Last Friday, Touch ‘n Go officially launched its Enhanced Touch ‘n Go Card in Malaysia, offering it for sale on its TnG eWallet app and selected retailers. It was clear the new product would be popular from the get-go – having been quietly available at TnG’s own outlet in Nu Sentral the previous week, it was immediately scalped at nearly double the price.
So it proved – the card was sold out on the app within three hours of the announcement. It was quickly back on sale, however, and we managed to score our own in relatively short order. Given that TnG cards are primarily used for toll payments, we thought it would be a good idea to put the new technology through its paces and see how easy (or otherwise) it is to use.
What’s different about it, and how much does it cost?
The headlining feature of the Enhanced card is the built-in near-field communication (NFC) technology, enabling the much-vaunted smartphone reloads and cutting out the physical counter (and any associated reload charges, as NFC reloads are free) entirely. No, you still can’t top-up the card remotely and the card balance is still separate from your eWallet, just so you know.
What the new card does allow you to do is reload the card using the eWallet, simply by holding it to the back of your phone. To do so, you’ll need an Android smartphone or an iPhone equipped with an NFC chip, which is most of them these days (including the iPhone 7 and newer). Touch ‘n Go also says the new card has better encryption, enhancing the security of your balance.
The Enhanced card is priced the same as its predecessor at RM10 (some LRT and MRT stations are selling the old cards at RM15, inclusive of RM10 preloaded), with orders through the eWallet app tacking on a RM5 shipping fee. It’s sold out on the app as of today, and the cards are still being scalped online – The Star is reporting prices as high as RM90 on an e-commerce platform (i.e. either Lazada or Shopee), which is ridiculous to say the least. Just wait for new stock to arrive, OK?
You can tell the Enhanced card apart from older versions through the pleasing minimalist blue-and-pink gradient on the front and back, although new designs will probably be offered in the future as part of marketing tie-ins, as was the case with the previous cards.
There’s also a wave icon indicating the NFC functionality, along with the TnG and eWallet logos, all of which are imprinted in chrome. On the reverse side is a QR code for the eWallet app, the serial number and the expiry date (seven-year validity for Enhanced). No terms and conditions here, just a simple “terms apply.”
How does the reload function work?
To use the Enhanced card as it’s intended, you’ll first need to update the eWallet app. Once you do that, you’ll notice a new TNG Card shortcut on the main page – previously, you needed to tap on the Toll icon to get to it. The first time you access the menu, you’ll get an introduction of the new card and a prompt to add your card to the app using NFC (you can still do it the old-fashioned way by inputting the serial number).
You’ll then be asked to get your Enhanced card ready, after which your phone will prompt you to place the card on the back for five seconds. Once the card is read, the serial number is automatically inserted in the dialogue box; you will then have to input the six-digit PIN number registered with the eWallet before the card is added to your catalogue. With the latest app, you can now link up to five TnG cards (including Enhanced ones), up from a limit of just three previously.
Reloading the card is relatively straightforward. In the TnG Cards menu, you’ll only need to tap the Reload button on the specific card, after which you’ll again be asked to hold the card to the back of your phone to verify it. Select the desired value and you’ll be prompted to tap your card yet again; for first-time reloads (there’s no preloaded value, by the way), you’ll also need to provide your PIN number. That’s it.
Couple of things to mention – firstly, the location of your phone’s NFC chip differs depending on the model, so you can’t just place the card willy-nilly on the back and expect it to be detected. On an iPhone (like the 12 Pro shown here), you’ll need to tap the card on the top edge, next to the camera bump.
The process is also a little finicky – more than once did the phone report an error while reading the card, which for reloads means you’ll have to start the whole process over again. It seems you can’t rush the tapping of the card; keep it away from the phone before you’re prompted to and the errors will decrease. Once you get the hang of it, you can breeze through reloads in no time.
Anything else I need to keep in mind?
As mentioned earlier, the value in the Enhanced card remains separate from the eWallet – you can’t just pay for things with the card via your eWallet balance (unless you’re using the PayDirect function). Reloads automatically deduct from your eWallet; there’s no option to top-up directly using a credit or debit card. If you have an insufficient eWallet balance, you’ll first be asked to reload the eWallet.
Unlike older cards, the Enhanced version has no dormancy period, meaning you can use the card as sparingly (or often) as you want over the next seven years. Previously, you had to use the card at least once a year to keep it active, although this only applied to cards not linked to the eWallet app.
Want to transfer any balance from your old cards? You’ll have to make a refund request via Touch ‘n Go’s eRefund service, which will credit the remaining value to either your bank account or your eWallet (refunds from a dormant card require a RM5 fee). Once the money is in your eWallet, you can use it to reload the Enhanced card, as usual. Bear in mind that the old card will be deactivated in the process.
Outside of the NFC reloads, the Enhanced card functions just like any other TnG card and can be used for tolls, parking, bus and train fares and some retail purchases. PayDirect also allows you to use your eWallet balance for payments, although it is only supported at certain toll plazas and a handful of mall parking lots.
Infuriatingly, the North-South Highway still doesn’t support PayDirect, despite RFID lanes having now been added at its toll plazas. At least the Enhanced card means you don’t have to park your car and walk to the reload counter, helping to eliminate congestion at tolls. As before, using your card at a PayDirect-supported toll or parking lot deducts from your eWallet first, unless there is insufficient balance.
So there you have it, the new Enhanced Touch ‘n Go Card that allows you to say goodbye to physical reload counters. What do you think of the new NFC functionality and do you think it will make a difference in how you use your card? Sound off in the comments after the jump.