Transportation

7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Your EZLink Card

EZLink is just like GST. We don’t know how it works exactly, but it’s always there, slowly but surely sucking away our hard-earned money in small, painless increments.

It’s time to change that.

… Uh, sorry, I didn’t mean the part about being leeched. I meant the part about knowing how EZLink works.

Being aware of the… unique intricacies of EZLink can not only enrich your daily public transport commute, but also potentially help you save a bit of time and/or money.

Are you ready? Let’s dive into the world of EZLink with these 7 fun (and sometimes useful) facts.

 

1. You can download the EZLink app to check balance & top up online

I’d start this article off with an explanation of how EZLink works, but I could not understand either the official EZLink website or the NLB encyclopedia entry.

All I know is that it’s a prepaid stored-value card with some kind of verification system, so you can’t hack your EZLink card and make it believe its balance is always $50.

Apparently, there are EZLink nerds who are so into it that they buy actual EZLink readers to check their own card balance and transaction history, but for the rest of us, it should be sufficient to download and use the EZLink app.

The EZLink mobile app is a pretty easy way for you to manage your EZLink card (or cards, you baller).

You need to register for an account with your NRIC and then add your EZLink cards to it by entering their 16-digit CAN number on the back. Cards that are linked to your NRIC should simply appear on the screen too.

Then you can do the following:

  • Perform a quick EZLink balance check
  • Check the transaction history of each EZLink card
  • Disable a lost EZLink card
  • Enable EZLink auto top up i.e. EZ-Reload
  • [Only for NFC-enabled phones] Top up your EZLink card

But the best feature of the app is….

 

2. Every $80 spent on your EZLink lets you redeem 1 free curry puff

Unless you already have the EZLink app installed, you probably didn’t realise that you can actually earn rewards points every time you tap your EZLink card.

Link your EZLink card on the app to earn 1 point for every 10 cents spent. This includes non-transport spending too, like when you use your EZLink card to pay for ERP or Koi bubble tea (yes it’s accepted).

After you’ve accumulated enough points, you can redeem them for rewards. These are always rotating and some are kinda crap, but there are usually a few good ones.

Here’s a few I picked that are now available:

EZLink reward Rewards points EZLink spending required
$9 off Legoland Malaysia ticket 50 $5
$6 Healthy Lite Bento at Mahota Market 250 $25
$7 off Night Safari admission ticket 300 $30
$6 off Trick Eye Museum adult ticket 720 $72
Free Old Chang Kee curry puff 800 $80
Free $10 credit in YouTrip wallet 1,000 $100
$3 off Golden Village movie ticket 1,500 $150
Zalora $10 gift card 4,500 $450
Tokidoki EZLink charm 15,000 $1,500

If you’re a Circles.Life user, you can also link your phone number to your EZLink account to get extra data. First you get a one-off 500MB data bonus for registering, then you can earn 50MB data for every 10 rides you take for the next 3 months. That’s at least 200MB for free, just for your weekday commutes.

 

3. Need to top up your EZLink card urgently? You might be slapped with a “convenience fee”

While MRT commuters can simply top up their cards at the MRT station’s general ticketing machines, running out of money is a real headache for those of us who take the bus.

It means you have dash to the nearest 7-11 or ATM and top it up, otherwise you’ll be stuck with no way to get to work the next day. But convenience comes with a price tag of $0.20 to $0.50 per top up.

To prevent such charges, you should familiarise yourself with the different ways to top up your EZLink card and know which ones are free:

Where to do EZLink top ups Service fee(s)
MRT stations / bus interchanges Free
Community Centre top up machines Free
7-Eleven $0.50 per top up
ATMs (DBS/POSB and OCBC) $0.20 per top up
AXS machines $0.20 per top up
EZ-Reload auto top up (Visa / Mastercard) Free
EZ-Reload auto top up (Amex / Diners) $0.25 per top up
EZ-Reload auto top up (GIRO) $1 application fee. $2 per unsuccessful top up

The most fuss-free way to top up your EZLink card is to register for EZ-Reload auto top up, where you link your EZLink card to a credit or debit card.

It used to cost $0.25 per top up, but in late 2018 EZLink finally decided to make it free for Visa, Mastercard and all debit cards. (You’ll still get charged if you use an Amex or Diners card, or if you link it via GIRO to your bank account.)

You need to download the EZLink app in order to apply for EZ-Reload. You’ll get an activation which you’ll need to manually punch in at a General Ticketing Machine, after which your stored value will automatically replenish and be charged to your card.

 

4. Apart from an EZLink card, you can also use EZLink charms or an NFC-enabled phone

Picture this: It’s Monday. You wake up tired, angry and hungry. You drag your sorry ass to the MRT station and attempt astral projection for the next 45 minutes while you stand cheek-to-jowl an unsavoury mouth-breather who is also alighting at Tanjong Pagar.

As you inch infinitesimally towards the MRT gantry, the crowd halts en masse as the gantry repeatedly screams “Beep-beep-beep-beep-BEEP! Beep-beep-beep-beep-BEEP!” while someone frantically fumbles with her wallet.

Horrible, isn’t it? The world would be a less homicidal place if EZLink cards didn’t exist, or if people thought to fish our their travel cards from their overstuffed wallets.

If you’re blushing because you’re a chronic card fumbler, consider switching to an attractive EZLink charm instead.

 

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EZLink charms function in exactly the same way as an EZLink card (including top ups and all), only you hang it from your bag/phone/septum piercing so as not to confuse the EZLink machines with the 37 loyalty and credit cards in your purse.

Unfortunately they’re not available all the time – you have to check EZLink’s Instagram to stay on top of the limited edition charms. They also cost a fair bit too – anything from $16.90 (Tokidoki) to $29.90 (Hello Kitty) – and there’s no load value.

Another way to to avoid the EZLink card problem is with an NFC-enabled mobile phone.

You need to make sure you have one of these supported mobile phones, and request a NFC SIM card from your telco (usually $37.45, but you can try asking for it to replace your “lost” SIM card). Once you put your fancy NFC SIM card in your phone, you can tap your phone and use it as an EZLink card.

Unfortunately for iPhone users, this whole NFC thing is only for Android phones. But… Nothing’s stopping you from putting your EZLink card in your phone case.

 

5. Concession cards can only be purchased from TransitLink directly

Umm, I totally neglected to mention that all of the above only applies to you if you’re a regular adult EZLink card holder.

If you want to apply for or replace a bus/MRT concession card, you’ll have to go through TransitLink directly – either their website, app, or a TransitLink ticket office. You can’t buy or manage your concession card through the EZLink app.

For the uninitiated, concession cards function in much the same way as the usual EZLink cards, except they give you discounted fares. You can only get them if you’re a student, NSF, senior citizen, person with disabilities, or lower-income worker under the Workfare Transport scheme.

You can also buy monthly passes that give you unlimited rides on all MRTs and basic bus services. The adult pass isn’t really worth it, though.

Concession card group Monthly cost
Adults (no concession) $120
NSFs, university undergrads $85
Senior citizens (60 years old and above), persons with disabilities $60
Students (up to diploma) $51

 

6. EZLink cards do expire or get lost. Here’s how to get a refund

All EZLink cards expire after 5 years. You can bring your expiring/expired EZLink card to any TransitLink Ticket Office by 31 Dec 2019 to get a 1-for-1 replacement for $3. They’ll also refund any leftover value inside the expired EZLink card.

To avoid having to pay $3 for absolutely nothing, you can try this hack from Redditor jieqint – apply for one of these credit or debit cards with an integrated EZLink function:

The bank should send you a replacement card before the EZLink expires, even if you haven’t gotten to the credit card’s expiry date yet.

You can also get a refund for unexpired EZLink cards at MRT station Passenger Service Centres and TransitLink Ticketing Offices.

On to lost EZLink cards. When you lose your EZLink card, whoever picked it up can use your stored value on a big McNuggets spree at McDonald’s or whatever, because there’s no verification needed to tap the card.

So if you lose the card, you should block it immediately on the EZLink app or call 64968300 (8am to 6pm) to report it. This is especially important if you’ve enabled EZ-reload! You can claim up to $15 in unauthorised transactions after the card is reported as lost.

 

7. Yes, there are actually alternatives to EZLink: NETS FlashPay and TransitLink SimplyGo

If you’re completely sick and tired of EZLink’s buggy app and the fact that you can’t use your EZLink anywhere other than on public transport and at a few merchants – unlike the ubiquitous Octopus card in Hong Kong, for example – you might wonder if there are any alternatives to this stored value behemoth.

Well, there’s NETS FlashPay, of course, which has always tried to sell itself as an alternative to EZLink. But it’s not really an improvement. Like EZLink, it’s a stored value system, so it has the same risks. In fact it’s a little worse than EZLink because you can’t even earn rewards points when you spend on it!

The only way it seems slightly better is that you can use it in your IU to pay ERP and some carpark fees, but actually EZLink also has a pilot for EZ-Pay which lets you do the same. (Tip: Put your EZLink card in your IU if your CashCard runs out.)

Alternative #2 is TransitLink’s SimplyGo, which is the newly-launched iteration of their ABT (Account-Based Ticketing) pilot. It bypasses any stored value system and links straight to your credit card, no top ups needed. Just tap and go as per normal and you’ll be billed for your transport spending at the end of the month.

SimplyGo is great if you want to hit your minimum spend to get bonus cashback, but with most cards you can’t earn miles or rebates because TransitLink is on the “exclusions” list. You can use your mobile wallet (Apple/Google/Samsung Pay) if your card has that function though.

 

Bonus: 5 best credit cards for public transport rebates

While petrol credit cards are a dime a dozen, it seems that banks in Singapore aren’t so interested in offering benefits for those who are too poor to drive.

Here are the credit cards that let you get some kind of rebate on your public transport spending:

Credit card Payment system Rebates
Bank of China Qoo10 Mastercard ABT / SimplyGo 20%
Maybank Family & Friends Card NETS FlashPay 5% or 8%
OCBC Frank Card NETS FlashPay 3%
UOB Delight Card NETS FlashPay 3%
Citibank SMRT Card EZLink 1.7% or 2%

See this article for more on these cards and how you can save more time and money on public transport.

If you sign up for Account Based Ticketing, however, you can theoretically put your spending towards any cash rebates or points your credit card offers. Just read the bank’s T&Cs to make sure that they haven’t excluded ABT transactions from the list of eligible expenditures.

Know of any other weird EZLink hacks? Share your secrets in the comments.

 

Related articles

7 Ways to Save Money & Time on Public Transport in Singapore

Making Sense of Dash, DBS PayLah, GrabPay, Liquid Pay, AliPay, FavePay & Other Cashless Payments

5 Chilling (Yet Probable) Consequences Of Hawker Centres Going Cashless 

TransitLink’s SimplyGo (Formerly ABT) is Here. Should You Ditch Your EZLink Card?

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