT sold at retail outlets (other than particiating Albertsons/Vons).

The S/D/M or Youth Compass Card (with proper ID) can be purchased with Compass Cash loaded at these locations:

  • MTS Transit Store at the 12th  & Imperial Transit Center (Monday- Friday, 8am–5pm)
  • NCTD Customer Service Centers at the Oceanside, Vista and Escondido Transit Centers (Monday – Friday, hours vary depending on location; 7am-7pm or 8am-5pm).
  • Note:  Reduced fare Compass Cards can only be purchased with a pass or Compass Cash. Blank S/D/M or Youth Compass Cards cannot be purchased.  Compass Cash is only available at Albertsons and Vons retail outlets.   
How do I use my Compass Cash to ride?

ONE-WAY FARES:

  • MTS Trolley and NCTD  SPRINTER:  Tap your Compass Card on the station validator and the appropriate one-way fare will be deducted. A Trolley one-way fare includes a transfer to any other Trolley Line within two hours of purchase.  Do not tap when exiting the Trolley or SPRINTER.
  • NCTD COASTER:  Tap your card on the station’s validator before AND after riding the COASTER. The appropriate one-way fare will be deducted depending on the number of zones you travel. If you do not tap after riding, a three-zone fare will be automatically deducted and an additional one-way fare will be deducted for transfers to SPRINTER and BREEZE. Tapping after riding the COASTER also provides for a free transfer to SPRINTER and BREEZE services within two hours of first boarding the COASTER.  No refunds will be issued. A transfer to NCTD BREEZE or SPRINTER is allowed within two hours of first tapping to board the COASTER. No transfer to MTS Bus, Rapid or Trolley is allowed.  You must have a minimum balance of $5.50 for Adults and $2.75 for Senior/Disabled/Medicare if you start your trip by tapping on a COASTER validator, regardless of the zones traveled. If you do not have the full three zone fare, you can buy the one- or two- zone fare with Compass Cash at a ticket machine printed on a paper ticket. You may also add Compass Cash value to your Compass Card at ticket machines.
  • MTS Bus, MTS Rapid, and NCTD BREEZE:  Tap the Card on the validator on or near the bus fare box and the appropriate one-way fare will be deducted. A new one-way fare must be purchased when transferring to another bus or rail route.
  • MTS Rapid Express 280/290 and NCTD FLEX: Tap your card on the validator on or near the bus fare box to deduct a one-way fare, which is $5 for Adults and $2.50 for Senior/Disabled/Medicare.

DAY PASSES:

  • MTS Trolley, NCTD SPRINTER and COASTER:  Day Passes must be purchased at ticket machines. Before tapping, follow the prompts on the machine to load a Day Pass and then pay with Compass Cash. After a pass is loaded, tap card on validator to activate pass for your trip. For COASTER or Rapid Express, select the RegionPlus Day Pass.
  • MTS Bus and Rapid, and NCTD BREEZE:  Before tapping, tell the bus driver that you want to use Compass Cash to purchase a Day Pass. If you do not notify the bus driver, a one-way fare will be automatically deducted. No refunds will be issued.  You cannot use Compass Cash to purchase a RegionPlus Day Pass on board Rapid Express 280 or 290 (available only at ticket machines).
If I purchase multiple One-Way trips in the same day, will Compass Cash automatically convert to a Day Pass if I reach the Day Pass fare price?
No.  Compass Cash does not recognize the number of one-way fares purchased and will not default to a Day Pass. If you are taking multiple one-way trips, a Day Pass may be the best value and should be purchased on the first trip (before tapping, the bus driver should be notified that you would like to purchase a Day Pass).
Is there an automatic reload feature so that I always have enough Compass Cash on my Card so it’s always ready to go when I am?

Yes, sign up for automatic reload online at compasscard.511sd.com/webtix or by calling 511 and saying “Compass” to speak to an agent.

Can I use Compass Cash to purchase pass products at retail outlets (ex:  Albertsons/Vons)?

No, Compass Cash can only be purchased/loaded onto a Compass Card at participating Vons and Albertsons grocery stores (Compass Cash is not available at other retail outlets);  you cannot use Compass Cash as a form of payment for passes at retail outlets.  

How much dollar value can I put on a Compass Card?

Compass Cash starts at $2.50 and goes up to $100 per transaction. The maximum amount a card will hold is $300.

Can I get a refund on unused Compass Cash or on a fare I purchased by mistake?
No, there are no refunds.
Can I get a refund if I forget to tap off at a COASTER Station and get charged the maximum one-way fare instead of a lower zone fare?

No, there are no refunds.

Can I get a refund if I forgot to tell the bus operator I wanted a Day Pass before I tapped, and instead got a one-way fare?

No, there are no refunds.

Can I purchase Compass Cash at retail outlets?

You may purchase Compass Cash from participating Albertsons and Vons (view list). Other Retail outlets cannot sell Compass Cash. 

What happens if I double-tap my Compass Card on accident? Will a fare be deducted twice?
  • On the bus, Trolley and SPRINTER, Compass Cash will not be deducted twice.  When tapping on the bus, a pass back message is triggered alerting you and the bus driver that your card has already been tapped successfully. The stand-alone station validators will display the message “Already Touched” and the ticket vending machines will display the message “Valid Pass. Thank You.”
  • On the COASTER, tapping on and off allows us to determine how many zones you travelled and therefore calculate the appropriate fare. When you tap on, by default, the system deducts the 3-zone fare. When you tap off, the system refunds the appropriate amount based on the length of your trip. Tapping off also is required to activate the free transfer to NCTD bus and SPRINTER.  Be careful to only tap once before riding and to tap off only once at the end of your trip.  Tapping more than once on the same trip before boarding the train will result in additional deductions.
Can I load multiple fares onto one Compass Card using Compass Cash?

No. Every rider must have their own Compass Card. Each time you tap on Trolley validators, or on the bus fare box for a one-way ticket, the value of that one-way fare will be deducted from your Compass Cash balance. You can deduct multiple one ways during the day or load a Day Pass.  Only one Day Pass can be loaded onto the card at a time. Once a Day Pass is loaded, one way fares will no longer be deducted for the remainder of the operational day  (for modes that accept the $5.00 day pass).

Can I load Compass Cash value onto a Compass Card and give it as a gift or let someone else use it?

Yes. However, if the Compass Card is for discounted fares, the person carrying the card must have proof of eligibility for the discount. Acceptable proof of eligibility

Is Compass Cash the same thing as Compass Cloud?

No. Compass Cash allows you to load a dollar value directly to your Compass Card. Compass Cloud is the mobile ticketing app that lets you purchase and store fares on your smart phone.

Can I use Compass Cash to buy my fares on Compass Cloud or transfer a pass to Compass Cloud?

No. Compass Cash cannot be used to purchase fares or transfer passes onto Compass Cloud.

Can I use Compass Cash to purchase non-transit related items at retail stores?

No. Compass Cash is only to purchase all one-way fares and most passes offered by MTS and NCTD.

Can I tap my Compass Card on NCTD’s ticket machine to validate my pass?

No. NCTD ticket machines cannot validate or activate passes. You must tap your card at stand- alone validators located on or near the station platforms. However, MTS ticket machines may be used as validators.

How do I check my Compass Cash balance?
  • Call the MTS Compass Service Center at 619-595-5636 or NCTD Customer Information at 760-966-6500
  • Go to the Transit Store or Customer Service Centers
  • Check card balance at station ticket vending machines – BEFORE tapping, select “Check Compass Card” option on the opening screen, then tap your card to get to the “Compass Card Information” screen.  
  • Online:  Only if you have registered and created an online billing account at compasscard.511sd.com/webtix and have a valid credit card on file (an online account and password required). 
Can I purchase an NCTD Senior Day Pass with Compass Cash?

No, the NCTD Senior Day Pass is not a fare product that can be purchased using Compass Cash.

How should I ask to use Compass Cash when requesting my fare from the bus driver?

If you want a one-way fare, just tap the validator on or near the fare box and a one-way fare will be deducted automatically. If you want a Day Pass, BEFORE TAPPING, tell the driver that you want to use Compass Cash to buy a Day Pass. Wait for the bus operator to tell you it’s ok to tap. If you do not notify the bus driver, a one-way fare will be automatically deducted. There are no refunds.

Why was there a black line through the Compass Card image on the ticket machine when I tried to purchase a fare product with Compass Cash?

If a black diagonal line appears on the ticket machine screen, it means you have insufficient funds on your Compass Card to purchase the selected product. To purchase a fare, first add more Compass Cash to your card.

Can I use two payment methods for a single transaction?

No. You cannot use two payment methods for a single transaction.

If you have only $1 Compass Cash on your card and it is a $2.25 fare, the fare box will ask for $2.25; it will NOT deduct $1 from Compass Cash and ask for an additional $1.25 in cash fare.

The ticket machine cannot accept two payment methods.

What happens if I have insufficient funds?

Bus:  When you tap your Compass Card of the bus fare box, you will receive an insufficient value visual message, red light, negative audible signal. You will have to purchase a one-way or Day Pass with cash.
Trolley:  When you tap your Compass Card on a station validator, you will receive an insufficient value visual message, red light, negative audible signal. You should load additional Compass Cash at the ticket machines or purchase a fare with another method of payment.

Can I buy a Day Pass on my Compass Card using regular cash (not Compass Cash)?

Yes. If your Compass Cash balance is less than the cost of the Day Pass, you may purchase a Day Pass with cash.

  • Bus: Tap the Compass Card. If you don’t have enough Compass Cash for the purchase, the fare box will signal insufficient funds.” At this point, you may buy a one-way fare with cash or load a Day Pass with cash (you cannot combine Compass Cash with cash).
  • Trolley:  Go to any ticket machine and follow the prompts to load a pass.
Does Compass Cash expire?

Compass Cash that is purchased online or over the phone through the Compass Service Center must be downloaded to the Compass Card within 30 days or it will expire. Once downloaded to the Compass Card, Compass Cash is valid for the life of the Compass Card.  You can use your Compass Cash to ride within 30 days of purchase to download your Compass Cash. If you do not plan to use Compass Cash to ride within 30 days of purchase, you must go to a ticket vending machine and use the “Check Compass Card” function without tapping the card first (any tap will deduct a fare). By checking the card, your Compass Cash will be downloaded  and will remain available on the card for use until the physical Compass Card expires or the balance is depleted.