Wednesday , December 19 2018 Ausdroid » News » Sydney trains commuters can now use MasterCard, VISA and American Express to travel, as well as Opal

Sydney (and NSW) trains commuters can now use their contactless payment options to travel on TfNSW trains around Sydney and across New South Wales. Passengers can use MasterCard, VISA and American Express contactless cards to tap on and tap off instead of the Opal Card.

Better still, and relevantly for us: digital wallets like Google Pay, Apple Pay and others can be used too.

The card networks are pretty excited about the change. Axel Boye-Moller, VISA’s Head of Product (Australia) had this to say:

In Australia, tapping your phone, card or wearable has become synonymous with paying. In fact, 94% of Visa’s face-to-face transactions in Australia are contactless, and we’re seeing more people frequently using their mobiles to pay, particularly for daily purchases such as transport.

The expansion of contactless payments to TfNSW’s train network will make the Sydney transport experience quicker and more convenient for locals and tourists alike.

The move comes after six months or so of beta testing on some of Sydney’s Ferries. However, the service offered today isn’t quite the same; the trial didn’t allow travel caps or bonuses, whereas from today, commuters can access the benefits of daily, weekly and Sunday travel caps. Weekly travel discount, concessions and the transfer discount won’t be available to commuters using their credit or debit cards, and remain the exclusive domain of Opal users.

For Sydney commuters who’d like to try the service, we’ve put together some top tips to make sure your trip is enjoyable and hassle-free:

  • If your mobile is almost flat, use a plastic card or an Opal. There’s no point tapping on for your phone to go flat; you’ll be unable to prove you’ve tapped on, and may incur a fine.
  • If you’re travelling in a group, everyone has to use their own card. Equally, if you’re travelling with kids, seniors or concession card holders, they’ll need to use Opal cards to benefit from discounted fares.
  • Be careful to tap on and off with the same card – don’t use a different one, or you’ll pay the maximum fare for your trip, regardless of distance.
  • If you’re tapping on with your wallet, be careful to only tap with one card. You might need to take your card out of your wallet (or move it to a side without other contactless cards) to minimise any hassles.

We’ve used a very similar system in London (upon which the TfNSW system is modelled) with Google Pay, and it works very, very well. Of course, the system is ultimately intended to be of most use to irregular commuters, visitors or tourists – regular commuters will derive many more benefits from using their Opal cards.

Chris Rowland   Managing Editor

Chris Rowland

Chris has been at the forefront of smartphone reporting in Australia since smartphones were a thing, and has used mobile phones since they came with giant lead-acid batteries that were "transportable" and were carried in a shoulder bag.

Today, Chris publishes one of Australia's most popular technology websites, Ausdroid. His interests include mobile (of course), as well as connected technology and how it can make all our lives easier.

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Michael Matthews
Ausdroid Reader

Just tried it this morning using my visa debit card and it works. However as I tried using the tap and pay feature via the St.George app on my phone to tap but couldn’t read it. Not worth looking into as the St. George debit cards will soon be available on google pay and will be terminating the tap and pay feature via the app this week. Anyone else tried using their device that’s tied to their banking app in lieu of google pay?

Adam
Ausdroid Reader

“The card networks are pretty excited about the change.” I’ll bet they are. Instead of a single transaction fee for your $100 weekly top up on your Opal card, they (probably) now get transaction fees on every single journey. More convenient for users, more profitable for banks.

chris
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chris

They charge a % they don’t care how often you charge on the card only the amount.

Scott
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Scott

I hope other cities follow suit, I’m sure there are reasons why they haven’t from day one but it’s a concept that will instantly improve access by causal users to public transport. I travel frequently enough that I’ve got an Opal, a Myki, a Go Card, a SmartRider and a MyWay… and to be honest I’d love to not have any of them!

gregoryopera
Ausdroid Reader

@Chris Rowland What do you mean? You prove your entitlement via whoever manages the travel cards down there, they associate your travel card account with a concession and when you set the travel card account up in Android Pay, then Android Pay will know that you’re entitled to a concession… It would be no different to associating any other card with you personally, such as your “Woolworths Rewards” card or financial institution’s respective charge/credit/debit card. Apple Wallet is capable of this (I recently changed to Apple iOS), and I find it difficult to believe that Android Pay is not capable… Read more »

CrazySurfaNZ
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CrazySurfaNZ

The difference here is they’re not taking about adding your Opal to Google pay which presumably would handle the concession element. They’re talking about using any two and pay card instead. Your credit card didn’t know your entitlement etc.

It does seem like there should be a way to link an Opal and a credit card such that it could recognise it though but I guess not at this stage.

gregoryopera
Ausdroid Reader

I’m just putting it out there, it seems kinda short-sighted to know that concession card holders are forced to stick to “Opal”… Isn’t the whole purpose of a system like this to make everything more convenient, after all?

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