Singapore Transport Fares to Rise By Up To 11 Cents—8 Tips to Save Money on Bus & MRT Fares

Singapore Transport Fares to Rise By Up To 11 Cents—8 Tips to Save Money on Bus & MRT Fares

Public transport fares in Singapore have gone up by 7%, and for obvious reasons, nobody is pleased. Each journey is going to cost 10 to 11 cents more from 23 December 2023.

The local news media insists that the 7% hike is still well below the maximum allowable hike of 22.6%, but we’re not buying that. In a time when everyone is struggling with inflation, this fare increase is as welcome as another GST hike.

The average Singaporean spent 1.7% of their monthly income on public transport in 2022, according to the Public Transport Council, while lower-income households in the 11th to 20th percentile spent about 2.4%. That doesn’t sound like much, but when added to all the other rising expenses we’re facing, this is still bad news.

So, what can Singaporeans do? Tighten our belts once again, that’s what.

Here are a few ways you can save money on 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. You can’t use this trick to enter and exit at the same MRT station. For example, you can 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 at 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 now 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 on 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
Shopping and Transportation
on Shopping & Transport Spend
Up to 6% cashback
Cashback Cap
Up to S$70
Min. Spend per month
S$800
Maybank logo
Earn up to 8% Cashback
globally on 5 preferred cashback categories PLUS all other Malaysian Ringgit spend
8%
cashback on all other spend
0.3%
Fee Waiver
3 years annual fee waived

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, perhaps the Standard Chartered Smart Credit Card might do the trick for you. Enjoy 6% cashback in equivalent Rewards Points on your everyday spend including your daily commute (Bus/MRT).

Standard Chartered logo
MoneySmart Exclusive
Up to 6% Cashback
Cashback from Netflix, Spotify, fast food joints and more. *T&Cs apply.
6%*
Annual Fee
S$0
Minimum Spend
S$0
MoneySmart Exclusive:

Get a Sony LinkBuds S Earbuds (worth S$309) or a Lenovo Tab M10 Gen 3 (worth S$299.01) or up to S$230 Cash via PayNow when you apply and meet the relevant spend criteria! T&Cs apply.

Valid until 21 Apr 2024

 

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 an 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.

 

6. Take advantage of the Travel Smart Journey scheme

The Travel Smart Journey (TSJ) scheme is applicable to those who take the North East Line to work.

Since the NEL is packed like sardines in the morning, the TSJ is trying to get commuters on this route to switch to taking the bus.

As a reward, you’ll earn $1.50 worth of SimplyGo points per trip, which can later be redeemed for transport vouchers.

If you start your weekday commute between 7am to 9am at Punggol, Sengkang, Buangkok or Hougang, you can earn your $1.50 per trip by switching to bus services 43e, 654, 660, 666, 671 or 672. You need to do this for at least four weekdays in 30 days to qualify.

 

7. Cycle or use a PMD

Fed up with ever-increasing public transport fares and want to reduce your reliance on public transport altogether?

Then take advantage of the expanded cycling path and park connector network to cycle as much as possible, whether to get the groceries, commute to work or hit your favourite leisure spots.

If cycling sounds like too much work, you can also look into alternative forms of transportation or Personal Mobility Devices (PMDs) like electric scooters. Just be aware that PMDs are not allowed on footpaths and need to be registered with the LTA.

 

8. Earn Ez-link rewards

If you’re paying your fares using vanilla Ez-Link, you’re missing out on some of the advantages we mentioned earlier, so the least you can do is to sign up for the Ez-Link rewards programme.

It lets you earn 1 point for every $0.10 spent using the Ez-link mobile app. The programme rewards you not only for transport fares, but also any other payments made through Ez-Link, Ez-Link charms, Ez-Link Wallet and Ez-Link Pay by Wallet with Mastercard. These include SMRT and TransCab taxis, certain convenience stores like 7-11 and Cheers, and certain eateries like Koufu and KFC.

Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the world’s most attractive rewards programme, but it’s better than nothing and can save you a few bucks here and there on certain purchases.

 

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