Since starting work all those years ago, I’ve always been finding ways to charge my public transport expenses to my credit cards to earn cashback. My first hack was to use an EZ Link card with EZ Reload activated such that it will automatically charge my reload to my credit card. The downside was a 25c admin charge per reload, however this would be more than offset by the cashback I would get.
Unfortunately, people started abusing all the prepaid card top-ups to earn cash back or satisfy minimum spending requirements. This resulted in the banks excluding these top ups from cash back eligibility.
What a bummer.
When I heard about the LTA Account Based Ticketing (ABT) System pilot back in 2017, I was pretty excited about it and was among the first to join the public pilot. The pilot essentially allowed you to charge your public transport spend to your credit card, thus earning cashback / miles in the process, exactly what I’ve been looking for the longest time.
With the rebranding and relaunch of ABT as SimplyGo this week, I thought it would be a good time to share this service with you all (if you’re not already on it).
This is not a sponsored post. I’m just a happy customer promoting something I use everyday.
What is SimplyGo?
SimplyGo is a partnership between LTA, Transitlink and the various contactless payment providers (think Visa, Mastercard, NETS, Apply Pay, Samsung Pay, etc) to bring contactless payments to public buses and trains. This means you can tap in and out of MRTs and SBS Buses using your credit card or your mobile phone. As a result, all your rides can now be tracked on the SimplyGo website or mobile app.
As such, this service enables you to…
How to apply
You will need to open a SimplyGo account and have a Mastercard on hand.
Editor’s note: I’ve received some feedback from friends that a SimplyGo account is not necessary to use MasterCard credit cards. As for the mechanics of how that would work (how billing is done, is it more expensive etc) requires more research and clarification from LTA / Transitlink.
1. Visit SimplyGo website and open an account.
2. After activating your account, add your credit card to your account
Select MasterCard. Visa and CEPAS is currently still under pilot for invited card members only. CEPAS refers to NETS Flashpay, which doesn’t earn you cashback or miles. Follow on screen instructions to register your credit card.
3. Change your card payment mode at the General Ticketing Machines at any MRT station
Most credit cards nowadays have CEPAS features built in. By default, every credit card is configured to pay for train / bus rides using CEPAS. As such, you need to change the configuration at the General Ticketing Machine at any MRT station. You may not need to do this if you intend to use mobile payment methods like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay.
At the Ticketing Machine, you have to ensure your card status is “Bank Card Mode” as highlighted above. If not, select “Check Transit Payment Mode” to change it.
4. Scan and Pay for your ride!
You can scan and pay for your ride using your credit card or your mobile device. The feature I like most about this is that I can now pay for rides using my Apple Watch. No need to pull out my mobile phone or wallet anymore! 😀
How rides are charged
Fare will be accumulated up to 5 days or $15 (whichever earlier) before charging to your credit card. Here’s a sample charge from my own credit card.
There are currently some card promotions running giving you cashback if you are quick to sign up for them.
However, this is graphic seems to be misleading as I can’t find every promotion at their respective bank websites. Some “promotions” above are not even special promotions, just features of existing credit cards. Here’s a summary of special promotions based on my own click through research:
|OCBC||Any MasterCard||1st 10k registrants, 10% rebate capped at $10.||31 May|
|UOB||Any MasterCard||1st 10k registrants, 20% rebate capped at $15. |
Min $40 transport spend
|SCB||Any MasterCard||1st 5k registrants, capped at $10 cashback||31 May|
|ICBC||Specific cards||20% cashback capped at $20||30 Jun|
Banks that I was unable to corroborate: Citibank, Bank of China, Youtrip
Banks that were just promoting existing cards: CIMB, DBS / POSB, HSBC
At the end of the day, just use the card that works best for your spending pattern. For me, its the Standard Chartered Unlimited Cashback Card as I can’t consistently hit most of the minimum spending hurdles on credit cards.
References and Resources
I hope you have found this guide useful. Here are some links and resources for your easy reference
Other spend-related guides:
SG Open Electricity Market Guide
In case you missed my previous post
Singapore Savings Bonds (SSBs) May 2019 Issue details