Red-Plate Off-Peak Car: Is OPC Really Worth The Cheaper Price? (2021)

Is It Really Worth Buying A Cheaper Red-Plate Car?

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While there are money-saving benefits associated with red-plate cars, this scheme isn’t made for everyone.

Red-plate cars aren’t the most commonly seen in Singapore, though we still see them on the roads. Commonly known as off-peak cars, red-plate cars have steadily declined in popularity over the years, even though drivers of such cars get to enjoy some benefits for staying off the road during peak hours. 

According to Land Transport Authority (LTA) statistics, the number of red-plate cars on the road dropped to just 12,028 last December, down from the 50,040 in 2010 —  an 80% drop

What are the off-peak hours available to red-plate car drivers? Can you still drive during restricted hours? How much money can you save with a red-plate car in Singapore? Is it worth getting a red-plate car as opposed to a regular car? Who are the most suitable candidates for red-plate cars? 

Here, we answer all the questions you might have. 

Red-plate car schemes in Singapore 

There are three red-plate car schemes in Singapore: Weekend Car (WEC), Off-Peak Car (OPC) and Revised Off-Peak Car (ROPC). 

However, currently you can only (i) register your car under or (ii) convert your car to the ROPC scheme. This holds true even though existing cars under the WEC and OPC schemes are still allowed to remain in their respective scheme. 

Off-peak hours in Singapore: Weekend Car (WEC), Off-Peak Car (OPC) and Revised Off-Peak Car (ROPC)

Cars under the WEC/OPC/ROPC schemes cannot be used during the following hours. They can only be driven during their respective off-peak hours. 

(To use your red-plate car during restricted hours, you are required to purchase an electronic Day (e-Day) Licence and indicate a usage date. This is important if you want to avoid getting slapped with fines.) 

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Source: OneMotoring

How much can you save with a red-plate car in Singapore? 

In exchange for reduced usage of your car, you’ll enjoy money-saving benefits when you get a red-plate car in Singapore. 

Here’s a quick rundown of how much you can potentially save with a red-plate car:

ScenarioPotential savings 
Registering your new car under the ROPC scheme– Rebate of up to S$17,000 to offset against the COE Quota Premium and the Additional Registration Fee (ARF)
– Annual road tax saving of up to S$500, subject to a minimum road tax payment of S$70 per year 
Converting an existing normal car to an ROPC or register an imported used car as an ROPC– Up to S$1,100 off-peak car cash rebate for every six months the car stays as a ROPC (none if the car is under the ROPC scheme for less than six months or if the car is over 10 years old)
–  Annual road tax saving of up to S$500, subject to a minimum road tax payment of S$70 per year 
– Potentially lower car insurance premiums  
Converting a WEC/ OPC to an ROPC– Up to S$1,100 off-peak car cash rebate for every six months the car stays as a ROPC (none if the car is under the ROPC scheme for less than six months or if the car is over 10 years old)
–  Annual road tax saving of up to S$500, subject to a minimum road tax payment of S$70 per year 
– You may also get an additional Preferential Additional Registration Fee (PARF) rebate if you convert your OPC to an ROPC, and your OPC was originally a normal car

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Things to beware of when you get a red-plate off-peak car 

There are several things apart from restricted hours you need to take note of if you intend to get a red-plate car. 

#1 Buying and using the e-Day License

You need to buy an e-day License if you wish to drive your red-plate car during restricted hours. Be sure to indicate a usage date, too. Each e-Day License costs S$20. 

You can purchase your e-Day license up to two weeks in advance through the following means: 

  • Online (Available all day except from midnight to 1am)
  • AXS (m-Station, e-Station and kiosks);
  • SAM Kiosk, Web and Mobile;
  • Automobile Association of Singapore (AAS);
  • By logging in to your dashboard

Made changes to your plan? Fret not, you can cancel the e-Day Licence or update the usage date before 7am on the specified date of use so your money doesn’t go to waste. 

#2 Driving during restricted hours without an e-Day License

As thrilling as it might be to drive your red-plate WEC/ OPC/ ROPC during restricted hours without an e-Day License, know that it is an offence that can get you into trouble with the authorities. 

All’s not lost if you forget to purchase your e-Day License before driving your red-plate car during its restricted hours 

You have until 2359 the next day to purchase your e-Day License! If you miss the deadline, you have an extra three days to declare to LTA and pay a fee of S$30. 

What happens if you refuse to buy an e-Day License or declare usage of your red-plate car during restricted hours within five days of usage? 

You may be fined up to S$5,000 for the first offence, and up to S$10,000 for subsequent offences. 

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Is a red-plate off-peak car really worth it? 

There isn’t any one-size-fits-all answer if you’re looking for one. You need to consider a couple of things when deciding whether the monetary savings offered by going red-plate are indeed worth it. 

You could be the ideal candidate for an off-peak car if you satisfy one or both of the criteria below: 

#1 You’re going for an affordable car 

Look at the price of your COE. When the COE is relatively inexpensive, a S$17,000 rebate sounds exceptionally sweet and viable. This S$17,000 rebate can play a substantial role in offsetting the cost of your COE and registration fee when you’re buying a new car. Not to forget, the annual road tax savings of up to S$500 can make a marked difference to how much you’re forking out for road tax, too. 

On the flip side, when the COE is very expensive, you’ll still have to pay a huge sum of money just to own an off-peak car that you can’t use regularly due to restricted hours under the ROPC scheme. In this scenario, the off-peak car option suddenly becomes less appealing, doesn’t it? 

#2 You don’t need to drive on weekdays from 7am – 7pm

Does driving an off-peak car make sense for you and your family? It pays to figure out how you intend to use your car if you were to get one. Remember, the off-peak car scheme is uncompromising — you’ll still have to fork out S$20 for the e-Day License even if you decide to drive for a mere 10 minutes during the restricted peak hours.

If you work from home or don’t need to drive to work — preferring to rely on public transport or hail rides instead — an off-peak car might be something to seriously consider. 

Also, if the main usage is to ferry your children and/or parents around on weekends, an off-peak car might also be worth considering. After all, there aren’t any hour restrictions on weekends, eve of and actual public holidays for cars under the ROPC scheme. 

Young drivers who want to own a car for predominantly weekend use could also benefit from going down the red-plate route. They could even maximise their savings by shooting for a second-hand regular-use vehicle and converting it to an off-peak one under the ROPC scheme to take advantage of available rebates, road tax savings and lower car insurance premiums. 

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Can you renew COE for your red-plate car? 

The answer is yes, you can renew the COE for your WEC/OPC/ROPC before it expires should you choose to continue using the red-plate car. Your car will continue to remain under its original scheme unless you make the choice to convert it to another scheme. 

That said, keep in mind that the only tangible benefit that you can get for keeping your car on the off-peak scheme is the annual road tax discount of up to S$500. This doesn’t quite make sense if you’re paying tens of thousands of dollars to renew your COE to drive only during off-peak hours. 

As such, you might want to consider converting your off-peak car to a regular car should you decide to renew its COE when the time comes for you to make that decision. 

Can you convert an off-peak car to a normal car? 

The short answer is yes, though you have to ensure your COE is valid when you do the conversion. 

In fact, you can easily convert your WEC/ OPC/ ROPC to a normal car online using Singpass 2FA. The administrative fee stands at S$100 and you’ll also have to pay road tax under the normal car scheme from the date of conversion. 

If applicable, you will also have to pay the top-up fee for any unused upfront rebates you had received when your car was under the off-peak car scheme. Here’s how the top-up fee is calculated

Once your conversion is deemed successful, you have three days to swap the vehicle registration number plates on your car to reflect its new scheme, i.e. the normal car scheme. 

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By Denise Bay
While Denise has a thing for travel, K-dramas, 0% sugar bbt (with boba!), Japanese cuisine and flat white, her curious nature means all sorts of random tabs are open on her phone 24/7. She doesn’t like to pay full price for anything, too.