Singapore Money–NETS

“Do you want to pay by cash or NETS?” was a question I heard quite often during my trip to Singapore in February.

I think we’d been here at least two weeks after the move in April before I finally learned what a NETS card was.  It was basically what we call an ATM or Debit card back home…a card that connects directly to your bank account that you can use at ATM’s or in stores.

What I find interesting about the NETS card (as opposed to my debit card back in the US) is that it lacks a credit card symbol…it’s not a card with a Mastercard logo on it that connects to my bank as opposed to a line of credit.  In fact, the numbers on it aren’t even raised.  It looks far more like a frequent shopper card thank a bank card.  While you can use NETS at almost any store, you can’t use it to book airline tickets or online with retailers who require credit cards.

Additionally, while it is an ATM card, unlike in the US where you can use any ATM (although you’ll be charged foreign ATM fees), you can only use it with other compliant ATM machines.

This can be an issue if you happen to share our bank, which has a small ATM presence and while they do have partners, I can vouch for the fact that none of them are at Vivocity Mall….where I found myself late at night (after a movie) with only $9 on me.  I had no idea where the bus stop was to catch the 65 home (although I knew it would take me there), leaving me with the option of taking the subway and then walking a mile in shoes that were hurting my feet more with every step….or getting a cab.  Getting a cab is usually not a big deal–you stand in line or you call/text for one.  But when the mall has just closed, the cab queue is quite formidable.  And calling a cab means a 2.50 or 3.50 (given the hour) fee on top of the fare.

If you’re me, you call the cab and then call Ravi and tell him to have $5 ready in case the fare goes over the $9 you have.

You get in the cab and as you’re nearing home, the numbers look high, so you call Ravi and make him bring the money down.

True story…the fare was 8.90.

The universe looked kindly upon me and my NETS card that did not get me money from the 3 ATMs I tried.

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2 Responses to Singapore Money–NETS

  1. Daphne says:

    It does sound a bit daunting at times, doesn’t it. =)

    I’ve actually had a few incidents happen to me where I didn’t have enough cash, and Gasp! didn’t bring my ATM card out.

    I just thought that you might like to know, some cabbies (Citycab and Comfort – yellow and blue) are able to take NETS payment, while most (inclusive of SMRT – white) are able to accept VISA/Masters too.

    There’s a surcharge though… surcharge for NETS is at 30cents, whereas Credit Cards have a hefty surcharge of 10% of your fare.

    Most drivers though, wouldn’t volunteer the information as they prefer cash. Am sure this would help you out if you encounter this kind of situation again!


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