Tag Archives: amex

AMEX-Shopback $50 sign up promo is back

Back in December last year, AMEX and Shopback held a joint promotion that offered a $50 cashback and a $50 welcome voucher with Fairprice/Tangs/Starbucks/Tung Lok when you signed up for selected AMEX cards via Shopback’s website. If you’re new to Shopback, signing up via this link gives you a bonus $5 credit in your account (I earn a referral bonus too)

Well, if you missed out on that one there’s another promotion ongoing from now till 31 May that gives you a $50 cashback plus a chance to win a pair of business class tickets to somewhere or other.

This time round there are only two cards eligible for the promotion versus four the last time round.

Regular readers will know that I’m no big fan of either one, but it says in the T&C that a ShopBack Member can apply for multiple cards and $50 Cashback will be given for each successful card application so why not. Both cards have the first year annual fee waived.

If you have not already signed up for the Krisflyer AMEX in the past, you’re welcome to do so, spend $1 and get the 5,000 first spend activation miles and subsequently chuck it. I know there’s this ongoing promotion where you get 5,000 bonus miles when you spend $2.5K in the first 3 months upon approval, but there are much better sign up bonuses out there to put that spending on.

When you’re done applying, you need to send in your application reference number to Shopback, so don’t forget that step.

Your $50 cashback should be redeemable within 60 days.

I took part in this promotion the last time round and signed up for an AMEX Platinum card, which still sits in my drawer unactivated. The $50 cashback came through just fine, however.

Thanks to NBsjcs for the heads up on the comments.

Putting this 1.2/1.4 mpd and rounding issue to bed

A common objection I get when I recommend UOB cards for miles earning is that these banks round your transaction down to the nearest $5, so a $9.99 transaction earns the same amount of miles as a $5 transaction ($5 @ 1.4 mpd with the UOB PRVI Miles).

Other banks, like Citibank/HSBC, award miles to the nearest $1, so that same $9.99 transaction would earn you 10.8 miles ($9 @ 1.2 mpd.

But the key question you need to ask yourself is this- what is my average/median transaction size? This determines whether or not the enhanced miles earning of a UOB PRVI Miles card (1.4 mpd) can make up for the rounding down effect.

How big a problem is rounding?

Here’s a simple table showing how you end up with transactions ranging from $4.99 to $99.99, comparing a hypothetical 1.2 mpd arrangement (Citibank Premiermiles Visa) with a 1.4 mpd arrangement (UOB PRVI Miles)

(EDIT: 13 July- some of these calculations are technically wrong because I haven’t taken into account UOB’s rounding down of partial UNI$ amounts. The conclusions in this article don’t change, but you can refer to this if you want the technically correct calculations)

Red= you lose out with a the 1.4 mpd, rounding down card. Calculations for 1.4 mpd based on transactions rounded down to the nearest $5, calculations for 1.2 mpd based on transactions rounded down to the nearest $1

What you can see is that once your transaction goes above ~$30, the incremental 0.2 miles you earn with UOB offsets the rounding down effect. The gap only grows bigger the larger the transaction is.

Or fine, let’s take the Citibank Premiermiles AMEX (1.3 mpd) instead and see what happens.

Red= you lose out with a the 1.4 mpd, rounding down card. Calculations for 1.4 mpd based on transactions rounded down to the nearest $5, calculations for 1.2 mpd based on transactions rounded down to the nearest $1

Now, as expected, the “sweet spot” moves upwards in that transactions of ~$55 or above favor the UOB card.

My median transaction size is just under $30, but my average is $270 (it’s skewed because of large business expenses). So although 50% of my transactions are under $30 (and I’m losing out on some miles due to rounding there), I’m still winning overall by using a card like the PRVI because the marginal 0.2 mpd is being earned on some significantly large transactions. 

What you need to realise is that even if you are using the UOB PRVI and have, say, 30 transactions where you’re losing out on 2-3 miles each time, all it takes is a large single transaction of ~$300-450 to put you in the same position as if you were using a 1.2 mpd, no rounding card. And that’s what most people’s transactions will look like, right? You’ll have maybe 30 small transactions in a period and the occasional big ticket purchase.

I mean, sure, if you really wanted to there’s nothing stopping you from swapping between your Citibank Premiermiles and UOB PRVI, depending on the transaction size. But that’s a step too far, even for me.

Other considerations

Moreover, the mpd rate is no doubt important but there are other things you need to consider as well. If you’re comparing the DBS Altitude cards (1.2 mpd, rounding down to nearest $5- for more details on rounding please see the comments where johnnyboy has some excellent analysis. It’s not exactly as simple as I’m making it sound) to Citibank Premiermiles (1.2 mpd, rounding down to nearest $1) then the Premiermiles card seems to be better, but better here is in the context of miles earning potential.

Think about pooling (Citibank has two different currencies (ThankYou points and Premiermiles) that you can’t pool, which forces you to pay two conversion fees), think about transfer partners (Citibank has so many more transfer partners than DBS), think about card and mile earning promotions (like the one currently happening with the DBS Altitude Visa), think about expiry of miles, and the picture becomes a bit different.

So I’d encourage you to do a serious analysis of your own spending patterns in deciding whether the rounding issue will be a hindrance to you.

Shopback-AMEX free money offer, $50+$50 up for grabs

Christmas comes early-ish as Shopback and AMEX have teamed up to offer $50 cashback and a $50 welcome voucher for any shopback user (sign up using my link and I get $5, you get $10 with first purchase) who successfully signs up for one of the following 4 cards

Once you’ve done your sign up and got your application reference number, send an email to [email protected] with your ShopBack email address and application reference number.

That’s it. You will get $50 credited to your ShopBack account within 60 days. No matter how many AMEX cards you sign up for, you will only get 1x $50 credit and 1x $50 voucher (Fairprice, Starbucks, Tangs, Tung Lok). Read the full T&C here.

All the cards come with the first year annual fee free, so you really have nothing to lose by signing up. I got the AMEX Platinum Card but don’t intend to put a single cent on it (unless, perhaps, I find a way to make the 50% off F&B program work for me).

This promotion was live, then taken down, and now it’s live again. ShopBack reserves the right to pull it at any time, so please chiong. You have 3 days left to do this.

Thanks to Darius for alerting me to this.