Owning a car is not for everyone in Singapore, because our government has designed a one-of-a-kind COE system aimed at discouraging Singaporeans from owning a car.
Luckily, Singapore has the best transportation network of any city of its kind, which means we can still get around the city easily. But the cost of public transport has also been increasing steadily in the past few years.
Whether you drive a car or take public transport, we at GET.com have come up with 5 ideas to help you save money on transport and get more for your money.
1. Drive Off-peak Cars
If you want to buy a car, consider registering your car under the Revised Off-Peak Car (ROPC) Scheme (You can also convert your normal car scheme to the ROPC Scheme).
You will enjoy great benefits if you register your car under the ROPC Scheme. You will get up to $17,000 rebate, which can be used to offset the Quota Premium for a COE and the Additional Registration Fee.
You will also receive up to $500 discount on annual road taxes, if you pay a minimum road tax of $70 per year.
Under the ROPC Scheme, you can drive your car freely on weekends, or between 7pm and 7am on weekdays, public holidays and even eves of New Year, Lunar New Year, Hari Raya Puasa, Deepavali and Christmas. If you have a family, those are probably the times when you would want to use your car anyway.
You can take public transport to your office on weekdays, and drive your family out on weekend and public holidays. So you don't have to worry about traffic jams during rush hours, and you can save quite some money by avoiding higher ERP rates and parking fees.
If you really need to drive outside of those restricted hours, you can buy an electronic Day Licence for $20, which is valid for a day.
2. Use Credit Cards That Help You Save On Petrol
Don't pay cash or use your ATM card to pay for your petrol purchases! There are a number of credit cards that can help you save a lot of money on petrol.
For example, Citibank DIVIDEND Card MasterCard gives you up to 18.3% savings at Esso and 18.1% savings at Shell fuel stations, and up to 5% cashback at all other fuel stations.
ANZ Travel Visa Signature Credit Card gives you a discount of up to 17.8%, when you use this card to buy a prepaid ANZ StarCash Card to use at Caltex.
To get the most savings on petrol, you can compare different cards on GET.com's Best Credit Cards For Petrol Savings page.
3. Take MRT During Off-peak Period
The government unveiled an ingenious plan 2 years ago in June 2013: Free rides for people who exit MRT stations before 7:45am on weekdays at 18 designated stations in the city area. People who exit these stations between 7:45am and 8am also get 50¢ discount off their train fares.
The plan has proven to be successful. There has been a reduction of 7% to 8% in number of passengers on MRT trains during the morning peak period, and the government is happy to extend the plan for another year until June 30, 2016.
Even if you pay 50¢ less each morning, you save at least $10 on your transport cost in a month (based on 20 work days in a month), and can save up to $120 in a year!
I tried it once a few months ago. I boarded a train at 7am, 45 minutes earlier than I normally would. Surprisingly, there wasn't a huge crowd on the train. I guess lots of people think sleep is more important than free rides. I saved $1.8 on my train fare that day, but I was even happier that I had 45 minutes of extra time to enjoy a nice breakfast before I went to the office.
4. Use Cashback Credit Cards To Save Money On Train Fares
For regular commuters, using EZ-Link cards might be a simple way to save money. It's easy to carry around and it helps you save a little bit money on each trip compared with paying fares with cash.
But some credit cards can help you save more! For example, you can use FRANK Credit Card as a transport card. Unlike the EZ-Link card, which requires you to top up after the stored value is depleted, the first time you tap FRANK Credit Card at an MRT station or on a bus, $50 is automatically charged to the card. If you try to use this card to pay after that $50 of EZ-Link credit has run out, another $50 will automatically be charged. So you never need to worry about running out of credit.
But the best part is that you will earn 6% rebate on your first 2 auto top-ups every month! If you spend $100 on public transport monthly, you could save $6 (6% rebate on $100 worth of top ups) each month.
You can also use Citibank SMRT Platinum Visa Card as a transport card. Although it doesn't give you cashback on your trips right away, you earn rewards points on your train or bus fares.
You can then redeem rewards points for shopping or dining vouchers, or vouchers on SMRT passenger services (including taxis). You are going to pay those fares anyway, why not let the card help you earn rewards?
5. Ride A Bike
If you don't want to pay that huge amount of money for COE, or you are worried about another breakdown of MRT, you can ride a bicycle to travel around. It's environmentally friendly; it helps keep you healthy, and it helps you save money.
Singaporeans may not be as friendly as the Dutch when we encounter cyclists on the road. But we do have our extensive Park Connector Network that has made cycling fun! Singapore has developed over 200km of park connectors around the island, so you have plenty of routes to choose from.
The Urban Redevelopment Authority is also calling for ideas to develop the Kallang Park Connector, a long route that links Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park and Kallang Riverside Park, to a commuter cycling route. Maybe one day it will be normal for Singaporeans to ride bicycles to work!
This article was originally on the GET.com blog at: 5 Easy Ways To Save Money On Transport In Singapore.
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