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Best Credit Cards for Public Transport (updated)

Best Credit Cards for Public Transport (2022)

profileXue Miao

I remember owning my first EZ-link card.

Source: Pawdigy

(It was something like that, just 50% less cute.)

As a kid unaware of the world of credit cards, holding this card felt so powerful.

With so many ways to choose from, I decided to look for the method that can maximise my public transport spending.

When I was using my trusty EZ-link card, I was always happily redeeming curry puffs from my EZ-link app.

I’ve since switched to credit cards as my go-to card to keep my wallet lean and to also reap some credit card benefits.


TL;DR: Best Credit Cards For Public Transport in 2023

Credit CardRewardThings to Note
Best For Cashback
Citi SMRT CardUp to 5% cashbackMin. monthly spend: $500
DBS Live Fresh Card5% cashbackMin. monthly spend: $600

Cashback capped at $20 for Visa Contactless
Spend (includes SimplyGo)
Maybank Family & Friends CardUp to 8% cashbackMin. monthly spend: $800 (8%)

Cashback capped at $25 per category
UOB One CardUp to 5% or 6.67% depending on spending amount (additional cashback for new cardholders)

Min. monthly spend: $500 or $1,000 (5%), $2,000 (6.67%)

Need to meet minimum of 5 transactions per statement per month for the qualifying quarter (up to 3.33% cashback)
Standard Chartered Smart CardUp to 6% cashbackNo minimum spend required
Best For Miles
DBS Altitude Visa Signature Card1.2 miles per $1Miles are awarded as DBS points
Maybank Horizon Visa Signature Card3.2 miles per $1Min. monthly spend: $300
UOB KrisFlyer Credit Card3 miles per $1

or 1.2 miles per $1 (if conditions are not met)
With min. $800 spend on Singapore Airlines and related transactions per year
UOB Lady’s Card/ Solitaire Card4 miles per $1$120,000 min. income requirement for Solitaire
UOB PRVI Miles1.4 miles per $1-

Click here to jump:

Disclaimer: The various credit cards all come with their respective terms and conditions. So please read through them before deciding which credit card to get!


SimplyGo VS EZ-Link

Besides the regular good ol’ EZ-link top-ups that we have been doing at the General Ticketing Machines, we now have the cashless option of SimplyGo.

SimplyGo is an account-based ticketing platform that enables commuters to top up on the go and view fares at their convenience.

Besides getting a SimplyGo EZ-Link card, charm, or wearable, you will be delighted to know that modern-day credit cards offer card benefits for public transport rides that are billed SimplyGo.

You can use contactless bank cards as your travel card on public transport!

And by bank cards, I meant a MasterCard or Visa credit card. With these cards being stored on your smartphone, you can even leave the physical cards at home.

By using SimplyGo, you can avoid having not enough balance on your EZ-Link card as this function charges your transport fares straight to your debit or credit card.

You can also earn cashback or air miles when you use your credit cards.

If you’re still wondering what the differences between traditional EZ-Link card and SimplyGo are, here’s a summary for you:

Ticketing MethodEZ-Link SimplyGo
What Is It? The usual EZ-Link card used on buses and MRTs 1) A service where you can link your debit/credit card with the SimplyGo app, and pay for your transport with your credit/debit card

You can earn credit card rewards such as cashback and miles along the way

2) Buy a SimplyGo EZ-Link card (formerly known as Account-based EZ-Link cards)
Cost EZ-Link card: $10 ($5 non-refundable deposit per card)

EZ-Link charm: Varies
NIL
Rewards 1 point per 10 cents spent via EZ-Link
Varies, depending on the credit or debit card used
Has Auto Top-up?Yes, need to be linked to an account-based cardYes, need to be linked to an account-based card

Do note with the exception of Citibank and OCBC, all banks award points for SimplyGo transactions. All SimplyGo transactions have a merchant code MCC 4111: Transportation – Suburban and Local Commuter Passenger, including Ferries.

Is It More Expensive To Use a Credit Card SimplyGo For MRT or Bus?

The MRT or bus fare is the same when you’re using a credit card with SimplyGo for public transport.

Unless you have a missing entry (i.e. “Missing Entry” or “Missing Exit”), you’ll be charged a flat rate of $2.10 for MRT, and in the case of buses, you’ll be charged either from the point of entry to the end of the bus route or from the first stop of the bus route to the point of exit.


Best Cashback Credit Cards For Bus or MRT

The thing about cashback is that there is an earned rate for spending and often, a minimum spend to meet in order to get an effective cashback yield.

So, to help those who’re looking to maximise your cashback earned rate and spend minimally $100 per month on public transport, these cards are for you.

Citi SMRT Card

This card offers a base rate of 0.3% on qualifying retail spend and a bonus rate of up to 4.7% on monthly qualifying retail spend of $500 and above.

Citi SMRT Card Base RateBonus rate
on monthly qualifying retail
spend ≥S$500
Total Earned Rate
Groceries0.3%4.7%5%
Online (excludes mobile wallet & travel-related transactions)
SimplyGo transactions
Taxis (including private-hire rides)
Other qualifying retail spendNIL0.3%

Do note that if you spend less than $500 per statement month, you will earn the base rate of 0.3% SMRT$ only.

Not just that, public transport refers to SimplyGo transactions.

The bonus rate of 4.7% is also only awarded based on the followng Merchant Category Code (MCC) and transaction description, where applicable:

Categories Merchant Category Code (MCC) Transaction Description
Groceries MCC 5411 Not required
Qualifying Online Spend (excludes mobile wallet and
travel-related transactions)
Not applicable. Awarded based on the online indicator.
SimplyGo MCC 4111 BUS/MRT
Taxis MCC 4121 Not required

Similarly, the following merchants are not considered Qualifying Online Spend and will not be awarded the 4.7% Bonus rate:

  • IPAYMY
  • CARDUP
  • YOUTRIP
  • EZ-LINK
  • EZL AUTO TOPUP

 DBS Live Fresh Card

The DBS Live Fresh Card offers an attractive 5% cashback for online and Visa contactless spending, which includes SimplyGo transactions.

It can also be paired with the DBS Multiplier Account to earn higher interest rates!

Do note that this card has a minimum spend of $600, and cashback is capped at $20 per category.

This includes the Visa contactless spend category, which is where your cashback will be from your public transport rides.

Maybank Family & Friends Card

Depending on your monthly spending, the Maybank Family & Friends card offers up to 8% cashback for your bus or MRT rides, i.e. up to $125 in total per calendar month, capped at $25 per category.

This is one of the best cards to use for your transport as this 8% cashback rate applies to petrol and ride-hailing services as well.

It also includes groceries spending, fast food, and food delivery, as well as online TV streaming services.

The caveat is that all these only apply if your minimum monthly spend is at least $800.

Otherwise, it’ll be 0.3% cashback for spending less than $800.

UOB One Card

The UOB One Card is another popular card given how it is usually paired with the UOB One account.

With a minimum of five transactions per statement month for a qualifying quarter (up to 3.33% cashback), you can earn up to 15% cashback depending on your monthly spend.

  • Minimum spend of $500/ $1,000 per month: Up to 5% + additional 6.67% for new cardmembers from 1 Oct to 31 Dec 2022
  • Minimum spend of $2,000 per month: Up to 6.67% + additional 6.67% for new cardmembers from 1 Oct to 31 Dec 2022

This card is also perfect for those who love to take their Grab rides since there is an additional 6.67% cashback on Grab.

The UOB One account has a couple of different categories to hit for different interest rates, so in case you’re confused, we’ve broken it down for you as well!

Standard Chartered Smart Credit Card

With the Standard Chartered Smart card, you will be able to earn up to 6% cashback in the form of reward points for certain categories.

SC Smart cardholders can earn one and six tenths (1.6) 360° Reward Points for every $1 spent on Qualifying transactions regardless of which currency is being used, which enables you to redeem for 0.5% or $0.005 cashback.

When transacting in SGD with a qualifying merchant, there will also be an additional seventeen and six tenths (17.6) 360° Reward Points which enables you to redeem for 5.5% or $0.055 cashback for every $1 spent.

Do note that the selected merchant spends are rather limited:

  • McDonald’s
  • KFC
  • Subway
  • Burger King
  • Ya Kun Kaya Toast
  • Toast Box
  • Fun Toast
  • BUS/MRT via SimplyGo
  • Netflix
  • Spotify
  • YouTube
  • Disney+ in Singapore

There is also no minimum spend required.

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Best Miles Cards For Public Transport

Mile chasers, while public transport might not be the best way to clock miles, it is nonetheless a good way to accumulate!

DBS Altitude Visa Signature Card

The DBS Altitude Visa Signature Card is one of the few cards that allow you to earn miles for SimplyGo transactions.

A fuss-free card to own, this card earns 1.2 miles per $1 spent.

It’s a good entry-level card for general spending for anyone into collecting miles!

UOB KrisFlyer Credit Card

The UOB KrisFlyer credit card offers up to 3 miles per $1 spent.

However, this is with a minimum of $800 spend on Singapore Airlines, Scoot, and KrisShop per year.

Otherwise, this card earns 1.2 miles per $1 spent. You can do the following to earn miles:

  • Dining includes eating places, restaurants, bars, and fast food restaurants.
  • Online food delivery includes GrabFood, Foodpanda, and Honestbee.
  • Online shopping includes card transactions made at fashion websites that sell clothes, shoes, jewelry, accessories, and bags as their main business.
  • Online travel card transactions include card transactions made at Agoda, Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, Kaligo, Traveloka, Trip.com, and UOB Travel
  • Transport includes local public buses, trains, taxis, Grab, and other ride-hailing app payments.

Do make sure your transport card transactions fall within the following MCC:

Category Merchant Category Codes (MCC) or transaction descriptions
Local public buses and
trains
BUS/MRT
Taxis and ride-hailing 4121

UOB Lady’s Card or UOB Solitaire Card

 

A popular card for the ladies, the UOB Lady’s Card offers a wonderful rate of 4 miles per $1 spent (20 miles per $5 spent) for SimplyGo rides.

Just make sure you’ve selected the Transport Category for your spending.

The UOB Solitaire Card offers the same rates but has a $120,000 minimum income requirement.

This is a good card to consider for the ladies who are looking to own a card with benefits catered to females, such as having customisable categories to earn upsized rewards.

UOB PRVI Miles 

 

There was a period of time when the UOB PRVI Miles Card offered a promotional rate of 4.4 miles per $1 spent!

While the promotion has ended, this card still offers 1.4 miles per $1 spent on your SimplyGo rides, making it still a good card to use for public transport.

Do note that this is only valid for UOB PRVI Miles Mastercard and Visa card, and does not apply to American Express cards.

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How To Fully Skip Physical Cards: Link It To Your E-Wallet

Source: SpongeBob SquarePants | Giphy

If you’re someone who would want to flatten your wallet even further, you can consider linking these cards to your e-wallets instead!

Some popular e-wallets (or rather online payment systems) would include Apple Pay and Google Pay.

One can simply use their mobile phone or even smartwatch to tap in and out seamlessly on public transport now!

And if you’re now getting confused by the range of credit cards that are available, why not hop over to SeedlyReviews to help you with your process?

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About Xue Miao
A millennial who is learning to adult. She doesn't believe in the rat race and hopes to live on a farm someday.
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