Category Archives: Good Idea For The Week

Good Idea For The Week

Is Cardup another route to unlocking 4mpd?

Update 20/1/17: So there have been some lively discussions on the comments and a lot of uncertainty about which cards do and don’t earn 10X on Cardup and iPayMy. 

All I can say is that Cardup earned me 10X points when I used my DBS Woman’s World Card to make a payment back in November 2016. I have not tested any of the other cards mentioned here and can only go on what I’m hearing  from other people. And I’m hearing a lot of conflicting things. I think the main takeaway from this should be: YMMV. Although it’d be amazing if we could get the certainty of 10X, at the end of the day it’s up to the banks what categories they want to give this on. 

One additional clarification that people may find useful is that Cardup payments can be split across multiple cards so you can max out your bonus exactly on one before moving to another.

In any case, I’d prefer that the comments not become an advertising space for any platform, so I’m going to close them at this point. If you have questions for the good people at Cardup or iPayMy, I suggest you contact them directly-

Cardup: hello@cardup.co 
iPayMy: support@ipaymy.com

Cardup is another Singapore startup that’s looking to help you earn more miles on things you couldn’t normally earn miles on. Its model is conceptually similar to iPayMy in that in exchange for a small transaction fee (2.6%, the same across both platforms), you get the chance to use your credit card for merchants who normally don’t take credit cards.

As of today, you can pay rent, rental deposits, school fees (mostly international schools plus some preschools like EtonHouse), condo fees and insurance (AIA, Aviva, AXA, Manulife, Great Eastern and Tokio Marine) through Cardup. This will eventually be expanded to include HDB fees, income tax, school bus, mortgage payments and car servicing.

My experience using Cardup to pay my NUSS monthly membership fees was fairly painless. I just entered my membership details in the dashboard….

Provided my payment details…

And that was it. A few days later, I got an email notification that my payment had been processed.

Does it get 10X?

I suppose this is the question on everyone’s minds. I reached out to the Cardup team for some clarification and here’s their answer as to which cards earn 4mpd with Cardup

  • UOB Preferred Platinum Visa- Yes
  • Citibank Rewards- No
  • OCBC Titanium Rewards- No
  • DBS Woman’s World Card- Yes (edit: updated after Cardup team’s confirmation)
  • HSBC Advance- No

But when I checked my DBS points statement (I did the transaction back in November), my 10X posted successfully. So I’m unsure now. Either it’s a new development that Cardup transactions don’t get 10X with DBS anymore, or there is some confusion even on the Cardup side about what does and doesn’t qualify (Cardup has since confirmed that 10X is possible with DBS WWMC)

You can also have a read of this thread on FT (see posts 6575 + 6549) where someone claims to have been in touch with the Cardup team and provides some FAQs for mile collectors.

Granted, these situations are always in flux (and banks can easily reclassify merchants if they want to) but given how fundamental the 10X points is to people like me when deciding whether to use such services, it is really to their advantage to try and establish some certainty here.

Addendum: iPayMy has been in touch to confirm that the following cards earn 10X rewards points with their platform: UOB PPV, Citibank Rewards, HSBC Advance, DBS Woman’s World Card

Of course, platforms like Cardup market themselves on more than just the ability to earn points. They talk about the convenience of being able to set up transactions once and never worry about them again and the ability to schedule payments in advance. I know iPayMy is trying to build a property management ecosystem where you can seamlessly upload documentation like repair bills and what not to your tenant, keeping a digital trail of all the information in one place. I’m sure some people may find that useful, but I’m not really sold on the convenience because (1) I don’t rent a place and (2) you can get all the convenience of one-time set up and never missing a payment with a GIRO arrangement

To me, the only thing that justifies paying a 2.6% fee is the ability to earn 10X/ 4 mpd. I’ve done the working before, but it bears repeating. If you can get 10X points, you pay-

2.6 cents= 4 miles or 0.65 cents per mile

If you’re earning regular spending rates of 1.4 mpd (UOB PRVI), you equation becomes-

2.6 cents=1.4 miles or 1.86 cents per mile

Is 1.86 cpm a bad price to buy miles at? No, insofar as it’s below the magical 2 cpm threshold we’ve talked about before. But remember that you could potentially be buying miles for less through annual fees.

Card Renewal/ Sign Up Annual Fee (S$) Renewal Bonus (miles) Cost of 1 mile
DBS Altitude Renewal 192.60 10,000 1.9 cents
ANZ Travel Renewal 200 10,000 2 cents
HSBC Visa Infinite Sign Up 488 30,000 1.6 cents
OCBC Voyage Sign up 488/ 3,210 15,000/ 150,000 3.3 cents/ 2.1 cents
Citibank Premiermiles Renewal 192.60 10,000 1.9 cents
Citi Prestige Sign up 535 25,000 2.1 cents
SCB Visa Infinite Sign up 588.50 35,000 1.7 cents

0.65 cpm, however, is a very hard proposition to turn down. And that’s why this 10X or no 10X is so fundamental to my decision whether or not to use these services.

The thing about 10X cards is that they’re amazing if they give you 10X, and punitive if they don’t. Imagine if you paid for a Cardup/iPayMy transaction with a 10X card but ended up earning only 1X. Your effective cost then is

2.6 cents= 0.4 miles or 6.5 cents per mile!

So I can absolutely understand why people are paranoid about this. I think it’s important for both Cardup and iPayMy (and whoever else s intending to enter this space) to have, on their sites, a resource that’s updated monthly with whether or not transactions are qualifying for 10X. This would help nudge people who are still on the fence.

If you fancy your luck (or have a UOB PP Visa), Cardup is currently running a New Year promotion that offers a $0 fee on a user’s first payment (max $5,000). This is valid till 19 Feb and the first 250 users (promo code: Hello2017 (I do not earn anything from this link)).

Conclusion

Given the similarities between iPayMy and Cardup, one might be wondering which platform is “better”.

Assuming both iPayMy and Cardup qualify for the same 10X bonuses with the various online spending cards (something that has yet to be established), then the average miles collector should be indifferent between either platform insofar as they charge the same 2.6% admin fee.

Where these platforms will end up differentiating themselves will be on things like

  • Lists of merchants each platform offers (eg Cardup lets you make insurance payments while iPayMy lets you pay car park charges)
  • Platform rewards program (eg Cardup’s website talks about giving frequent users rewards like 1 month’s free rent, $50 school supplies vouchers)
  • The ability to create a “rental ecosystem” and whether consumers find that useful (eg iPayMy’s creation of a property portal that allows tenants and landlords to upload documents to each other)

It should also be noted that both iPayMy and Cardup do not currently take AMEX but will be offering it soon. However, because there is no 10X online rewards card that comes in an AMEX variety, this isn’t really a concern for me.

[For the purposes of full disclosure I should mention that this site has worked with iPayMy before. However, given the number of questions I’ve been getting about Cardup, I felt it would be beneficial to readers to do an article on the topic. I did reach out to Cardup for clarification on some of the points in the article but all opinions are my own. Cardup offered to waive my first transaction fee on their platform, which I declined]

 

What is your best option for data roaming?

I’ve previously written about how you can get SIM cards for the USA, the UK and France delivered to you in Singapore so you can have them activated and ready to go by the time your plane touches down at your destination.

But it’s also helpful to be aware of the data roaming offers from our various local telcos so we can see how we can get the best deal. I’ve taken the liberty of looking at Starhub, M1 and Singtel’s offers and here are some of my findings.

Starhub (Prepaid)

Starhub has what I think is the best data-only solution for anyone who just needs data. I just came to be aware of Starhub’s Happy Roam prepaid roaming offer. You don’t need to be an existing Starhub customer to take advantage of this, you just need to buy a prepaid Happy Roam SIM.

This offer is valid in the following countries

Destination Network
Australia Telstra
Hong Kong Three (3)
Indonesia XL Axiata, Three (3)
Malaysia All operators
Taiwan Chunghwa Telecom
Thailand TrueMove
UK Three (3)
USA T-Mobile

There are different pricing configurations on offer

Validity Data Cost
3 Days 1GB $5
7 Days 1GB $7
30 Days 1.2GB $10
30 Days 2.4GB $15
30 Days 3.6GB $20

You can buy a $15 or $50 Happy prepaid SIM in Singapore, download the Starhub Happy prepaid app and activate just before you leave. Note that while you will be able to make calls using this prepaid SIM, they will be at the usual outrageous roaming rates. Therefore if you buy a $50 Happy prepaid sim and activate a 30 Day 3.6GB $20 plan, you’ll have $30 left on your phone for calling. Don’t be surprised if that lasts you all of 5 minutes.

If you just need data, I think this is an amazing deal. It’s difficult to beat S$20 for 3.6GB of data. This is my personal favourite given that you don’t need to be a Starhub postpaid customer to subscribe.

Happy Roaming SIMs can be purchased at any Starhub shop, 7-Eleven/Cheers store and at Changi Airport (Travellers’ Counter and UOB Currency Exchange Counters)

M1(Postpaid & Prepaid)

M1 has a nifty program for its postpaid customers called DataPassport, which lets you pay a fee to use your local data allowance overseas for a given month. $10 to let me use my monthly local data in the USA? Sounds pretty sweet.

It’s significantly more expensive to do this for Europe though- if you want to use your local data in France, Germany etc it will cost you $50. That said, it gives you the freedom to use your data across multiple European countries so if you’re hitting 3-4 different countries during your Europe trip this might be preferable to buying 3-4 different local SIMs from each country.

Alternatively, you can pay $15 for unlimited data roaming per day in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Saudi, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and the USA , or $25 for Japan.  These rates are significantly cheaper than Singtel’s (see next section)

EDIT: Thanks to Alvin on the comments who has pointed out that M1 does have a prepaid option too.  Those with the MCard can activate data roaming and use their local data allowance as per normal in the following countries with no additional charge. 1GB of data valid for 30 days costs $10.

Countries Networks
Hong Kong SmarTone
Indonesia XL Axiata
Macau SmarTone
Malaysia Celcom
Taiwan Chunghwa Telecom

Singtel (Postpaid)

Ah Singtel. The ones who invented this whole campaign around the “Romaphobe”, poking fun at those who go to ridiculous lengths to avoid using data overseas, while forgetting that the reason they do so is because telcos like them charge obscene amounts for data roaming (and it’s OT but let’s remember that Singtel is the upstanding telco that tried to pull a fast one on all its customers back in 2008 by signing them up for their stupid Color Me Tones and saying you need to opt out or you’ll be charged. They got off with a slap on the wrist).

Seriously, just watching the video again makes my blood boil. It’s like the classroom bully making fun of those who detour down the corridor to avoid them.

Anyway.

Singtel’s postpaid customers can take advantage of DataRoam Saver and DataRoam Daily plans. In my opinion these are the worst value of all the telcos.  All the plans are for 1 day and expire at midnight local time. Meaning that if your flight lands close to midnight, say, 1150pm, and you turn on your data roaming you’re going to feel very stupid…

Destination DataRoam Saver (Unlimited) DataRoam Daily (100MB)
USA $29 $10
UK $29 $10
Australia $19 $10
Taiwan $19 $10
Malaysia $19 $10
Japan $25 $10
S Korea $19 $10
Hong Kong $19 $10
Indonesia $19 $10
Thailand $19 $10

Do note that if you’re travelling to China, Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, you can pay $20 to enjoy 1GB data for 30 days. (promotion valid till 31 Dec 16)

If you’re heading to Australia, you can pay $10 to get 1GB of data that lasts you for one month.

And if you’re heading to Malaysia, you can pay $10 for 1GB of data (one month) or $5 for 200MB (one month).

Despite these offers, I’m of the opinion that Singtel has the all round worst deals of any local telco.

Local prepaid SIM

The big advantage of getting a local prepaid SIM is that it gives you both data and voice calling. Why do you need voice calling in an age of Skype/Whatsapp? Well, if you’re on a road trip you might end up in a place with only 2G speeds or no data coverage at all. If you’re trying to book a table at a restaurant they may request for a local number. If you’re trying to register with some of the local apps (eg taxi booking) they might request a local number to send a OTP registration code to. If you’re trying to register with a wireless public hotspot some of them only send activation codes to local numbers. As far as Skype/Whatsapp have come, voice calls over the voice network are still much more reliable and better quality.

EDIT: Another important need for a local number- when you need to call your Uber/Grab driver to tell them where to find you

Of course, the value on offer differs. Anecdotally I’ve found the US to have the best prepaid SIM plans and the UAE to have the worst value ones. Let’s see how everything stacks up

Summary: Comparing the options

Here is a summary of what your options are for a few randomly selected countries. I’ve not been exhaustive in my research of the local SIM options so there may well be better local prepaid plans available, but hopefully it’ll be at least indicative of what the best local SIM alternative is.

In general, whenever you need just data and are travelling to Australia, HK, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Thailand, UK and the USA, Starhub will almost always have the best price for you.

Singtel has the highest prices but also the most diverse coverage- if you’re going to somewhere totally off the map like Gabon, Chad, Ghana, Grenada, Kyrgyzstan etc you should be able to get a Singtel unlimited daily roaming plan.

M1 plans make sense if you’re going to a whole range of European countries on one trip (with Singtel you’d be paying a new daily fee in each country you go to, and with Starhub you’d only have coverage in the UK)

Of course Singtel and M1 plans are postpaid only, so this exercise is a bit academic if you’re not willing to switch your provider.

If I’m going to an English speaking country I’d probably get a local SIM card, if not I can foresee problems at the shop getting one and might opt for one of the other options instead.

USA

Starhub HappyRoam Singtel DataRoam M1 Unlimited Data Roaming H20 Wireless Lyca Mobile
Cost S$20 S$29/S$10 (postpaid customers only) S$15 (postpaid customers only) US$40 US$35
Data 3.6GB Unlimited/100MB Unlimited Unlimited, first 3GB at 4G speeds Unlimited, first 2GB at 4G speeds
Other inclusions N/A N/A N/A Unlimited local calls, local & intl SMS, practically unlimited calls to Singapore Unlimited local and international calls, SMS
Validity 30 days 1 day 1 day 30 days 30 days

United Kingdom

Starhub HappyRoam Singtel DataRoam M1 Unlimited Data Roaming H20 Wireless Lyca Mobile
Cost S$20 S$29/S$10 (postpaid customers only) S$15 (postpaid customers only) US$40 US$35
Data 3.6GB Unlimited/100MB Unlimited Unlimited, first 3GB at 4G speeds Unlimited, first 2GB at 4G speeds
Other inclusions N/A N/A N/A Unlimited local calls, local & intl SMS, practically unlimited calls to Singapore Unlimited local and international calls, SMS
Validity 30 days 1 day 1 day 30 days 30 days

Australia

Starhub HappyRoam Singtel DataRoam M1 Unlimited Data Roaming Vodafone
Cost S$20 S$19/S$10 (postpaid customers only) $10 AUD 25 (until 26 Jul, after which AUD 50)
Data 3.6GB Unlimited/100MB Utilizes your local data allowance 8.5GB
Other inclusions N/A N/A N/A Unlimited national calls, SMS, international calls to 10 selected countries including Singapore
Validity 30 days 1 day 1 month 28 days

Thailand

Starhub HappyRoam Singtel DataRoam M1 Unlimited Data Roaming DTAC
Cost S$20 S$19/S$10 (postpaid customers only) $10 THB 299
Data 3.6GB Unlimited/100MB Utilizes your local data allowance Unlimited (first 1.5GB at 4G)
Other inclusions N/A N/A N/A 100 THB call credit
Validity 30 days 1 day 1 month 7 days

Taiwan

Starhub HappyRoam Singtel DataRoam M1 Unlimited Data Roaming Chunghwa Telecom
Cost S$20 S$19/S$10 (postpaid customers only) $10 NTD 500
Data 3.6GB Unlimited/100MB Utilizes your local data allowance Unlimited
Other inclusions N/A N/A N/A NTD 150 voice credit
Validity 30 days 1 day 1 month 7 days

Japan

Starhub Happy Roam doesn’t cover Japan, but Starhub postpaid customers can buy plans similar to Singtel’s

Starhub Singtel DataRoam M1 Unlimited Data Roaming eConnect
Cost S$25/S$10 S$25/S$10 (postpaid customers only) S$25 JPY 4,980
Data Unlimited/100MB Unlimited/100MB Utilizes your local data allowance 3GB
Other inclusions N/A N/A N/A N/A
Validity 1 day 1 day 1 month 30 days

 

Miletize with your rental payments through iPayMy

[Addendum 21 Nov: iPaymy now offers a flat 2.6% service fee regardless of transaction size]

Before I went on my RTW trip I met up with the COO of iPayMy, a local startup that’s offering a new way of paying your rental. We had a good chat where she told me about what iPayMy was trying to do in Singapore, their value proposition and that I had a piece of loose spinach stuck in my teeth the whole time we were talking.

TL;DR version- iPayMy lets you pay your rent through your credit card subject to the following fees

  • 2.95% for rentals up to $5,000
  • 2.85% for rentals from $5,000 to $10,000
  • 2.75% for rentals from $10,001 upwards

At the end of the day this is a simple miles buying exercise. Let’s assume you’re using the HSBC Advance card which gives 4 miles per $1 on online transactions (which is really the right card to use for this). Your cost per mile is-

  • 0.74 cents for rentals up to $5,000
  • 0.71 cents for rentals from $5,000 to $10,000
  • 0.69 cents for rentals from $10,001 upwards

My understanding is that iPayMy will have the option to do partial payments across 2 credit cards, so you could use it to max out your DBS Woman’s World card $2,000 cap before putting the rest on another card, if you don’t have the HSBC advance. Suppose I did a combination of the DBS Woman’s World card and the UOB PRVI Miles Visa/MC (they don’t take AMEX now). The cost per mile is (assuming a minimum rent of $2,000 and 4 miles per $1 on Woman’s world and 1.4 miles per $1 on PRVI)-

  • 0.74-1.21 cents for rentals up to $5,000
  • 1.16-1.48 cents for rentals from $5,001 to $10,000
  • 1.43-1.57 cents for rentals from $10,001 upwards

I think the analysis shows that this is the best deal if you have a HSBC Advance card. If not your cost per mile goes up the more your rent is.

Of course you could have a situation where you had both the DBS Woman’s World card and the DBS Woman’s card and used the (separate) $2,000 cap on each to get 4 miles per $1 on the first $2,000 and 2 miles per $1 on the next 2,000, in which case your calculation would again change.

Remember that you can buy miles for as low as 1.62 cents through credit card annual fees , so iPayMy would be a cheaper option if you wanted to buy miles.

Card Fee Miles Cost /Mile
Citi Prestige $535 25,000 2.14
ANZ Travel Card $200 10,000 2.00
Citi Premiermiles $192.60 10,000 1.93
DBS Altitude $192.60 10,000 1.93
OCBC Voyage (snigger) $488 / $3,210 15,000 (Voyage) / 150,000 (Krisflyer)* 3.25/2.14
SCB Visa Infinite $588.50 35,000 1.68
HSBC Visa Infinite $488 30,000 1.62

I know some people will see this as a chance to do manufactured spending, but it’s against the T&C and probably not a good idea. Even if you could somehow get pass the paperwork and documentation requirements needed to set up a payment scheme, I believe there would be income tax implications. For example, if I dummy paid my friend $5,000 every month and he ibanked it back to me,  he’d be subject to tax on $5,000 of rental income.

So that’s the situation on the miles, which is really the part I’m most interested in . I suppose your ability to take advantage of this depends on the willingness of your landlord to set up with iPayMy, but given that the transaction fee is borne by you I can’t see why that would be an issue. In any case my understanding is that eventually iPayMy will evolve into a property management ecosystem where the both the tenant and landlord can upload relevant documents (eg repair bills) and keep in touch regularly. I’ve never rented a property before so I can’t comment on the usefulness of that.

Update: Correction, property owners do not need to sign-up to iPaymy to receive funds from tenants. They will simply receive the money in their bank account as normal. The tenant simply should ensure to process their rent payment with iPaymy at least 5 days ahead of the due date, to allow for the processing time period and avoid a late rent payment.

This isn’t something that everyone can take advantage of, but if you’re already paying rent and looking for more ways to buy miles this might be an option for you. What I’m hoping is that iPayMy does some sort of promotion where you can get the first month’s transaction fee waived. That would at least lower the barrier to adoption for a lot of people.