The All Powerful T-Money Card

One of the most important things when arriving in a new place is learning about how you get to one place or another. All over the world there are so many ways to get around whether it is by foot, in a car, or in a rickshaw. In Seoul, the preferred method of transportation is by the incredible subway and bus system! This system is famous for being one of the best subway systems in the world, and I can tell you firsthand how simple it really is. First things first though, how are you going to ride this thing? This answer: T-Money Card. Before coming to Korea, I was told how I had to get a T-Money card, and it really is a very useful piece of plastic. The T-Money card is a public transit card. With this card, you can ride the subway, ride the bus, pay for taxis, make purchases at the convenience store, and purchase things on campus at Hanyang Univerisity, like using the printer.

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When I arrived in Seoul, I knew very little about the T-Money card. All I knew, was that I could purchase it at the convenience store, and I would ride the subway with it. With this information in mind, I arrived in Seoul in the evening and was picked up at Incheon International Airport by my Airbnb host. The next morning, I walked to the nearby convenience store called GS25, and I was greeted by an older Korean lady at the counter. I went to the counter and said, “T-Money card”, and she presented me a box of T-Money cards with various designs. I selected a very plain looking gray card that just had “POP” written on it with yellow letters. I purchased the card for 2,500 won. Since I had not done my research, I thought I had to put money onto the card at the subway station. Turns out you can, but at the time, I did not know you could load the card with cash at the convenience store as well. The lady gives me my card and is gesturing me to tap it onto this electronic pad. She is trying to explain to me in Korean what she wants me to do, but I have no idea what she is trying to say since I don’t speak any Korean. She keeps trying to tell me that I need to put money on the card, but I was so lost and jet lagged that I just shrugged my shoulders and told her in English that I didn’t know what she meant. I walked back to my Airbnb, and I ask my host if  I can put money onto the card at the convenience store, and my host confirmed my guess at what the lady at the counter was trying to tell me. I make trip number two to the GS25, and the lady has a knowing look in her eye and tries to get another customer to explain to me what I needed to do. I solemnly handed her my T-money card and cash where she promptly tapped my card on the electronic machine and tucked the cash into her money drawer. She smiled at me, and we both sheepishly laughed at the situation. I walked out of the store amused at my first encounter of the language barrier.

So to help you avoid this type of situation, here are a few tips on how to successfully purchase and use your T-Money card:

  1. You can purchase a T-Money card at a subway station or any convenience store with the T-Money logo on the front door. Some examples of a convenience store would be GS26, CU, or 7-11.
  2. A simple T-money card costs 2,500 won, but they also come as a phone charm which range in price from 5,000-8,000 won.
  3. Once you purchase your T-money card, load it with whatever amount you choose at the same place you bought the card.
  4. To use the card, simply tap it on the right hand-side of the gate for the subway entrance or turnstile. If riding the bus, you will tap it on the T-Money reader near the driver.
  5. When you reach your destination, you should also tap your card on the T-Money reader when exiting the bus or the subway. If you transfer between subways and buses within 30 minutes, there is no extra charge for a charge. Between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. the amount of time between transfers with no charge becomes one hour.

Chart subway fare

Information for this article was found at and


Article by Catherine from the U.S.A.

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