Author Topic: Converting Pre-Tax Transit Money to Cash  (Read 249 times)

alexpkeaton

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Converting Pre-Tax Transit Money to Cash
« on: August 03, 2017, 02:17:57 PM »
I was rather proud of this one. Really because it's not a terribly meaningful amount of money, but a fun optimization nonetheless.

I live in NYC, and an unlimited metrocard costs $121/month. The most you can contribute to a commuter benefit program with pre-tax money from your paycheck is $255/month. That means $134 of potential pre-tax money per month was being taxed, and my marginal rate is pretty high: ~40% between city, state, and federal taxes.

Most employers will provide the commuter benefit in the form of a debit card that will only work at transit providers. I can capture some of the excess through normal usage: Though I might only need $121 for my metrocard, I might occasionally take a Megabus to DC or the Long Island Railroad out to Easthampton for the day.

But now both uberPOOL and Via accept these transit debit cards. This by itself isn't useful, as paying for a shared ride is still more expensive than using an already-paid-for unlimited subway card. But at my previous employer I'd have to travel 2-3 times per year. In those cases I'd take Via/Uber to the airport, pay with my transit card, and get reimbursed for the expense by my employer. Voila! My pre-tax transit money is now cash.

Though most expenses would go on my corporate card, it really wasn't hard to get reimbursed at my previous employer. At my new employer I'm not sure how to expense things without my corporate card yet, but they're sending me to London in a few weeks, so I intend to find out.

lexde

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Re: Converting Pre-Tax Transit Money to Cash
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2017, 02:33:16 PM »
I'm not sure if it's the same for your transit card, but for many cards UberEATS codes as travel as though you're just using Uber. It's not terribly frugal, but might be an option!

alexpkeaton

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Re: Converting Pre-Tax Transit Money to Cash
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2017, 02:39:05 PM »
I'm not sure if it's the same for your transit card, but for many cards UberEATS codes as travel as though you're just using Uber. It's not terribly frugal, but might be an option!

If only! I'll try it out, but seeing as I can't request a non-uberPOOL ride with the transit card, I doubt it'll work for UberEATS.

Though I am really curious if there are any places the card will work unexpectedly, or if there are other ways to convert the benefit to cash. I don't think it's technically legal, but I could sell my unused benefit for something like 90 cents to the dollar, but that seems like a lot of hassle.