Good things must share! This Uniquely Singaporean saying is especially true when money is involved. Yet the biggest kept secret is Travel Smart Rewards. It’s a rewards scheme that actually GIVES YOU MONEY for adjusting your commuting schedule and reducing the crowds on the train during morning peak hours. Assuming the train lines don’t break down. TWICE. In a day.
Even I’m finding it hard to believe as I type it, but there really doesn’t seem to be any catch to this. We’re not getting paid a cent to promote Travel Smart Rewards. The only reason I’m writing about it is because it’s a great rewards scheme that not enough Singaporeans are aware of.
Basically, if you use an EZ-Link card, NETS Flashpay card, Senior Citizen concession card, or University, Polytechnic or ITE concession card and you travel by train during the week then you’ll DEFINITELY want to read on.
1. You get points for every trip you make
Travel Smart Rewards allows you to earn rewards points every time you take the train.
You earn 1 point for every kilometre you travel on the train during the week, from Monday to Friday. This means that the further you travel, the more points you earn. For once, there’s an advantage to having a long commute to work or school!
This also means that all train trips taken during the week, regardless of when you board, will help you earn points. So, at the very least, you don’t need to adjust your morning routine at all in order to start earning points.
2. You get MORE points if your trip is during “decongesting hours”
However, if you want to earn MORE points, then make this crucial adjustment to your commute. If your tap your EZ-Link card between the hours of 6.15am to 7.15am or 8.45am to 9.45am, you stand to earn up to 6 times the number of points you normally earn.
Say your trip is 20 km long. If you begin your trip at 8am, you will earn 20 points. However, if you begin your trip at 9am, you can earn up to 120 points! Just one ride during a “decongesting hour” is the equivalent of up to 6 rides during peak or off-peak hours.
3. You can redeem your points for money or try your luck at winning random prizes.
Now, we come to the most important question. What do those points earn you? The simple answer? MONEY.
Well, if you’re not a gambling person, you can choose to exchange every 1000 points for $1. This, of course, is a terrible idea. I travel over 20km to work per trip, and even then I don’t earn more than 750 points a week. If I were to just exchange the points I’ve earned at that pathetic rate, I would only make $3 in a month, which barely covers a day’s travel.
What you’ll want to do is use the points to play their Spin to Win game. It’s basically a Snakes and Ladders game that allow you to win random prizes, from 50 points to $200! The best part is you don’t even have to manually play the Spin to Win game. You can allow the system to play automatically for you once a week, and then you’ll receive an email telling you how much you’ve won for that week. How great is that? You’re able to earn rewards without any extra effort on your part.
4. The more trips you make during “decongesting hours”, the better the rewards you earn.
What makes Travel Smart Rewards so fascinating is that your rewards actually improve if you’re consistent. If your train journey constantly starts during the “decongesting hours” of 6.15am to 7.15am or 8.45am to 9.45am, then you’ll stand to gain higher points and cash rewards.
For example, I travel to work at 9am every morning. This means I make at least 4 “decongesting trips” each week. This puts me in the highest tier for rewards, where I can win up to $200.
But if you’re not consistent, you can drop to a lower rewards tier. During the Chinese New Year holidays, I didn’t take the train at all. As a result I didn’t meet the 4 “decongesting trips” requirement and fell to a lower rewards tier, where the maximum I could win was $50. That’s still not too shabby, I must admit.
Each “decongesting trip” also earns you an entry into a monthly lucky draw, where you can win up to $1500. So the more such trips you take, the higher your chances of winning.
5. Okay… enough with the rules already! How much have YOU won?
I only found out about Travel Smart Rewards in late January. In February, I won a total of $20. That’s 25% of my travel expenditure for that month! That’s really not bad. I know I won’t be as lucky all the time, but it definitely made me realise that this was something that needed to be shared.
If, like me, you’re already travelling to work via train during the “decongesting hours”, then you should definitely sign up for Travel Smart Rewards and start winning. If not, you should still sign up with Travel Smart Rewards and then check with your employer to see if you can adjust your work timings to take advantage of the “decongesting hours”.
6. Corporate Travel Smart Rewards
In fact, why not help your whole company enjoy the benefits? There’s a Corporate Travel Smart Rewards scheme which gives even MORE rewards for “decongesting trip” you take. Convince your HR department to join up and maybe you can even pool your rewards together to pay for a company lunch each month.
Several companies have already signed up with this scheme, so don’t be left out.
7. Credit Card EZ-Link cashback
Since we’re on the topic of earning money while travelling, we have to mention that you can already earn cash back rebates if you use the right credit card. The OCBC FRANK card gives 6% cash back rebates on all NETS FlashPay transactions (up to $6 a month). However, do note that there is a $500 minimum spending requirement each month.
There is also the POSB Everyday Card and the Citibank SMRT Platinum Visa Card. Both give 2% cash back rebates if you apply for EZ-Reload auto top up. The POSB Everyday Card has no minimum spending requirement. If you charge less than $600 a month on the Citibank SMRT Card, your cash back rebate will only be 1.7%.
Combine the cash back rebates of these credit cards with Travel Smart Rewards and you’ll be subsidising your travel expenses by a significant amount. Assuming the train lines don’t break down. TWICE. In a day.