Credit Cards

2016: Which card to use when?

2016 is here and it’s time to review the gameplan. I’ve sort of covered this already in the 2016 Credit Card strategy, but that was more specific to me. Here I’m going to lay out the credit card landscape as of 1 Jan- which cards should you use in order to maximise your miles earning for 2016?

Consolidation is the name of the game for me in 2016. An audit of my ANZ and Citibank accounts showed that I have 11,378 ANZ Travel$, 12,338 Citibank Premiermiles and the equivalent of 13,942 miles in my Citibank Rewards card. I understand I can manually get the CSO to transfer the Citibank points at one go and only incur 1 transfer fee, but I’m still a bit iffy about incurring $25 to cashout those 11,378 Travel $ in ANZ (in any case the maximum I can get out is now 10,000 thanks to their new minimum transfer amounts)

For each of these categories I’m going to tell you what you “should” use (to get the most miles, i.e. what is technically the best card to use in that situation) versus what I “will” use (in order to consolidate my miles within UOB/DBS as far as possible)

Keep in mind that promotions may pop up throughout the year that will require you to re-evaluate your strategy.

General spending- Local

The UOB PRVI Miles portfolio reigns supreme still at 1.4 miles per $1. No reason to change a winning formula, so I’m going to stick with this one for 2016. I predict this will form the bedrock of my overall spending strategy

Should use: UOB PRVI Miles

Will use: As above


General spending- Overseas

The word on the street is that UOB has stopped taking applications for the UOB Visa Signature card at this point, but those of us who already have it can continue spending to enjoy 4 miles per $1 on overseas spending, capped at the first S$2,000 per statement period (not month!). You have to spend a minimum of S$1,000 to qualify for the bonus though.

After I’ve maxed out the S$2,000 I will switch back to the UOB PRVI Miles card to enjoy the 2.4 miles per $1

Should use: UOB Visa Signature for first S$2,000, then back to UOB PRVI Miles

Will use:  As above

Paypal

paypal

I make a lot of Paypal payments so this is an important category for me. I learned, a bit late unfortunately, that Paypal payments made with an SG-registered Paypal account are processed through an SG-based payment processor. So even if you use Paypal to pay in foreign currency, UOB will award miles based on 1.4 miles per $1, ie the local spend rate.

Because of this, the right thing to do is use UOB PRVI Miles for Paypal transactions in SGD, and DBS Altitude for Paypal transactions in forex (where you’ll earn 2 miles per $1)

Even better, remember that Paypal transactions count as online spend for the purpose of maxing out your $2,000 DBS Woman’s World card at 4 miles per $1.

Should use: DBS Woman’s Card for first $2,000 (local or forex), DBS Altitude for subsequent forex payments, UOB PRVI Miles for subsequent SGD payments

Will use: As above

Dining

dining

I’ve covered this previously in the Dining card analysis article, so check that one out. Long story short, so long as UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX is in the game, stick with that. After which, Citibank Clear Platinum for me. I know that HSBC Advance Visa Platinum is a better choice in that you get 4 miles per $1 for dining spend, but you need to set up a special account to get that card (and besides I have no interest in creating further orphan miles

Should use: UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX OR HSBC Advance Visa Platinum

Will use: UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX with Citibank Clear Platinum Visa as a backup

Shopping

shopping

For online shopping you can use either the Citibank Rewards Card or the DBS Woman’s World Card. I’m sticking with DBS Woman’s for consolidation reasons, and also because they award the 4 miles for any online transaction, not just “shopping”.

Citibank Rewards on the other hand will not award bonus points for bill payments, fine payments, subscription fees, buying movie tickets etc.

For offline shopping, I’m sticking to the Citibank Rewards card in the hope of building up a critical mass (say, 50,000 miles?) sometime in 2016 before cashing out my Citibank points and cancelling the PremierMiles card. I will keep the Citibank Rewards card for Amazon purchases and for the occasional purchase of the big-ticket item.

Should use: DBS Woman’s World card for online, Citibank Rewards card for offline

Will use:  As above

Paywave Merchants

paywave

I wanted to include this as a separate category because I’ve received quite a few questions on it. TL;DR version. If a paywave merchant awards Smart$ (cash rebate), you will not earn UNI$ (which are convertible into miles) on the same transaction

Here is the list of Paywave Merchants (1)

Here is the list of SMART$ Merchants (2)

If you find someone on list (1) BUT NOT list (2), go ahead and use your UOB Preferred Platinum Visa there and enjoy 4 miles per $1. Unfortunately, most of the big fish like Cold Storage, Giant and Caltex all award SMART$.

Should use: UOB Preferred Platinum Visa

Will use: UOB PRVI Miles (unless someone is kind enough to go through both lists and figure out which merchants are kosher)

Air Tickets & Hotels

airplane2

Both of these are online transactions and as such you should be using the DBS Woman’s World card. Note that there are a couple of exceptions where you won’t earn 4 miles per $1 (eg if you use the SQ mobile app to book tickets), so check it against this list before you buy anything.

EDIT: When it comes to hotels, using the DBS Woman’s World Card is ok for Expedia, Agoda and other OTAs, but if you book via the official website (www.hilton.com for example) you don’t get the online bonus

That said, suppose you’ve maxed out your $2K for the month- what next?  DBS Altitude will earn you 3 miles per $1 for hotel and airfares- but do remember that this is only for online hotel payment. That is, suppose you book a refundable rate, secure it with your Altitude card, check in and at check out swipe your Altitude card again at the front desk to make payment. That does not count as an online hotel payment! Contrast that to me booking a non-refundable rate online and paying with the DBS Altitude card. In this case, the payment is taken immediately from my card and counts as online hotel spend for the purposes of Altitude bonuses. Remember- payment must be done online!

Note that if you are currently within the sign up promotion period for the DBS Altitude cards, then those should absolutely be your first port of call here (4.5 miles or even 6 miles is a possibility)

One key difference to point out between the UOB PRVI Miles and the DBS Altitude- UOB gives 3 miles per $1 on SQ and MI spending, DBS gives 3 miles per $1 on all airlines (first $10,000 spend per month).

Should use:  DBS Woman’s card for first $2,000, DBS Altitude subsequently

Will use:  As above

Other Categories

You might like to know that Kaligo still has an ongoing bonus with Citibank Premiermiles where you earn 10 miles per $1. That’s an incredible value and if you’re committed to consolidating on Citibank then that’s something to take note of.

Also, Expedia has a promotion for 6 miles per $1 for Citibank Premiermiles cards until end July 2016.

You may want to read this article about bill payments as well.

Are there any other categories you can think of other than the ones I’ve mentioned here that earn bonus miles?

cover photo by uditha


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70 Comments on "2016: Which card to use when?"

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Loving the work Milelion! Your research makes my life a lot easier! I have the HSBC advance credit card so trying to consolidate with that and Prvi card. Although the minute hsbc stop the 10x points promo points like they did for a few months last year the card is then useless. Also for hotels I see you are booking a lot through OTA’s however with the major chains you won’t be able to get any loyalty points and miles unless book direct. With all the points promos and status matching from them at the moment I would of thought… Read more »

The HSBC Advance also have a cap of 200 dollars per month for any transitions to EZ-Link Pte Ltd. This can be a big considerations when considering transactions for Im@g1ne/F3v0. However, its good if you want a huge purchase online like for example, an engagement ring from James Allen. For paywave, its mainly Cold Storage/Shen Siong and Coffee Bean that are the common merchants. The work around is to use DBS Woman pair with other cards for buying groceries.

Also, I had apply the UOB AMEX Dining card via SMS but didnt get it.

Corrections, the 3 common merchants are Cold Storage, Coffee Bean and Giant that won’t earn UNI$ for using the UOB Preferred Platinum. Work around its to earn points if buying groceries with them is to be creative and explore combining different cards benefit together.

So the workaround instead, is to visit FairPrice, Starbucks, although with Starbucks, using the CitiRewards gets you both miles AND a 10% rebate. 🙂

Are hotel bookings on OTAs applicable for 3 miles per dollar on the Altitude card?

yup

Great post as always :)!

The only thing I’ll add is that the UOB VISA Signature requires a minimum of $1K spend overseas, capped at $2K, in order to earn 4 miles/$.

Another thing, not sure why I keep hearing that UOB VISA Signature has stopped accepting applications, but the website seems to still be showing it: http://www.uob.com.sg/personal/cards/credit/uob_visa_signature_card.html

In addition, I applied via SMS about a week ago (before I read about it), will update again if I do receive the card. Haha.

You cant apply it at branch office physically, that’s what had happened to me. The person serving me said that UOB intended to replace the miles card with visa signature, but had yet to update the website to reflect the changes. I got the card via online application last month.

I applied via SMS, have yet to receive the card but I can see it when I log into internet banking now :).

Thanks for the confirmation!

Hi Milelion,

Thanks for the comprehensive summary! Just wanna check with you…what’s the success rate like for the recommended cards mentioned above to get a waiver off the annual fees? I am assuming that the above recommendation will only be worthwhile without the fees incurred?

Cheers!

Just got the UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX today, which previously I thought I am not going to get it. I applied the card via SMS.

While applying for the DBS Woman’s World Card & Altitude Visa card (due to the Signup Bonus), I was informed by someone from the call centre that Altitude Visa card can earn miles, while Woman’s World Card can only earn DBS points, but cannot be exchange for miles.

That seems to be incorrect, as based on DBS Rewards Site (https://www.dbs.com.sg/Resources/personal/docs/cards/rewards/dbs_rewards_booklet_6.pdf), you can exchange 5k DBS points for 10k KF miles.

Do let others know, in case they get confused by DBS call centre.

I have a few questions for large spendings. My wedding banquet will cost a minimum of $40k and the furnishing of my new flat will cost another $20k or more. Do you have any recommendation to maximise miles rewards for my given situation? Amex Ascend is offering a bonus of 40,000 miles for spending of $10k. With 0.8 miles for every $1 spend, I will get a total of 48,000 miles for $10,256.80 (inclusive of annual fee) which comes to 4.67 miles per dollar. Ascend is also offering 300 bonus miles for every $500 spend which comes to 1.43 miles… Read more »

If the banquet is with a stand alone restaurant (and not a restaurant under a hotel). HSBC Advance CC will get you 4 miles per dollar.

For KF account, I am not quite sure if you can tie your wife ascend card to your KF account. But I would say to give it a try to add your wife as a redemption nominee and tell amex that your wife do not have her own KF account.

so i just verified with Amex Singapore website. the details are the same as when I was researching for my own wedding 🙂 so. earn 5000 bonus miles on first transaction. another 15,000 bonus miles upon hitting $5k spent, within first 3 months. and another 20,000 bonus upon hitting $10k spent, within first 3 months. on top of that, each $1.20 spent will earn you 1 mile. monthly accelerator is once above $1000 spent, each block of $500 will earn you a bonus of 300 miles. for illustration, supposingly you spent exactly $10k in your first month after getting your… Read more »

Hi i spend about $3000 per month online. which other card do u recommend for maximizing my miles? i already have dbs women card but that is good for up to $2K

UOB Preffered Platinum Visa also give 4 miles/$ for online transaction but with very strict exclusion :
“Online retail transactions are transactions for purchases of goods or services via the internet using the Card. Online merchants include merchants that fall within the categories of bookstores, cinemas, entertainment, electronics, fast food, music and retail shopping, but excludes all merchants that fall within the categories of airline, travel, transport,top-ups for any pre-paid card, government, utilities, telecommunications, brokerage/securities, insurance, education/tuition, online money transfers and online gambling websites and such other categories of online merchants as UOB may exclude from time to time.”

HSBC Advance CC, no cap for online spend except for 1 merchant. Least restrictive card for online spend. Also no annual fee with petrol rebate.

Hi Aaron, I am a longtime reader of the blog. I am planning to purchase a laptop that costs S$1.4k sometime very soon, and was wondering if you would recommend any particular credit card for this purpose? TIA!

if buying online, cards that awards 4 per mile per dollar. DBS Woman/HSBC Advance/Citi Rewards/UOB PP Visa.

If buying offline in Singapore, trying leveraging on sign up bonus. HSBC Revolution (before 30 Jan 2016) offers a epicentre 500 dollar voucher, which you can use it to get an ipad to sell it. Alternatively, DBS Amex offers 2.4/4 miles per dollar in local/overseas for 3 months, so this card requires some planning in advance. Amex rewards offers 13333 miles for 1.5k spent in 3 months; that’s about 9 miles per dollar if the merchant accept amex.

Hi Aaron, I have the Citibank Rewards,DBS World Woman and DBS Altitude AMEX and Visa. Am afraid that I just passed the 3-months period for DBS Altitude AMEX. An online purchase is ideal but I doubt I can find any online merchants selling the specific model that I am looking for. Think my best choice would be to leverage on sign-up bonuses as what Lionel suggested.

Hi Lionel, I will look into the HSBC Revolution card… Gracias!

HSBC revolution requires you to sign up first then spend 1.5k and be the first few hundred customer to get that vocher. If your not the first few hundred customer, you will end up with a luggage, you may want to evaluate your situation to see how it goes for you.

Got to admit Amex rewards is still way safer than anything. You probably got to check with the merchant if it accept amex before signing the card. Playing with sign up bonus that limit to x people is really playing with fire.

as mentioned I have already signed up for the DBS AMEX card last year and obtained the bonus miles … All thanks to milelion! Maybe I can call HSBC to figure out if I’m still eligible. Thanks!

Hi Kate, I think you are confused DBS Amex Altitude with Amex Rewards card. They are two different card with different sign up bonuses.

https://www.americanexpress.com/sg/content/the-rewards-card/

Hey Aaron (or anyone else), I’ve two quick questions to ask! 1. I’m planning on redeeming a flight to Japan for Dec 2016, and have enough miles to redeem 3 Business Class on SQ, and am short of just 48000 miles for 3 First Class on SQ (I’ve about 40K miles lying across my bank points so I’m confident of filling that shortage soon). Is there a big, big difference between Business and First on SQ? It’s not exactly a long flight, and I want to surprise the two most important women in my life. Thanks! 2. Is it worth… Read more »

I’ve travelled on both F (not Suites) and J.

For a 7 hour flight, there’s not much difference and quite frankly not worth the difference in miles. The only bonus is the lounge at Changi and even then, if you are not flying Suites, you can’t get access to the Private Room.

Having said that, if you redeem for F and there is a last minute change of aircraft OR your plans change, such that you need to fly on a 2 class plane, you will NOT get any refund in miles. This is the policy.

Hey Aaron.

Loving the comments and discussion thread.

Re your 2nd last category above – ‘Air Tickets and Hotels’ – correct me if I’m wrong, but several online hotel chain booking websites (including SPG and Hyatt) do not seem to qualify for 4x miles with the DBSWC as per the HWZ cc excel table. No reason is given (most flight booking websites qualify). As such, it seems safer to use the DBS Altitude for online hotel chain website bookings. Do you have any experience to the contrary?

Thanks!

Thanks Aaron. Yep different hotels do it differently, I’ve come to realise. Even within the same chain. For example, SPG hotels in Tokyo are ‘unable’ to charge pre-paid bookings in advance and only charge your cc at checkout – this was what I was told at the Sheraton Miyako Tokyo. Even here in SG, a prepaid rate I booked at the Westin was charged in advance (as expected), but another prepaid non cancellable rate booked for the following night at the W was not charged in advance but rather showed up on my statement as ‘W Singapore Front of House’… Read more »
Hi Aaron! As a first timer to this miles business, wonder if you have a post on how miles redemption work? Some of my questions off the top of my head would be: i would like to accumulate miles through wedding expenses for honeymoon trip. – can I buy tickets for 2 using 1 kf account? Or can I just buy for myself? – thus should I accumulate all miles on my card or split it between mine and my partner’s card? – can miles from 2 people’s cards be redeemed into 1 kf account? Or can miles from 1… Read more »

Hi Aaron

Do you have any cards to recommend for Prudential insurance yearly or monthly premium payment?

for Prudential you can only pay via AXS if it is yearly premium, for monthly you can only do with credit card/giro.

Hi Aaron,

I’m intending to book a hotel stay at Ibis Styles Ipoh (approx $150+) for March. I also just signed up for the DBS WWMC and Altitude card. (VISA/AMEX not chosen yet) but the VISA option with 8,000 miles bonus looks more attractive I guess?

Should I book this stay through Accor website or OTAs like Expedia or booking.com as I read from your post above that booking through hotel websites doesn’t qualify for the online bonus (meaning 10X DBS points?).
I don’t have any Accor status so I’m open to both options.

Thanks!

Another option will be to pay at the hotel after your stay. It can help towards clocking the 1k requirement for UOB Visa Signature.

Hi Aaron

On Kaligo you must select which merchant offer you want. Which would you choose followed by which credit card to maximise the miles you receive?

Any ideas?

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