Tapping your EZ-Link card to pay for your bus and MRT rides is a quintessential Singaporean experience.
But did you know there are other ways to get on and off the bus without whipping out your faded, scratched EZ-Link card? (Which is also probably close to expiry anyway.)
That’s right, for some time now, you can tap and pay at MRT stations, on buses and at Koi using your bank card, your mobile phone and even your smart wearables. Even more exciting, some of these new methods may even help you earn your next free air ticket!
Before we dive in, here’s a handy table to help you understand the differences between EZ-Link, EZ-Reload, and SimplyGo.
Over S$20,000 worth of prizes are up for grabs, including 1x pair of Business Class Round Trip to Tokyo (worth S$9,000), 2x PlayStation 5 God of War Bundle (worth S$1,798), 2x OSIM uThrone Gaming Massage Chair (worth S$3,198) and other awesome prizes (worth over S$9,000).
Differences between EZ-Link, EZ-Reload and SimplyGo
What is it?
A cashless payment system used primarily for public transport in Singapore.
A service that automatically tops-up your EZ-Link balance when there is insufficient balance to pay for the trip.
A service that allows you to pay for your public transport directly with your credit or debit card.
How does it work?
- Purchase an EZ-Link card, then scan or tap your EZ-Link card to pay for your bus rides, MRT rides, and purchases at selected merchants.
- Special edition EZ-Link charms are also available periodically. These work exactly the same way as an EZ-Link card.
- Download the EZ-Link app, then register and activate EZ-Reload.
- You can specify the top-up amount, as well as the payment method.
- Once successfully activated, your EZ-Link card will be automatically topped up by the specified amount whenever there is insufficient value for the transaction you are attempting.
- Register for SimplyGo and link it with a contactless bank card or mobile wallet.
- Once completed, tap and pay with your credit card, mobile phone or smartwatch to pay for your bus and MRT rides.
How much does it cost?
EZ-Link card: $5 Non-refundable deposit per card EZ-Link charm: Varies
EZ-Reload does not come with additional costs
SimplyGo does not come with additional costs
What rewards can I earn?
1 point per 10 cents spent via EZ-Link. Download app to register card, as well as earn and redeem rewards.
Varies, depending on the payment method you choose.
Varies, depending on which credit or debit card you use.
Ok, all caught up? The one nagging thing that should stand out to you as you go through the table above is that one of those things seems kind of outdated and troublesome, while the other seems like a more advanced and convenient way to do things.
But lest we be accused of jumping the gun, let’s have an in-depth look at…
EZ-Link, EZ-Reload or SimplyGo: Which should I use?
There are two main considerations when deciding whether to use EZ-Link, EZ-Reload or SimplyGo.
Firstly, is it worth the trouble of paying (at least $5) for a separate card (or more for a fancy charm) just to pay for public transport, especially when you can use your credit and/or debit card instead? Apart from having to keep yet another card in your wallet or purse, you’ll also have to:
Guard your EZ-Link against theft or loss (your EZ-Link card can store up to $500)
Top-up your balance or suffer the indignity of being called “Low Value”
To be fair, you can sign up for online services that help you avoid and/or manage most of the above scenarios. We’ll zoom in on one such function — EZ-Reload.
EZ-Reload automatically tops up your EZ-Link card with a specified amount whenever insufficient funds are encountered during payment. In other words, if you do not have enough stored value for your MRT ride, your EZ-Link card will be topped up, so that the cost of the MRT ride can be deducted, allowing you to continue with your journey. All this happens automatically once you sign up for EZ-Reload.
When you sign up for the service, the amount topped up is deducted from the bank account or credit/debit card chosen by you. You can view and manage all your settings via the EZ-Link app.
Ok, so all you have to do is to link your favourite cashback or air miles credit card to your EZ-Reload, and reap the rewards right? Not quite - most banks exclude EZ-Reload transactions by default, so what gives? Enter SimplyGo.
SimplyGo charges your public transport expenses directly to the debit or credit card of your choice, eliminating the need to maintain sufficient funds in your EZ-Link card. Perhaps more importantly, SimplyGo transactions are - as of now - counted as Account Based Ticketing, a spending category that most banks recognise when it comes to calculating your rewards.
That changes things, and also leads us to our second consideration: Would you prefer to earn more of your favourite credit card rewards using SimplyGo, or 1 EZ-Link Point for every $0.10 spent?
What rewards can I earn with SimplyGo?
Now, depending on your actual spending and usage, SimplyGo can help you maximise your credit card rewards.
For example, including your MRT rides for the month may help your overall spending hit the minimum amount required to be eligible for cashback. Meanwhile, just relying on your bus fares alone to earn enough air miles for a free flight might require a good bit of patience!
To help you decide which credit card you should use with SimplyGo, we’ve put together a table summarising the available rewards.
Which are the best credit cards to use with SimplyGo?
Turns out there are at least a whopping 12 credit cards for public transport in Singapore that earn you rewards with SimplyGo.
But, bear in mind that we are only talking about bus and MRT rides here, a spending category that is highly unlikely to go beyond $200 for the average Singaporean. So don’t expect a massive deluge of rewards just by using SimplyGo.
Having said that, we’ve spotted a few winners.
💰🤑 For Cashback: UOB One Card, OCBC Frank Card, or DBS Live Fresh Card
If you're a cashback lover, we recommend opting for either the UOB One Card, OCBC Frank Card, or DBS Live Fresh Card.
The UOB One Card is the highest-earning cashback card for public transport currently, rewarding cardholders with up to 15% cashback via SimplyGo.
But of course, it's also one of the most 'troublesome' cashback cards with multiple hoops to jump through:
It only rewards quarterly cashback.
Cashback is split across 3 categories: base, additional, and *enhanced cashback.
It separates its cashback tier according to your minimum monthly spend (S$500/S$1,000 spend versus S$2,000 spend).
Must satisfy minimum monthly spend for 3 consecutive months per quarter with minimum 5 eligible transactions to qualify for cashback.
*Enhanced cashback is only applicable to new-to-UOB cardholders applying for a UOB One Card between 1 October 2022 to 30 June 2023.
Now, wasn't that a mouthful? 😅
Regardless of whether you're a low-spender or high-baller, it's possible for everyone to earn up to 15% cashback – that is, if you're a new-to-UOB customer applying for the UOB One Card anytime from now till 30 June 2023.
Otherwise, your maximum possible cashback earned is only up to 10%.
For 3 consecutive months (per quarter) with min. 5 eligible transactions
S$500 or S$1,000 monthly spend
S$2,000 monthly spend
Enhanced cashback (For new-to-UOB cardmembers between 1 Oct 2022 to 30 Jun 2023)
Total cashback earned
💡 Pro-tip: Spend a minimum of S$500 per month and credit your monthly salary to your UOB One Account to earn up to 7.8% p.a. interest on your savings today!
Welcome Gift: Receive 30,000 miles upon card approval and activation. T&Cs apply.
The reason why the SCB Smart Card is underrated in this category is that not many people are aware of its miles-maximising potential for buses and MRT... when used with either the SCB X Card or SCB Visa Infinite Card.
Let us explain.
On its own, the SCB Smart Card typically functions as a rewards-cashback card; its 360° Reward Points are redeemable as cash.
Moreover, until 31 December 2023, it earns up to 19.2 360° Reward Points on public transport via SimplyGO. Hence, the enhanced earn rate and cashback conversion are as follows:
SCB Smart Card
360° Reward Points
But wait, didn't we say SCB Smart Card acts as a noteworthy miles card? Why, yes we did.
Essentially, the SCB Smart Card can 'play pretend' as a miles card through the help of the SCB X Card and SCB Visa Infinite Card. This is due to Standard Chartered's reward system being biased towards these cards.
Cardholders enjoy a boosted bonus miles conversion rate of 2,500 points = 1,000 miles. This amounts to 0.4 miles per S$1 spend.
Standard Chartered also allows cardholders to pool their SCB cards' points together. So in essence, you can tabulate your points across all cards before "cashing them out" for miles in one go!
And with some quick mental sums, you'll soon realise that your bonus points are equivalent to 7.4 miles per S$1 spend. The leftover base points are worth around 0.3 miles per S$1.
Therefore, your total possible miles earned by the SCB Smart Card via either the SCB X Card or SCB Visa Infinite Card is up to 7.7 miles per S$1 spend.
An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.