Leave your Opal at home and commute with Amex to earn rewards points

By Katherine O'Chee ·

Whether you take the bus, train, ferry or light rail to work, you can now pay for that whole journey with your smartphone. 

Starting from today, commuters boarding any Opal-enabled public transport across NSW (Sydney, Illawarra, Southern Highlands, Central Coast and the Hunter Region) will be able to tap on and off with their credit card, debit card, mobile wallet or wearable device - and if you’re with American Express (Amex), you’ll even earn rewards points for the commute.

That means when you use Amex for your daily travel, you could be earning 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent on a American Express Essential Credit Card - and get a step closer to your next new outfit or dream holiday. 

RELATED ARTICLE: Bus it to work? You can now use your credit card to tap on and off

This latest expansion of contactless payments to all buses on the Opal network comes after the technology was rolled out to trains, the light rail and ferries last year. And according to Minister for Transport Andrew Constance, it’s “the final piece of the contactless payments puzzle”. 

Amex said travelling will get a lot easier for Sydneysiders who want to avoid the fuss of having to top up or carry around a physical card. 

“Commuters with American Express cards can now enjoy the convenience and flexibility of using their American Express card, mobile wallet or wearable to tap on and tap off at the Opal reader - providing them with the fastest and simplest way to get around,” Adam Roberts, Amex’s Vice President of Digital, Data and Payments Innovation, said. 

Roberts added that Amex’s partnership with Transport for NSW will allow cardholders to “use their Amex card or mobile wallet in more places than ever before.” 

Mastercard and Visa have also hopped on board - depending on the card provider, your daily bus or train fare could also earn you rewards points with them too. 

And if you’re opting for this new way to pay, you won’t have to worry about missing out on Adult Opal perks either. Commuters using their Amex, Mastercard or Visa card or linked device will still have access to benefits including: 

  • 30% discount for off-peak train fares
  • 50% discount after you’ve make 8 journeys per week
  • $2 transfer discount if you make a transfer within the hour 
  • Fare caps daily, weekly and on Sundays 

But for some Aussies, they’ll have to hold onto their Opals for a little longer, as contactless payments aren’t available with Concession, Child and Senior/Pensioner cards just yet.

How to reap the benefits of tapping on and off with your credit card 

To make the most of paying with your plastic or smartphone, here are some top things to keep in mind:

  • Have juice in your phone: If you’re paying with your mobile wallet, the last thing you want is for your phone to run out of battery while ticket officers are checking to see whether or not you've tapped on. So make sure your phone is always charged before you leave the house, or have a portable charger in your bag as a backup. Otherwise, you could find yourself with a fine of up $550! 
  • Use one card per traveller: When travelling with friends or family, don’t forget that each person needs to tap on and off with a separate credit card or mobile wallet. Two people can’t share the one card if they’re boarding public transport together. 
  • Stick to one plastic: It can be easy to get mixed up between your different cards, so being organised could go a long way to avoiding mistakes like accidentally tapping off with the wrong card. If that happens, you’ll be charged the default maximum amount on each card, which will make your trip a lot more expensive than it otherwise would be. 

With more and more payment options now available to Aussies, it could be time for you to give your wallet an upgrade. Ready to get started? Head over to our credit card comparison table to compare a range of credit cards that offer contactless payments. 

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Katherine O'Chee
Katherine O'Chee
Money writer

Katherine O’Chee is Mozo’s international money transfer and forex expert and business banking writer. She keeps Mozo’s readers on top of the latest news and writes in-depth features to inform and help Australians make smarter financial decisions. Her work has been published in major media outlets including Sydney Morning Herald, SBS News and Bangkok Post. She has a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications) from the University of Sydney.