Many Singapore residents might have seen or at least heard of the Free Pre-Peak Travel campaign by the Land Transport Authority, where commuters get to enjoy free MRT rides if they travel to work before peak hours. While we must admit it is a great initiative, we think that sleep-starved Singaporeans are quite unlikely to wake up 2 hours earlier to go to work just to get 50 cents off their morning ride.
An alternative campaign that can actually prove useful for Singaporeans to save on their public transport expenditure is the Travel Smart Rewards. Being lesser known and a bit more confusing to use, not many Singaporeans might be utilising it effectively so we thought about writing a post to help everyone understand this useful scheme and show you some ways to save some money a year on your daily transportation expenses.
Travel Smart Rewards- How to earn points
Sign up with your name, email and Cepas card number to participate in the Travel Smart Rewards program here. Eligible Cepas cards include the normal EZ-link cards, adult NETS Flashpay cards, tertiary concession cards and Senior Citizen concession cards.
Following successful signups, you earn points by taking train trips with your registered card. You do not need to do anything, since your journeys will automatically be logged and you can start earning points straightaway!
To put it simply, you earn one point for any kilometres you travel on the MRT on weekdays. The key is to maximise your earn rate by travelling during the two designated “decongesting hours” - between 6:15 and 7:15 AM, and between 8:45 and 9:45 AM. Unfortunately, trips made over the weekend do not earn any points since the main objective of the campaign is to reduce peak hour traffic on weekdays.
There are 4 status levels - bronze, silver, gold and platinum. The more you travel by train at decongesting hours, the higher your Travel Smart Rewards status, giving you a better earn rate. In order to reach the highest status which is Platinum, you need to move through the ranks as summarised below:
- Bronze to Silver – at least 3 decongesting trips per week for 3 weeks
- Silver to Gold - at least 4 decongesting trips per week for 3 weeks
- Gold to Platinum - at least 4 decongesting trips per week for 3 weeks
By moving up to the highest status, you get to earn points at a faster rate. At bronze level, you get 3X the rewards when you travel during de-congesting times, 4X at Silver, 5X at Gold and 6X at Platinum.
How do points translate to cash?
Here comes the exciting part- your daily points can actually be used to redeem for real cash! There are two ways for you to redeem your points: Spin or Cash Buyout.
- Spin: Spin mode works like playing a board game where you spin and use your points to move to travel across the Travel Smart Rewards boards. Along your journey, you get to pick up random cash rewards from $1 to $200, as well as additional points. The more you spin, the more likely you are to find rewards! The higher your status, the higher the rewards you can win as well. 1 spin costs 10 points, or you can go wild and use all your points in one shot. To play on Spin Board, choose Spin game under Redeem Mode section and click on the 'Spin To Win' tab to make the spin!
- Cash buyout: A fixed sum reward where you exchange for 1000 points for $1. Cash transfers from your Travel Smart Rewards account to your Cepas card account will take place at the end of each month, after which you need to bring your Cepas card to any of TransitLink's Ticket Office or Add Value Machine to have the amount topped up to your card.
Maximising your Earn Rate
With the above information, we can quickly calculate how much money one gets to save/earn using the Travel Smart Rewards based on some assumptions:
- Daily travel journey: 10 KM, 5 km during decongesting hours
- Decongesting trips per week – 5 times
- First 3 weeks with Bronze Status: 300 points
- First 3 weeks with Silver Status: 375 points
- First 3 weeks with Gold Status: 450 points
- 43 remaining weeks of the year with Platinum status: 7,525 points
- Total points earned in a year = 8,650
Depending on how you play it, you can use your points for spin mode to try to earn more points and cash rewards. Alternatively, you can simply settle for cash buyout, which will earn you a grand total of S$8 year.
Saving an extra S$8 may not seem much at all. But, there is also a little something extra – there is a monthly lucky draw from Travel Smart Rewards where one user with Gold or Platinum status will receive a cash reward of S$1,500! Each decongesting trip earns you one entry to the draw and a random selection will be made to recognise a winner. Not only that, earning only S$8 per year is assuming that you don't commute longer or get any extra points through spin mode. In fact, if you feel that the definite rewards are too little, perhaps a little excitement is worth it using spin mode for a chance to earn more points.
After all, the initiative is eco-friendly and saving money is a by-product, so why not make use of this scheme to help you save some money and contribute to a greener environment?
Written by Lynette Tan