If you’re travelling to Korea, then you’ll definitely want to pick up a T Money card. Having a T Money card in Korea will make your life a lot easier when dealing with transportation, shopping, or sightseeing. It will save you time, money, and having to deal with tricky cash payments when you’re travelling.
There are countless benefits to the T-Money card, but really the biggest ones are the money it’ll save you (discounted rides) and the convenience from not having to use cash and buy tickets all the time.
I always try to find the best transportation cards when I travel, such as the Oyster Card in London, Octopus in Hong Kong, Suica in Japan, etc. These cards make travelling around big cities less of a maddening experience and are truly essential in today’s modern world.
This article will cover all of the many uses of the T-Money card, explain where and how to buy one, where you can use it, and other types of transportation cards that work with the T-Money card, such as the Korea Tour Card and the Discover Seoul Pass.
I hope you’ll find this useful and if you have any further questions, please feel free to leave me a comment at the end.
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Quick Summary Of The T Money Card In Korea
Buying a T Money card in Korea was one of the very first things I did when I arrived. I always encourage others to buy one as soon as they arrive. It’s really convenient and indispensable when you want to travel in Korea. You can even buy one before you arrive.
You must get one! No, seriously!
Here is a quick summary of the T Money card so you can see why its so good:
Purpose – electronic payment system to avoid using cash
Uses – transportation, shopping, entrance fees for attractions across Korea
Cost – 2,500 won for the card
Valid – all over Korea
The T Money card allows you to pay for a range of goods and services without having to use cash. This is really useful for tourists who don’t want to deal with lots of foreign currency.
You can breeze through subway gates, use buses easily, and pay for goods quickly and conveniently using the T Money card in Korea. Wherever you see the logo below, you can use the T Money card in Korea:
T Money cards were created in 2003 as a way for people in Seoul to use public transport without having to use cash. Since then the functions of the T Money card have expanded a lot. You can now use T Money cards all over Korea and for a lot more than just transportation. For example, you can now use the T Money card to buy a bottle of water in Busan, or pay for a taxi on Jeju Island, and lots more.
The T Money Card is a must have purchase, that’s why I recommend it highly in my article about saving money in Seoul, which you can read here:
Read on to find out about the T Money card in Korea and why you should get one…
Where Can I Use The T Money Card In Korea?
There are many uses for the T Money card in Korea. Here is a brief overview of each one:
Using The T Money Card On Buses
You can use the T Money card to pay for buses in Seoul and other major cities in Korea. Touch the T Money card on the card reader by the driver when you enter. Touch another card reader as you leave the bus. This card reader will tell you the fare, as well as how much money you have left on your T Money card.
You can get a transfer discount when you transfer from one bus to another within 30 minutes (1 hour after 9:00 pm), so be sure to touch out when you leave the bus.
On most buses in Korea you will enter the bus through the front door and leave via the middle door further inside the bus. If there is no middle door, use the card reader at the front of the bus and leave via the front door.
The picture below is an example of a T Money card reader on a bus in Seoul.
Here is a list of all the cities that you can use T Money cards on public buses:
Please note: intercity buses usually won’t accept T Money cards and you should buy a ticket from the vending machine at bus terminals. However, you may be able to buy the ticket from the vending machine using the T Money card.
Using The T Money Card On The Subway
Using the T Money Card is the easiest way to use the subway system in Seoul and other cities. Simply walk up to the subway turnstile and touch the large raised card reader (pictured below) to enter the subway. This will display the cost of the ride, as well as your current balance.
When you exit the subway, touch the card reader again to leave the station. You might also need to touch a card reader if you’re transferring between two unconnected subway stations. In this case, the charge may appear as zero.
Be sure to top up the T Money card if you plan to use the subway a lot in that day. If you run out of credit, you can add some at the subway stations.
Below is a list of cities in Korea where you can use T Money to ride the subway:
Using T Money Card For Taxis
I have to admit, I take taxis a lot more since I arrived in Korea. The reason for that is because they’re relatively cheap, easy to find, and you can call them to you using the Kakao Taxi app. You can download the app on Android / Apple.
Paying for taxis is also really easy as you can use your T Money card to pay. No more digging loose change out of your pockets or making sure you have the right amount with you. As long as the taxi has the T Money logo displayed (which they almost always do), then you can pass your T Money card to the driver to pay.
If in doubt, check with the driver by showing your T Money card when you get in. One other tip about taxis in Korea, make sure they always turn the meter on.
Be sure to have enough money on the card, however, otherwise you won’t be able to pay! An average taxi ride for 10-15 minutes usually costs less than 10,000 won or $10.
Shops, Cafes, & Restaurants
The T Money card in Korea is really useful when you want to buy small items, such as a bottle of water or some snacks. As long as you see the T Money symbol, you can use your card to pay for goods and services.
You can use your T Money card in convenience stores, like the ones below.
- Emart 24
They are so easy to find all over Korea. Seriously, I can visit 4 within a minute’s walk from my apartment. Pass your T Money card to the cashier when you pay.
You can also use the T Money card in Korea’s supermarkets and chain stores, including:
- Home Plus (supermarket)
- Emart (supermarket)
- Face Shop (cosmetics)
- Innisfree (cosmetics)
- Tonymoly (cosmetics
- and lots more…
I would only recommend using the T Money card for small purchases, however, otherwise you’ll be forever reloading it.
Food and drink places all over Korea will also accept the T Money Card, including:
- Angel-in-Us Coffee
- Ediya Coffee
- Gong Cha Tea
- Paris Baguette
- and lots more…
Again, it’s better to use the card for small amounts to save reloading it.
Attractions And Other Locations
Wherever you see the T Money logo, you can use your T Money card in Korea to pay for goods and services. Some of the places you’re likely to see it include:
- Vending machines (even ones up in the mountains)
- Public phones
- Everland Theme Park
- Sports stadiums (including Wyverns Baseball Club)
- Festivals (for food and drinks)
- and lots more…
Really, there are so many places you can use the T Money card in Korea!
How Much Does The T Money Card Cost?
The price of the T Money card is 2,500 won (under $2.50) and does not include any credit. You need to charge the T Money card before you can use it. This is really cheap for the benefits you get from using the card, including time saved and convenience.
The money you pay for the T Money card is not refundable, however, left over balances can be refunded (minus 500 won service fee). Read on to see how to refund the balance left on your T Money card.
Where Can I Buy The T Money Card In Korea?
There are many places you can buy a T Money card in Korea, or even outside the country (for certain countries). The first place most people buy the card is at the airport when they arrive. Here is a list of all the available places to buy the T Money card in Korea.
Incheon Airport & Other Airports
As mentioned, the first thing I did when I arrived in Korea was to buy a T Money card from Incheon Airport. It’s really easy to buy a T Money card here. You can pick one up from the transportation center on the basement level of the airport (T1), or anywhere you find trains or subways. You can also top up the card at these locations.
If you’ve ordered a T Money card in advance through an online booking, you can collect your card from Incheon Airport. This card costs 3,500 won, but comes with 5,000 won pre-loaded on the card! A great offer. You can also get this ordered to other airports in Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Thailand.
Need To Know How To Get To Seoul From Incheon Airport?
This great guide covers all the various transport options to get from Incheon Airport to Seoul, whatever time you arrive. Includes details about the different buses, trains, taxis, and private collection options available to you. Check it out in the link below:
Subway & Train Stations
Besides the subway and train station at Incheon Airport (both terminals), you can buy a T Money card at any subway and train station in Seoul and throughout Korea. If Seoul is your first stop, I’d recommend getting one as soon as possible.
You will find two different machines in subway stations – one for purchasing tickets and one for purchasing T Money cards.
When you first buy a T Money card at a subway station, you’ll need to go to the machine selling them. Later on, however, you can go to any ticket machine to recharge them.
All of the major convenience store chains (7-Eleven, GS25, CU, Emart 24, etc.) will stock T Money cards. You can ask for one at the counter and they often come in many fun designs to choose from.
Buying The T Money Card Outside Korea
You can pre-order a T Money card from Klook and pick it up at major airports in the following countries:
- Taiwan (Taoyuan International Airport Terminals 1 & 2)
- Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur International Airport)
- Thailand (Suvarnabhumi (BKK) Airport)
- Philippines (Manila Airport Terminal 3)
This saves you money as it comes pre-loaded with 5,000 won of credit. The normal T Money card doesn’t come with any pre-loaded credit. The card also comes with its own custom design, which looks pretty cool.
Where Can I Recharge The T Money Card In Korea?
Wouldn’t it be a pain to buy the T Money card and then not be able to top it up easily? Well, don’t worry, there are literally thousands of places you can recharge your T Money card in Korea.
Subway & Train Stations
The T Money card was originally designed as a transportation card, so it makes sense that the easiest place to top up your card is at a station. You can recharge your card at subway and train stations across Korea.
Locate a ticket machine in the station and follow the instructions on the screen. It’s in several different languages, including English.
It’s really easy, just follow the instructions to top up your TMoney card. There will be a place to put your TMoney card, leave your card on there, add the money you want to use, then take the card back with your new credit.
All major convenience store chains (and some small newsagents) will allow you to recharge your TMoney card. Hand your card over to the cashier and tell them how much you want to top up.
In case you don’t know Korean numbers, here’s a really quick cheat sheet to help you:
- 5,000 won – o chon won (‘o’ pronounced like the letter o in English)
- 10,000 won – man won (‘man’ pronounced like the word man in English)
- 20,000 won – e man won (‘e’ pronounced like the letter e in English)
- 30,000 won – sam man won (‘sam’ pronounced like the name sam in English)
- 40,000 won – sa man won
- 50,000 won – o man wan
Can I Recharge The T Money Card With My Credit Card?
No, you have to top up the T Money card with cash. Therefore, you’ll need to make sure you have cash with you when you go to recharge your T Money card. You can purchase the T Money card with a credit card, but after that you can’t recharge your T Money card with a credit card.
It sounds really confusing, I know, and I’m not sure why T Money doesn’t allow you to top up by credit card. I assume it’s a security issue.
How To Get A Refund For The T Money Card
At the end of your holiday in Korea you might have some money left over on your card. You now have two options available. You can keep the balance and card for your next trip to Korea (I’m sure you’ll want to come back again!), or get a refund on the card.
Remember, the TMoney card doesn’t expire, so you can keep it for another journey. However, the balance on the card will expire after 5 years.
You can get a refund from machines at convenience stores and subway stations.
You can get a refund as long as the balance is below 20,000 won. Enter your T-Money card into the machine and request a refund. You’ll get the remaining balance back, minus a 500 won service charge. Partial refunds are not possible.
If your balance is higher than 20,000 won, you’ll need to go to the T-Money headquarters. Remember, you can use the T-Money card for shopping for goods in convenience stores, etc. Therefore, it’s probably best to use the extra balance up buying some last minute souvenirs.
The address for the T-Money headquarters is: 1st Floor. T-money Town, Seoul City Tower Building, Namdaemun-ro 5-Ga, Jung-gu, Seoul.
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T Money Card vs Korea Tour Card
The T Money card is the standard transportation card that almost everyone uses to travel around Seoul and Korea each day. However, you may have also seen something called the Korea Tour Card.
The Korea Tour Card was designed for tourists travelling to Korea and provides them not only with the functions of a T Money Card, but also offers lots of discounts and other perks. Therefore, the Korea Tour Card is essentially a T Money card with added benefits.
The Korea Tour Card costs 4,000 won (T Money cards costs 2,500 won) and offers a lot discounts for a variety of things. For example, you can get discounts for attractions, shopping, services, restaurants, cafes, hanbok rental, river cruises, and more.
An example of some attractions you can gain discounted entry to include the following – Everland & Caribbean Bay, Coex Aquarium, Korean Folk Village, Petit France, Play KPop Theme Park, Gwangmyeong Cave, Goseong Unification Observatory, Sea Life Busan, Alive Museum, Dynamic Maze, and lots more.
Personally, I’d recommend getting a Korea Tour Card instead of a T Money card as you get the additional discounts. However, if you’re not likely to use them, then stick with a simple T Money card. You can top up and recharge the Korea Tour Card in exactly the same way as a T Money card.
T Money Card vs Discover Seoul Pass
The Discover Seoul Pass is a premium pass that will give you free or discounted entry to a range of attractions in Seoul. It also includes a free ride on the Airport Express from Incheon Airport and includes all the features of the T Money card.
The card is more expensive, however, you can save a lot of money as you can gain free entrance to places like Lotte World Adventure, COEX aquarium, the royal palaces, and lots more. You can even rent hanbok for free with the Discover Seoul Pass.
If you’re going to buy a Discover Seoul Pass, then you won’t need to buy a separate T Money card. The Discover Seoul Pass is active for 24 / 48 / 72 hours, but you can use the T Money card function of the Discover Seoul Pass at any time, not just while the pass is active. If you buy both, you’ll have two cards and that would be a waste.
Not sure if you should get a Discover Seoul Pass? Well, it can save you a lot of money if you’re planning to visit a lot of the premium attractions in Seoul. And the free ride on the Airport Express is a good bonus, too.
AmazingPay (For Incheon Airport Limousine Bus)
There is another type of T Money card that you can buy in Korea. This is the AmazingPay T Money card. You can use this card to get discounted travel on the airport limousine buses at Incheon Airport.
The airport limo buses are a great way to get from Incheon Airport to Seoul as they drop you in dozens of locations across the city.
The AmazingPay T Money card saves you 10% on all limo bus tickets from the airport. As well as this, you can also get discounts at dozens of restaurants, shops, and attractions. It also has all the other features you’d get from a regular T Money card.
The AmazingPay T-Money card costs 50,000 won and comes with 46,000 won in credit on the card. You can buy the AmazingPay T-Money card at the Airport Bus Ticket Office (No.4 & 9 Gates at 1F in Incheon International Airport Passenger Terminal) and CU Incheon International Airport branch.
For full details of those discounts, visit the T Money website.
Incheon Airport Limo Bus Routes & Discounts
Here is a list of some of the airport limo bus routes and the discount you can get for each ticket with the AmazingPay T-Money card.:
- Bus no. Luxury 6001 (Incheon ↔ Dongdaemun) – from 15,000 KRW to 13,500 KRW
- Bus no. 6002 (Incheon Airport ↔ Cheongnyangni) – from 10,000 KRW to 9,000 KRW
- Bus no. 6003 (Incheon Airport ↔ Seoul Nat’l Univ.) – from 9,000 KRW to 8,100 KRW
- Bus no. 6004 (Incheon Airport ↔ Gasan Digital Complex) – from 9,000 KRW to 8,100 KRW
- Bus no. Luxury 6005 (Incheon Airport ↔ Insa–dong) – from 15,000 KRW to 13,500 KRW
- Bus no. 6008 (Incheon Airport ↔ Yeongdungpo) – from 9,000 KRW to 8,100 KRW
- Bus no. Luxury 6010 (Incheon Airport ↔ Wangsimni) – from 15,000 KRW to 13,500 KRW
- Bus no. 6011 (Incheon Airport ↔ Induk Univ.) – from 10,000 KRW to 9,000 KRW
- Bus no. 6015 (Incheon Airport ↔ Myeongdong Station) – from 15,000 KRW to 13,500 KRW
- Bus no. 6016 (Incheon Airport ↔ Seoul Nat’l Univ. of Education) – from 10,000 KRW to 9,000 KRW
- Bus no. Luxury 6006 (Incheon Airport ↔ Jamsil Stn.) – from 15,000 KRW to 13,500 KRW
Should I Get The T Money Card?
So, if you’ve read all this and you’re still not sure if you should get the T Money card in Korea, here is a simple summary to show why you should get one.
Saves time when travelling as no need to queue for tickets
Reduces the need to carry cash
Makes travelling a lot more convenient
Can be used in many places across Korea
The T Money card doesn’t expire so you can use it for multiple trips (balance does expire after 5 years, however)
Lots of interesting designs of the card
Need to recharge the card (but you can do that where you use it)
Honestly, I can’t think of any other cons. The T-Money card is really useful and I can’t imagine travelling in Korea without one. I’d recommend buying one as soon as you arrive in Korea.
Tips For Using The T Money Card
Here are a few quick tips to help you use the T-Money card more effectively when you’re travelling in Korea. This also applies if you live in Korea.
1: Check your balance as you travel so that you don’t run out by accident.
2: Don’t top up too much (there is a refund limit of 20,000 won). I’d recommend adding 20,000 – 30,000 won each time. Maybe less if you don’t plan to travel much.
3: Buy one as soon as you arrive, or even before you arrive.
4: Make use of the T-Money card when you are shopping in convenience stores. You’ll end up with a lot less change.
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