Silver nol card
According to Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), 702 million riders used public transport, shared mobility, which comprises of Dubai Metro, Tram, public buses, and marine transport, and taxis in 2023. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: It's the key to your commute, your shopping sprees and even museum visits. Did you know that your nol card is also about to get some major upgrades? From Etihad Rail integration to smartphone payments, buckle up for a smoother, smarter travel experience.

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Since millions of commuters rely on this single card to travel to work, school and many other trips, it is important to understand how the current and future updates associated with the nol card will impact public transport passengers.


What is the nol card?

The nol card was launched on September 9, 2009, coinciding with the launch of the Dubai Metro. Since then, the number of active nol card users has surpassed five million, with over 30 million cards being sold, according to the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

With the nol card, you can travel around Dubai and pay for public transportation like the Dubai Metro, bus, taxi, Dubai Ferry and Water Taxi. It can also be used to pay for public parking, museum entry tickets, groceries, and restaurants.

There are four types of nol cards – Red, Silver, Gold and Blue and you can find out more about each of these nol card options available to you, in our detailed guide here.


1. Etihad Rail: Soon, use your nol card across the UAE

In the future, you will be able to use your nol card to travel all over the UAE on the Etihad Rail passenger trains.

On Wednesday, February 14, RTA and Etihad Rail signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) during the World Governments Summit (WGS) 2024, where the RTA will develop a ticketing and payment solution for Etihad Rail through its nol system.


2. Upgraded nol card system: Book tickets, manage balances and track trips all in one place

This year, RTA awarded a Dh350 million contract to upgrade the existing nol card-based ticketing system to a central wallet account-based ticketing system. This will make the nol system a ticketless process and the digital system is expected to be rolled out by 2025.

According to RTA, the upgraded system will host several new features, which will support trip planning, booking and pre-payment through smart channels. Here are some of the services that will be available on your nol card:

• Group or family nol tickets.
• Facial recognition to pay for public transportation fares.
• Direct access to account details like travel history, fare calculations and account balances.
• Stronger electronic security for the nol card – the new system links all issued cards to individual customer accounts as well as to accounts belonging to companies and multi-user entities.
• Pre-payment for public transportation trips.

3. Digital nol: Ditch the plastic! Pay fares with your Samsung or Huawei phone (nol card for iPhone coming soon)

Wish you had your nol card on your phone? Well, if you are a Samsung or Huawei user, there is good news. You can easily download a digital nol card to your phone and use it to pay for public transportation fares.

The process of moving your current nol card to a digital nol card is free of charge and can be completed through the ‘nol Pay’ app by RTA, but it is important to note that not every Huawei or Samsung phone is compatible with a digital nol card. You can find out if your current device can support a digital nol card here.

iPhone users can also expect the service to be available to them soon, according to the RTA.

4. The minimum top-up at ticket offices is now Dh20

If you are at a Metro station and forgot to top-up your nol card, you now need a Dh20 minimum top-up value to recharge your card at the ticket office.

However, if your recharge amount is less than that, you have plenty of other top-up options – you can use the smart card machine, which is located in every Metro station, or you can go online and top up through the ‘nol Pay’ app or the RTA website –

There are 11 different ways to top up your nol card. To know the details of each, read our in-depth guide here.