How can you drive into Malaysia if Touch 'n Go cards are sold out?
Touch 'n Go cards are needed to pay for road tolls when driving into Malaysia.
Motorists in Singapore used to be able to purchase them at 7-Eleven convenience stores. However, they have been out of stock since land borders between Singapore and Malaysia opened to private vehicles on April 1.
One alternative is the ez-link x Touch 'n Go Motoring card. It was said to be still available at some 7-Eleven and Cheers stores. But a check with 10 of these stores on Wednesday (Sept 7) showed that this card was also out of stock.
EZ-Link cannot provide information about the card's stock levels at the retailers, so consumers have to contact the stores directly.
The digital payment provider has stopped offering them online on its official Shopee stores after making them available on March 29. No reason was given for the change.
Getting a new toll card is only half the battle.
The cards are sold without any Touch 'n Go value. EZ-Link said that this was in compliance with Singapore's regulatory requirement. It is also unable to offer any top-up, so cardholders can do so only in Malaysia at selected petrol stations and some toll plazas along the highways.
The workaround is to link the card to the Touch 'n Go smartphone app and activate the "eWallet" feature. The toll charge will be drawn from the digital wallet in the app rather than from the card itself.
Even in Malaysia, toll cards have been hard to find and consumers have turned to online scalpers who seem to have access to them.
The company behind the toll cards had announced it would roll out an updated version that can be topped up with smartphones through near-field communication (NFC) technology from April.
However, Malaysian media reported that the supply of such NFC-enabled cards was disrupted by the global semiconductor shortage. It seems the supply of non-NFC-enabled cards has also been reduced, if not cut off totally.
Touch 'n Go had limited stocks of the new NFC-enabled toll cards for sale on its app. On Aug 25, the app stalled even before 10am when sales were to start. By the time it became responsive again around noon, the cards had sold out.