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What credit cards should you use for Black Friday shopping?

Black Friday is here again as Americans try to  ease the pain of too much turkey and the vagaries of the electoral college system by spending their way into a debt-fueled oblivion!

I’m not going to list any great deals here because I’m sure you’re all more than capable of sniffing them out yourselves (plus there are tons of websites dedicated just to ferreting out the best of the best offers).

Instead, I’m going to do a refresher on what options you have when deciding which credit card to put your Black Friday shopping on.

can you believe there is no online resource image of the OCBC Titanium Rewards card that doesn’t have it angled funny like this? Come on guys.

The following cards all give a bonus (4 miles per $1 to be precise) on online spending.

You might want to have a look at this crowdsourced Google Docs form to see whether the specific merchant you have in mind qualifies as “online” (because, unbelievably, sometimes even merchants you swear must be online like Taobao don’t end up qualifying as online because they manually process transactions on their backend), but safe to say that your usual Amazon, Zalora etc e-commerce sites will be a sure bet for 10X.

HSBC Advance Card

Image result for hsbc advance

Ah, my one stop card for all things online. If you don’t mind going through the (15 minutes really) somewhat hasslesome process of getting a card, the HSBC Advance will be your best friend (until possibly the 31st of December this year when the 10X promotion is due to expire- it’s been renewed in the past so watch this space).

You’ll get 10X points (4 miles per $1) on all your online spending. No caps, no exceptions (well, except for EZ link top ups, but that’s not a typical Black Friday purchase).

For me personally my goal is to max out everything I can from the HSBC Advance until the end of the year, then re-evaluate my strategy based on what HSBC decides to do with the 10X program.

Citibank Rewards Card

Image result for citibank rewards

Assuming you haven’t already busted your $12,000 annual bonus limit (applied per card, mind you, so if you have both the Mastercard and the Visa version then your bonus is capped on $24,000 of spending) on bill payments, then this is another potential option for you.

Citibank was previously running a promotion that offered an amazing 8 miles per dollar with Amazon. At the time, I said that if you didn’t have any item in mind or simply wanted to hold out for Black Friday, you could buy a giftcard to front load your miles. Hope someone listened to that!

EDIT: I was just reminded that Citibank has extended the Amazon promotion till year end. 8 miles per $1 is hard to beat so if your Black Friday plans include Amazon then I can’t recommend any other card than this

Another great point about the Citibank Rewards card is that your points are valid for 5 years, so you can accumulate a good-sized haul before transferring.

OCBC Titanium Rewards

Image result for ocbc titanium rewards

OCBC recently relaunched their Titanium card as the Titanium Rewards card, offering 10X on online and offline shopping.

Unfortunately since this card is the newest of the lot we don’t have a lot of data points on how OCBC is interpreting the above categories

What we do know from the T&C is that you will earn 10X at the following merchants

  • MCC 5611: Men’s and Boys’ Clothing and Accessories Stores
  • MCC 5621: Women’s Ready to Wear Stores
  • MCC 5631: Women’s Accessory and Speciality Stores
  • MCC 5641: Children’s and Infants’ Wear Stores
  • MCC 5651: Family Clothing Stores
  • MCC 5661: Shoe Stores
  • MCC 5691: Men’s and Women’s Clothing Stores
  • MCC 5732: Electronics Stores
  • MCC 5699: Miscellaneous Apparel and Accessory Shops
  • MCC 5311: Department Stores

The maximum bonus points you can earn in a year is capped on $12,000 of spending (48,000 miles) and OCBC points are valid for 2 years.

DBS Woman’s World Card

Image result for dbs woman's world card
I find it funny that the default card image for the DBS Woman’s card has a man’s name on it

Despite its $2,000 monthly cap on 10X, the DBS Woman’s World Card is still a solid choice if you’re not intending to bust the bank on Black Friday.

DBS has an ongoing promotion for sign ups for the Woman’s Card where you can get $160 in cashback if you spend a minimum of $500 on the card within the first month from approval date. The $160 applies if you’re completely new to DBS cards. If you already own a DBS card you get $100. Still not a bad deal, I think, and no time to hit that $500 minimum spending like Black Friday.

What I dislike about the Woman’s World Card is that DBS Points are only valid for 1 year.

UOB Preferred Platinum Visa

Image result for uob preferred platinum visa

I’ve been historically cold towards the UOB PP Visa because it’s generally a lot stricter in its interpretation of what counts as online spending (at least, as compared to the DBS Woman’s World Card). But if you’re going down the usual e-commerce route of Amazon et al, I think it’s quite a safe call to use this card.

Now, the T&C of the UOB PP Visa say this-

The 10X UNI$ for online and Visa payWave transactions is capped at UNI$24,000 for both categories per calendar year. After which, 1X UNI$ will be awarded for every $5 spent.

I’ve read 2 interpretations of this- one school of thought says that the cap is really $13,300 because it is the 9X bonus points that are capped at 24,000 UNI$ a year. Others say that no, it’s similar to the Citibank Rewards card in that the cap on total points is 24,000 UNI$ meaning that you can spend a maximum of $12,000. Frankly. I don’t know what the right answer is, and I’ve never got close enough to the limit to find out.

UOB UNI$ are valid for 2 years.

Conclusion

The cards are ranked in no particular order of merit because the best card for you to use really depends on your current situation. If you’re already accumulating with DBS Altitude for your general spend you might gravitate towards the DBS Woman’s World Card. If you’re a UOB PRVI cardholder, you might go with the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa etc etc.

And finally- Black Friday.

Get it?

DBS changes its mile redemption structure from annual fee to per transfer

DBS has always been a bit of an outlier when it came to conversion fees (i.e. the fees you pay when you want to convert your credit card points to airline miles). While most other banks charged fees on a per transfer basis, DBS would charge $42.80 on an annual basis, with unlimited transfers throughout the year. This fee was paid on a membership year basis, not calendar. In other words if you signed up in November 2015, your next payment would be due in November 2016.

This worked well for you if you were the kind who accumulated and used miles quickly and wanted the additional flexibility to transfer miles as frequently as necessary. It wasn’t so ideal if you preferred to build up miles over a couple of years before cashing out.

DBS has now changed their fees to come in line with other banks. With the revised structure, here’s how they stack up.

Bank Fee Fee paid
DBS $26.75 per transfer
Citibank $25 per transfer
UOB $25 per transfer
HSBC $42.80 per year
American Express (non KF cards) $20/ $40 per transfer (Amex Rewards)/ per year (Amex Platinum cards, waived)
ANZ $25 per transfer
Maybank $26.75 per transfer (waived for World MC and Visa Infinite)

It seems that most of the banks go for a $25 fee, but only some of them include GST in the $25 amount, hence leading to the $26.75 figures you see above.

I personally prefer the annual fee system because I tend to do more than 2 transfers in a year. Also, given that I accumulate miles with both Asiamiles and Krisflyer, it helps that I’m not hit with multiple fees when I transfer. Under the revised system you would pay $26.75 twice even if you redeemed both Krisflyer and Asiamiles in the same transaction.

For those of you who have already paid your $42.80 for the year, you will still enjoy unlimited transfers until your membership year is up. After that, you’ll be levied $26.75 per transfer.

It is possible to get the transfer fee waived by paying 1,700 DBS points, but that’s just dumb. 1,700 DBS points are 3,400 miles, so you’re really accepting a <0.8 cent per mile value if you do that.

There is a proper FAQ here that you can refer to.