EZ-Link vs EZ-Reload vs SimplyGo: Best Option To Pay For Public Transport

Alevin Chan
Last updated Mar 16, 2020
EZ-Link vs EZ-Reload vs SimplyGo

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. 

Differences between EZ-Link, EZ-Reload and SimplyGo

EZ-Link EZ-Reload 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 smart watch 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 you should be using EZ-Link, EZ-Reload or SimplyGo. 

Firstly, is it worth the trouble 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:

  • Check for the expiry date of your EZ-Link card
  • Pay $3 to replace your expiring EZ-Link card 
  • 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.

The amount topped-up is deducted from the bank account or credit/debit card chosen by you when you sign up for the service. 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 which 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. 

Credit Card Reward Remarks
DBS Live Fresh Card 5% cashback Min. monthly spend $600
DBS Altitude Card 1.2 miles per $1
DBS Altitude Card DBS Black Visa Card
Maybank Family & Friends Card 5% or 8% cashback Min. monthly spend of $500 or $800
Maybank Platinum Visa Card 3.33% cashback
Min monthly spend of $300
Maybank Barcelona FC 1.6% cashback
HSBC Advance Card 1.5% cashback
2.5% cashback
Monthly spend $2,000 or below
Monthly spend over $2,000
Standard Chartered Spree Card 2% cashback
Standard Chartered Unlimited Card 1.5% cashback
UOB One Card 3.33% cashback per quarter with minimum monthly spend of $500/$1,000
5% cashback per quarter with minimum monthly spend of $2,000
UOB Lady’s Card Earn 10x Points, equivalent to 4 miles per $1 spent
UOB PRVI Miles Card 4.4 miles per $1 spent on bus/train rides via mobile contactless
Otherwise, 1.4 miles per $1 spent
Capped to $80 worth of rides per month
UOB KrisFlyer Card 3 miles per $1 spent on transport card transactions, with min $500 spend on Singapore Airlines and related transactions per year.
Otherwise, 1.2 miles per $1 spent

Which are the best credit cards to use with SimplyGo?

Turns out there are at least a whopping 14 credit cards 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. 

If you’re an air miles chaser, then you’ll want the UOB PRVI Miles, which gives you up to 4.4 miles per $1 spent on bus and MRT rides paid via mobile contactless. 

So this means you’ll need to link your mobile phone with SimplyGo and pay for your rides with your phone instead of your card. However, bonus miles are capped at $80 transit spend per month, but that’s still pretty attractive. 

Next, the UOB Lady’s Card gives 10x rewards points for your SimplyGo transactions, equivalent to 4 miles per $1. 

Finally, the UOB KrisFlyer Card earns you 3 miles per $1 when you spend at least $500 per year on Singapore Airlines and related purchases.   

Confused on which credit card you should get? Compare the best credit cards with our handy comparison tool by clicking on the link below!

Read these next:
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2020 Public Transport Fare Structure And Tips On How You Can Save
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Alevin Chan March 16, 2020 41469