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The Milelion Credit Card Omnibus Week 5: ANZ

The Milelion is running a new series that aims to profile every credit card available in Singapore. Each week we will cover a different bank. The appendix below will be updated weekly with hyperlinks as more banks are added, allowing you to navigate between weeks seamlessly

Week 1- OCBC
Week 2- DBS
Week 3- UOB
Week 4- Citibank
Week 5- ANZ
Week 6- American Express
Week 7- HSBC
Week 8- Standard Chartered


ANZ is one of the smaller card issuers in Singapore (4 publicly available cards) but they have one or two decent cards. Actually, scratch that. They only have one, the ANZ Travel Visa, and everything else kind of sucks. Be prepared to be underwhelmed!

ANZ Optimum World MasterCard

anzoptimum

  • Annual Fee: $180  (First year fee waiver)
  • Income Req: $80,000 (Singaporeans and PRs)
  • Marketing Spiel: 5% cashback on one category of groceries,
  • The catch: Cashback is capped at $30 per transaction, cashback can only be redeemed in intervals of $50
  • APPLY HERE

This card is positioned as a premium card, given its $80,000 minimum income requirement. Despite the fanfare when this card was launched, nothing could hide the fact that it is, at the end of the day, another cashback card. And you never win with cashback cards.

I think you already know what I’m going to say here- don’t bother. It’s true that there are some interesting aspects of the Optimum card, but the capped nature of the bonus earnings requires a lot of micromanagement.

Here’s the deal. You pick one category each quarter- groceries, shopping, dining or travel. This category gets 5% cashback. All other spend gets 1% cashback.

lies
no limits? lies.

The cashback earned is limited to $30 per transaction. Which means that once your transaction is >$600, you’re not earning any more incremental. Which makes the card a terrible choice for big ticket item purchases.

It gets better. You can only cash out when you’ve accumulated $50 of cashback, and then only in $50 intervals. Meaning that you need to spend at least $1,000 before you can cash out.

Don’t waste your time with this card. If you want a dining card, use your UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX (assuming you got it before UOB stopped issuing it…)

Yay or Nay: Nay. Friends don’t let friends get cashback cards

ANZ Travel Visa Signature

anztravel

  • Annual Fee: $200  (First year fee waiver)
  • Income Req: $60,000 (Singaporeans), $90,000 (PRs)
  • Marketing Spiel: 1.4 miles per $1 on local spend, 2.8 miles per $1 on spend in Australia/NZ
  • The catch: No bonus for overseas spend other than Australia and NZ, making it really hard to achieve any sort of critical mass for your miles
  • APPLY HERE

On paper, the ANZ Travel Visa Signature card is an attractive proposition. You earn 1.4 miles per $1 of local spend, it’s a Visa with wide acceptance, you get unlimited lounge access and 10,000 bonus miles when you pay the $200 annual fee (2 cents per mile- good value for premium cabin redemptions).

The big downside is this card doesn’t reward overseas spend outside of Australia or NZ. So no 2.8 miles for you if your overseas spend isn’t in Australia/NZ. That in itself is a major black mark against the card .

The ANZ Travel Visa Signature is a classic example of a somewhat solid card let down by a weak supporting ecosystem of other cards. Suppose I’m using the DBS Altitude Visa. Sure, I earn 1.2 miles per $1 of local spend, inferior to the ANZ Travel card. But I can pool the miles I earn from the Altitude with those I earn from the DBS Woman’s card, which makes it easier to hit the minimum block of 10,000 miles I need to cash out.

With the ANZ Travel card (assuming you’re doing all local spend) you’d need to spend ~$7K before you can cash out 10,000 miles. With the DBS portfolio, you could theoretically do this with as little as ~$3.5K (assuming you max out the $2,000 of online spend on the DBS Woman’s World Card).

The fact is that because there’s no overseas spend bonus for the ANZ Travel card outside of Aus/NZ, you’ll be spending a lot before you can bring yourself up to any decent number of miles that makes the conversion fee worth it

For what it’s worth, ANZ has a promotion from now till 25 Jan 2016 where you can earn a bonus 2.8 miles per $1 with a minimum of $500 spend on the ANZ Travel Card. This allows for a theoretical maximum of 5.6 miles per $1 for Aus/NZ spend. The maximum bonus you can earn is 2,550 miles though, meaning that if you’re spending locally you’d max this out at ~S$910 (yielding 1,272 base miles and 2,550 bonus).

Yay or nay: Hesitant yay- you’re looking at a long slog to build up any decent amount of miles with this card

ANZ Platinum Card

anzplatinum

  • Annual Fee: $160  (First year fee waiver)
  • Income Req: $30,000 (Singaporeans), $60,000 (PRs)
  • Marketing Spiel: 20X bonus points at selected merchants, 6x points for groceries and entertainment, 2x points for online/overseas
  • The catch: That translates into 8 miles at selected merchants (capped of course), 2.4 miles on groceries and entertainment and 0.8 miles for online/overseas
  • APPLY HERE

This is a plain vanilla rewards card which earns 0.4 miles per $1 of local spend and 0.8 miles per $1 of online/overseas spend. Yawn.

However, there’s a very interesting promotion currently ongoing. When you spend a minimum of $500 a month (on anything), you’re eligible to enjoy 20X rewards points for every $100 spent at

  • Caltex
  • Cortina Watch
  • Courts
  • Dorothy Perkins
  • FOX Kids and Baby
  • G2000
  • IT
  • Miss Selfridge
  • Tangs
  • TopMan
  • TopShop

This means $1=8 miles. Of course, there are conditions. First, the eligible spend for calculating your bonus miles is rounded down to the nearest $100. Meaning that if you spend $95, you get no bonus. If you spend $190, you get a bonus based on $100 spend (ie 800 miles).

The maximum bonus points you can earn per month are capped 7,800. If $5 spending yields 20 rewards points, you will max this out at $1,950. Not a bad deal, but the limited number of merchants you can get this bonus at somewhat reduces the attractiveness.

I’d say if you believe that you are going to spend regularly at these merchants, you can get this card and pair it with the ANZ Travel Visa to earn a good number of miles, but otherwise you’re better off looking at another bank’s card portfolio

Yay or nay: Nay, unless you intend to spend a lot at these merchants

ANZ Switch Platinum Card

anzswitch

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Income Req: $30,000 (Singaporeans), $60,000 (PRs)
  • Marketing Spiel: No annual fee, enjoy the same 20X rewards program that the ANZ Platinum enjoys
  • The catch: Not a catch per se, only that outside the selected 20X merchants the card doesn’t have much use
  • APPLY HERE

This card enjoys the same bonus rewards program as the Platinum. In fact, I see no compelling reason to get the Platinum card over the Switch Platinum card, given that you’re paying a $160 annual fee for the Platinum card and nothing for the Switch Platinum (couldn’t you have given them more distinct names, ANZ?)

The main difference is that the Switch Platinum does not enjoy the 2X points that the ANZ Platinum has for online and overseas purchases. But really, would you even be using the ANZ Platinum for this? 0.8 miles per $1 spent is a pathetic rate, and you could do so much better with the DBS Woman’s World card for online spending

Yay or Nay: Yay, over the ANZ Platinum card, but nay if you’re not going to spend a lot at the 20X merchants

The Milelion’s 2016 Credit Card Strategy

December is a good time to review credit card strategies for the new year. What I’ve come to realise is that although some cards may individually be the best to use in a particular category, when you view your miles earning strategy overall they may not fit in very well.

To elaborate, I’m going to look at every credit card I own now and decide whether I’m going to chuck it or keep it (note- I’m not including those 1 time credit cards I applied for just to get the free gift, eg OCBC Robinson’s, DBS Esso, DBS LiveFresh (didn’t write an article on that but they had a spend $500 get $80 cashback promotion))

DBS Woman’s Card

dbs woman's card

Use for: Online spending, max S$2K per month

Thoughts: Still unrivaled for online spending. I religiously put $2k of onlines pend on this card each month to max out my 8k miles, then forget about it until the following month. There have been questions as to whether the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa can replace this, because it also gives 4 miles per $1 of online spend.

My response to that is no, not really. UOB’s interpretation of online spend is a lot more strict than DBS, so you won’t earn points for things like buying memberships or paying renewal fees, paying for fines, topping up your FEVO/IMAGINE card etc.

So this definitely falls into the keep category. 8k easy miles each month means 96K over a year- enough for a 1 way suites ticket to the USA.

Verdict: Keep

DBS Altitude (Visa and AMEX)

altitude visa

Use for: General spending (local), foreign spending whenever there are bonuses

Thoughts: Although the Altitude cards do not earn as much as the UOB PRVI Miles cards do (1.2 vs 1.4 miles for local spending, 2 vs 2.4 miles for overseas spending), I still think they’re important to keep for several reasons

First, UOB does not award overseas spend bonuses for payments made in foreign currency which are processed through a Singapore-based payment processor. This excludes Paypal transactions, even those in foreign currencies. I make a lot of foreign payments online via Paypal, so this matters to me. If I were using my UOB PRVI I’d only be earning 1.4 miles per S$1 spent.

DBS on the other hand, defines overseas spend as “Overseas spend is identified as card transactions posted in foreign currencies”. Therefore, by using my DBS Altitude, I earn 2 miles per S$1 of spend.

Second, DBS pools all their points into 1 account. Given that I’ve already committed to use the DBS Woman’s card for $2K spend each month, it makes sense that my general spending also flow into the same points balance. I’ve already paid the $42.80 annual conversion fee, so I can readily transfer out my DBS Points in blocks of 5k points (10k miles) as soon as I hit the minimum

Third, I’ve found DBS’s points promotions to be way better than UOB’s. The Visa version of the DBS Altitude has a current promotion where you earn 3 miles per S$1 of overseas spend for Oct, Nov and Dec 2015, capped at S$3K per month. I’m trying to max that out via Paypal payments. So even though I do lose out by using the DBS Altitude cards for local payments (1.2 vs 1.4), I gain much more by hitting the spend targets for their promotions. DBS Altitude now has a great 2x miles promotion for new Altitude card holders which you should definitely check out.

Verdict: Keep, definitely

UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX

cardface_preferred

Use for: Dining, local and overseas

Thoughts: This is still one of my favourite cards because 4 miles per $1 on dining can’t be beat. UOB recently discontinued issuing this card to new applicants, however I called them and was told that the 10X UNIs on dining will still continue “until further notice”. So ominous as that is, I’m going to keep putting my dining spend here until I hear otherwise. (the fallback option is the Citi Clear Platinum Card, which only offers 2 miles per $1 on dining)

This should definitely be a staple card in your wallet.

Verdict: Keep

UOB PRVI Miles

uob_prvi_miles_mastercard

Use for: General spend (local and overseas)

Thoughts: This is still the best general spend card in Singapore at 1.4 miles per S$1 local and 2.4 miles per S$1 overseas. Although UOB’s spending promotions are nowhere as good as DBS’s, my plaan for 2016 is to concentrate most of my spending across the UOB and DBS portfolios.

DBS cards will be used for online spending (Woman’s) and whenever DBS announces any spending promotions for their Altitude line of cards.

UOB cards will be used for dining (Preferred Platinum AMEX), overseas spend (Visa Signature) and general spending (PRVI) for local and overseas.

There was a period where DBS Altitude was my go-to card for all spending (the 6 months after I got it where I was earning 1.8/3/4.5 miles for local/overseas/online hotel and flight spending respectively), but now that that promotion is over, it looks like I’m back to UOB. I managed to hit the $50,000 annual spend figure a few days ago so I’ll get a 20,000 mile bonus for that (one of the blessings of having a job that lets you put stuff on your personal card).

Verdict: Keep

UOB Visa Signature

uobvisasignature

Use for: Overseas or online spend, min S$1K max S$2K per month

Thoughts: I’m relatively new to this card, but I’ve been trying to discipline myself to use it for my overseas trips. I hate Visa/MC when I’m travelling overseas because using it leaves you vulnerable to DCC (scam, scam, scam), so it requires that I be extra vigilant when signing any charge slip.

The other thing with this card is that it’s an all or nothing approach. You need to spend a minimum of S$1K overseas each STATEMENT PERIOD (not calendar month!) in order to get 4 miles per S$1. That requires a little extra effort on my part, tracking via ibanking how much I’ve already spent and conscious not to exceed S$2K (after which S$1 gets you a lovely 0.4 miles)

Verdict: Keeping this as long as they don’t charge me an annual fee

Citibank Rewards

citi rewards

Use for: Department store spending, bags, clothes, shoes, online shopping

Thoughts: Although this card is great if you frequently shop at brick and mortar department stores, bags shops, shoe shops, clothes shops, I just don’t do that frequently enough to justify holding on to it. Furthermore, if I’m going to buy stuff online, I’d use either my DBS Woman’s Card or my UOB Visa Signature card to earn the 4 miles per $1 bonus.

It makes more sense for me to do that because I’m heavily investing in my DBS Altitude/UOB PRVI Miles cards, so my points pool together and can be cashed out at one go.

I don’t nearly spend enough on my Citibank Premiermiles AMEX to justify holding other ancillary Citibank cards. As an end result, what I have now is ~10,000 miles in my Citibank Rewards card which I cannot justify paying the conversion fee to cash out yet.

Verdict: Cancel

Citibank PremierMiles AMEX

citibankcropped

Use for: OTA bookings

Thoughts: The only reason I’m still hanging on to this is because Citibank has good tie-ups with OTAs like Agoda, (until recently, 8 miles per $1) and Kaligo (10 miles per $1, still ongoing)

I earned 30,000 miles on this card in January by putting a long stay in Casablanca booked through Kaligo on this card. I cashed that out some time back and since then my miles balance has languished at around the 6,000 mark.

Verdict: Cancel

ANZ Travel Card

anz

Use for: General spending (local)

Thoughts: Ah, the ANZ Travel card. I used to view this as the backup option back in the days when the PRVI and Altitude cards only came in AMEX versions. But now that they’re offering Visa/MC versions there’s really no need for the ANZ Travel Card.

The problem with this card is that unlike UOB and DBS which have other great points earning cards in their portfolio, ANZ’s Travel Card is like an island to itself. Therefore it takes much longer to build up a reasonable balance in your ANZ Travel$ to justify paying the conversion fee to cash out. I’ve had this card for almost a year and have slightly over 10,000 miles in it.

Also, there is no reason to use this card overseas (except Australia and NZ where there is a 2.8 mile per $1 earn rate) because overseas transactions earn the same miles as local

Verdict: Will probably cancel this card now that the annual fee has come due

Krisflyer ASCEND Amex Card

ascend card

Use for: Getting the free gifts

Thoughts: I am proud to announce that I have spent a grand total of $3 on this card throughout the year, just to get my 5,000 miles first spend bonus. Since then, this card has been faithfully sitting in my drawer, having given me so much (4 lounge vouchers, 1 free night stay in a Millennium Hotel property, M&C Gold status) for so little (1st year fee waiver).

I’m now told that AMEX no longer does the first year fee waiver for this card, which is sad. In any case, there is absolutely no reason to use this card for any kind of spending (even SQ flight tickets, for which you could get 3 miles per $1 with DBS Altitude)

Verdict: Cancel

 

cover photo by amrufm