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 2018, public transport usage hit a record high, with 7.54 million taking buses or trains every day.
Thus, knowing the best way to pay for our public transportation is an important decision that affects us on a daily basis. Here are the various options compared, including the newly-launched SimplyGo.
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 do it in the following ways:
– Buying an EZ-Link card at one of the 42 TransitLink Ticket Offices at MRT stations and bus interchanges, at Passenger Service Centres in most MRT Stations and at 7-Eleven stores. These cards cost $12 ($10 for cards bought at 7-Eleven), which includes $7 in stored value ($5 for cards bought at 7-Eleven) and a non-refundable $5 deposit.
– Buying one of the highly-desired EZ-Link charms whenever they are launched.
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.
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.
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. 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 with your accumulated 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.
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) or website (American Express and Diners accepted). You can also link your EZ-Link card to a DBS /POSB bank account using GIRO via one of the AXS machines available island-wide.
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.
The latest option for paying for your public transporation is SimplyGo, a brainchild of the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and TransitLink. This service was previously run as a pilot test under the name Account-Based Ticketing (ABT).
Unlike EZ-Link, which is a stored-value facility that requires you to pay upfront to load money into your card before use, SimplyGo allows you to pay for each of your MRT or bus rides as you go.
When you enable SimplyGo on your supported Mastercard or Visa credit/debit card, you will be charged whenever you tap to pay for your public transportation. This means you can use any NFC-enabled payment solution like your FitBit, Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay.
The advantage of using SimplyGo is that you no longer require a separate transit card and worry about top-ups. There are also no fees for using SimplyGo and you can view your journey and fare history using the SimplyGo app or website.
Which Option Should I Choose For My Public Transportation Needs?
Unless you have a very specific reason why you don’t wish to link your public transport card to a credit/debit card or GIRO, you really shouldn’t be using a standalone EZ-Link card. Having to worry about your card balance and then needing to queue up at the ticketing machines for top-ups just be a thing of the past.
Next, if your credit/debit card supports EZ-Link (for example, the Standard Chartered Unlimited Card and CitiBank SMRT Card), then in practice, using it in conjunction with EZ-Reload gives you the same fuss-free experience as SimplyGo. As an added bonus, you also get to earn EZ-Reward points, which may or may not be a factor for you.
If you don’t mind carrying another card, then you can use EZ-Reload with one of your standalone EZ-Link cards or charms, linked via GIRO, Mastercard, Visa, American Express or Diners. The latter two card services are currently not supported by SimplyGo.
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.
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