Singapore Public Transport: 5 Tips to Save Money on Bus & MRT Fares

public transport singapore - how to save money

Singaporeans complain about MRT breakdowns all the time, but the truth is that we’re a lucky bunch. Objectively speaking, the Singapore public transport system is reasonably efficient.

But good things must pay, right? According to a 2018 NTU study, Singaporean families spend $2,750 a year on public transport, which works out to about $229 per month.

While bus & MRT fares are probably not the biggest monthly expense on your list, you might still feel the pinch if you’re not earning a lot of money.

Here are a few ways you can shave a bit of money off your commute:

1. Take the MRT before 7:45am

They say the early bird catches the worm. Here’s one such incentive for early risers: Tapping into the MRT before 7.45am will earn you $0.50 off your MRT fares

Of course, the cheapest way to commute to work is to work from home, if your employer allows that. But if you need to be at work, and your job allows for flexible working hours, then you might as well start and end your day earlier.

If you’re consistent in being early, the savings do add up. Assuming 22 working days a month, you’d be saving $11 a month — enough to pay for a couple of meals in Singapore.

2. Tap in & out within 45 minutes

If you’ve got a quick errand to run, you can make the round trip count as one journey by tapping in and out within 45 minutes.

This only applies to bus/rail transfers. For example, you take the MRT from Bishan to Serangoon, buy whatever you need from Nex, then transfer to bus 53 to go back to Bishan (within 45 minutes of tapping out of Serangoon MRT).

You can also make multiple MRT transfers without incurring additional charges if you tap in and out within 15 minutes. Use this trick for transferring between MRT lines to save time.

3. Earn credit card rebates with SimplyGo

With the introduction of SimplyGo in April 2019, you can completely bypass the EZ-Link card, and use your credit card to pay for public transport.

There are quite few credit cards that can earn you some pretty neat rebates for public transport. We won’t go into the full list here, but these are the 2 more popular credit cards for public transport:

DBS logo
Online Promo
Online & Visa Contactless Spend
Cash Back on Online Spend & Visa Contactless
Up to 5%
Min. Spend
S$600
Cash Back Cap
Up to S$75
Online Promo:
Get S$200 Cashback when you apply online for a DBS/POSB Credit Card with the promo code “200CASH”. Valid till 30 Sep 2021.

Valid until 30 Sep 2021
Maybank logo
Online Promo
Cashback on Groceries, Dining & Food Delivery and Transport globally
Up to 8%
Cashback on Data Communications, Online TV Streaming, Pets and Retail globally
Up to 8%
Cash Rebate Cap per month
S$125
Online Promo:
Get S$100 Cash Credit with Maybank Credit Cards and CreditAble! Make a min.spend or withdrawal of S$250 for the first two consecutive months upon card approval. Valid till 31st of Aug. TNCs Apply.
Valid until 31 Aug 2021

While both credit cards offer high rebates (5% or 8%) on your bus and MRT rides, note that you need to spend at least $600 (DBS Live Fresh) or $800 (Maybank Family & Friends) a month to earn them.

If you’re not very keen on having to hit a minimum spend, use one of these fuss-free cashback cards to earn 1.5% or more off your transport spending.

Citibank logo
MoneySmart Exclusive
No Expiry on Cash Back Earned
Cash Back on Eligible Spend
1.6%
Min. Spend per month
S$0
Cash Back Cap
Unlimited
MoneySmart Exclusive:

Apply and spend $200 to get: $300 Cash PayNow OR Apple Watch SE (worth $419).
OR
Apply and spend $500 to get: $350 Cash PayNow OR Sony WH-1000XM4 (worth $499).

Valid until 26 Jul 2021
Standard Chartered logo
MoneySmart Exclusive
Unlimited Cashback
Cash Back on eligible spend
Up to 1.5%
Min. Spend per month
S$0
Cash Back Cap
Unlimited
MoneySmart Exclusive:

Apply and spend $200 to get: $240 Cash PayNow OR Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite (worth $228).
OR
Apply and spend $300 to get: $300 Cash PayNow OR Apple AirPods Pro (worth $379). TNCs Apply.

Valid until 01 Aug 2021

4. Prefer EZ-Link? Use the Citibank SMRT Card

You may prefer to stick to the tried-and-true EZ-Link for bus and MRT rides. Well, there’s a credit card for that too: the Citibank SMRT Card.

Citibank logo
No Minimum Spend for Cashback
Cash Back on Eligible Spend
5%
Cash Back Cap per year
S$600
Min. Spend per month
S$500

The Citi SMRT Card is one of the best for public transport — it doubles up as a EZ-Link card that can auto-reload. By doing this, you can earn 5% rebates on your public transport spending provided you meet the minimum spend of $500 a month.

It also rewards you for groceries and online spending, so consolidating your expenses on this card shouldn’t be too difficult.

5. Get a public transport concession card (maybe)

I’ll just put it out there: Singaporeans and PRs can get an Adult Concession Card that costs $128 for one month’s worth of unlimited bus and MRT rides.

You’ll need to travel A LOT to actually benefit from it so it’s probably not worth it for most people, unless you have a daily cross-country commute.

Not sure how much you spend on public transport in a given month? You can calculate your fares with the MRT fare calculator and bus fare calculator to see if the concession card is worthwhile.

Note that there’s also a one-time fee of $8.10 (includes $5 card cost and $3.10 personalisation fee) if you’re getting this travel pass for the first time.

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