How to Use Taiwan’s iPASS

The iPASS is a contactless smart card in Taiwan that allows you to buy things and use services or public transportation without cash. Keep reading to learn whether it’s worth getting.

I have an unhealthy enthusiasm for Taiwan’s various contactless cards, which led me to investigate the iPASS. I want to help you determine whether it’s worth getting as a traveler or someone living in the country.


Important Details

Should Travelers Get an iPASS? No, you’re better off getting an EasyCard. Only buy an iPASS as a tourist if you want a souvenir.

Expiration20 years from purchase date
Refundable?No
Max. Funds It Can StoreNT$10,000
Avg. Cost to Buy CardNT$120
Initial BalanceNT$0
Lost/Stolen CardReport immediately to customer service for card suspension and balance transfer.
UsagePublic transportation, designated stores, and other services.
Purchase LocationsConvenience stores, MRT stations, designated retailers.
Customer Support[email protected]

Notes:

  • The money on your card IS refundable when you close the card.
  • You can’t refund the cost of the iPASS card itself, only the balance.
  • Initial balance refers to the card’s balance when first buying it.
Get a Pre-loaded iPASS

EasyCard vs. iPASS: Which is Better?

Reasons to get iPASS

  • Access to TPASS in some regions.
  • Want a souvenir.
  • More use at stores.

Downsides of iPASS:

  • Extra card to carry.
  • Extremely inconvenient to close the card.

Verdict: If you live in Taiwan, you might as well get the card to make cashless purchases at more places.

Taiwan’s TPASS has a “unique” scheme that only allows you to use certain smart cards in some regions. For instance, in the southern Taiwan pass (Kaohsiung, Tainan, and Pingtung), you can only use the TPASS on an iPASS.

That may change by the time you read this article. Double-check just in case.

EasyCards, icash 2.0, and iPASS all have limited edition unique designs they frequently release. Find all their current and past cards in the gallery here. They don’t have as many 3D cards as icash or EasyCard, though.

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Screenshot from iPASS.

For instance, I bought an iPASS solely because they had a Star Wars Episode 1 25th anniversary card.

ipass star wars scaled

Will I ever use it? Probably not. But it looks cool.

Speaking of designs.


Hololive Collaboration

In February 2024 and May 2024, iPASS collaborated with Hololive Production to create 3D iPASS cards for their VTuber stars Gawr Gura and Peko Peko.

These cards aren’t for sale anymore. The ones that are available are likely being sold at high prices through sites like Shopee.

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Image from iPASS.

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Image from iPASS.


Cost

Typical iPASS cards will cost NT$100 – NT$120 per card. For instance, my limited edition Star Wars card cost NT$120. These are basic cards. Getting 3D cards will cost NT$200 – NT$1,000.

Getting special cards, like the Gawr Gura one above, could cost up to NT$3,960. And that’s not the scalper price. Since many folks likely bought these out to flip them, these probably cost a lot more.

iPASS has the following types of cards available:

Standard CardRegular iPASS.
Taiwan PassI don’t think this exists anymore.
Co-Branded Credit / Debit CardDebit / credit card combined with an iPASS.
Student ID CardCombines student / staff ID with an iPASS.
Student CardNT$100 – NT$150 and offers SOME discounts.
Senior CardSocial welfare card that offers folks aged 65+ some discounts.

Notes:

  • I don’t know whether the senior card is for Taiwanese folks only.
  • I looked through all the Taiwan Pass websites that iPASS linked and all the sites were broken. Moreover, I’ve never heard of this (aside from TPASS, which is supposedly different).

Prices for all of the passes are the same for the most part.


Checking the Card’s Balance

Here’s where to check your card’s balance:

  • Physical Locations:
    1. MRT Stations: Use the “Add Value Machine” or “Inquiry Machine” found in most stations.
    2. Convenience Stores: Ask the cashier to check the balance for you at the counter (7-Eleven, FamilyMart, Hi-Life, OK Mart, etc.).
    3. Other Participating Merchants: Some stores displaying the iPASS logo offer balance inquiries at their payment terminals.
  • Online:
    1. iPASS Website:
      • Go to the official iPASS website: https://www.i-pass.com.tw/en
  • Navigate to “Support” > “Adult card status inquiry”.
  • Enter your card information to view your balance and recent transactions.
  • iPASS App:
    • Download the iPASS app on your smartphone.
    • Register your card or link it to your iPASS Money account.
    • Check your balance and transaction history within the app.
  • Additional Options:
    • MRT Fare Gates: Some MRT station fare gates display your remaining balance after tapping out.
    • Bus Card Readers: Some buses show the remaining balance on the card reader screen after tapping.

If you use an iPASS to buy stuff (e.g., at 7-Eleven), the staff will usually print a separate receipt with your card’s balance. They’ll do this without asking at places like PX Mart and Showba Mart. However, from my experience, it’s a bit complex at convenience stores.

Sometimes, they’ll print the receipt. Most of the time, they won’t, and sometimes, they’ll ask if you want that particular receipt. They use different sentences when asking this, though. Thus, it’s a bit complicated.

Type into Google Translate that you want them to print the iPASS balance. Use “一卡通” to refer to the card in Chinese. Don’t rely on Google’s translation for this…


Adding More Money

The easiest way to top-up your iPASS is at vending machines throughout the MRT stations in Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Kaohsiung, and Taichung. You slap the card onto the sensor, add cash to the machine, and you’re done.

You can also take it to the information centers at those stations and have the staff refill it. You MIGHT encounter staff that don’t speak English, though.

The same goes for refilling it at any other supported location like:

  • Convenience stores: 7-Eleven, Family Mart, OK Mart, and Hi-Life
  • Supermarkets: PX Mart and Simple Mart.
  • Houyi MRT Station (Kaohsiung): At the iPASS North Kaohsiung Services Center
  • Golden Founders Travel Services Center: First floor of the Kaohsiung International Airport.
  • Electronic Stored Value Card Service Center: First floor in terminals 1 and 2 in Taoyuan International Airport.

First, try asking the staff if they speak English:

  1. If they do, ask if they can add “X” amount to your iPASS.
  2. If they don’t, translate the first point into Chinese (traditional characters).

You can add a maximum value of NT$10,000 and can add any amount to the card you want. For instance, you could add NT$1 without any consequences.

There’s also auto-reloading, which automatically suck money from your Taiwan bank account and add it to your iPASS. This requires a lot of writing to cover, which this article doesn’t have room for. Refer to iPASS’s documentation for more information.


Usage

I’m going to divide the uses for the card into different sections.


1. Starting with public transportation:

Public TransportationDescription
Taipei MRTMetro.
Danhai LRTLight rail around Tamsui.
Taoyuan MRTMetro.
Taichung MRTMetro.
Kaohsiung MRT & LRTMass rapid transit and light rail transit..
Taiwan RailwayAKA Taiwan Railway Administration
City BusNA
Shuttle Bus CoachNA
YouBikeBicycle rental service.
Taiwan Tourist ShuttleNA
FerryIn Taipei, Kaohsiung, and Kinmen.

2. Tourist attractions:

Maokong GondolaTainan Art Museum
Taipei ZooPier 2 Art Center
Taipei Children’s Amusement ParkPier 2 Ask
National Palace Museum (Northern)British Consulate at Takow
Hsinchu ZooHamasen Museum
National Museum of Natural ScienceKaohsiung Shoushan Zoo
921 Earthquake MuseumNational Science and Technology Museum
Chelongpu Fault Preservation ParkFongyiacademy
National Palace Museum (Southern)EDA Theme Park
Eternal Golden FortSuzuka Circuit Park
Anping Old FortAustin Dreamland
Former Tait & Co. Merchant Housei-Ride
National Museum of Maritime Biology & AquariumGushan Fish market
Farglory Ocean Park

3. Stores. There are a million stores (not literally) that you can use the iPASS at. Some include:

McDonald’s7-ElevenFamily Mart
Hi-LifeOK MartPX Mart
Simple Mart Showba martWatsons
Global MallMiramarBurger King

You can use the card at more than 20 museums, which is too much for me to list. Here’s a list on their site.

4. Government Services and other costs: Here’s everything else you can do with an iPASS — everything on this page is in Chinese:

  • Pay for library fees.
  • Government fees: Household registration, animal protection (e.g., microchip implementation), business registration, etc.
  • Taxes: Taxes and fines under NT$10,000 (Tainan only)
  • Medical institutions: Pay for copays.
  • Paying for cable TV and internet.

Make sure you check the page I linked before trying to make payments with an iPASS. They could change what they allow at any moment.

It doesn’t appear that you can use the iPASS to pay for tolls.


Where to Get It

Here’s where you can find iPASS cards:

KKdayMomo Shop
PChomeET Mall
Books.com.twShopee
U-mallPrinco
JollyBuyRakuten
EslitePinkoi
KingStoneAirports (refer to notes)
Any Taipei MRT station (information counter)Taichung MRT passenger service offices
Any Kaohsiung MRT station (info. counter)Any Taoyuan MRT station (Info. counter and card vending machine)
7-ElevenFamily Mart
Hi-LifeOK Mart

Notes:

  • Pick it up at the Electronic Stored Value Card Service Center on the first floor of terminal 1 or 2 in Taoyuan International Airport.
  • Or on the first floor of the “International Line” in Kaohsiung International Airport.

I found my Star Wars card at a random book store in an HSR station. Sometimes, you’ll randomly see them.

Get a Pre-loaded iPASS

How to Use It

When entering public transportation:


1. In MRT / subway stations, you’ll see gates with sensors on them. I’ve ridden subways in every city in the country and the gates look similar.

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Screenshot from iPASS.

You press your card against the card sensor, on the right side of the gate, and wait for the little door to open. From there, you walk through the gate.


2. Bus. When entering a bus (doesn’t matter which door you use), you’ll see a sensor that looks like this:

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Image from Department of Transportation, Taipei.

Can you guess what you’ll do? Tap your card against it. You’ll need to do this when entering and leaving the bus.


3. YouBike rentals. I discuss registering for the YouBike bicycle rental system in a separate guide. The processes for using a YouBike 1.0, 2.0, and 2.0E will be different.

YouBike 1.0

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Screenshot from YouBike.

YouBike 1.0 cycles will have the card sensor on the dock. However, Taiwan has been phasing out these bikes. You’ll mostly find 2.0s throughout the country. Few cities have 2.0E.

YouBike 2.0 and 2.0E

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Screenshot from YouBike.


4. Ticket sensors. When entering the slow trains (Taiwan Railway Association or TRA), ferries, or other public transportation, you’ll see a stand that looks like this:

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Screenshot from iPASS.

It won’t look cartoony in real life. Don’t worry.

Sometimes, you’ll need to tap your card against this twice — like when you’re entering and departing the train. Other times, you’ll tap it once, like when entering a ferry in Kaohsiung.


5. When parking: Some entrances to parking lots will look like this:

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Screenshot from iPASS.

Tap your card on the reader when entering and leaving the lot. Then, it’ll automatically be deducted from your balance.

Not all lots will be like this. Some will have specific kiosks where you’ll pay for parking.


6. At stores. When at a grocery store, convenience store, or wherever, you’ll often see a terminal by the cash register that looks like this:

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Screenshot from iPASS.

FIRST tell the cashier “Yī kǎ tōng (iPASS in Mandarin)” to let them know you’re using an iPASS to pay. If you don’t tell them, how would they know whether you’re using an EasyCard, icash 2.0, or iPASS?

From there, press and hold your card against the sensor until a green light appears. The cashier will usually say something like “OK” to say you’re good to go. A lot of the time, they won’t print the receipt since your card stores cloud receipts.

That makes things a bit less convenient when it comes time to check your receipt lottery numbers. I explained how to do this in a separate guide.


Registering Your iPASS

I recommend registering your iPASS card so you can report it missing and get a refund if something happens to your card.

Follow these steps to register it:

  1. Visit their registration page: It’s only in Chinese…
  2. Agree to the terms of service.
  3. Enter your iPASS card’s number.
    1. Registration won’t work between the hours of 3:00 and 6:00 AM (because of maintenance).
  4. Enter the following information:
    1. ARC number
    2. Name
    3. Birthday
    4. Phone number
    5. Email

The above information is only what’s required. They also ask for your address (why), which isn’t mandatory.

Here’s where to find your iPASS card number:

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Image from iPASS.

It’s not always in the lower-right corner. For instance, my Star Wars card was in the center on the bottom. Just ensure you enter a string of numbers that’s 11 – 16 characters long.


How to “Close” Your Card

If you don’t want to use your card anymore, you can close it at any Taoyuan or Kaohsiung MRT information center, as long as the balance isn’t more than NT$5,001.

You’ll need to pay an NT$20 fee to close the card.

And if you’re not around one of the MRT stations I mentioned, you’ll need to grab specific envelopes from:

  • 7-Eleven
  • OK Mart
  • Hi-Life
  • Taiwan Railway Stations

From there, you’ll need to pay a postage fee plus the cancellation fee, mail the card, and wait 10 days to see if they receive it.

I recommend just spending everything on the card. If you’re worried about your data, don’t register your card and keep a small amount of funds on it.


What is iPASS?

In Taiwan, the iPASS (一卡通 or Yī kǎ tōng) is a contactless smart card that functions as an electronic wallet and a transportation card.

Operated by the iPASS Corporation, it was first introduced in 2007. It has since become widely accepted for various public transportation services nationwide, including rapid transit, buses, and Taiwan Railway services.