5 Reasons You Should Use EZ-Link to Pay For Your Hawker Meals

EZ-link payment hawker centre food

Since time immemorial, Singaporean hawkers have stashed their coins in plastic containers, jingling them as they search for change for their customers. All that might soon change as the first hawker centres start to accept payment by EZ-Link, in line with the government’s push to turn Singapore into a cashless society.

If all goes well, it’s likely EZ-Link payment will be offered at more and more hawker centres islandwide.

For hungry customers queuing for that plate of Hokkien mee, that can only be a good thing.

And even if your wallet feels like a brick thanks to ten tonnes of 20 cent coins, here are five good reasons to pay by EZ-Link instead.


You get to take advantage of credit card benefits

We’re firm believers in never paying using cash whenever we can help it. That’s because every cent you fork out in cash is one that you are not being rewarded for.

Paying by credit card enables you benefit from cashback, air miles and rewards points.

By topping up your EZ-Link card using a well-chosen credit card, you can now get rewarded for spending at hawker centres, too.

(Update 31/1: We appreciate the feedback from our readers and have updated the following section. Thanks, Christopher!)

Unfortunately, most credit cards no longer reward you for topping up your EZ-Link. Here are some credit cards that still do:

  • Citibank SMRT Credit Card – Receive the equivalent of 2% rebates when you auto top-up with more than $30 using EZ-Reload and spend at least $300 in a a month. Plus, the convenience fee charge for EZ-Reload is waived!
  • OCBC Frank Card – Get 0.3% rebates on everything, including EZ-Link top-ups. Do note that EZ-Link top-ups do not count towards the $400 minimum spend requirement to earn bonus cashback. Alternatively, use the NETS FlashPay Auto Top-Up feature to earn 3% rebates for your first 2 top-ups each month.


You can track your spending more easily

Cash transactions are the ones that get lost most often when you’re trying to track your spending.

Unless you’re fine with manually keying the price of every hawker centre meal into your budgeting app, it’s hard to keep track.

Paying with your EZ-Link card and then topping it up electronically using EZ-Reload, which you can pay for by credit card, means you’ll retain a record of your spending thanks to your credit card statements.



It’s a bit disturbing to see hawkers handling your cash, which could well have fallen into a toilet bowl five seconds ago, and then handling your food. Cash is germ-ridden as hell. Despite strict hygiene rules, this is a common sight.

Fewer cash transactions can only mean better overall hygiene, since it will be easier for hawkers to observe good hygiene when they aren’t forced to give out piles of change every five seconds.



Everyone’s had that experience where they realise they only have a $50 note, which irritates the hawker as he has to go to the stall next door to ask for change. He then begrudgingly hands you a few wet, grimy notes and coins, which you invariably drop.

With EZ-Link payment, all you have to do is tap your card and you’re good to go.


Faster-moving queues

EZ-Link payment can speed up transaction time considerably, especially in the cai png queue, where the hawkers can only take your money when your food is ready.

If that means shorter queues, that’s good news for every single office worker who’s ever despairingly stood in line for 30 minutes as the seconds ticked towards the end of his lunch break.

Will you be paying by EZ-Link at hawker centres when the option becomes more widely available? Tell us why or why not in the comments!