Public transport is unlikely to be a significant chunk of your monthly expenditure, but that’s no reason to leave miles on the table. Every little bit helps, and a regular recurring expense, charged to the right credit card, can reap rewards over time.
Here’s which cards you should be using for this oft-overlooked expenditure.
|💳 What’s the Best Card for…|
|This guide forms part of the “best card” series. Check out other category specific guides below, or the overall guide here.|
|💗 Donations | 🏫 Education | 🥡 Food Delivery | 🏥 Hospitals | ☂️ Insurance | ⛽ Petrol | 🚍 Public Transport | 🚰 Utilities|
How are you paying for public transport?
Earning miles on public transportation is a relatively recent phenomenon, made possible by the government’s push towards contactless payments.
There are three ways to go about using your credit card for public transport, but be warned: only one of them will earn rewards!
❌Top-up at General Ticketing Machines/ Add Value Machines
EZ-Link cards can be topped up with credit cards at General Ticketing Machines (GTMs) or Add Value Machines (AVMs) located inside MRT stations, ever since 2016. However, you will not earn any credit card points for transactions at these machines, so avoid them as much as possible
❌ Top-up via EZ-Link app
EZ-Link cards can also be topped up via the EZ-Link app, either on an ad-hoc basis or via Auto Top-Up.
Again, this isn’t the right path to take. While it was possible in the past to earn 2 mpd on Auto Top-Up (then called EZ-Reload) with the HSBC Revolution or up to 1.4 mpd with the Standard Chartered Visa Infinite, both have been nerfed.
✔ Pay via SimplyGo
The only way to earn miles on your public transport rides is also the simplest- all you need to do is tap your credit card (or credit card linked to a mobile wallet) at the gantry.
All contactless-enabled credit cards can be used at MRT and bus gantries, with no need to register the card beforehand. Registration, however, allows you to track your fares and usage online or via the SimplyGo app.
What MCC do SimplyGo transactions code as?
Regardless of whether you pay with Visa or Mastercard, SimplyGo transactions code as MCC 4111: Transportation- Suburban and Local Commuter Passenger, including Ferries.
SimplyGo transactions will appear on your bank statement as BUS/MRT.
What credit cards earn rewards for SimplyGo?
The good news is that with the exception of Citibank and OCBC, all banks continue to award points for SimplyGo transactions.
|🚆 SimplyGo Transactions|
|Except Titanium Rewards|
|^AMEX cards are not accepted for SimplyGo|
Here’s the updated list of how much you’ll earn with various cards and SimplyGo. FYI: You’ll earn exactly the same number of miles whether you tap the physical card at the gantry, or use the digitised version on your mobile wallet.
|🚆 SimplyGo Transactions|
|SCB Smart Card|
|UOB Lady’s Solitaire|
|UOB Lady’s Card|
|Maybank Horizon Visa|
|KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card|
|UOB PRVI Miles Visa|
|UOB PRVI Miles Mastercard|
|UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card|
|SCB Visa Infinite|
|HSBC Visa Infinite|
|DBS Altitude Visa|
|Maybank Visa Infinite|
|SCB X Card|
|*Earn rate assumes transfers to KrisFlyer miles. Earn rates for SCB cards will vary depending on which partner you choose|
1. Capped at S$3,000 per month, must declare transport as quarterly bonus category
2. Capped at S$1,000 per month, must declare transport as quarterly bonus category
3. With min. S$300 spending per month, capped at S$4,286 per month
4. With min. S$800 spending on SIA Group in membership year
5. Min. S$2,000 spending per statement month, otherwise 1 mpd
6. Min. S$50,000 spending in previous membership year, otherwise 1 mpd
The SCB Smart Card continues to be the leader of this category, though it’s no longer possible to earn 7.7 mpd by pairing it with a SCB Visa Infinite or SCB X Card. That’s because Standard Chartered has nerfed points pooling for KrisFlyer miles transfers, so you can’t take advantage of the superior rates offered to SCB Visa Infinite/SCB X Cardholders.
UOB has quite a few good options, with the KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card and UOB Lady’s Cards offering between 3-4 mpd. Do note that the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa will only earn 0.4 mpd on SimplyGo transactions (even though they’re contactless), so don’t bother using it here.
|⚠️ What about UOB’s S$5 minimum spend?|
Here’s where a lot of people get confused, no thanks to UOB’s points rounding policy. By right, you need to spend a minimum of S$5 to earn any miles on UOB cards- spend S$4.99 and you walk away empty handed.
Given that most people won’t be spending that amount on public transport rides per transaction (or even per day), the question then becomes how you could possibly earn anything out of this.
The answer lies in the fine print:
So except in extreme circumstances (e.g. where you take two rides a month), you’ll definitely earn some miles on your rides.
Otherwise, general spending cards such as the DBS Altitude, UOB PRVI Miles, or Maybank Visa Infinite will all earn 1.2 to 1.4 mpd- not lifechanging, but why leave miles on the table?
While no one will earn a First Class ticket from public transport spending alone, it all adds up. Just avoid the ticketing machines and head directly to the gantry- tapping most cards except Citibank and OCBC will earn you your miles.