Guestwriter Mobile Payments

A refresher on maximizing miles with mobile payments and wallets

What cards should you be using to maximize miles on mobile payments?

Contactless payments aren’t a new invention but have really taken off over the past two years with various new players such as Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and others coming into the market.  I’ll start first by recapping the various digital/mobile wallets out there  before presenting a feasible card spend strategy to maximize miles.



Who’s who?

Apple Pay – This was the first mobile wallet in Singapore, launched back in 2016 and it uses NFC (Near Field Communications) technology.

Image result for samsung pay

Samsung Pay – Samsung Pay is a proprietary digital wallet service offered by Samsung on its flagship phones beginning with the Galaxy S6+Edge.  Samsung Pay works in 2 ways:

  • NFC – Commonly known as the “Paywave” option, similar to Apple Pay and Android Pay
  • MST – MST, otherwise known as Magnetic Secure Transmission, is a technology that is proprietary to Samsung, which holds the patent, having bought over the company which developed it in 2015.

The gist of how it works is that there is a magnetic coil at the back of the phone.  Once Samsung Pay is activated, both the NFC and MST functions are live (i.e. you don’t need to further toggle between NFC or MST options) and all you need to do is to remove the phone sleeve (if any), and place the back of your phone against the lower right side of the credit card terminal, where the swipe section is.  The magnetic pulses from the Samsung phone would then transmit your credit card details to the terminal which will then process your credit card as though it had been swiped.

Why use MST ? – Ah…that’s the million dollar question, “What’s in it for me if I use the MST function” ?  You may want to know that OCBC is currently running a promotion on their Titanium Rewards Card, and that all transactions (other than the typical exclusions) done via Mobile payments, (including MST) will accrue 10X OCBC points, equivalent to 4 miles per dollar.  In practical terms, what this means is that spending at merchants who do not have a Contactless or Paywave reader can also net you 4 mpd.

Here is a video on how to carry out an MST transaction:

Overseas MST usage:  If you are intending to use MST functions overseas, you must activate the overseas usage function on your credit card.  This is because MST is still considered a “swipe” transaction. (H/T to Dr. Keefe from The Milelion Telegram Group)

The following devices support Samsung Pay:

Currently,  the cheapest phone which can support Samsung Pay is the J7 Pro, which retails for around $368 without contract.

Image result for android pay

Android Pay – Android Pay works similarly to Apple Pay, using NFC technology and can be used either on its own or as an in-app payment.

FavePay – Favepay was covered in a recent article. It’s been confirmed that it earns 10X points with the DBS Woman’s World card.

Image result for grabpay

GrabPay – Other than its function as a wallet for Grab rides, there is an increasing, but small number of merchants who are beginning to accept GrabPay for in-store purchases.  For in-store GrabPay, you just have to scan the store QR code, and then enter the  amount you wish to pay.  There is a current promo till 4th March where for every in-store purchase of at least $3, you get a $5 Grab coupon, up to a maximum of 3 times a week.




What cards should I use?

This table below provides a high level overview on which cards should be digitized into the various digital wallets, in order to maximize miles.

Apple Pay Android Pay Samsung Pay Fave Pay Grab Pay
DBS WWMC X X
UOB PPV/ Visa Signature X X X
OCBC Titanium Rewards  X X X

If we compare the 2 main banks who are still providing 4 mpd for mobile payments, we now have to decide how best to maximize miles earned across these cards.  The following table may help in your decision making:

OCBC Titanium Rewards UOB PPV 
What earns 10X?  Mobile wallet (ApplePay, SamsungPay or Android Pay) for all mobile transactions.

Physical card for certain categories like Dept Stores, Electronics, Children and Baby stores.

Either mobile wallet or physical card via Paywave.
MST eligible for 10X ? Yes No.  MST is not an eligible transaction
Cap on miles earned Annual cap of $12,000 Preferred Platinum Visa – Calendar month cap of $1100

Visa Signature – Statement month cap of minimum $1,000 to a maximum of $2,000.  (Note that Petrol spend will count towards the $1,000 min spend)

Points posted on ? 1X on transaction posting date and 9X by the 2nd statement cycle. PPV – Points posted within a few days.

VS – 1X  on transaction posting date and 9X points posted on the 2nd statement cycle.

How points are awarded ? Rounded down to nearest $1 Rounded down to nearest $5
 FFP partners  Krisflyer only Krisflyer or Asiamiles
Exclusions ? In app Android and Apple payments do not qualify for 10X, nor do transactions at GTMs SMART merchants and a numerous list

The exact best fit strategy would really depend on an individual’s spending patterns (both online and offline), as well as what cards he or she owns.

Let me use my spending lifestyle  as an example.  I have all these cards  and use all the digital wallets, except Apple Pay. My biggest spend, for the last 3 years, is actually on hospital and medical bills. Given that most hospitals do not have Paywave terminals, I only use my OCBC Titanium Rewards cards exclusively on medical and hospital bills.

Soon after I maxed out the $12,000 limit for both my Titanium Rewards cards, I now realize that I really need to examine my spending patterns in order to maximize my miles earning game plan.  Luckily, i still have both the PPV and VS cards, both of which are eligible for 10X points under certain conditions.



So going back to the question, “How do I optimize usage between these 2 sets of cards” ?

The short answer is to put the following types of spend on the OCBC Titanium Rewards cards:

  1. Wherever there isn’t a Paywave terminal or if the Paywave terminal can’t handle more than $100 per transaction. In that case you should use MST, if you have a Samsung phone
  2.  Where the amount is similar to $9.90 or $19.90,  then I would suggest to use OCBC Titanium Rewards to get away from the nasty “rounded down to the nearest $5” for PPV and VS.
  3. UOB SMART merchants such as Cold Storage, Guardian Pharmacy, Metro, etc.

This then means that any transaction which does not fall into the above categories should then be charged to the PPV or VS cards.

Hopefully this helps to get you started on planning your card spend strategy !

Addendum for UOB PPV or VS cardholders who have an Android phone:  For the newer Paywave terminals, UOB’s app, UOB MIGHTY has a Payment function that can bypass the $100 cap for contactless transactions.  This requires you to digitize your UOB PPV or VS card on the UOB MIGHTY app and make payment from the app.

Min Income
Annual Fee

$30,000

$192.60 (First 2 Years Free)

OCBC Titanium Rewards

Earn 4 miles per dollar wherever mobile payments are accepted, and for online and offline shopping
  • Earn 4 miles per dollar when you shop at department stores, electronics stores, babies' and children's wear, or clothes, shoes and bags both online and offline, in Singapore and overseas
  • From now till 31 December 2018, earn 4 mpd on personal care (drug stores and pharmacies) and mobile payments with Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay
  • Bonus miles are capped at $12,000 of spend per card membership year. But apply for both the Blue and Pink version of the card and double that cap to $24,000 (96,000 miles)
  • Spending on the OCBC Titanium Rewards helps you earn bonus interest if you have an OCBC 360 account. Check out this article about bank accounts and miles cards

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16 Comments on "A refresher on maximizing miles with mobile payments and wallets"

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good article, very useful guide for all aspiring milechasers!

great article, Eddie!

Very well written and detailed article. Well done Eddie!

Thanks for the article. If I understand the table right does UOB PPV also give 10x for Apple Pay? I thought it was only for paywave transactions.

see T&C- uob defines contactless as including mobile payments

Couple of points: $100 limitation seems depends on multiple factors. I had $160 contactless transaction with Apple Pay and OCBC. Now regarding MST. I tried to use four times in last 10 days without success. Reason? ‘Cannot lah’ from clerk. You try to explain them that it will work and ask them to try and you get ‘cannot’. Arguments do not work. Request to use terminal to try – ‘cannot’. What do you do next? Then, while there is a human problem described above, there is also a technical problem. Some terminals are out there which have only chip reading… Read more »

It seems that UOB cards have the “magic” to bypass the $100 cap on mobile payments. And the settings of the Paywave terminal of the merchants seem to matter too. I’ve done transactions several times over $100 (up to $900+) with my PPV.

there is unfortunately a big training gap that samsung needs to address if MST is to catch on.

Great article Eddie!
Will apple pay linked to my DBS WWMC used for in app purchases on uber, deliveroo and food panda earn 10x?
I also use the WWMC to top up grabpay and starbucks (but not with apple pay). I assume all of this earns 10x?

HOw does the OCBC Titanium Rewards cards qualify for medical and hospital bills, if there is no apple pay/mobile payment available in the clinic?

http://www.uob.com.sg/web-resources/personal/pdf/personal/cards/credit-cards/rewards-cards/uob-preferred-platinum-visa-card/terms-and-conditions-for-preferred-plat-visa-feb2018.pdf

The total UNI$ awarded to each Cardmember from qualifying spend on Selected Online Transactions and Contactless
Transactions is capped at UNI$2,000 for each calendar month.

So the Preferred Platinum Visa – Calendar month cap should be $1000 rather than $1100, right?

in reality it is $1,110 because it is the 9X that is capped at UNI$2,000. it’s complicated and confusing, but verified by many people alr.

thanks for clarification

Thanks for this article. I’m new to this miles game. Trying to make sense of this line “Visa Signature – Statement month cap of minimum $1,000 to a maximum of $2,000. (Note that Petrol spend will count towards the $1,000 min spend)”. Isn’t the 10x only for foreign currency charges on UOB VS?