Facts about Opal Card (NSW) contactless payment

contactless payment

We get many press releases about Card X or Device Y working with the Opal Card (NSW) contactless payment network. The Short answer is yes; you can use most contactless payment systems. The long answer is no; you can’t use it everywhere, nor access all Opal card benefits.

A most significant benefit is the convenience of contactless payment – one less card to maintain or stuff into the wallet/purse. It is fine for tourists (international tourists may also have a currency conversion charge), full- fare passengers, and those making unbroken trips on the train.

contactless payment

Contactless payment is only for a standard peak full fare (that is what you get charged); it does not have a ‘transfer discount’ for transfers made within 60 minutes of tap-off; you can’t use it on buses, private coach/ferry; and it cannot access concessional fares like Youth, Gold, Senior or Pensioner fares.

Opal card payment types

Opal benefit Opal card Contactless Opal single trip ticket
Travel by bus Yes No Yes (selected services)
Standard Adult Opal fares
(based on distance travelled)
Yes Yes (peak fares only) No
Daily Travel Cap Yes Yes No
Weekly Travel Cap Yes Yes No
Sunday Cap Yes Yes No
30% discount off-peak train fares Yes No No
Transfer discount
(applies to transfers made within 60 mins)
Yes No No
Opal Trip Advantage
(transfers on the same mode of transport within 60 mins count as a single journey)
Yes No No
Park&Ride free car park access Yes No No
50% discount after completing eight trips per week Yes No No
Airport Access Fee Cap Yes No No
Child/Youth fares available Yes No Yes
Concession, Senior or Pensioner fares available Yes No No
Pay for more than one person using one card No No No

There is a full list of exclusions and a good FAQ here.

Contactless payments offer another way to pay for a standard (peak) Adult Opal fare on Sydney Trains, NSW TrainLink Intercity Opal rail services, Sydney Ferries and light rail services.

Opal cards remain the primary, most economical ticket for regular public transport users in NSW.

Opal Card supports most contactless payment systems – cards and devices

It supports American Express and most bank-issued Mastercard, Visa credit/debit cards and those using an NFC (near field communications) enabled smartphone, tablet or wearable device linked to one of these cards.

Fitbit Pay is the latest to join the contactless payment brigade. Its Ionic, Versa or Charge 3 health trackers can link to credit cards from the major four Australian banks.

Apple pay has suffered with a smaller number of participating banks – basically ANZ and some credit unions. CommBank is coming on board – will we see the other two major banks follow suit?

Samsung Pay is for Samsung users, and it has all four major banks and many smaller banks and societies. This is good as it supports both NFC and Mag-stripe technology (the latter is in the US).

Google Pay is for any Android users and has an even larger range of banks and societies.

But the real advantage is to use the phone as a digital wallet scanning all your loyalty cards, driver’s license (trialling in NSW and SA at present), credit cards and more making your smartphone and smartwatch the way to pay.

You can pay regardless of whether you have internet connectivity. But remember that contactless credit card payment often is at the full rate, it’s harder to negotiate a discount for cash, there is often a low floor limit ($100) and it is not yet a universally accepted payment system.

A warning on privacy and security for contactless payment systems

 Contactless payment systems on smart devices track your every move. While the banks already know what you spend, now your device (Android, iOS) does too. It is why so many vendors are offering strong encouragement for you to go contactless – your data is gold.

Expect to see even more advertising targeted around where you usually shop, goods you buy and so on.

A lost/stolen phone is the same as losing your physical wallet. You need to cancel cards and take precautions. If the phone does not have a pin or biometric login, your payment system may be at risk too.

Cybercriminals can download the payment data and eventually crack it. Apple’s Touch ID feature uses a mathematical representation of your fingerprint instead of the actual print. And many of today’s smartphones have security-grade storage mechanisms, such as Samsung Knox.

“A biometric stored on a mobile device offers the advantage of authenticating yourself without any concern of a breach,” said Shirley Inscoe, senior analyst at Aite Group. “But these methods aren’t 100% foolproof.”

And finally, a new breed of malware can infect your smart device and track passwords, send screen images and track smart payments. Neither Android or iOS is safe – In September 2015, Chinese developers identified a piece of malware that infected nearly 3,500 iPhone apps.