Category Archives: Credit Cards

The curious case of the UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX card

Legend has it that once upon a time, there was a bank called UOB. Long before UOB fell under the dark spell of inflated marketing, it issued an enchanted pair of cards called the “Preferred Platinum” series.

Preferred-PlatinumNow, like every enchanted pairing, there was a magical twin and a non-magical twin. The Mastercard was not magical. To the contrary, it was the Magikarp of credit cards, spending its days running around the house shouting “wingardium leviosa!” at the top of its voice and making coworkers uncomfortable with jokes about its “magic wand”.

The AMEX, on the other hand, was indeed magical. It gave the wielder a 10X bonus on miles earned for dining, both in the homestead and worlds beyond. Yes, it was part of the AMEX race and therefore shunned by many (less enlightened) merchants. But for those who knew how to harness its powers, it became a formidable tool indeed.

And although there was, for a period of time, a challenge to its title as the most powerful dining card in the realm from the HSBC Advance, said card was eventually lured over by the dark armies of cashback. This left the UOB PP Amex as the undisputed ruler of the dining cards, one card to rule them all.

And you can’t have it, because it’s no longer issued.

Or can you?

Well, that’s the question everyone’s asking, because although the vast majority of people are still getting computer says no responses from UOB, there are drips and drabs of successful PPA applications.

I’ve published three articles on the UOB PPA to date, which have attracted almost 300 comments in total from readers

The death of the dining card in Singapore
Last call for the UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX dining card!
UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX: Dead or alive?

So here’s my compilation of sightings of the UOB PPA, the ultimate rare pokemon, based on readers’ accounts over the past 18 months.

A History of Bigfoot Sightings UOB PP AMEX Sightings

October 2015
A user on HWZ reports that the UOB PPA has disappeared from UOB’s website.

Unfortunately, Wayback Machine coverage of the UOB credit card subpage is patchy, so I can’t verify exactly when UOB took down the card. But subsequent calls by forum members to UOB customer service suggest the card is in the process of being “demarketed”.

December 2015
Thanks to a tip off from an anonymous reader, I post an article on how you can still apply for a UOB PPA, provided you’re an existing UOB card member. Apparently, UOB has an automated SMS system that allows existing cardholders to add on additional cards without the need for further verification. All you have to do is the following-

If you are an existing UOB card member perhaps you can try this to apply for the UOB Preferred Platinum cards. I applied using SMS on 10 Oct which was after they removed the application links from their website but still got the card sent to me about 1.5 months later.

SMS spacespace to 77862
For example: SMS Yespp 7890 S1234567H to 77862.

January 2016- December 2016
Numerous people report successfully applying for the card through the SMS method, with photographic proof (note the valid thru date- cards are issued with 5 year validity, so an expiry date of 01/21 implies a 01/16 issuance)

photo credit: lionel

I’ve gone to tally up the comments of people reporting successful applications by month, only counting people who reported receiving the physical card (others have received approval messages via SMS but the cards never came). Here’s how it looks-

(note: there’s no way of verifying if all these accounts are true, but I’d like to believe that Milelion readers are people of impeccable character and personal hygiene)

Jan 2016: 3
Feb 2016: 8
Mar 2016: 6
Apr 2016: 12
May 2016: 1
June 2016: 8
July 2016: 4
Aug 2016: 4
Sept 2016: 0
Oct 2016: 0
Nov 2016: 0
Dec 2016: 3

You’ll note that the earliest applicants had the most success. April in particular was a bumper crop, with 12 people reporting successful applications.

And then it goes kind of quiet post August. From Sept- Dec 2016 we get a grand total of 3 successful applications, all in December.

Of course this is far from scientific- there’s a whole lot of self selection bias here. Also note that there were many others who were unsuccessful during this period (but thankfully reported it too so we’d have that data point), getting a range of excuses from CSOs about the card being demarketed and unavailable.

January 2017- April 2017
So continued the dry patch with denials, denials, denials. People who try the SMS method got met with a wave of rejections, from CSOs calls to a poor soul who applied for the UOB PPA and got a UOB YOLO card in the mail. Talk about a cruel joke. 

In addition to the SMS method, another possible application method by mail surfaces thanks to posters BIN, Alvin and Tim. There are two different forms out there, to my knowledge. Try this…

Download (PDF, 194KB)

Or this

Download (PDF, 606KB)

And yet, no success reported. Until…

May 2017- June 2017
Breakthrough. 3 successful applications reported, again corroborated with photographic evidence. (note the 05/22 expiry date, evidencing a 05/17 approval)

photo credit: martin

What’s going on?

I have a theory.

I believe that when UOB demarketed the card in late 2015, the change was mostly cosmetic, in that they took the card off their front end webpage but didn’t update anything on the back end.

Now, a big bank like UOB handles thousands if not tens of thousands of credit card applications in a month. It’s not practicable for each of them to be manually approved. So UOB probably has an automated card printing press that kicks into action once the system approves a new application (based on credit risk, income requirements etc). The cards are embossed, the account is opened on iBanking, the CBS warnings/ promotional vouchers are added to the envelope and the package is dispatched, with little to no human intervention.

Therefore, although CSOs were trained to say the card had been demarketed, the system was still set up to produce such cards upon approval. It doesn’t explain why some people who applied in early 2016 didn’t get the card, but it does explain how some people could still get the card despite it being “demarketed”.

The other thing that intrigues me? Look at the most recent version of the UOB PP Mastercard. Yes, it’s still useless, but the design tells us something.

photo credit: chelsea

That there is Mastercard’s new logo.

Now hear me out. The way I understand it, card production has two components. There is the “raw” cardstock, which doesn’t have names, card numbers or expiry dates embossed. They have the base design (the card artwork + the Mastercard logo) and maybe a blank chip there, but nothing else. The cardstock sits around waiting until it’s needed. When a card is approved, the embossing happens, the chip is activated and the card is sent out.

Which means at some point in the recent past, UOB must have updated the cardstock’s design to incorporate the new Mastercard graphic. I’m guessing this didn’t take a lot of time, because in all likelihood there’s a placeholder for the Mastercard graphic on all cards, and it was a simple matter of replacing the old object with the new one.

But then they also bothered to do a print run of the new PP Mastercard cardstock, which implies in a warehouse somewhere there’s a pile of these babies waiting to be embossed. Now why would they do that for a card that’s supposedly demarketed? Card replacements, possibly, but this may also lend some hope that UOB hasn’t decided to kill the account entirely.

How do I get one?

And that begs the question, how do I get one?

Unfortunately, there seems to be absolutely no rhyme or reason why some people’s applications are successful and others aren’t. The UOB PP Amex was always a $30K income requirement card, so income can’t be a factor for why some people get it and others don’t.

Could it simply  be a matter of persistence? Three accounts from successful applicants suggest so.

Account 1 from Anonymous:

15Nov – applied for card via SMS

20Nov – received call saying discontinued, but continued to push them citing other people who have received the card recently, CSO agreed to apply for me.

8Dec – received card in mailbox

still works! goodluck guys!

Account 2 from Martin:

I applied for this card mid of April 17 via SMS and shortly after via mail again. Called up 3 CSOs after, all saying the system doesn’t allow an application any more. Nothing they can do. Today I saw the card (with number) showing up in the ibanking. But can only be certain once the card is in the Mail.

(later)

Cards have arrived today, 03/05/17. Still works.

Account 3 from Chelsea:

I sent 12 SMS and 2 paper applications…UOB really makes you work for this card

These accounts seem to suggest that those who eventually got the card had to jump through a lot of hoops to get it. I certainly don’t think you should badger the poor CSOs for something they’re trained to reject, but I imagine SMS channels don’t mind being harassed.

What now?

To those who are still waiting-  given the point we’re at, no one should apply for the UOB PPA and expect to be approved. We’re far past that point already. You can only hope against hope that one day you’ll log into your iBanking and see that glorious account opened.

To the banks- there’s a giant sized hole now in the credit card market for a good dining card. Come on, bring back a 4 mpd card. You can put a minimum spend. You can put a cap on bonus points. But just give us something, anything!

I WANT TO BELIEVE

DBS announces points conversion, mapping for ANZ credit cards

DBS’s acquisition of ANZ’s consumer banking arm has led to a lot of questions for ANZ credit card holders. What will happen to my existing ANZ cards? My ANZ points? Do I need to cash out my ANZ points? If so, when?

There’s been some speculation about this, with ANZ cardholders recently getting a notice that their points and cards will transfer over to DBS equivalents, but we finally have some concrete word from DBS as to what will happen.

Points Conversion

I mentioned that the fair ratio to convert ANZ Travel $ to DBS points would be 2:1, because 1 DBS point is worth 2 miles with Krisflyer and Asiamiles. That’s exactly what has happened.

Similarly, ANZ Rewards Points are valued the same as DBS points with 1 point getting 2/5th of a mile. The conversion ratio DBS is offering is equivalent.

Although your ANZ Travel card’s Travel $ had a maximum validity of 5 years, once they’re transferred over to DBS they will have no expiry, in line with the no expiry policy for points earned through DBS’s Altitude cards.

However, if you’re a holder of ANZ’s Platinum or Switch Platinum cards you’re going to lose out. These points were valid for 5 years, but when they transfer to DBS they’ll only be valid for a further 1 year after the date of transfer, in line with DBS’s points expiry policy for its non-Altitude cards.

Card Mapping

There’s a mapping tool on the DBS FAQ page that shows you what ANZ cards map to what.

  • ANZ Travel Visa Signature= DBS Altitude
  • ANZ Platinum Mastercard = DBS Mastercard Platinum
  • ANZ Platinum Visa= DBS Black Visa
  • ANZ Switch Platinum= DBS Mastercard Platinum
  • ANZ Optimum World Mastercard= POSB Everyday Card
  • ANZ Signature Priority Banking Visa Infinite= DBS Altitude Visa Signature

It’s unsurprising that the Travel Visa maps onto the Altitude, but I am surprised that DBS is converting ANZ Signature Priority VI cards to DBS Altitude cards, given that the Signature Priority VI is for ANZ’s top earners and the DBS Altitude is an entry-level credit card. That said, given how crappy the earn rate is on the ANZ Signature Priority VI, I doubt many will mind.

If you already own the DBS card that your ANZ card will be mapped onto, DBS will transfer your outstanding card balance to a new DBS card account opened exclusively for the payment of your outstanding balance. This account is transitory and is not for further transactions. Whatever rewards points you have will be transferred to your DBS account.

Conclusion

ANZ’s departure from the credit card market in Singapore is unfortunate insofar as it means less competition, but we all know that ANZ’s cards were dying a slow, undignified death in recent times, with the devaluation of several key benefits. So I don’t think too many tears will be shed about that.

DBS updates rewards program T&C with new exclusion categories

I got a tip off from a reader that DBS will be changing its overall rewards program T&C with effect from 2nd July.

Download (PDF, 248KB)

Here’s the relevant portion

One might be confused when seeing this because of the impression that such payments never earned points in the first place. That’s not strictly speaking correct. These transactions do earn base points, but don’t qualify for bonus points earning on category spend cards like the DBS Woman’s card.  You would be able to earn regular points on things like insurance payments with other cards like the DBS Altitude.

Why has DBS done this? It all goes back to encouraging discretionary spend. Most of the categories they’ve explicitly mentioned are non-discretionary spend that consumers would have to make regardless, so DBS doesn’t feel the need to incentivize that sort of spending with points. Where donations/payment to non-profits are concerned, I believe that DBS charges such parties a lower merchant fee and therefore doesn’t want to award points on such transactions.

The other LOL-worthy amendment is that DBS points will not be awarded for spending on your DBS Taka card at Taka. I’m trying to see the logic in that and failing, but I never owned a DBS Taka card anyway so I’m not too bothered.

It’s also interesting that there is some internal inconsistency among the various DBS credit card T&Cs. For example, the T&Cs for the DBS Woman’s card explicitly exclude iPayMy and Cardup from earning any DBS points at all, but the overall rewards program T&C is silent about this. Here’s the equivalent section in the DBS Woman’s card T&C.

My interpretation of this is that if you use your Altitude card to pay iPayMy you should still earn regular points as per your cardholder agreement (i.e. $1= 1.2 miles). Whether or not it’s worth paying the processing fee to earn 1.2 mpd is of course another question.

We’ve recently seen banks starting to tighten their T&C regarding points earning. UOB recently updated its T&C for the UOB PPV, which will take effect from 1 July. The new T&C explicitly provides the MCCs that qualify for 10X points earning on the UOB PPV to the excvlusion of other categories. That said, I wouldn’t get too worried about it. T&Cs change all the time, and although it’s annoying to have to change your gameplan when they do, there’s no reason why you can’t still beat the system if you plan enough.

Thanks to Putera for the tip.