Someone sent me a question about the CIMB Platinum Mastercard, which I honestly didn’t know much about prior. The question was whether the 10% rebate the card offered on travel, health, wellness & beauty was a good deal.
The CIMB Platinum Mastercard is not a miles card so I’ll be the first to admit it doesn’t fall within my area of specialty. That said, a 10% rebate on travel is certainly interesting. In fact, on the surface, the card looks like something that would be useful to a frequent traveler- not just the 10% rebate on travel, but the 0% admin fee on foreign currency transactions.
So I dove into the T&C to see whether this card was truly worth having.
Breaking down the 10% rebate requirements
The CIMB Platinum Mastercard offers a 10% rebate on travel, health, wellness & beauty. Let’s look at definitions first.
As per the T&C, travel is defined as
- Hotels (excluding wedding banquets in hotels)
- Travel Agencies (I’m guessing this includes online ones like Expedia)
- Cruise Lines
Health, Beauty and Wellness is defined as
- Nursing and Personal Care Facilities,
- Chiropractors (PFFFFFTTTT)
- Cosmetic Stores (excluding department stores)
- Massage Parlours (tee hee hee)
- Health and Beauty Spas
The travel category is standard but it’s the health and wellness category that intrigues me. People often email to ask what the best card to use for medical bills is, and until today I didn’t know that any bank actually had a bonus category for this. I always assumed that something as non-discretionary as medical bills would not warrant a bonus, much less 10%.
The 10% rebate is capped at $60 per statement month (not the same as calendar month– check with your bank to find out the cycle), in other words $600 of spending. Beyond this, you will earn only a 0.2% rebate, which is pretty much negligible. That means it only ever makes sense to spend a maximum of $600 on the card per month.
I know what most frequent travelers are thinking: ok, I’ll just whack a regional economy ticket or hotel stay every month. That would be a good idea, except that to earn the 10% rebate, you must spend a minimum of $500 a statement month AND make at least 8 transactions of $30 or more, posted in the same statement month.
So the sweet spot is extremely small- between $500 to $600. And within this amount, I need to ensure that at least $240 of spending is spread across at least 8 transactions. See what the complication is? Either you’ll overshoot $600, in which case the bank is earning off you from merchant fees well in excess of the 0.2% rebate they give, or you’ll fall short, in which case the bank earns even more. Goodness me, it’s almost as if this was intentional…
There are of course ways you could plan your spending to make this work for you, and indeed this HWZ thread is full of suggestions so I won’t repeat them here. Buying vouchers and getting staff to split your transactions into numerous smaller amounts seem to be the best way of maximizing value from this. I might opt to buy 8 x Zuji vouchers or something similar in order to lock in a 10% discount on future travel. I also know that from time to time chains like Hyatt and Marriott offer gift cards at a discount, so combining that and this might be a good idea as well.
No foreign currency transaction fees
Another perk of the CIMB Platinum Mastercard is the waiver of foreign currency transaction fees. Recall my article on using your credit card overseas, where I talked about the three kinds of fees you’ll encounter:
- The foreign exchange spread, typically <1%
- The platform fees, charged by Visa/Mastercard, typically 1%
- The bank fee, typically 1.5-2% depending on bank
If you’re a CIMB Platinum Mastercard holder, the bank fee (3) of 1.4 % is waived. Well it’s technically not waived, it’s charged and refunded the following statement month as a cash rebate. You will still be paying (1) and (2), although it does mean that if you don’t really care about points then this card can be a cheaper way of spending overseas.
Summing it up
The 8 x $30 requirement that this card has means it’s one that requires micromanagement. If you’re the type who’s meticulous enough to track such things, then there’s definitely value to be hard by getting a rebate on your medical spending or to load up on vouchers for future travel.
However, if you feel you’re more likely to forget to hit 8 transactions a month or to overshoot $600, this might not be a good idea for you.