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How it works

Want to save money on your commuting costs to and from work? It’s easier than you may think — here’s how you can do it:

  1. Enroll in transportation benefit through your employer.
  2. Choose how much you want to contribute — up to $270 maximum/month in 2020.
  3. Your employer deducts your chosen contribution amount from your paycheck before taxes. So you don’t pay federal, state or payroll taxes on your contributions (although some states do tax these contributions).
  4. Use your Optum Payment card to access your funds for qualified transportation costs.
  5. Save money as you lower your income taxes.

Monthly, pre-tax contribution limits are set by the IRS and reviewed and adjusted occasionally with other cost of living adjustments. Separate limits are set for parking and transit; however, the monthly limits are typically at parity. Effective January 1, 2020, employees can contribute up to $270 pre-tax in each account.

How the Optum Payment Card Works with Commuter Benefits

The Optum Payment Card maintains separate accounts or “purses” of pre- (and post-) tax money for parking and transit and directs the card transaction to the appropriate purse based on the Merchant Category Code (MCC) at the point of sale.

And if the participant already has a Optum Payment Card for other accounts, such as FSA, or HSA, the commuter benefits account(s) can be stacked on the same card. The Payment Card cannot be used at alternative outlets, such as restaurants and grocery stores.

The amount of available funds on the Payment Card must cover the entire mass transit or parking expense or the transaction will be declined. The participant may split the cost by swiping their card for the exact available amount and then pay for the remaining amount with an alternate form of payment.

Using the Payment Card for Parking

When the participant uses the Payment Card for parking expenses, there’s no paying cash up front, no claim forms to fill out and no waiting for reimbursements. The Payment Card helps with Qualified Transportation Account (QTA) expenses such as parking expenses for any type of vehicle at or near the participant’s work location or at or near a location from which the participant commutes using mass transit.

Using the Payment Card for Transit

The Payment Card can be used for mass transit passes, tokens, or fare cards purchased at a valid transit fare terminal.