Thursday, August 13, 2015

Game of SMRT

Have you heard of some whizkids that are able to fly for free in the US? They do so by taking advantage of the frequent flyer schemes and some flaws in the pricing system of flights. Based on this I started wondering if we could also game the local MRT system and ride for free? Well, no such luck here! But using the various incentives out there, we can reduce our MRT fares considerably. Let's see how this can be done!

 I will use myself as a case example. Every Mon-Fri, I travel from the East where I stay, to the West where I work. Each of these trips cost me $1.88, so per day its $3.76. Assuming 20 working days in a month, that will be $75.20. Assuming I spend around $4 on weekends, and 4 weekends in a month, the total bill for public transport works out to be  $107.50 per month. Woah, that's a lot of money!!

Now, let's look at ways to reduce this amount.

POSB Everyday Card
 Do you know that POSB Everyday Card offers 100% cashback on your MRT and bus rides every Friday? Utilizing this scheme, I can reduce my MRT fares on Fridays to $0. So the new monthly transport fare will be 107.5 - 4*3.76 = 92.46. Good? This is a 14% reduction already! Let's continue.

Free Early Morning MRT Rides
Do you know by exiting before 7.45 am on weekdays at any of the 18 designated MRT stations in the city area, your ride will be free? I stay in the east and work in the west, so this means I can travel from the East every morning, exit at Tanjong Pagar MRT station, and re-enter and continue on my journey to the West. In doing so, my morning train fare is cut from $1.88 to $1.32, or a reduction of $0.56 everyday. So the new monthly transport fare will be 92.46 - 20*0.56 = 81.26, which is a 24.4% reduction in total. Let's continue.

Travel Smart Scheme
I have joined the Travel Smart scheme for a few years already. I am a platinum member meaning I earn more points for every km I travel. On average I earn around $8 in rebates every month. So the new monthly transport fare will be 81.26 - 8 = 73.26.

OCBC Frank Card
Using this card, you will get rebates of 6% if you spend >500 a month using this card, and if you use Flashpay auto top-up. Well, for me I don't spend so much on this card but I still get rebates of 0.5%. So the new monthly transport fare will be 73.26 - 0.5%*81.26 =  72.85.

Thats about it. We have reduced the fare from 107.5 to 72.85 which is a 32.2% reduction in monthly transport fare!

There are other techniques like taking advantage of a full refund when the MRT breaks down, but such chances are not frequent so I don't bother about them for now.