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Best credit card for public transport in Singapore (2023)

Credit Card Hacks: Which credit card earns the most miles and cashback when used for taking public transport in Singapore?

A female tourist carries a mobile phone and drags her luggage waiting for public transport in Singapore.
Best credit card for public transport in Singapore (2023). (PHOTO: Getty) (PT STOCK via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Getting around in Singapore is convenient, thanks to its well-integrated public transport system. In 2022, there was an average of 6.39 million public bus and train rides each day.

If you are a regular commuter, an idea worth considering is to seek out the best credit card option that would enable you to earn the most points and maximise the rewards on your transport expenses. Although the costs of public transportation might not seem like much, riding the train or bus on a frequent or daily basis can certainly add up – why not earn some rewards while you're at it?

How to link your credit card for public transport in Singapore

Using credit cards to make payments on trains and buses is a straightforward process. There are currently three methods that enable the use of credit cards as a payment method for public transportation:

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1. EZ-Link cards

EZ-Link was the first contactless payment system for MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) and buses introduced back in 2002 by the Land Transport Authority (LTA). The EZ-Link card is a prepaid card that can be topped up using a Mastercard or Visa credit card either manually at the general ticketing machine or through the auto top-up feature in the EZ-Link app. However, it is worth noting that most credit cards do not earn rewards when used for EZ-Link top-ups. The EZ-Link card has its own rewards-based system that earns points on public transport or non-transport spending that are redeemable at participating retailers. The card can be purchased at MRT stations, bus interchanges and certain convenience stores.

2. NETS FlashPay

NETS FlashPay is another preloaded card for contactless payment on train and bus rides. Similarly to EZ-Link, a NETS FlashPay card can be topped up using a Mastercard or Visa credit card through the NETS App, general ticketing machines, or certain convenience stores, and includes an auto top-up function. As most credit card issuers exclude prepaid cards from rewards eligibility, the NETS FlashPay card will not earn credit card rewards when a top-up is made via credit card. Instead, it has its own rewards system called the Retailer Stored Value Programme (RSVP) that allows users to enjoy discounts and promotions at participating merchants.

3. SimplyGo

With the introduction of SimplyGo by LTA in 2019, commuters can directly use their Mastercard or Visa credit cards across Singapore's public transport network. SimplyGo allows the use of contactless credit or debit cards or mobile wallets for fare payments on public transport without the need to top-up as the fare is directly charged to the credit card. All SimplyGo transactions will earn rewards if a locally-issued Mastercard or Visa credit card is used to make payment. American Express cards, unfortunately, are not accepted.

Once the card account is linked to SimplyGo, users can pay with their physical credit card, mobile phone, or smartwatch. Reward points will be earned regardless of the method if the device is linked to the Mastercard or Visa credit card. Cards that are contactless-enabled will not require any prior registration and can immediately be used to make fare payments at the gantry. However, registering with the Transitlink SimplyGo portal will allow users to check their travel history and fare amount.

Can all credit cards be used as an EZ-Link card?

Not all credit cards can be used as EZ-Link cards. To check if a credit card comes with the functionality of EZ-Link, simply flip over to the back of the credit card and look for the 'CePAS' logo. A contactless credit card with the 'CePAS' logo means that it can be used as an EZ-Link and NETS FlashPay card.

For such cards, the EZ-link or NETS FlashPay function will be the default payment mode for transit. As these two methods will not earn credit card reward points, switching to the SimplyGo method would be the best option. To switch from the default payment mode to the contactless payment mode (SimplyGo), head to the general ticketing machine and follow the instructions.

Is it more expensive to use credit cards for public transport?

The fares charged using contactless credit or debit cards are the same as travel card fares such as EZ-Link and Nets FlashPay.

An exception to this would be when a foreign-issued contactless credit card is used. While a foreign-issued contactless credit card can be used to pay for train and bus fares, an administrative fee of up to S$0.60 will be applicable per day of use for fare payment. Additionally, foreign cardholders may be subjected to other fees imposed by their issuing banks.

Which credit card is best for public transport in Singapore?

Choosing the right credit card for public transport depends on what the user is aiming to maximise. Assuming that the purpose of using credit cards to pay for public transportation is to earn rewards, selecting the most suitable card depends on whether the cardholder wants to earn reward points, cashback or miles.

Therefore, when choosing a credit card for public transport, commuters should consider their spending habits and the rewards that matter most to them. Here are some of the best credit cards for public transport in Singapore:

Best cashback credit card for public transport

Credit Card

Reward

Notes

Citi SMRT card

Earn up to 5 per cent SMRT$ points on SimplyGo transactions.

- Requires a minimum spend of S$500 per month.

- SMRT$ points can be redeemed for cashback or shopping vouchers.

OCBC Frank card

Earn up to 2 per cent cashback on SimplyGo transactions.

- Requires a minimum spend of S$800 per month.

- Cashback is capped at S$25 per month.

DBS Live Fresh card

Earn 10 per cent cashback on SimplyGo transactions.

- Requires a minimum spend of S$600 per month.

- Cashback is capped at S$15 per month for the 'Sustainable' category and S$20 per month for the 'Contactless' category.

UOB EVOL card

Earn 8 per cent cashback via mobile contactless payments on SimplyGo transactions.

- Requires a minimum spend of S$600 per month.

- Cashback is capped at S$20 per month.

Standard Chartered Smart card

Earn 6 per cent 360° Rewards Points on SimplyGo transactions.

- No minimum spend.

- 360° Rewards Points can be redeemed for cashback or miles.

- A minimum of 3,200 360° Rewards Points is required for each redemption.

- Every 3,200 360° Reward Points redeems S$10 cashback. Must be redeemed in blocks of 3,200.

HSBC Advance card

Earn up to 3.5 per cent cashback on SimplyGo transactions.

- 1.5 per cent cashback with no minimum spend.

- Spend more than S$2,000 per month to unlock 2.5 per cent cashback.

- Deposit a minimum of S$2,000 per month into HSBC Everyday Global Account and perform a minimum of 5 eligible transactions per month to unlock additional 1 per cent cashback.

- The additional 1 per cent cashback is capped at SGD300 or SGD500 for HSBC Premier customers per calendar month.

Maybank

Earn 8 per cent cashback on SimplyGo transactions.

- Requires a minimum spend of S$800 per month.

- Must select 'Transport' as one of the selected cashback categories.

Best miles credit card for public transport

Credit Card

Reward

Notes

UOB Lady's card

Earn 15X UNI$ for every S$5 spent, equivalent to 6 miles per dollar, on SimplyGo transactions.

- No minimum spend.

- Must select 'Transport' as the preferred spend category.

DBS Vantage card

Earn 1.5 miles per dollar on local spend.

- No minimum spend.

Maybank Horizon Visa card

Earn 3.2 miles per dollar on SimplyGo transactions.

- Requires a minimum spend of S$300 per month.

Standard Chartered Visa Infinite card

Earn up to 1.4 miles per dollar on local spend.

- Base rate of 1 mile per dollar for spending less than S$2,000 per month.

- Must spend a minimum of S$2,000 per month to unlock an additional 0.4 miles for every S$1 spent.

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