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.
With that in mind, here’s the best credit cards to use for bus/MRT rides.
|💳 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|
|Not accepted for SimplyGo|
|*An exception has been carved out for the OCBC Titanium Rewards Card, but this earns a mere 0.4 mpd and there’s really no reason to use it|
With that in mind, you can use the following cards to earn the most miles on SimplyGo. 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|
|UOB Lady’s Solitaire|
|UOB Lady’s Card|
|SCB Smart 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|
|HSBC TravelOne Card|
|DBS Altitude Visa|
|Maybank Visa Infinite|
|SCB Journey Card|
|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. Capped at S$818 per month
4. With min. S$300 retail spend per month, capped at S$4,286 per month
5. With min. S$800 SIA Group spend in membership year
6. With min. S$2,000 spending per statement month, otherwise 1 mpd
7. With min. S$50,000 spending in previous membership year, otherwise 1 mpd
The UOB Lady’s Cards will earn 6 mpd on public transport rides, provided you declare transport as your quarterly bonus category.
However, these are only available to female applicants; if you’re a man, the best you can do is the StanChart Smart Card, which earns 5.6 mpd, or the Maybank Horizon Visa Signature, which earns 3.2 mpd.
If you don’t regularly use Maybank or StanChart cards and want to avoid orphan miles, you might find it better to use the KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card. Provided you spend at least S$800 in a membership year on SIA Group transactions, you’ll earn an uncapped 3 mpd on public transport rides.
Apart from that, everything else is general spending cards already, with a range of 1.2-1.5 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.
While I doubt you’ll 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, since tapping most cards except Citibank and OCBC will earn you your miles.