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NOL Transport Card Dubai


Page update - Oct 8, 2023

Troubles with tourists in public transport in Dubai happens very often. Sometimes, the turnstile don't let you into the metro, even though you have money in your card wallet. Or the money disappears from the card after a bus ride. Or inspectors try to fine you, although you have a ticket.

To avoid such things happening, we will tell you in detail about the Dubai NOL transport card, the features of its work and the fares.

The fares and other information on this page were updated in October 2023.

What is NOL-card

It is the unified transport card of the emirate and the city of Dubai. Now all intra-city public transport in Dubai is paid only by NOL, and no cash. Intercity buses to Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, Al Ain are also paid by NOL. You can use the NOL-card to pay by cab. We'll give the full list of transport below.

How the NOL-card looks like, see the photo near, click on the photo to enlarge to full screen.

The card is contactless. That means you need to bring it closer to a turnstile (validator). There is NO NEED to try to insert it anywhere.

NOL-card is necessary for all passengers except children under 6 years old or under 2 ft 11 in (90 centimeters) tall. It is better to have your child's passport with you to prove the age. In fact, children higher and older usually pass free of charge. People in the UAE love children and usually don't ask for documents even if a child is obviously higher and older than the rule.

What kinds of NOL cards are available

There are four types:

1. Red. For single trips. This card is initially recorded with number of trips and the range of the trip - or within one zone, or to the next, or further away.

2. Silver, Gold, Blue. For continuous use. Has an electronic wallet.

Using a Gold card, you can ride in Gold cars of high comfort in Dubai Metro, tram and ferry. Using a Silver card, you can only ride in ordinary cars.

The Blue one is issued only to residents of the UAE, and it is useless for tourists. So we are not going to talk about the blue ones at all.



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How Silver and Gold cards work

When you enter the subway or bus, you validate your card (check-in). In the subway, you have to do it, otherwise the turnstile will not let you in. In the bus, you must not forget to check-in, otherwise there is a risk of a fine of 200 dirhams.

At this moment, 7.5 dirhams is taken off from the balance of the electronic wallet. 7.5 dirhams - it's the maximum cost of travel in Dubai (15 dirhams are taken off from a Gold card). See our review "UAE currency" for the actual exchange rates.

The first feature. You need to have not less than 7.5 (15) dirhams on your card for any trip. There are rare exceptions of flat fares for some buses or ferries.

When you get out of the transport, you need to validate the card again (check-out). At this moment the e-wallet is refunded by an amount equal to 7.5 (15) minus the cost of the trip. For example, if you have traveled within one zone, the price of travel by Silver card is 3 dirhams. At the check-out you will get 4.5 dirhams back to your account.

The second feature. Do not forget to validate the card on exit, otherwise the trip will cost 7.5 dirhams.

See the table below for Silver and Gold card rates.

Range T1 (inside zone) T2 (neighbor zone) T3 (through zone and onwards)
NOL type Silver Silver Silver
Price, AED 3 5 7.5
Range T1 GOLD (inside zone) T2 GOLD (neighbor zone) T3 GOLD (through zone and onwards)
NOL type Gold Gold Gold
Price, AED 6 10 15

How Red cards work

A Red card is "charged" in advance to travel a certain distance. For example, within one zone or to a neighboring zone.

With a Red card, you can enter the subway at any station, but get off not at any station. If you try to get off at a station that is farther away than the one you paid for, the turnstile simply won't let you out.

If the bus passed farther than paid by the Red card, the controllers can fine you 200 dirhams.

Conclusion. Before boarding the metro or bus, be sure to check the distance to your destination station and make sure your Red ticket will be valid.

Fares for Red cards are in the table below.

Range T1 (inside zone) T2 (neighbor zone) T3 (through zone and onwards)
Price, AED 4 6 8.5
Range T1 GOLD (inside zone) T2 GOLD (neighbor zone) T3 GOLD (through zone and onwards)
Price, AED 8 12 17

Passes - important features

Theoretically, there are passes for all zones or for a certain distance of travel, there are passes for 1, 7, 30, 90, 365 days. But in fact, only two of them are available for tourists.

1. The 1-day all-zone pass is only available with a Red card. You can ride any distance and any number of times. But remember that such a pass must be personal. That is, you cannot ride with one such pass to several people at the same time, the penalty - 200 dirhams.

An important point! The 1-day pass is valid until midnight on the day of purchase. NOT 24 HOURS, but until midnight. You must leave the transport before midnight. Otherwise already at 00-01 you will find yourself a stowaway - the turnstile will not let you out of the subway or you could be fined in the bus. You could say, "Feel like Cinderella".

In fact, one of our readers wrote to us that he successfully checked-out after midnight with the 1-day pass on the N55 bus. Later, he rechecked this in another night bus. On the other hand, we officially requested the RTA about the situation, and they wrote to us that the 1-day pass should not be allowed to check-out after midnight. Who is right, who is wrong? We trust our reader better.

2. The pass for 7 days is only available on the Silver and Gold cards. Such a pass is issued strictly for a certain range: T1 - within one zone, T2 - to a neighboring zone, T3 - through the zone and onwards.

When you buy the 7-days pass, you choose exactly which zones you will travel between. For example, you choose zones 2 and 5. You will NOT be able to get off in zone 6 (the one in between). Or rather, you will be able to exit, but with a charge to your e-wallet.

All other passes are available only on Blue cards, which are available only to residents of the United Arab Emirates.

Type of pass 1 day all zones 1 day all zones GOLD
Type of card required Red Red
Price, AED 20 40
Type of pass 7 days T1 within zone 7 days T2 neighbor zone 7 days T3 through zone and onwards
Type of card required Silver Silver Silver
Price, AED 50 80 110
Type of pass 7 days T1 GOLD within the zone 7 days T2 GOLD neighbor zone 7 days T3 GOLD through zone and onwards
Type of card required Gold Gold Gold
Price, AED 100 160 220

Important: How the Silver card pass works

Some time ago the cards had an interesting feature. As soon as a travel pass (T1, T2, T3) was activated on the Silver card, the e-wallet on it was deactivated. That is, the card worked only as a pass only. But now it has changed. Now the wallet continue to work together with the pass.

Accordingly, the card can be used to pay for buses: DPR1 (in Legoland and Motiongate), 105 (in Miracle Garden and Butterfly Garden), 102, 103, 105, 106 (in Global Village) and intercity buses. You are able to pay admission to Mamzar, Creek, Zabeel and Mushrif parks. Now NO need to buy a second NOL card for all these purposes.

Also, if a person bought a T1 and tries to get off the subway at a station in the next area (where the T1 doesn't already apply), the turnstile lets out. The payment is made from the wallet in this case.

And we advise tourists to think - is it worth it to buy T1, T2, or T3? How much will you save with the features described above? Especially since there is a "30 minute rule".



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The 30 Minute Rule

There is a rule in Dubai transport, which allows you to save money if you know it and know how to apply it. The rule is as follows: "The journey is considered over if 30 minutes have elapsed since you left the transport".

Example.

You have decided to go sunbathing and swimming at one of the beaches of Jumeirah. You need to take the metro to Al Ghubaiba station and then take bus #8 to the beach.

You exit the subway, checking out your NOL-card at the exit. At this moment, the 30-minute countdown begins.

The trip will be considered as new if you do not manage to get in the bus within 30 minutes. That means that you have to pay for the trip in full.

The trip will be considered as continued if you can get in the bus within 30 minutes and bring your NOL-card to the validator. In this case, you will pay the difference between the point where you get in the subway and the point where you get off the bus. It's very cost effective! For example, in the Jumeirah Beach example, the bus ride will be free of charge.

The "30 minutes rule" has two nuances. First, the trip including all extensions lasts no more than 180 minutes. That is, as soon as 180 minutes have passed since the first entry (CheckIN), then any next entry is considered a new trip.

Second, exit (CheckOUT) and entry (CheckIN) with continuation must be in different types of transport or at different bus routes. For example, if you get off the subway, have a snack and want to continue riding in the subway, then the trip will be considered a new one.

Where to buy a NOL-card?

At the ticket office at any metro station, bus station cashiers, special vending machines at stations and bus stops.

How much does it cost?

A Red costs 2 dirhams.

The Silver or Gold cost 25 dirhams, of which 19 will be in the e-wallet.

How to top up?

Red, Silver, Gold cards can be recharged in machines or at the cashier.

In which types of transport NOL-cards are valid?

- Dubai Metro;

- All intra-city buses in Dubai, including C, F, N, X buses;

- Dubai Tram;

- Water buses and ferries (which operated by RTA);

- Intercity buses: E100 and E101 to Abu Dhabi; E301, E303, E304, E306, E307, E311 to Sharjah; E400 to Ajman; E700 to Fujairah;

- As of April 2019, you can pay with the NOL card in any cab in Dubai. However, then get ready to top up your account by a required amount. Read about the rates on our page "Taxis in Dubai and other Emirates";

- Starting October 2022, NOL cards can be used to pay for the Dubai Monorail. Unfortunately, there is not much benefit for most tourists in this as the card will pay for two 'single trip' tickets rather than a discounted 'round trip' ticket. Read all the details about the tickets in our review "Dubai Monorail";

- You can pay for RTA paid parking;

- As of 2017, entrance to Al Mamzar, Zabeel, Creek and Mushrif public parks is only payable with a NOL card.



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How to pay the fare from a smartphone?

Theoretically, it is possible. In 2019, the SmartNOL system was introduced. However, to do this, you need to obtain a special SIM-NOL from your service provider. At the time this page was updated (October 2023), they are only issued to UAE residents.

You can try. If you buy a local SIM, ask the seller to issue such a SIM, they may do it. Read about buying a local SIM in our reviews "How to connect the Internet in the UAE" and "How to call from the UAE".

For Huawei smartphones there is a special add-on to Wallet, which allows you to issue and use a virtual NOL-card. Unfortunately, it works only with a few smartphone models: Mate X, Mate 30, Mate 20, P30, P40, Nova 7.

What is the best card for a tourist?

The first best option is an unlimited 1-day pass on the Red card. In this case, you do not need to study the zones, to think about whether there is money in the wallet. Just remember that with one Red card you can buy a pass only 5 times, and then you will need to buy a new one for 2 dirhams.

The second best option is a Silver card. The main thing is not to forget to top up your account on time, so that it was not less than 7.5 dirhams.

If leaving the UAE, but there is money left on NOL, how to get it back?

You can return the money from the balance at any ticket office. But a fee of 5 dirhams or 5% of the account balance is charged. In most cases it makes no sense for tourists.

You can keep the Red card as a souvenir for sure.

Silver and Gold are valid for 5 years. You can use it during your next trip to Dubai.

What else need to know

- For a map of the Dubai Metro with attractions showed see our page "Dubai Metro";

- About other features of travelling by bus, see our page "Buses in the UAE";

- About how to get from Dubai airport cheaply and comfortably, see our page "How to get from Dubai Airport to the city".

Have a fun vacation in Dubai, and read our interesting pages about the UAE (see list of pages below).

TIPS

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IMPORTANT FOR TOURISTS

What to Take for the UAE

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To the UAE with Kids

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Money in the UAE - Emirati Dirham

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