Travel like a local with T-Money! If you plan to visit Hongdae or Itaewon with your card, check out the restaurants that you can book at a discount here.

t-money
Kakao Friends! Credit: Tmoney Facebook page

Highlights

  • T-Money is a prepaid card that you can use to pay for your transportation fares in South Korea. It’ll give you a discount each time you take the bus or subway.
  • You may also use it in select stores, such as Starbucks, Gong Cha, Lotteria, and lalavla.
  • The price of a T-Money card is around ₩2,500-4,000 or $2-3. It’s cheaper to buy one at Incheon International Airport or in convenience stores like CU, 7-Eleven, or GS25.
  • Get to choose the design that you like, which may include Kakao Friends, BTS, and Pokemon. (There’s a dedicated vending machine at the airport’s transportation center!)
  • Another way that you can get around like a local is by using WAUG! Discover things to do in Seoul and get ₩3,000 off your first booking when you sign up here.

Explore more: 5 Best Restaurants in Hongdae That Command Locals’ Attention

Why buy a T-Money Card for your Korea trip?

T-Money is a smart way to pay for public transit fares in Korea. It will save you from having to buy single-journey tickets each time you ride the train, just like the Octopus Card in Hong Kong, beep card in the Philippines, and EZ-Link in Singapore. But the main reason why I got T-Money when I first traveled to Seoul is because it gives a discount of ₩100 (around $0.1) on regular subway and bus fares. I know it’s not much, but towards the end of my solo trip, I was able to save ₩3,200 — almost the cost of a tall iced Americano or a beef kimbap.

You can also use your T-Money card when you ride the taxi, as well as when you buy from convenience stores (CVS), vending machines, Starbucks, and Dunkin’ Donuts. What’s more is that you get free transportation transfers (bus-to-bus, subway-to-bus, and bus-to-subway), provided that you hop in and out of the next leg within 30 minutes. Beyond this time, you’ll be charged for multiple trips.

Aside from T-Money, travelers also get a mobile Discover Seoul Pass to score discounts on activities and attractions in Seoul. Let’s put it this way: If T-Money is used for transportation, the Discover Seoul Pass is used to get automatic admission to various attractions, a free one-way train ticket from Incheon airport to Seoul, and Korean spa admission, among so many others. You’ll find all the benefits and features here.

Types of T-Money & Where to Buy

Minions on your card! Credit: Tmoney Facebook page

Not all T-Money cards are created equal. While the cashless payment feature is standard, some cards will provide more benefits than others. Consider the following:

1. Korea Tour Card

This is the newest T-Money product for foreigners. What I like about it is that it’s available not only in the physical card form, but also in the mobile app form (for Android users). This means that you can just hop on and off the subway or pay for your purchases using your phone, provided that NFC is enabled. Plus, if you want to reload, you can just use your credit or debit card and top up straight from the app.

Both the physical and mobile Korea Tour Card offers benefits like 50% discount on mask sheets at SKINFOOD (inside Lotte World Mall), 10% discount at Shilla I’PARK Duty Free, 30% discount on Lotte World daily passport ticket, and 30% off on Everland admission ticket, among others.

If you plan to buy the physical Korea Tour Card, you can visit a 7-Eleven in major tourist areas in Seoul, CU at Incheon International Airport, or the SeoulMetro Vending Machine (subway). The price of a Korea Tour Card is ₩4,000 or $3.2. You can load an amount of up to ₩500,000 upon purchase. You will find more details here.

2. AmazingPay T-Money

This is the T-Money that I got. It only comes in the physical card form, but it has really cool offers, like 10% off on airport limousine, 10% off on Lotte World ticket, 30% off on Everland admission, 25% off on SeoulLand admission, 20% discount at MBC World, 30% discount at Dragon Hill Spa, and a lot more. (You’ll even get a preferential exchange rate at KEB Hana Bank Incheon Airport branch!)

The AmazingPay T-Money card costs ₩50,000 or $40 and is preloaded with ₩46,000 that you can consume. You may only purchase it at the Airport Bus Ticket Office and the CU convenience store located inside Incheon International Airport. Find more details here.

3. Alipay T-Money

This is a special T-Money card for Chinese visitors in Korea. You can purchase one from the Alipay app and exchange the voucher for the actual card. An Alipay T-Money sells for ₩23,500 or ¥135. Learn more about it here.

How to Top Up or Reload T-Money

When your T-Money card balance is running low, you can easily top up using the reloading machines found inside subway stations. To load, simply place your T-Money card on the sensor (it’s the middle box below the screen), choose English as your preferred language, and the machine will display the top-up amount options available. Insert your cash (or coins), wait for the card to carry the amount, and you’ll be all set to ride the next train.

Of course, you can also pop in a nearby convenience store and request for a top-up.

How much should I load my T-Money card in Korea?

Credit: Tmoney Facebook page

To help you budget, here are the regular public transportation fares in Korea (I usually load ₩20,000, which covers 3 days of touring):

1. Airport Railroad Fares

If you’ll enter Korea via Incheon International Airport and will make your way to Seoul by train, expect to pay the following:

  • Incheon to Seoul Station via KTX or Airport Express Train:
    • Adult Ticket Price: ₩9,000 or $7.3
    • Children Ticket Price: ₩7,000 or $5.7
  • Incheon to Seoul Station via the All-Stop train:
    • If boarding from Terminal 1: ₩4,150 or $3.4
    • If boarding from Terminal 2: ₩4,750 or $3.9

Take note that the price is for a one-way trip and also applies when the route is reversed. If you would like to book a private transfer from Incheon airport to Seoul, click here.

2. Subway Fares in Seoul

The base fare per trip is ₩1,250 or $1 per ride. You will be charged an additional ₩100 for every 5 km traveled within a distance of 10-50 km and ₩100 for every 8 km traveled with a distance of over 50 km.

3. Subway Fares in Busan

In Busan, the subway fare is ₩1,250 or $1 if you’ll travel for a distance of up to 10.5km. Beyond this, you’ll have to pay ₩1,500 or $1.2.

Note that T-Money cannot be used to pay for inter-region transfers, i.e. Seoul to Busan or Daegu to Daejeon. T-Money can only be used to pay for the subway network within each city, if available.

Oh, if you’re traveling to Busan, make sure to try the scenic Songdo Marine Cable Car!

4. Bus Fares in Seoul

Taking the Blue and Green Bus in Seoul will set you back ₩1,250. A ticket for the Yellow Bus costs ₩1,100, while the Night Bus in Seoul costs ₩2,150 or $1.75 per trip.

In case you’re wondering, buses in Seoul are color-coded and offer the following services:

  • Blue buses run on major highways in Seoul.
  • Green buses travel shorter distances and stop at key subway stations.
  • Red buses are express buses that travel from Seoul to suburban areas.
  • Yellow buses operate on a closed circuit within a district of Seoul. 

If you’re unsure which bus to take, you can always refer to Google Maps.

5. Taxi Fares in Seoul

Cab fares vary by type. Here are some information to help you budget:

  • Standard Taxi
    • This is your average cab. Usually orange or silver.
    • Base fare starts at ₩2,800-3,800 or $2.5-3.4.
  • Deluxe Taxi
    • If you want to have more legroom, go for the deluxe. The taxi is usually black and has a yellow sign on top. No late-night surcharge applies.
    • Base fare starts at ₩3,200-5,500 depending on vehicle.
  • Jumbo Taxi
    • This type is ideal for large groups (6-10 people).
    • Base fare also starts at ₩3,200-5,500 depending on vehicle.

For standard cabs, a surcharge of 20-30% applies during late-night hours (12am to 4am) and/or when you’re headed somewhere outside the city.

How to Use T-Money in the Subway, Bus, and Taxi

t-money-iphone
Credit: Tmoney Facebook page

When taking the bus, hold your T-Money card on the sensor until you hear it beep. You’ll then see the charged amount as well as the remaining balance of your card. Before getting off, make sure to tap your T-Money card on the sensor by the rear doors to get the discount or free transfer.

The process is basically the same when using the T-Money in the metro subway, except that you’d have to place your card on the sensor found at the turnstiles.

To use your Korea T-Money card in a taxi, inform the driver that you want to pay with it before getting in. If their vehicle is capable, you can then tap your T-Money on the sensor, which is usually located between the two front seats. You may pay for the amount you’re short using cash if your balance on the card isn’t sufficient.

How to Refund Your T-Money card Balance

If you have a remaining balance of ₩20,000 or less in your T-Money card, you can go to a convenience store and ask for refund. The amount that you will get back will be your card’s balance less the service fee (around ₩500).

If you have more than ₩20,000 left on your T-Money and want to apply for a refund, you’d have to drop by T-Money’s headquarters. 

FAQ: T-Money Korea

1. How does the free transfer work?

The free transfer on buses and/or subway lines is only applicable if you actually transfer within the 30-minute timeframe. If you’re hopping into the same numbered bus or reentering the same subway station even within 30 minutes, you’ll still be charged.

2. What happens if you don’t tap your T-Money card on the bus upon getting off?

You will not be able to get the transfer discount.

3. Where Can I Use T-Money in Korea?

You can use your T-Money card in the following subway lines, retail stores, and restaurants:

A. Subway Lines in Seoul & Gyeonggi-do

  • Airport Railroad (to go from Incheon to Seoul and vice-versa)
  • Lines 1-9
  • Shinbundang Line
  • U Line
  • Suin Line
  • Gyeongchun Line
  • Gyeongui-Jungang Line
  • Jungang Line
  • Bundang Line
  • Yongin Ever Line
  • Bundang Line and more!

B. Subway Lines in Other Cities

  • Incheon (Lines 1-2)
  • Daejeon (Line 1)
  • Daegu (Line 1)
  • Gwangju (Line 1)
  • Busan (Lines 1-4)

C. Buses in Korea

  • Seoul & Gyeonggi
  • Incheon
  • Daejeon
  • Daegu
  • Ulsan
  • Gwangju
  • Busan
  • Sejong
  • Gangwon
  • Chungbuk
  • Chungnam
  • Gyeongbu
  • Gyeongnam
  • Jeonbuk
  • Jeonnam
  • Jeju

D. Convenience Stores

  • 7-Eleven
  • CU
  • GS25
  • Ministop
  • 365 Plus
  • StoryWay
  • IGA Mart
  • C Space
  • With Me
  • Best All

E. Shops

  • Home Plus
  • lalavla
  • Hyundai U-Plex
  • GS Supermarket
  • Home Plus Express
  • Red Bucket
  • Holika Holika
  • The Face Shop
  • TONYMOLY
  • Innisfree

F. Dining Outlets and Cafes

  • Starbucks
  • Caffe Pascucci
  • Baskin Robbins
  • Jamba Juice
  • Angel in us Coffee
  • Caffe TIAMO
  • Gong Cha
  • Lotteria
  • McDonalds
  • Paris Baguette
  • Dunkin’ Donuts

G. Entertainment & Facilities

  • Everland Resort
  • Wyverns Baseball Club
  • Vending machines
  • Subway lockers
  • Public parking lots
  • Traditional markets

4. What other cards work like T-Money?

Aside from T-Money, you can also consider getting other stored-value transportation cards, such as Cashbee and Korea Railplus Transport Card. Both cards function the same way as T-Money, however they’re not as popular.

If you’re purchasing the Cashbee card in Korea, note that, as of writing time, it cannot be used in Daejeon (Line 1) and these bus routes/areas: 

  • Daejeon
  • Gyeongbuk (Andong)
  • Gyeongnam (Geoje, Tongyeong, Hadong, Hapcheon, Hamyang, Geochang, Changnyeong, Goseong, Sancheong, Namhae)

If you’re renting a car, you can use Korea Railplus Transport card to pay for parking.

5. Do T-Money cards expire?

No, T-Money cards do not have an expiration date. When you purchase one, you can use the same card on your succeeding visits. It makes for a good souvenir, too!

6. What are T-Money card designs available? Are there T-Money charms or keychains too?

T-Money cards come in different forms and designs. For locals, their debit cards are usually equipped with T-Money function and some use a T-Money keychain, charm, phone accessory, bag tag, and more.

t-money-keychain
Credit: Tmoney Facebook page

For foreigners, there are various designs to choose from. Once in a while, there are special edition cards that get released as well, like the following (these are limited edition cards that may not be available already):

BTS T-Money Card

Here’s a T-money design that bears BTS members’ dates of birth!

Here’s another cool design that the Army will love:

BT21 T-Money Card Designs

Credit: Tmoney Facebook page

7. Is there an official T-Money card app that I can download?

Yes, there is! However, the current version only supports Korean language, so I’d suggest getting the Korea Tour Card app, which is designed for foreigners.

8. Is there an app that will let me check my T-Money card balance?

Yes, there are several, but they are not official apps from T-Money. For iPhone users, you can check out this app. For Android phone users, there’s one called T-Money Balance Check, which you can view here.

More Travel Essentials!

Complete your trip in Korea by booking any of the following!

  1. Hanbok & Wedding Cafe in Dongdaemun
  2. DMZ Walking Tour
  3. Everland Shuttle Bus Ticket (Roundtrip)

Hope you enjoy your trip! If you’ve any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.

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Kevin

Kevin

안녕하세요. 글로벌 콘텐츠 마케터 Kevin입니다. Hey, I'm Kevin from the Marketing Team. If you have any questions about WAUG or this blog post, feel free to send me an email!

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