Have you ever wondered what those bright pink QR codes near the entrances of certain MRT stations and trains are for? They tell you to scan the QR code with your WINK+ app so that you can earn points and redeem rewards. But what exactly is this WINK+ app, how good are these rewards, and how much effort must I make to earn them? After a couple of months of using WINK+, here’s what I found out:
What is WINK+?
WINK+ is a loyalty app by SMRT. You’ll find these stickers at MRT stations and the trains that travel along the North-South Line, East-West Line, and Circle Line. You won’t see them on the Downtown Line or the North-East Line, as these are managed by SBS. When you download the app and create an account (or use an existing iMOB Shop account), you may then add your MRT card number to your account (you’re allowed to add more than one card). Then, each time you tap in and out of a SMRT-managed station, you will automatically earn points.
You also earn points simply by scanning those pink QR code stickers within the app. When you get 50 points, you can convert those to a WINK, which is worth $0.50. This means that each tap/scan is worth at least one cent. It may not seem like much, but before you know it, you’ll accumulate plenty of points just from your daily commute.
This is what the WINK+ app looks like.
|Travel (station gantry)||1 tap =||1 point|
|Scan (QR code)||1 scan =||1 to 4 points|
|Conversion||50 points =||1 WINK ($0.50)|
Where can I use WINKs?
This part gets a bit confusing so please bear with me. You’ll first need to convert your points to WINKs (50 points = 1 WINK). Once they are converted to WINKs, they can be “stored” indefinitely. When you have a bunch of WINKs and you’re planning on making a purchase, you may then convert the WINKs to eVouchers. Since 1 WINK is worth $0.50, converting say 10 WINKs will give you a $5 eVoucher.
The eVoucher can be used at any of the 80+ participating retailers listed on the WINK+ app. The retailers range from F&B to entertainment and shopping. They can also be used at the iMOB Shop, which I’ve written about previously here. The reason why you’d want to wait to convert to eVouchers is because the eVouchers have a validity period of 30 days, whereas the WINKs do not expire.
What kinds of things can you redeemed with eVouchers?
When I (finally) obtained 250 points (mostly through scanning a LOT of QR codes), I converted first to WINKs, then to a eVoucher worth $2.50 which I was able to use in any of the 80+ participating retail outlets and also at the iMOB Shop. Some of my top choices for using the eVoucher included Sushi Express, Charcoal Thai, Dessert Story, and Emicakes, but because I happen to be in the Dhoby Ghaut area, I opted to get some snacks at BonJapan. The eVoucher was able to offset my entire purchase making these two drinks FOC. Redemption was really easy too.
How much effort does it take to accumulate points or vouchers?
If you want to rack up points quickly, you can do so by scanning the QR codes, but it does take some time to walk up and down the MRT station and depending on the time you go, it can be very crowded and everyone seems to always be in a rush. If its not crowded and you have 4 minutes until the next train you should be able to scan 20 QR codes. You are allowed to scan each individual code once in a 24-hour period.
If you don’t mind a slower pace of accumulation, just by tapping in and out of the stations will give you points automatically. So if you make daily trips using the MRT, you’ll get at least one WINK (50 points) each month. Yes, this only rewards you with $0.50 each month, but hey, it’s free and you’re not doing anything extra. After the initial account setup, there’s no further effort on your part.
My confession – Why did I get my account suspended?
Here’s where I tried to cheat the system. Because it was a bit troublesome scanning the QR codes at the crowded stations and maneuvering around people who were in a rush, I thought that I could save myself the hassle and take photos of the QR codes and just scan them at home. However, I quickly discovered that this violated their T&Cs and my account got suspended after two days of at-home scanning. The QR codes are geo-tagged, so the system knows when you are off-site. How do you get your account unlocked? You must first send an email to them (firstname.lastname@example.org), then whatsapp them (9239 7064) with your registered email address to unlock your account.
Is it worth it? Should I join?
The initial setup (downloading the app, creating an account, and adding my MRT card) took me under 5 minutes. Getting points is automatic just by traveling on the MRT. Scanning QR codes takes a little time and effort and I only do it when it’s convenient. It sort of makes me feel like I’m hunting for Pokemons, except that they’re in predictable locations and they actually give me some, albeit small, monetary benefits. The loyalty program is free and the effort is minimal, so my conclusion is: why not? There’s some small benefits but really nothing to lose. It’s also another way to make traveling on the MRT more worthwhile.