a person's hand tapping their PRESTO card on a PRESTO device.

PRESTO minimum loads are going, going…almost gone

PRESTO loads will be reduced from $10 to five cents at retail and customer service outlets.

Sep 16, 2019

PRESTO is getting rid of the $10 minimum load requirement when you buy or reload a card at Shoppers Drug Mart and other in-person customer service outlets.

Instead, starting Oct. 28, all PRESTO customers throughout the GTHA and Ottawa will only be required to load five cents when they buy cards from these locations. The cost of the card itself will remain $6.

“We know the minimum load requirement is a concern among our customers, who see it as a barrier to switching to PRESTO,” said Annalise Czerny, Executive Vice President of PRESTO. “By taking this first step in lowering it to five cents across in-person retail and service outlets, we’re making it easier for more people to discover the many benefits of getting a card, whether it’s automatic top-ups when funds get too low or balance protection on lost or stolen cards.”

This change comes as the TTC prepares to phase out older payment options like tickets and tokens, and after other fare changes that now see children riding free on both the TTC and GO Transit.

Lowering the minimum amount customers must load when they buy new cards at Shoppers Drug Mart or in-person outlets will make it easier for people to shift to PRESTO, particularly families who are buying cards for their children and lower income riders. It will also give existing customers more flexibility when they reload their cards.

PRESTO will take a phased approach to rolling out this improvement.

By the end of October, the new minimum load amount will be in place across all in-person customer service outlets that offer PRESTO card services, such as Shoppers Drug Mart locations, GO customer service counters and the TTC’s Davisville Customer Service Centre.

Minimum load amounts for all self-service machines and online transactions will be lowered in the near future after additional software changes are tested and rolled out.

So at this point, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why do I still have to pay five cents and why don’t they just remove the minimum load entirely?”

Like most fare card systems across the world, PRESTO requires customers to load a minimum value to their cards when they buy them. That’s a requirement that’s programmed right into the system.

“Ultimately, this is about improving access to transit across all of our various customer groups. Lowering the minimum load to five cents is the lowest option available since the penny is now obsolete. Removing it entirely would require substantial technical changes that would take a while and be costly to roll out, and this solution is something that can be put in place immediately,” Czerny said.

“While we would have liked to remove the requirement entirely for new card purchases, this change is a big step in the right direction,” Czerny added.

“This is a quick way for us to give our customers what they want while we embark on bold modernization plans that will make PRESTO even more convenient for the millions of people who use it every day.”

That five cents caught in a corner of your desk drawer won’t even buy penny-matches these days. But using it to put a PRESTO card in your pocket – that’s a minimal investment for a world of great journeys to come.