Tmoney Cards and Korean Public Transportation Guide

busan subway korea
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Korea International School

I always tell people that purchasing a Tmoney card at the airport is the first thing they can do to make themselves comfortable in Korea. Tmoney cards can provide hassle-free travel, discounts, and even a sense of belonging. Having an Oyster card made me feel like a Londoner, and having a Tmoney card makes me feel like a Seoulite.

Admittedly transport is not the most exciting part of planning a trip, alongside where to find
the best restaurants, clubs, and theme parks, but sometimes the simple things like
knowing how to get about a city safely and affordably, can be a major factor in whether
you sink or sail in your new adventures.

Keep reading for in-depth information on the Tmoney card, its uses, and how to take advantage of its perks below. To best take advantage of your time in South Korea. You are able to use the card all over Korea like in Seoul capital area, Busan, Daejeon, Daegu, and Jeonju.

tmoney card
A basic Tmoney card

Tmoney Card Uses

The basic Tmoney card can be purchased from inside convenience stores for 2,500 won. The card price for a special edition or custom cards sometimes costs more. There is also the Cashbee card which is almost the same as the Tmoney card.

To purchase a card from a convenience store, ask for a 교통 카드 (gyo-tong ka-deu). “Tmoney” is the English name for these cards; Koreans just call them “transportation cards”.

This rechargeable Korean public transportation card is available to all citizens and international visitors. It can be used for travel via subway, bus, taxi, and even be linked to your membership to rent bicycles in Seoul. You will notice 3 different buses. The green bus is for within one neighborhood (branch bus), the blue buses are for between neighborhoods (mainline bus), and the red buses are intercity buses for nearby cities (rapid bus). 

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Instead of purchasing multiple single tickets, carrying loose change or bundles of notes for your transport needs. You can simply tap your Tmoney card, on your way in and out of the subway, on and off the bus. You will be able to see the amount charged when checking in on the top plus the remaining balance credit KRW on the card on the bottom. When you see a Cashbee logo or T-money logo in a taxi this means that you are also able to use it to pay the taxi fare. 

subway vending machine
Subway Vending Machine, photo by: ROVEN CO., LTD.

Tmoney Transport Benefits

A Tmoney card can save you 100 won on each trip, as well as receive a discount when transferring to a different subway line or onto a bus.

korean subway lockers
Subway Lockers

You can also use cards to utilize the lockers provided in many of the subway stations throughout Seoul. Basic storage time is 2-4 hours and small, medium and large lockers range from 2,000 to 4,000 won.

korean bus tmoney card
Tap your card here when getting on and off the bus.

On the bus, passengers can get a transfer discount of 100 won when changing to the subway system or another bus line.

When checking in they charge you for a one-way ticket. This is the base price when you go over 10km it is an extra 100won per km. On the bus, passengers can get a transfer discounts of 100 won when changing to the subway system or another bus line.

There is a transfer time limit of 30 mins or 1 hour between 21:00 – 07:00.

Convenience Store Benefits

korean convenience store
If you have some extra balance, scan your card to purchase items at convenience stores.

Not only can you use the card for the majority of your traveling and storage needs, but Tmoney cards can be used to purchase items at any affiliated convenience stores too, this includes;
• GS25
• CU
• 7- Eleven
• Buy the way
• 365 plus
• mini stop
In Seoul, you can hardly walk 100 yards without seeing one of the above.

Tmoney cardholders can also buy goods from member franchises and affiliated shopping centers. Discount benefits are available at various cultural and tourist facilities too.

Tmoney Reload and Refunds

korean topup machine
Top-up Machine, photo by: Jompak Anfone

Tmoney cards can be charged up to 500,000 won. You will be able to reload the card at the Subway station. If you put in too much money you are able to get a refund. However, it is recommended to recharge in small amounts. The card doesn’t expire, so even when you return to Seoul you can bring your old card with you to recharge and keep using it. 

Alternative Tmoney Tourist Cards

If you’re traveling outside of Seoul you may want to purchase a Korea Tour Card (4,000 won). This card provides access to transport as well as transfer benefits anywhere in Korea.
Discount benefits at;
• select shops
• restaurants
• performances
• The National Museum of Korea
• Everland
• Lotte World

If you’re visiting Korea for a short period or have family and friends coming to visit, you
may want to invest in Exclusive tourist cards.

korea tour card
Korea Tour Card, photo by: Korea Smart Card Co., Ltd.

Tourist Cards

Mpass (15,000 – 64,500 Won)

For those traveling in the Seoul metropolitan area and Jeju.

Offers 20 rides a day. 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7-day passes are available.
It can be used as a Tmoney card, but it can’t be used to pay for taxis and may not be
accepted at convenience stores.

A Tmoney card, with 10% discount off most bus routes that connect Seoul and Incheon.
A coupon book will be issued with the card.
Discount benefits for restaurants and cultural performances.
Major attractions include;
• Lotte World and
• 63 Square.

A Tmoney card with free admission pass to major tourist attractions.
Ranging from 24-hours to 72-hours.
Discount benefits for:
• cultural performances
• duty-free shops

There is also a Discover Seoul Pass app, which includes 24-hours use of the Seoul city’s
public bicycles, a one-way ride on the Airport Express Train from Incheon to Seoul, and
one free ride on a Seoul City Tour. Find out how best to use the 24-hour Discover Seoul pass with our guide here.