A nol card is essential for travel on the Dubai metro as no other forms of payment are taken for travel (no cash or credit cards).
There are 4 colours of nol cards that you can buy which will enable you to travel on the Dubai Metro as well as the other forms of Dubai public transport: buses, tram, water taxis etc. You can also use your nol card to pay for parking at the RTA public car parks and parking zones. The nol card automatically calculates the correct fare value when you check in and check out correctly. In particular you must remember to check in an out when you travel on the buses and trams otherwise you will be charged the highest fare possible for your journey (maximum number of zones).
The nol cards can be bought at any of the Dubai metro stations, tram stations or bus stations and are as follows:
Red Nol Card
Well rather than being a card this is more of a paper ticket. It is valid for 90 days and costs 2 dirhams to buy and you can load it up with the cost of 10 individual trips. This nol card can only be used for one type of transport at a time so is useful if you only want to do, say, a couple of trips on the Metro.
Silver Nol Card
This is the best card if you intend to use the Dubai metro or other forms of public transport on an intermittent or even regular basis, or if you need to pay for parking regularly.
The nol silver card costs 25 dirhams to buy but that includes 19 dirhams in credits. It is valid for a period of 5 years and can be topped up to a maximum value of 500 dirhams. You can get the silver nol card from all the Dubai metro stations and bus stations plus it is also available in some supermarkets in Dubai.
Gold Nol Card
A nol gold card can be used on all forms of transport, and you will be charged normal rates on anything other than the Dubai metro, but for the Dubai metro you will be able to travel in the Gold Class carriage and will be charged a higher fare for doing so. In all other ways it acts the same as the silver nol card. The Gold Class carriage gives a higher level of luxury and comfort than the other classes. The Gold Nol card also costs 25 dirhams with a value credited to it of 19 dirhams.
Blue Nol Card
The blue nol card is a personalised card that carries the extra benefit of security if your card is lost or stolen and the availability of topping up your nol card online. It is particularly useful for disabled, student or senior citizen travel as then you can be charged the correct reduced fare. The blue nol card costs 70 dirham which includes a 20 dirham fare credit and is also valid for 5 years. If you are registered disabled with a Blue Nol card then all travel is free.