We have to admit using Singapore’s public transport is easy, safe and affordable but it’s not convenient to pay cash. Whether you go by buses or trains, an exact amount is necessary to cover your ride, as no change is given back. Luckily, the government has it all figured out, whether you are a resident or a tourist visiting for a few days (If that's the case you can read our Singapore Travel Guide). They offer several travel passes that allow for quick payments. We are about to give you a rundown on one of the most used, the Singapore EZ-link card. It makes trips within the city super cheap, comfortable and pain-free. Check out how you can get yourself one and how it works.
What is an EZ-link card?
This is a contactless travel card that comes preloaded with money. It can be used across all forms of public transport in Singapore, plus a few other services and places. It saves you the inconvenience of paying in cash and having to search for exact change. The value is deducted automatically when you tap it on a designated electronic device.
The price of the card varies depending on where you get it from. A deposit of $5 is always required and is not to be refunded. Hence, if you buy one for $12, you will be left with a total of $7 to operate with. And if you get your hands on a 10-dollar card, you will only have $5 at your disposal.
How does the EZ-link card work?
When you board a bus or train, you tap the card on one of the electronic readers at the entry point. Then, as you are leaving, you repeat the step at the checkout. It estimates the length of the journey and deducts the sum automatically. In some places, you tap only once just before you exit the gate.
For a basic service, you need a minimum of $3 to cover your trip, no matter the duration. Now, if your funds are insufficient, the card reader will begin to flash red to indicate the problem. This means you will have to pay ready money for your ride.
What are the perks?
For one, the EZ technology is easy to use. You just tap it on a machine and let it do its thing. Some people don’t even need to take it out of their wallets because the system can read the card from where it is, as long as it is placed close to the surface.
Another benefit is that trips come cheaper if you use the card long enough. Roughly speaking, you will pay around $0.17 less per trip than if you opt for cash. Therefore, the more rides you make, the more money you will save. The greatest part is that you will get an extra $0.25 discount every time you transfer from an MRT to a bus and the other way round.
Needless to say, these savings are insignificant if you are staying in Singapore for a couple of days. But for a long-term stopover, and especially if you are on a budget, the card is a must-have.
Now, if you happen to lose it, you don’t have to worry about the available value. You can have it blocked immediately. All you need to do is get in touch with the support team and report the incident.
Furthermore, there is a free app that lets you keep an eye on your purchases and balance on the go. With it, you will accumulate points and get a variety of rewards like milk tea, curry puff, vouchers and other products. Every $0.10 is equivalent to 1 point.
Last but not least, you can use the EZ service to pay for other things outside the public transport system.
How do you get an EZ-link card?
You can purchase a card at any location where these are accepted as a form of payment. The most prevalent are 6 Concession Card Replacement Offices and 42 TransitLink Ticket Offices. In addition, 7-Eleven stores and Passenger Services Centres provide this option.
How do you add value to your EZ-link card?
You can fund your card with up to $500 and tap it everywhere it is accepted. When you run low, top it up at the same places where it is sold. There are other locations where you get to reload your card including car parks and ATMs.
On the whole, all venues that accept EZ-link payments will have this feature.
For most ATMs, you start by inserting your card and choosing a language. Then, you enter your PIN code. When the main menu loads, select the option that reads “More services”. Next up, choose “Cashcard” and press “To continue”.
Do as you are instructed and finish the process. Keep in mind that the menus and directions vary per machine but follow the same logic.
For other devices, the steps are similar.
And finally, if your smartphone is NFC-enabled, you can add funds to your card via the app.
It is important to note that some of these methods come with fees. For instance, topping up your balance at a 7-Eleven cost $0.50 per transaction. And most ATMs charge $0.20. In comparison, community centres and MRT stations are free.
What can EZ-link card be used for?
- Public transport (LRT and MRT trains, plus all buses)
- Educational institutes
- Shopping and retail outlets
- Community clubs
- Entertainment & leisure (yoga clubs, recreation gyms, turf club, Cue Guru, swimming pools, sports centres, cinemas)
- Private transport (taxis)
- Coffee shops and hawker centres
- Government services
- Vending machines and photocopy services
- Other (vehicle entry payments, laundry services, Sentosa resort taxes, etc.)
Can tourists buy EZ-link card?
Yes. If you are staying in Singapore for more than three days, it is recommended to get one as soon as you arrive.
When to get an EZ card?
Depending on the length of your holiday, buying an EZ-link card will be the best or worst option. (Some visits come cheaper if you stick with other payment methods).
Overall, here is when you should consider getting the card:
- Your trip to Singapore exceeds three days
- You tend to use public transport (buses or trains) no more than five times a day
- You would like to keep your card because you often come back to Singapore
- You don’t want to go to all the trouble to find exact change at check-in
What other options do I have?
If you are visiting the city-state for a shorter period, you might be better off buying an STP (Singapore Tourist Pass). This is another contactless card that can be employed across all LRT and MRT services. You will be asked for a deposit of $10, but the good thing is it is 100% redeemable.
The pass is available for no more than three days, though. To clarify, if you go with the maximum duration, you will pay $20. A day costs $10 while 48 hours run $16. Whichever option you choose, it will give you unlimited access to public transport within that timeframe.
This means you can have as many bus and train rides as you wish without having to check your balance constantly. There is no need to add value either because it doesn’t charge you per trip.
Please note that premium services are excluded from the offer. Also, keep in mind that the card has to be returned within five days of purchase if you want to redeem your deposit.
If you keep the pass, you will get no refund but you can continue to use the STP as a regular EZ-link card. All you have to do is load it up in one of the ways we explained above.
What happens if I lose my EZ?
You should call 6225 5322 (for Passion cards) and 6496 8300 (for EZ-reload cards). The lines are open from 8 am to 6 pm during workdays and weekends. The staff will help to resolve the situation. Another quick way to block the funds is to go to the app and find the relevant option on the menu.
Does the card have an expiration date?
Each card has a lifespan of 5 years. If you don’t want to stop using it, get a replacement at any Transit Ticket Office for $3.