If you use mass transit in the Bay Area, sooner or later you'll want to get one of these. A clipper card is an RFID transit card you can to use to pay for various transit systems in the Bay Area. You can put money on it in various ways- cash that takes money out of an account when you get below a certain dollar amount like a fast pass you use for tolls, monthly passes, money just on one system (though why you would do this is confusing since it means you can't just jump on a bus should you find yourself in another jurisdiction), etc.

Before there were Clipper Cards there were Translink Cards. Translink Cards still work and some OGs/original adopters still use them.

Translink and Clipper. photo by  lpcmidst0128, CC BY 2.0

You can use Clipper/Translink cards to buy/ride these things:

A clipper card is a must if you don't have a car and need to get to somewhere in the South Bay or somewhere that isn't near a BART station. A new clipper card will set you back $3 (unless you're a youth or a senior or get one at a free giveaway that they have sometimes to encourage usage).

transaction history Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious CC BY-SA 2.0  

Biggest benefits to finally giving in and getting a clipper card:

  • no more rummaging around for exactly $2.10 to catch a bus
  • transfer fares are automatically applied so you don't need to pay extra, get an extra transfer ticket, or haggle to get the fare adjusted

Things you cannot use a clipper card to buy:

Places to buy a clipper card in Oakland:

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