It is important to know how to buy MRT tickets in Singapore and this is true regardless of whether you are visiting the city only for a few days or you are a permanent resident. Unlike most cities around the world, Singapore has managed to create a world-class public transportation system that allows passengers to get to the most important areas of the city without spending any time in traffic jams.
Since the MRT system is so efficient and economical we have written the step-by-step guide on how to buy tickets for the MRT to make sure that you can utilize this form of public transportation. The information presented below is based on her own extensive travel experience throughout Singapore. Over the last 10 years, we have visited all of the major attractions in Singapore and we are confident that this information can help you to navigate the system more affordable and more efficiently.
Why should you use the MRT in Singapore?
There are many benefits to buying MRT tickets in Singapore and using the system as much as possible. First of all, the MRT in Singapore is extremely affordable for most people living and visiting the city. Singapore is known to be one of the most expensive countries in Southeast Asia for tourism purposes and for people to live permanently. Consequently, the MRT provides an affordable option for public transportation that is both fast and stress-free.
The other benefit of using Singapore’s MRT network is the fact that you will not have to deal with road traffic throughout your time in the city. During peak hours for vehicles, traffic can get jammed up and this is just an unnecessary headache because you do have a lot of buses and trains in Singapore that bypass this.
Another clear benefit of using the MRT in Singapore is that it is more environmentally friendly. The last thing that we want to see is one person in a vehicle driving around the city. This creates unnecessary traffic jams and exhaust fumes that are detrimental to the environment.
Singapore is done in the amazing job of strategically placing MRT Lines and stations throughout the city. Therefore, you can access 90% of the major attractions by using MRT. After you get out from a station you only usually have to walk three or four hundred meters to get to your intended point of interest.
When you buy a ticket for Singapore’s MRT system keep in mind that not everyone will pay the same amount. Students, senior citizens, students, and disabled individuals per less than adults.
Many of Singapore’s MRT stations have been built right beside hotels throughout the city. The smart thing to do is to stay at hotels such as Marina Bay Sands or Raffles Singapore and be within 2 minutes of the station. Again, this promotes more efficient sightseeing and less time in Singapore’s scorching heat during the afternoon hours.
Buying MRT Tickets in Singapore – Types of Tickets and Passes
The first thing that you have to understand about buying MRT tickets in Singapore is that there are a few different options. Technically, there are two different types of MRT tickets or passes that can be used:
1) Stored Value Cards
2) Singapore Tourist Passes
In the following section, we will provide an overview of each one of these tickets including the pros and cons of each one. This should help you to identify what type of ticket is best suited for your individual circumstances while you are in Singapore.
Single Trip Tickets in Singapore – No Longer Available
As their name suggests, single-trip MRT tickets were purchasable directly from a ticketing machine within one of the stations. These are often called ‘standard tickets’ within stations. These are no longer available post-Covid. There were some pros and cons associated with these single-trip tickets, but now you can purchase cards that are valid for buses and trains.
1. Buying Stored Value Cards for MRT in Singapore
Stored value cards are the most popular option for Singaporeans and permanent residents using the MRT in the city. They are often called ‘Adult Stored Value Cards’. These are contactless stored value smartcards which can be used on buses, the MRT and LRT throughout Singapore. Therefore, their use is not restricted to only the train system in Singapore. They can be used on buses as well which is a major bonus.
There are some clear pros and cons of using Stored Value Cards while you are in Singapore.
There are many clear benefits of using a stored-value card in Singapore. Once you have topped them up with cash, they naturally save a lot of time at each station. Unlike the single trip tickets, stored-value cards only have to be topped each time that you want to enter the MRT Network in Singapore. This eliminates the need for you to wait in line at a ticketing machine every time you want to use the MRT.
The cost per trip is also cheaper than using single journey tickets. Therefore, this is the ideal card if you are staying in Singapore for a long period of time. If your stored-value card is damaged or not working properly you can easily go to a TransitLink Ticket Office to get a replacement.
If for some reason you do not want to use your stored value card anymore you can return it for a refund as well. Again, in this case, you have to go to a TransitLink ticketing office to get your money back. Keep in mind that the $5 card cost paid during the purchase of the card is non-refundable.
There are actually very few ‘cons’ about using a stored-value card in Singapore. The major one that you have to really think about is how long you are staying in Singapore? If you are only staying in the city for a few days then a Singapore tourist pass is by far your best option if you want to use the MRT extensively. While planning, you might realize that you are only going to use the MRT once or twice during your entire trip. In this case, you are best to use single journey tickets instead of getting any type of card.
Stored value cards do require an upfront payment. Consequently, if you do not use the card extensively you will lose $5 in cash because of the down payment that you had to make when you originally purchased the card.
How much do stored value cards cost in Singapore?
The time of writing adult stored value cards cost $12. This total value of $12 dollars includes a $5 non-refundable card cost and a $7 travel value balance. The $7 dollar balance can be used for rides on LRT, MRT and trains throughout Singapore.
According to the information above, you can see why you don’t want to purchase a stored value card unless you plan on using Singapore MRT for an extended period of time. You will waste the $5 non-refundable payment and maybe some of the $7 cash balance if you only use it once or twice.
What kinds of stored value cards can you purchase for the MRT?
There are currently two types of adult stored value cards available for purchase in Singapore:
1) Adult ez-link card and….
2) NETS FlashPay
You can find out additional information about each card using their respective websites:
Adult ez-link card, you may log on to ez-Link website www.ezlink.com.sg.
NETS FlashPay, you may log on to the NETS website www.nets.com.sg.
Where can you buy MRT cards in Singapore?
You can purchase stored value cards at any TransitLink Ticket Office. You can refer to the official TransitLink website that summarizes all of the relevant offices and what their daily hours are.
Once your card is purchased, the minimum amount that you can top-up is $10 and the maximum is $500. Aside from TransitLink Ticket Offices, you can also use General Ticketing Machines (GTMs). These are located in MRT stations and bus interchanges to top-up your smartcards by cash or NETS. Add Value Machines (AVM+) can also be used for top-up purposes.
2. Buying Singapore Tourist Passes for the MRT in Singapore
The third option for buying MRT tickets in Singapore is getting a Singapore Tourist Pass. As the name suggests, Singapore Tourist Passes are designed for temporary visitors to the city. They are not designed for permanent residents or Singaporeans that spend considerable amounts of time in Singapore. There are clear pros and cons to purchasing a Singapore tourist pass that we will outline below.
One of the clear benefits of purchasing a Singapore Tourist Pass is that you know exactly how much it is going to cost you per day for your transportation. This is especially important if you are trying to create a budget for your trip. As most people know, Singapore is not considered to be a very cheap place to travel. Therefore, a lot of budget travellers and backpackers are always looking for ways that they can save more money while they are in Singapore.
If you are an active traveller and plan on using public transportation extensively while you are in the city, the Singapore Tourist Pass is the best MRT option for you. Singapore has an extensive selection of things to do and see. So you might want to maximize the number of trips you can take with the card. If you plan on staying in Singapore for three days or less and want to sightsee a lot, this is the best option for you!
Singapore tourist passes are ideal for active visitors to the city. However, they are not the best option if you are staying in Singapore for an extended period. Similarly, they are not the best option if you are not seeing a lot of different sights. If you pay upfront for a Tourist Pass and then do not actively use the card you are just going to throw your money away. Therefore, you need to really think about your itinerary and how much public transportation you are going to require while you are in the city.
Where can you buy Singapore Tourist Passes?
Similar to stored-value cards, you can buy Singapore Tourist Passes at selected TransitLink Ticket Offices or Automated STP Kiosks. You can refer to the official TransitLink website that summarizes all of the relevant offices and what their daily hours are. Keep in mind that there is an office in Changi Airport, so it is possible to purchase a card after you land, but before you travel from Changi into the city center!
Currently, there are four different types of Singapore tourist passes that are available to visitors in the city. Some of the cards are valid for one day where the others are valid up to 3 days. You also have some choice in terms of what type of card you want to get and the perks and discounts associated with each one.
You can refer to the official Singapore Tourist Pass website if you want more information about buying Singapore Tourist Passes.
Any more questions about buying MRT tickets in Singapore
This article has summarized how to buy MRT tickets in Singapore. As you now know there are some important considerations that you have to make. Before you buy either a single trip ticket, stored value card or a Singapore Tourist Pass. In general, single journey tickets are the best option if you do not want any pressure to use the MRT extensively. In other words, if you only plan on using the MRT once or twice during your trip. You might not want to spend time purchasing a card and then worrying about refunds afterwards.
For most ‘active’ tourists to the city, the Singapore Tourist Pass is the best option. We use the term ‘active’ here because it is not the best option if you do not plan on using the MRT and bus network extensively in the city. You have to make many trips per day to make it worthwhile to get the Singapore tourist pass. We recommend that you plan out an itinerary and sort of calculate how many trips you think you were going to take and whether it’s worthwhile even getting this card in the first place. However, if you are sightseeing a lot this can save you a lot of money. It can be an excellent decision to buy one.