If you are planning to take public transport while in Dubai, you are going to need to purchase a transport ticket: a NOL Card.
The NOL Card is a rechargeable smart card that allows you to use the various means of public transport in the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) network: the metro, buses, tram, water buses or Abra, parking lots but also to pay for a trip in some taxis.
The different types of RTA NOL cards
There are four types of Nol Card ticket in Dubai:
A Nol Red Ticket
A Nol Silver Card
A Nol Gold Card
And the Nol Blue Card
Nol Red Ticket
The Nol Red Ticket is a paper ticket that allows you to pay for a single trip, load up to 10 trips or 5 daily passes and an unlimited transport day pass.
Warning ! A Nol Red Ticket does not allow you to use the various modes of public transport at the same time, so you will have to choose: either take the metro only, take only the Bus, the Tram or only the water buses / Abras. Connections between Bus, tram and metro are therefore also excluded.
From the date of purchase, the Nol Red Ticket is valid for 90 days or when the maximum number of authorized journeys has been completely consumed.
RTA Nol Silver Card
The NOL Silver Card is a rechargeable electronic chip card that can be used interchangeably in all public transport systems in Dubai: the metro, tram, buses, water buses and in certain car parks.
The Nol Silver Card costs 25 AED (of which 6AED is the processing price of the card + 19AED travel credit), it can be topped up to a maximum of AED 5,000 and is valid for 5 years.
The minimum balance to start a trip with a Nol Silver Card is 7.5 AED.
Dubai Nol Gold Card
The NOL Gold Card is an electronic chip card that is basically the same as the Nol Silver Card but it allows you to travel first class on the Dubai Metro. First class in the Dubai Metro overall has more comfortable seats, is less likely to be overcrowded and always has working AC.
The Nol Gold Card costs 25 AED (of which 6AED is the processing price of the card + 19AED travel credit), it can be topped up to a maximum of AED 5,000 and is valid for 5 years.
The minimum balance to start a trip with a Nol Gold Card is 7.5 AED.
RTA Nol Blue Card
The NOL Blue Card also contains the same features as the Silver or Gold Card except that it is an electronic smart card personalized with the user’s photo and is intended only for residents of Dubai,
The Nol Blue Card costs AED 70 for standard class and AED 80 for Gold Class (of which AED 50 or 60 for the card processing price and AED 20 travel credit), it can be topped up with a maximum 5,000 AED and is valid for 5 years.
The minimum balance to start a trip with a Nol Blue Card is 7.5 AED.
How does the Nol Card work?
The Nol Card is a contactless smart card.
To validate entry or exit at the station, simply swipe your Nol Card in front of the chip reader on the validation barrier.
Then wait to hear a beep or see the green light which signals that your ticket has been validated for this journey, you can then go through the entry / or exit doors which will open in front of you.
The system will automatically calculate the exact cost of your trip based on the number of zones you will be crossing and will display the remaining balance on your card, if applicable.
How much does a trip cost with a Nol Card?
Fares vary depending on the number of zones crossed, but generally they range from AED 3 for a single trip in a single travel zone to AED 7.50 for an all zone trip.
Fares are slightly higher with a Nol Red Ticket or when traveling in first class.
Price of a single trip per travel zone
|Number of Zones||Nol Red Ticket Regular||Nol Red Ticket Gold||Silver Nol Card||Blue Nol Card||Gold Card|
|More Than Two Zones||8.50||17||7.50||7.50||15|
Where to buy and reload the Nol Card?
For now, only Nol Blue Card holders can order and top up online via the Roads and Transport Authority website.
It is currently not possible to purchase a Nol Red ticket or a NOL Card (Silver or Gold) online for non-residents of Dubai.
You can, however, buy and top up your Nol Card at the counters and certain ticket machines in all metro stations (including terminals 1, 2 and 3 of Dubai International Airport) and certain bus stops or at RTA authorized sales agents.
How to check nol card balance?
The balance of your Nol Card is displayed each time you enter and exit a station, metro, tram and bus.
You can also view it from any authorized ATM, ticket machine and sales agent.
Please note: this displayed balance includes the minimum travel charge for the Nol Card as well as the remaining credit for your travel.
Remember that you need a minimum balance of 7.50 AED to be able to continue traveling, if your card shows a balance of 8 or 10 AED, remember to top up soon!
Unlimited transport passes RTA NOL Card
It is also possible to buy a pass for unlimited travel for one day, seven days, one month, three months or even for 365 days provided it is loaded on a Nol Card.
The One Day Pass: Available only on a NOL Red Ticket, the One Day Pass allows users to travel without limit for a period of 1 calendar day from the effective date.
The 7-Day Pass: Allows users to benefit from an unlimited number of journeys on public transport in Dubai for a period of 7 calendar days from the effective date.
The 30 Day Pass: Available only on a Nol Blue Card, it allows users to travel unlimited on Dubai public transport for a period of 30 calendar days from the effective date.
The 90 Day Pass: Available only on a Nol Blue Card, it allows users to benefit from unlimited journeys on Dubai public transport for a period of 90 calendar days from the effective date .
The 365 Day Pass: Available only on a Nol Blue Card, it allows users to travel unlimited on Dubai public transport for a period of 365 calendar days from the effective date.
These unlimited passes are valid for travel on the metro, bus and tram; they are available for single zone, dual zone or all zone trips.
Travel zones must be defined when purchasing the Unlimited Pass on the NOL Card, therefore Pass prices depend on the number of travel zones defined at the time of purchase.
Unlimited transport pass prices RTA Nol Card
|Card Type||Nol Red Ticket||Nol Silver Card Regular||Nol Silver Card Gold Class||Nol Gold Card|
|Unlimited one-day pass for any zone||20 AED||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Unlimited pass 7 days one zone||N/A||50 AED||100 AED||100 AED|
|Unlimited 7-day two-zone pass||N/A||80 AED||160 AED||160 AED|
|7-day unlimited pass for all zones||N/A||110 AED||220 AED||220 AED|
Which Nol Card for a stay in Dubai?
To find out which ticket would be best suited for your stay in Dubai, you need to determine the number of times you will be using public transport and the number of areas you will be visiting.
If you are in Dubai in transit for a few hours or a day only, you have the choice between a Nol Red Ticket with 10 journeys or 5 passes or a Nol Red Ticket Pass 1 day unlimited transport which is much more interesting in my opinion.
If you are in Dubai for more than a day and less than a week, then I recommend that you take a Nol Silver Card or a NOL gold card.
On the other hand, if you are in Dubai for a stay of five days or more, it would be better to obtain an unlimited 7-day Pass on the Nol Silver Card or Nol gold Card.