Sydney commuters can use credit or debit cards to tap on and off trains

Sally McMullen 26 November 2018 NEWS

Swap your Opal card for your credit or debit card on Sydney trains and ferries from today.

Sydney commuters can carry one less card as of today. You can now "tap on and off" at the Opal reader with your Visa, Mastercard or American Express credit or debit card. Or if you'd prefer, you can use the digital wallet on your smartphone or smartwatch to replace how you use your Opal card.

This is an extension of trials that have allowed commuters to use their credit or debit cards to tap on the Manly F1 ferry since July 2017 before it was extended to all public ferry and some light rail services in Sydney in March 2018.

With Australia's widespread adoption of contactless payments to make purchases, these Opal advancements are complementary to how we use our contactless payments for most small, everyday transactions.

"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," said Visa's head of product Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific Axel Boye-Moller.

As well as convenience, there are other perks of using your credit or debit card in place of your Opal. If you have a rewards or frequent flyer credit card, you'll earn points per $1 spent on your everyday train costs.

Although you'll enjoy the convenience of not carrying your Opal card, you'll miss out on benefits including weekly travel discounts, concessions and transfer savings if you tap on with your bank card. However, you will continue to take advantage of the daily, weekly and Sunday travel caps that you'd expect with your Opal card.

It's also important to factor your Opal budget into your repayments to ensure you're paying your balance in full each month if you're using a credit card. Any interest you collect on your transport costs will quickly outweigh the costs of tapping on and off with your card.

The payment infrastructure that supports credit and debit card payments on the Opal system was developed by Commonwealth Bank in partnership with Mobeewave and IDEMIA. There is no news as to when this will be rolled out to other NSW transport services (such as buses) or other payments alternatives such as credit cards. However, CBA has confirmed it does have potential to be replicated across other transport networks across Australia.
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