Dubai NOL card is your key to using the city’s extensive public transport system. Buying separate metro cards or bus tickets in Dubai is impossible. Instead, you will need a NOL Dubai card. This universal public transport pass has several types and allows you to take the metro, bus, tram, ferry, water bus and even taxi. Certain card types also come with a lot of other benefits, including the option to pay for RTA parking and purchases at more than 2,000 shops. The card is available to residents and tourists alike, and it’s easy to use. The Dubai NOL card is a great way to get around Dubai and explore all the city’s amazing attractions.
What is a Dubai NOL card, and who needs it
All passengers who want to use public transport in Dubai operated by RTA (Roads and Transport Authority) should purchase a NOL pass. This will be your Dubai metro, bus and tram card. You can choose from four main types, and I will help you to understand which NOL card is right for you.
Disabled people with a personal Blue card and children under 5 can use Dubai’s public transport for free. Students, social workers and UAE citizens/residents, who hold a personal NOL card, can get a 50% discount on their trips.
What are the NOL card benefits
Depending on the type, NOL Dubai passes come with different benefits and allow you to pay for various services. I have summarised them for you below:
- Pay for public transport
- Pay for RTA taxis
- Pay for RTA public parking
- Pay at 2,000+ shops
- Pay at Dubai parks
- Pay at the Etihad Museum
NOL cards are secure and safe to use.
Where can I get a NOL card in Dubai
Wondering where to buy a NOL card in Dubai? Head to a ticket office at any metro station (including Dubai International Airport), bigger bus station, or RTA Customer Service points.
Anonymous NOL Red tickets and NOL Silver cards are also available from ticket vending machines. Finally, certain NOL cards are available online and via official sales agents. Unfortunately, you cannot buy public transport cards in Dubai at small bus stops and from bus drivers.
How much is Dubai public transport fare
The fare will be calculated based on the distance you travel and several other main factors:
- how many transport zones you pass on your route (7 in total)
- which NOL card type for Dubai’s public transport system you use (4 in total)
- which cabin class you choose (2 in total)
- whether your NOL card allows transfers between different modes of transport
- whether you add any supplement products to your NOL card (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual passes for unlimited rides)
So how does it all work together? No worries, it’s pretty easy. I will now explain it step by step so you can make the right decision and buy the Dubai NOL card that suits you best. If you are in a hurry, you can also jump straight to the comparison table or the ‘Best Dubai NOL cards for tourists’ section below.
Public transport zones in Dubai
There are 7 public transport zones in Dubai, and this helpful map will allow you to quickly track how many zones you might need to travel. As an example, if you go from Dubai International Airport to Dubai Marina, your route will pass through 3 zones.
What are the main Dubai NOL card types
In fact, there are four main types: NOL Red Ticket, NOL Silver Card, NOL Blue Card and NOL Gold Card. They have different prices and vary in terms of the benefits they offer. Let’s explore them in detail!
What is the Dubai NOL Red ticket
Unlike the rest, this is a disposable paper ticket, which counts every journey by a specific mode of public transport as a single trip. Every time you change to a different mode, it will be counted as another ride. This ticket is valid for 90 days or 10 rides and can be used only for the metro, bus and tram. You can choose to travel in a silver (standard) class or a more comfortable gold (first) class. The first-class fare when you travel with a red ticket is exactly double of a standard class one.
The NOL Red ticket costs AED 2, and you can recharge it for no more than 10 trips or 5 daily passes. What is a daily pass? You can load your NOL Red ticket with a pass for unlimited rides during one day. It costs AED 20 to travel in silver-class carriages or AED 40 in gold-class carriages.
- NOL Red ticket price: AED 2
- NOL Red ticket validity: 90 days or 10 trips
- NOL Red ticket top-up limit: 10 trips or 5 daily passes
What is the Dubai NOL Silver card
It is possibly one of the most favourite transportation cards in Dubai. A regular NOL Silver card allows you to pay for your metro, bus, tram, water taxi, ferry and taxi rides. In addition, you can also pay with it for RTA parking and shopping at more than 2,000 stores. Travelling by metro or tram with this card, you will need to board a silver-class cabin (often referred to as a standard or 2nd class).
The NOL Silver card costs AED 25. A great bonus is that it is already preloaded with an AED 19 balance, so you can immediately start travelling. The card is valid for 5 years, and you can top it up for a maximum of AED 1,000 (anonymous card) or AED 5,000 (registered card).
- NOL Silver card price: AED 25 (including AED 19 balance ready to use)
- NOL Silver card validity: 5 years
- NOL Silver card top-up limit: AED 1,000 (anonymous) or AED 5,000 (registered)
What is the Dubai NOL Gold card
It is very similar to the Dubai NOL Silver card, but the main difference is that you will be able to take seats in the upgraded gold-class carriages (very similar to the first class). The card cost and validity are also the same, however you will pay more per ride, which is not surprising because you will be travelling first class. You can also pay with it for RTA parking and shopping at more than 2,000 stores.
- NOL Gold card price: AED 25 (including AED 19 balance ready to use)
- NOL Gold card validity: 5 years
- NOL Gold card top-up limit: AED 1,000 (anonymous) or AED 5,000 (registered)
What is the Dubai NOL Blue card
It is a personal card with a photo which is excellent for daily public transport users. It is primarily suitable for local citizens and residents. One of the benefits is that your balance can be restored if you accidentally lose the card. The Dubai NOL Blue card costs AED 70 with preloaded AED 20 credit immediately available for your trips. The card is valid for 5 years, and you can top it up for a maximum of AED 5,000. It can be used to pay for RTA parking and shopping at more than 2,000 stores.
- NOL Blue card price: AED 70 (including AED 20 balance ready to use)
- NOL Blue card validity: 5 years
- NOL Blue card top-up limit: AED 5,000
Which NOL card allows transfers
All NOL card types except the NOL Red ticket allow transfers between different transportation modes. Please note some restrictions: you should transfer from one mode of transport to another within 30 minutes. Travelling time within one or more zones should not exceed 180 minutes, with a maximum of 3 transfers allowed.
Fares using different NOL card types in Dubai
The table below shows public transport prices in Dubai using all four types of the NOL card. You can also check the RTA journey planner to see the exact price for your route. The website shows the cheapest fare when paying with a NOL Silver card.
NOL card add-ons
If you know in advance that you will be extensively travelling within 1, 2 or all zones, consider adding to your silver or gold card supplementary NOL products, which allow unlimited rides during 7, 30, 90 or 365 days. Please do keep in mind that to an anonymous NOL card you can upload only a 7-day add-on; for all the rest, you would need to have a registered NOL card.
Check out this table to learn more about the prices for weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual passes that can be loaded to your NOL card.
Dubai NOL cards comparison
Which NOL Dubai card is the best match for you? In this overview, you can compare all NOL Red Ticket, NOL Silver Card, NOL Blue Card and NOL Gold Card benefits.
|NOL Red||NOL Silver||NOL Gold||NOL Blue|
|Card price||AED 2||AED 25||AED 25||AED 70|
|Available balance||AED 0||AED 19||AED 19||AED 20|
|1 zone fare||AED 4||AED 3||AED 6||AED 3|
|2 zones fare||AED 6||AED 5||AED 10||AED 5|
|All zones fare||AED 8.5||AED 7.5||AED 15||AED 7.5|
|Validity||90 days/10 trips||5 years||5 years||5 years|
|RTA parking payment||✔||✔||✔|
|Other payment options||✔||✔||✔|
Best Dubai NOL cards for tourists
Trying to decide which Dubai NOL card to choose as a tourist? A lot depends on your plans and how regularly you want to use public transport in Dubai. In any case, the NOL Red ticket and the NOL Silver card are the most popular options.
In my opinion, the NOL Red ticket is ideal for tourists who plan to travel occasionally without many transfers to other modes of transport. This ticket costs just AED 2, and you can top it up for 10 single trips. The disadvantage is that the cost per ride will be slightly higher than with the silver card. If you decide to travel more extensively on one of the days during your visit, you can also preload your red ticket with a pass for unlimited daily rides. Unlike other types, this red ticket is only valid for the metro, bus and tram.
The NOL Silver card is perfect if you are regularly going to explore Dubai by public transport. Even though the card price is higher (AED 25), most of that amount (AED 19) is available to pay for your trips. The cost per ride will be cheaper than with the red ticket, and you will not have to pay extra every time you transfer.
If you are also interested in getting a SIM card for Dubai, I recommend buying a great value deal that includes a 2GB SIM card + NOL Silver card or 4GB SIM card + NOL Silver card. It is cheaper than buying these two products separately. You can conveniently pick up your purchase at the Kit My Trip shop after you exit the Arrival Hall at Terminals 1 or 3 at Dubai International Airport (DXB).
How to check your NOL card balance and top it up
To top up your NOL Dubai card or check the balance use one of the following methods:
- Go to any ticketing machine — they accept cash and payment cards such as Visa, Mastercard and UnionPay. Place your NOL card in a slot and select an option to check the balance. To top up the balance, choose the relevant option, add money and wait for a message on the screen and a beeping sound. After that, you can remove the card, and you are set to go.
- Go to any ticket desk and ask the staff.
- Go to the RTA official website or download the RTA mobile app — available only for registered Silver, Gold and Blue NOL cards.
How to use a NOL card in Dubai
- First, make sure you have at least AED 7.50 on your balance before using the card. This fixed amount may be deducted in case you forget to check out.
- Tap the e-reader (validator) to check in before travelling.
- Use a silver-class or gold-class cabin (metro and trams) according to your NOL card type. Cabin division is not applicable for buses.
- Tap the e-reader (validator) again to check out after your ride.
- Repeat the actions when you transfer to a different mode of transport.
Prepare for your Dubai trip
Did you find this post helpful? Then click that little heart below and share it with your friends and family. Have fun in Dubai!