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Best Way To Pay For Your Public Transportation

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Singapore is notorious for being a really expensive place to buy a car. Fortunately, those living in Singapore can rely on an extensive and (relatively) reliable public transportation network to go to work, school, visit family and go out for fun. In 3Q2023 the average daily ridership on public buses and trains was 7.9 million on weekdays, and 6.4 million on weekends.

Given the recent announcement halting the full adoption of the SimplyGo payment platform, commuters will continue to have various options to pay for public transport fares. Here’s what you need to know about the different options:

Read Also: Cheapest Cars That You Can Buy In Singapore

Non-upgraded EZ-Link

Using EZ-Link On Its Own

The simplest way to use EZ-Link for your public transport needs is to do so on its own – without linking to a debit card, credit card, or GIRO.

You can buy an EZ-Link card at SimplyGo Ticket Offices at MRT stations and bus interchanges, at Passenger Service Centres in most MRT Stations and at 7-Eleven stores. These cards cost $10 of which $5 is stored value for use and the remaining $5 is the cost of the card that is non-refundable. These cards have a lifespan of 5 years from the date of activation.


The Ez-Link is a card-based ticketing system that allows you to pay for transport fares, retail spending, and motoring related expenses like ERP charges and parking fees. It also allows you to see the fare deduction and the card’s remaining balance each time you tap out of the MRT fare gates. Aside from EZ-Link card, you could also use the EZ-Link charms, which are the latest contactless technology by EZ-Link to make it smarter and trendier.

You could top up money into EZ-Link cards via the EZ-Link app or at any General Ticketing Machines, SimplyGo Ticket Offices, Cheers & 7-Eleven convenience stores, and AXS Stations.

Alternatively, you could also top-up money into one of the EZ-Link-enabled debit or credit cards, including the Standard Chartered Unlimited Card and CitiBank SMRT Card.

When using your EZ-Link card/charm in this manner, you will need to monitor the amount of stored value you have left in your card/charm and ensure you top-up before it runs out.

While inconvenient, this option is suitable for those who do not wish to link their EZ-Link to a debit card, credit card or bank account. People who might be at higher risk of losing their EZ-Link, including children or an absent-minded elderly family member could benefit from the additional “security” of using EZ-Link standalone.

The hassle of having to having to manually top-up your EZ-Link is somewhat mitigated by the EZ-Link App, which allows NFC-enabled phones linked to locally-issued Mastercard and Visa cards to instantly make top-ups. The convenience fee of $0.30 for every top-up using the app is currently waived until further notice.

EZ-Link Rewards

A lesser-known fact is that all EZ-Link users, including those using standalone cards and charms can actually earn rewards courtesy of the EZ-Link Rewards programme. It also applies to use of EZ-Link Wallets and EZ-Link Pay by Wallet with Mastercard.

You can earn 1 reward point for every $0.10 spent on all your EZ-Link transactions – including public transport rides, retail/vending machine purchases, or ERP/carpark payments except for the payments on the exclusion lists. Do note that reward points are awarded for transactions using EZ-Link and not for top-ups to your EZ-Link.

To begin earning EZ-Link Reward points, simply register your EZ-Link device to your EZ-Link Mobile app on your smartphone. You can add a maximum of 3 EZ-Link devices per account.

You can find the list of rewards for redemption based on your accumulated points in the Reward Catalogue section in the EZ-Link app. All EZ-Link Reward points expire 6 months from the month that it was credited in your account, so you have to make sure you spend the points before they expire.

Read Also: Public Transport Voucher (PTV): Who Is Eligible And How Can You Claim It?

EZ-Reload

EZ-Reload facility is a service provided by EZ-Link that automatically top-ups your EZ-Link with a specific amount set by you whenever your EZ-Link balance is zero.

To use EZ-Reload, you need to apply to link your debit or credit card through the EZ-Link app (Mastercard and Visa only)

In the past, EZ-Link charged a convenience fee of $0.25 for each transaction, but in August 2018, EZ-Link announced that EZ-Reload will now be completely free, as part of the company’s efforts to encourage e-payment adoption in Singapore.

Nets FlashPay Card

Similar to EZ-Link, the Nets FlashPay is a stored value card that allows you to pay for public transport fares, retail spending, and motoring-related expenses.

You can purchase a Nets FlashPay card at SimplyGo Ticketing Offices for a cost of $5, which is non-refundable and may include a variable stored value of between $0 and $7. The Nets FlashPay card has a validity period of up to 7 years.

There isn’t much difference between the EZ-Link and Nets FlashPay Card, as both cards allow you to make contactless payments across public transport charges, retail spending, and motoring-related expenses. However, the Nets FlashPay Card may allow you to make payments at more NETS merchant points and has a longer validity period than the EZ-Link card.

Nets Prepaid Card

The Nets Prepaid card is a widely accepted prepaid card that not only allows you to make payments for transport fares but also at all 130,000 NETS merchant points. However, unlike the Nets FlashPay card, you cannot pay for motoring related expenses.

The Nets prepaid card is available for purchase online and at several NETS official distributors. The retail price of the Nets prepaid card consists of a non-refundable deposit of $5 and a variable stored value amount that may vary from $0 to $7. The card has a validity period of 5 years.

You can link the Nets prepaid card to the NETS app, which allows you to make top-ups, view transaction history, and even temporarily lock your card should you misplace it.

SimplyGo

The latest option for paying for your public transporation is SimplyGo, a brainchild of the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and TransitLink. This service was intended to replace the legacy adult card-based systems such as the EZ-Link and Nets FlashPay from 1 June 2024. However, as recently announced by the LTA, it will now run in parallel with the other payment methods.

The SimplyGo works on an account-based system where the fares are computed back-end. As such, unlike the card-based systems like the EZ-link and Nets FlashPay cards, it does not display the fare deduction and the card’s remaining balance each time you tap out of the MRT fare gates.

Instead, you can download the SimplyGo App, which notifies you of trip fares and provides detailed transaction history. You can also make top ups to your SimplyGo enabled EZ-Link cards on the go using the app.

Aside from the EZ-Link card, you can also use your contactless bank cards (Mastercard, NETs, and VISA) or Mastercard/Visa cards that are added to the mobile wallet where you will be charged whenever you tap to pay for your public transportation.  This eliminates the need for top-ups or carry a separate travel card.

Additionally, can also use any NFC-enabled payment solutions like your FitBit, Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.

Read Also: Why Singapore Commuters Should Download The SimplyGo App

Which Option Should I Choose For My Public Transportation Needs?

Currently, the most versatile cards are the non-upgraded EZ-Link and Nets FlashPay Cards that allow you to make payment for public transport, retail spending, and motoring-related expenses. Moreover, these card-based systems allow you to see the fare deduction and card balance each time you tap on of the MRT fare gate.

An added benefit of using the EZ-Link card over the Nets FlashPay card is that you get to earn EZ-Reward points, that you can use to redeem rewards without additional effort or spending on your part.

The SimplyGo payment solution could be another alternative if you prefer a more online experience by using the SimplyGo app. Instead of making physical top-ups, you can do so on the go and also view transaction history for up to 6 months. However, with the SimplyGo EZ-Link cards, you cannot make payment for motoring-related expenses and would like need to use the currency legacy-based cards.

However, for most people who have a Mastercard or Visa credit/debit card, the convenience of using the card for SimplyGo and its compatibility with NFC-enabled devices makes it a no-brainer.

Read Also: Concession Passes For Working Adults: Are They Ever Worth It?

This article was first published on 11 June 2019 and updated with new information.



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