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
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
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 $1 for dining spend, but you need to set up a special account to get that card (and besides I have no interest in creating further orphan miles
Should use: UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX OR HSBC Advance Visa Platinum
Will use: UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX with Citibank Clear Platinum Visa as a backup
For online shopping you can use either the Citibank Rewards Card or the DBS Woman’s World Card. I’m sticking with DBS Woman’s for consolidation reasons, and also because they award the 4 miles for any online transaction, not just “shopping”.
Citibank Rewards on the other hand will not award bonus points for bill payments, fine payments, subscription fees, buying movie tickets etc.
For offline shopping, I’m sticking to the Citibank Rewards card in the hope of building up a critical mass (say, 50,000 miles?) sometime in 2016 before cashing out my Citibank points and cancelling the PremierMiles card. I will keep the Citibank Rewards card for Amazon purchases and for the occasional purchase of the big-ticket item.
Should use: DBS Woman’s World card for online, Citibank Rewards card for offline
Will use: As above
I wanted to include this as a separate category because I’ve received quite a few questions on it. TL;DR version. If a paywave merchant awards Smart$ (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
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
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