Why is my ORCA card balance negative?


Can my ORCA card balance be negative? 

Yes, in the new ORCA card system, if you don’t have enough money to cover your next trip, the ORCA card will allow you to travel with a negative balance of up to -$2.75. Read more tips for using this new feature

Why are negative balances allowed in the new ORCA system?

There are two main reasons why the new ORCA system allows for a negative balance: 

  1. To speed up boarding and keep buses moving. Buses and vehicles are connected to cellular data to process card taps in real-time. Sometimes, they get disconnected from the internet or have a slow connection. The new ORCA system allows for offline transactions, which means you can still board the bus and avoid delays. Later, when the bus goes back online, your tap data is sent and your fare is deducted from your account. 
  2. To help you get where you're going. If you're a little short on funds, for example, if you have $2.00 on your ORCA card, but you need to get on a bus that costs $2.75, now you can. You will have a negative balance of -$0.75 that you can pay back next time you reload your card at myORCA.com, on the myORCA app, at a vending machine or by visiting or calling transit customer service. 

What is an example of a negative balance transaction? 

In this example, let's say you start out with $1.50 on your ORCA card. You're at a bus stop on the way to work and realize you forgot to reload your card. The bus you're waiting for costs $2.75, but there isn't an ORCA retail store or vending machine nearby and you don't want to be late. When the bus comes you can simply tap your card and get on. Since the bus ride cost $2.75 and you had $1.50 on your card, your balance will be -$1.25. Later at work you login to myORCA.com and reload your card with $4.00. Now you have a balance of $2.75 for the way home. 

Can I buy a pass when I have a negative E-purse balance? 

No, you need to reload your E-purse so that it has either a $0 or positive balance on it before you can buy a pass. 

How can I avoid a negative balance on my ORCA card? 

Here are some helpful tips to avoid having a negative balance: 

  1. Check your card balance frequently. Read more about the many ways you can check your card balance.
  2. Set up an autoload. Watch our video on how to set up an autoload for passes or when you reach a certain balance.  
  3. Buy a daily or monthly pass. Learn more about our fare programs, passes and pricing

What happens if my card reaches the maximum negative balance of -$2.75? 

If your card reaches a balance of -$2.75 it will be blocked and you will need to reload it to use it again. You can do this by creating an account and registering your ORCA card on myORCA.com, the myORCA app, at a vending machine, retail location or via customer service.