Category Archives: Good Idea For The Week

Good Idea For The Week

The Milelion easy reference guide to credit cards

Hello everyone- I’ve written more than a few guides on how to maximise your credit card sign up bonuses and earnings, which I hope have been very useful

Some readers have asked me for a quick 1 picture summary of those articles. I’m happy to oblige, but I caution that without the full context you may miss out on some important details and caveats. Nonetheless, here goes…

credit card bonuses
Maximising credit card sign up bonuses

Here’s the guide for card spending- Protip: why not save this on your phone so that next time when you’re out you have a quick reference guide? Just right click on the photo and save it

milelion card guide v2

GIFTW- Save on rental car insurance

Please refer to the latest version of this article here

The Idea

  • Insurance offered by the rental car company is very expensive (anywhere from US$10-30 extra per day)
  • Buy 3rd party rental car insurance before you travel and have peace of mind for much less

The Details

Driving holidays are fun, but whenever I’m behind the wheel of a rental car I always have a certain paranoia that something will happen to the car, resulting in a huge inflated repair charge (online horror stories of people getting 4 figure bills for a small scratch come to mind)

The best solution, as always, is insurance. But if you were to buy the insurance offered by the car rental company (called LDW/CDW), that’s easily an extra US$10-30 dollars per day. Which over a 1-2 week rental really adds up. So what’s the alternative then? Third party rental car insurance.

Although some third party rental car insurance sellers offer worldwide plans, Singaporeans are not eligible to apply for these. Therefore you’ll need to select the appropriate plan based for what region you’re going to.

When I go to the States, I use InsureMyRentalCar (underwritten by Chubb), which offers both daily and single trip coverage.

insuremyrentalcar

On their website, I got the following quotes

2 days- $10

3 days- $15

4 days and up- $36

This covers you for damage to the car up to US$50,000 with no deductible. They also include US$5,000 to cover accidental death and dismemberment. The maximum coverage period is 30 consecutive days

Note that this will cover you plus anyone who is named as an authorized driver on the rental contract. That is, if you’re holidaying with your significant other and both your names are on the rental contract, the insurance will cover incidents arising from either of you driving the car. However, the insurance holder (i.e. you) must be the one making and paying for the rental.

If you’re going to Europe, try icarhireinsurance . If you’re a non EEA resident, the only plan you’re eligible for is the Excess Europe plan, which is £2.99 per day (3 day minimum) or £39.99 per annum. This features £6,000 excess cover and covers damage to things like windscreens, tyres, roof and undercarriage that regular CDW/LDW doesn’t.

icarhire

If you’re going to Australia, the only option I have found so far is Hiccup. A 5 day plan costs you AUD$84.50 with AUD $4,000 and zero excess. I’m not sure why insurance options in Australia are so expensive- that’s a point worth researching. I’ll update this if I find a cheaper option for Australia.

hiccup

Remember that some rates you book with car rental companies already include CDW/LDW. Before you buy any 3rd party insurance for your rental car, be sure to check if this applies to you.

GIFTW- Get cheap calling and data when travelling the USA

The Idea


The Details

A common issue everyone faces when travelling overseas is how they can get cheap, affordable data and calls. Since most of my travel is to the US, I’ve extensively researched the options available and believe I’ve come upon the best solution-VMNOs

VMNOs are virtual mobile network operators. They don’t own any of the physical infrastructure that a telco uses- instead they buy airtime and bandwidth in bulk from established network operators and resell that to customers in the form of their own service plans. For a period there was such an arrangement in Singapore- anyone remember Virgin Mobile? Their business model was to buy airtime from Singtel and then resell it. They folded in 2002 after barely a year of operations.

Fortunately in the USA VMNOs are alive and well, and offering much, much more competitive packages than the traditional incumbents like T-Mobile and AT&T.

I’ve used Simple Mobile numerous times in the past. Look at these plans and tell me that’s not ridiculously good value

simcard1

Yes, for US$40 I can get 2 GB of local 4G data, unlimited local calls and texts and unlimited international texts. It gets better. For a US$10 supplement, I get unlimited international calling. I can call back home to Singapore as much as I like, for 30 days, for US$10!

However, Simple Mobile runs on the T-Mobile network and has some coverage gaps, especially around the Big Sur Highway 1 area. Therefore I started looking for an alternative provider using the AT&T network, which has stronger coverage in that area. My new favourite is H20 wireless, which has plans which are just as good value. US$40 gets you 1GB of data, unlimited local calls and texts and unlimited calling to Singapore (versus Simple Mobile where you get 2GB of data but need to top up US$10 for international calling)

simcard2

How to buy and load these cards

The actual sim cards are sold on amazon for 1 cent each, very often with free domestic shipping (however, with some merchants, if you order more than 1 they start charging you for shipping. Weird, but there are many different merchants so just order 1 from each). Why so cheap? The entire industry is extremely low margin- they sell you the sim card cheap and hope that you buy top up cards from them, which at least allows them to make some small margin.

simcard3

You can get the cards delivered to the hotel you’ll be staying at. Just let them know beforehand

Alternatively, I buy these in bulk every time I head to the states, so let me know if you need one and I’ll see whether I have any spares in my inventory. Always nice to have a sim card from the moment you step off the plane.

IMG_20150418_090453

Loading these cards can be an issue, as the official websites only accept US-issued credit cards, for anti fraud reasons

You have 2 options to overcome this

  1. Get a UOB Virtual AMEX
    • UOB Virtual Amex works like a US issued credit card and comes with a US billing address. US websites will recognize this card- you just pay you balance at the end of the month like you would any other card
    • EDIT: I’ve just been informed that UOB is currently not accepting new signups for this card. I’ll keep you informed if this changes
  2. Buy from a 3rd party like callingmart

Some people have asked about Singtel’s Dataroam. Dataroam is still much more expensive than getting a local sim card.For the USA, Dataroam will be S$30 per day, and only includes data, no calls, no texts.

I love how Singtel created the term “Roamaphobe” to use in their marketing campaign and tries to light heartedly poke fun at people who are paranoid about finding Wifi and not consuming any data when travelling. Well Singtel, the reason people are “Roamaphobes” is because telcos like you charge us ridiculous rates for overseas data. People are right to be scared.

Get these sim cards and you won’t need to bother with Singtel when overseas.