Tag Archives: dining

The curious case of the UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX card

Legend has it that once upon a time, there was a bank called UOB. Long before UOB fell under the dark spell of inflated marketing, it issued an enchanted pair of cards called the “Preferred Platinum” series.

Preferred-PlatinumNow, like every enchanted pairing, there was a magical twin and a non-magical twin. The Mastercard was not magical. To the contrary, it was the Magikarp of credit cards, spending its days running around the house shouting “wingardium leviosa!” at the top of its voice and making coworkers uncomfortable with jokes about its “magic wand”.

The AMEX, on the other hand, was indeed magical. It gave the wielder a 10X bonus on miles earned for dining, both in the homestead and worlds beyond. Yes, it was part of the AMEX race and therefore shunned by many (less enlightened) merchants. But for those who knew how to harness its powers, it became a formidable tool indeed.

And although there was, for a period of time, a challenge to its title as the most powerful dining card in the realm from the HSBC Advance, said card was eventually lured over by the dark armies of cashback. This left the UOB PP Amex as the undisputed ruler of the dining cards, one card to rule them all.

And you can’t have it, because it’s no longer issued.

Or can you?

Well, that’s the question everyone’s asking, because although the vast majority of people are still getting computer says no responses from UOB, there are drips and drabs of successful PPA applications.

I’ve published three articles on the UOB PPA to date, which have attracted almost 300 comments in total from readers

The death of the dining card in Singapore
Last call for the UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX dining card!
UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX: Dead or alive?

So here’s my compilation of sightings of the UOB PPA, the ultimate rare pokemon, based on readers’ accounts over the past 18 months.

A History of Bigfoot Sightings UOB PP AMEX Sightings

October 2015
A user on HWZ reports that the UOB PPA has disappeared from UOB’s website.

Unfortunately, Wayback Machine coverage of the UOB credit card subpage is patchy, so I can’t verify exactly when UOB took down the card. But subsequent calls by forum members to UOB customer service suggest the card is in the process of being “demarketed”.

December 2015
Thanks to a tip off from an anonymous reader, I post an article on how you can still apply for a UOB PPA, provided you’re an existing UOB card member. Apparently, UOB has an automated SMS system that allows existing cardholders to add on additional cards without the need for further verification. All you have to do is the following-

If you are an existing UOB card member perhaps you can try this to apply for the UOB Preferred Platinum cards. I applied using SMS on 10 Oct which was after they removed the application links from their website but still got the card sent to me about 1.5 months later.

SMS spacespace to 77862
For example: SMS Yespp 7890 S1234567H to 77862.

January 2016- December 2016
Numerous people report successfully applying for the card through the SMS method, with photographic proof (note the valid thru date- cards are issued with 5 year validity, so an expiry date of 01/21 implies a 01/16 issuance)

photo credit: lionel

I’ve gone to tally up the comments of people reporting successful applications by month, only counting people who reported receiving the physical card (others have received approval messages via SMS but the cards never came). Here’s how it looks-

(note: there’s no way of verifying if all these accounts are true, but I’d like to believe that Milelion readers are people of impeccable character and personal hygiene)

Jan 2016: 3
Feb 2016: 8
Mar 2016: 6
Apr 2016: 12
May 2016: 1
June 2016: 8
July 2016: 4
Aug 2016: 4
Sept 2016: 0
Oct 2016: 0
Nov 2016: 0
Dec 2016: 3

You’ll note that the earliest applicants had the most success. April in particular was a bumper crop, with 12 people reporting successful applications.

And then it goes kind of quiet post August. From Sept- Dec 2016 we get a grand total of 3 successful applications, all in December.

Of course this is far from scientific- there’s a whole lot of self selection bias here. Also note that there were many others who were unsuccessful during this period (but thankfully reported it too so we’d have that data point), getting a range of excuses from CSOs about the card being demarketed and unavailable.

January 2017- April 2017
So continued the dry patch with denials, denials, denials. People who try the SMS method got met with a wave of rejections, from CSOs calls to a poor soul who applied for the UOB PPA and got a UOB YOLO card in the mail. Talk about a cruel joke. 

In addition to the SMS method, another possible application method by mail surfaces thanks to posters BIN, Alvin and Tim. There are two different forms out there, to my knowledge. Try this…

Download (PDF, 194KB)

Or this

Download (PDF, 606KB)

And yet, no success reported. Until…

May 2017- June 2017
Breakthrough. 3 successful applications reported, again corroborated with photographic evidence. (note the 05/22 expiry date, evidencing a 05/17 approval)

photo credit: martin

What’s going on?

I have a theory.

I believe that when UOB demarketed the card in late 2015, the change was mostly cosmetic, in that they took the card off their front end webpage but didn’t update anything on the back end.

Now, a big bank like UOB handles thousands if not tens of thousands of credit card applications in a month. It’s not practicable for each of them to be manually approved. So UOB probably has an automated card printing press that kicks into action once the system approves a new application (based on credit risk, income requirements etc). The cards are embossed, the account is opened on iBanking, the CBS warnings/ promotional vouchers are added to the envelope and the package is dispatched, with little to no human intervention.

Therefore, although CSOs were trained to say the card had been demarketed, the system was still set up to produce such cards upon approval. It doesn’t explain why some people who applied in early 2016 didn’t get the card, but it does explain how some people could still get the card despite it being “demarketed”.

The other thing that intrigues me? Look at the most recent version of the UOB PP Mastercard. Yes, it’s still useless, but the design tells us something.

photo credit: chelsea

That there is Mastercard’s new logo.

Now hear me out. The way I understand it, card production has two components. There is the “raw” cardstock, which doesn’t have names, card numbers or expiry dates embossed. They have the base design (the card artwork + the Mastercard logo) and maybe a blank chip there, but nothing else. The cardstock sits around waiting until it’s needed. When a card is approved, the embossing happens, the chip is activated and the card is sent out.

Which means at some point in the recent past, UOB must have updated the cardstock’s design to incorporate the new Mastercard graphic. I’m guessing this didn’t take a lot of time, because in all likelihood there’s a placeholder for the Mastercard graphic on all cards, and it was a simple matter of replacing the old object with the new one.

But then they also bothered to do a print run of the new PP Mastercard cardstock, which implies in a warehouse somewhere there’s a pile of these babies waiting to be embossed. Now why would they do that for a card that’s supposedly demarketed? Card replacements, possibly, but this may also lend some hope that UOB hasn’t decided to kill the account entirely.

How do I get one?

And that begs the question, how do I get one?

Unfortunately, there seems to be absolutely no rhyme or reason why some people’s applications are successful and others aren’t. The UOB PP Amex was always a $30K income requirement card, so income can’t be a factor for why some people get it and others don’t.

Could it simply  be a matter of persistence? Three accounts from successful applicants suggest so.

Account 1 from Anonymous:

15Nov – applied for card via SMS

20Nov – received call saying discontinued, but continued to push them citing other people who have received the card recently, CSO agreed to apply for me.

8Dec – received card in mailbox

still works! goodluck guys!

Account 2 from Martin:

I applied for this card mid of April 17 via SMS and shortly after via mail again. Called up 3 CSOs after, all saying the system doesn’t allow an application any more. Nothing they can do. Today I saw the card (with number) showing up in the ibanking. But can only be certain once the card is in the Mail.

(later)

Cards have arrived today, 03/05/17. Still works.

Account 3 from Chelsea:

I sent 12 SMS and 2 paper applications…UOB really makes you work for this card

These accounts seem to suggest that those who eventually got the card had to jump through a lot of hoops to get it. I certainly don’t think you should badger the poor CSOs for something they’re trained to reject, but I imagine SMS channels don’t mind being harassed.

What now?

To those who are still waiting-  given the point we’re at, no one should apply for the UOB PPA and expect to be approved. We’re far past that point already. You can only hope against hope that one day you’ll log into your iBanking and see that glorious account opened.

To the banks- there’s a giant sized hole now in the credit card market for a good dining card. Come on, bring back a 4 mpd card. You can put a minimum spend. You can put a cap on bonus points. But just give us something, anything!

I WANT TO BELIEVE

Mileslife launches in Singapore, offers up to 9 mpd on dining for limited time

[the following is not a sponsored post, however I earn a miles referral bonus for every person who signs up using my link]

The demise of the dining card has caused much despair among food-loving miles chasers in Singapore. The HSBC Advance (as we know it) will cease to be from 31st May and the UOB PP Amex continues to play a game of cat and mouse with most applicants, as does the Citi Clear Platinum.

Fortunately, there’s a solution at hand. A few months ago I attended a beta testing event for Mileslife and met its founder, Troy (one of the original members of BoardingArea).

Troy told me more about Mileslife, a payment platform that lets you earn additional miles on top of your credit card, all for no additional cost. Read on for a special sign up offer for Milelion readers.

How does it work?

How it works is simple-  you dine at a Mileslife-eligible restaurant and when the time comes to pay, tell them you want to pay through the Mileslife app. You’ll then earn miles not just from your credit card, but the Mileslife platform too. There’s no additional cost for paying through the Mileslife app.

So in the example above, if I use my DBS Altitude credit card and spend S$40 in total, I will earn S$40 *3 miles= 120 miles from the Mileslife app + S$40* 1.2 miles= 48 miles from my DBS Altitude card for a total of 168 miles (from now till 20th June you earn 3X the miles from Mileslife, so you’ll get 40*9 + 48= 408 miles total- see below). 

Who can I transfer my miles to?

Although Mileslife lets you earn your garden variety SQ and Cathay miles, what’s interesting to me is that you can start building a base with other loyalty programs. There are a total of 12 different loyalty programs you can choose to earn with.

That’s a very extensive list, and mileage crediting takes place within 3-5 business days. No conversion fee applies.

Here’s how it looks like in your Krisflyer account (I got 5,000 miles for being part of the beta testing event that happened back in April)

Mileslife Launch Offers

As part of the Singapore launch, Mileslife is running a series of bonus miles promotions that I’d like to share with you-

Sign up bonus for Milelion readers

The regular signup bonus for Mileslife is 1,000 miles after a spend of S$39. However, if you use the referral code MILELION, you’ll earn 50% more miles, or 1,500 miles after a S$39 spend.

If you sign up using this link, you won’t need to enter any code– the bonus will be automatically credited to your account!

Triple miles on all restaurants till 20 June

From now till 20th June, Mileslife is offering a dining promotion where restaurants award 3X the regular miles. You can see the base earning rates in the spreadsheet below. So if a restaurant here says S$1= 3 miles, it gets S$1=9 miles from now till 20th June.

EDIT: There are some delays in the rollout, so you should refer to the Mileslife app for the latest list of available restaurants before deciding where to dine. Have removed the list temporarily to avoid confusion

100 miles for linking your FFP account

This one is easy- simply link your FFP account to Mileslife and you get 100 bonus miles. Remember that Mileslife automatically credits your miles to your FFP, so no conversion fees apply.

Things to note

I’ve been told by Mileslife that payments through the app will be coded as online transactions for professional services. This means you will not earn any 10X bonuses with cards like the DBS Woman’s World card. You should therefore use your general spending card with Mileslife, and not count on earning 10X online spending bonuses, at least not just yet. 

I’ve also been told that although the app prices in SGD, the backend sees this as a foreign transaction, so you may incur foreign transaction fees and/or DCC fees, depending on your bank. Fortunately this is only temporary- Mileslife is working to get processed as a local merchant, and when that’s done the problem should go away.

Finally, if you use Mileslife to pay, you will not be able to use the restaurant’s own loyalty program. This is mainly a Crystal Jade issue- if you use Mileslife, you can’t earn Crystal Jadeite points. 

All things considered though, I think this is a great opportunity for those of you who don’t have a dining card to earn closer to the 4 mpd mark on dining. Even if you have a dining card, there’s the potential to earn beyond 4 mpd with the promotions that Mileslife runs. I would imagine that as the restaurant list expands and new partners are signed up, you’ll be seeing some restaurants offering limited time promotions to drive business.

Mileslife will eventually expand in Singapore to offer miles on spa trips, theme park tickets and other recreational activities.

Dining with kids in hotels- what are your options?

The Milelion does not have children. This is not his fault. Rather, it is the women who are wrong. However, other Milelion readers have been able to procreate, and that’s totally cool with The Milelion. He bears them no ill will, so long as their progeny don’t end up seated near him on an aircraft.

If you have kids, you might be wondering what your options are when it comes to hotel dining. If you’re going to stay at a Starwood property, you might want to know that Starwood has what’s called a “Kids Pass” which allows parents to pay a flat daily rate for their kids (aged 12 and below) to get all you can eat dining throughout the duration of the stay.

The fine print-

  • If you buy the Kids Pass, you need to buy it for the entire duration of your stay (it’s charged on a daily basis). You can buy it after your stay has started, but need to participate till the day you check out. You can’t pick and choose particular days to do the Kids Pass
  • To use the Kids Pass for meals, the adult accompanying the child also needs to buy an item (some places say main course, others only say “an item”). If the kid is only having a drink, the adult needs to be present but doesn’t need to order anything

What this is, in reality, is a sneaky way of locking in additional revenue because properties are banking on the fact the parent is locked in for hotel dining as well. Add that to the fact that you can’t pick and choose particular days to do the Kids Pass, and you might be wondering why this is a good deal.

Well, it’s not going to make sense in all situations, but it could make sense when you’re staying at a resort where outside dining options are limited because the resort is cut off from the rest of the world.

The magic question is how much does it cost? It varies from resort to resort. SPG provides a list of participating resorts where you can buy a Kids Pass, but advises you to contact individual properties to get pricing. So I did. I emailed every single one of those properties just so you don’t have to. Here’s the ones that responded within 24 hours (I’ll keep adding to this list as responses come in)

Property City Charge/Day (Local) Charge/Day (SGD)
Westin Shimei Bay Resort Hainan Free with paying parent $0
Sheraton Hua Hin Hua Hin 300 THB $12
Le Meridien She Shan Shanghai 66 RMB $14
Sheraton Grand Guangzhou Huadu Guangzhou 69 RMB $14
Sheraton Fiji Resort Nadi FJ$20 $14
Sheraton Samui Koh Samui THB 353 $14
Sheraton Shenzhou Penisula Hainan US$10 $15
Laguna Nusa Dua Bali US$10 $15
Le Meridien Angkor Siem Reap US$10 $15
Sheraton Nha Trang Hotel & Spa Nha Trang US$10 $15
St Regis Bali Bali US$10 $15
Sheraton Bali Kuta Bali IDR 150,000 $16
Le Meridien Bali Jimbaran Bali IDR 150000 $16
Sheraton Bailuhu Resort Huizhou CNY 88 $18
St Regis Langkawi Langkawi 60 MYR $19
Westin Siray Bay Resort Phuket THB 500 $20
Westin Resort Bali Bali US$15 $22
Westin Resort Nusa Dua Bali US$15 $22
Sheraton Rhodes Resort Rhodes 15 EUR $23
Naka Island Phuket 600 THB $24
St Regis Sanya Yalong Bay Resort Hainan CNY 117 $24
Westin Miyako Kyoto Kyoto JPY 2000 $25
Westin Resort & Spa, Whistler Whistler CAD 25 $27
Andaman Luxury Collection Langkawi 90 MYR $29
Sheraton Grand Rio Hotel Rio US$20 $29
Sheraton Maui Maui US$20 $29
Schloss Fuschl Salzburg 20 EUR $30
Sheraton Mallorca Arabella Mallorca 20 EUR $30
Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort Gold Coast AUD 30 $31
Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas Port Douglas AUD 30 $31
Sheraton Iguazu Resort Puerto Iguazu US$22 $32
St Regis Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi AED 90 $35
Le Meridien Phuket Beach Phuket 890 THB $36
Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Dubai AED 100 $39
Westin Mission Hills Resort Rancho Mirage US$29 $42
Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove Seychelles EUR 30 $46
St Regis Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi AED 120 $47
St Regis Doha Doha QR 150 $60
Trump Turnberry Turnberry GBP 40 $71

It seems like in general, you can get good value at properties in Asia. Of course without visiting the properties I can’t tell you anything about the quality of the food, but if you’re willing to lock yourself into hotel dining in a place like Nusa Dua in Bali (which, let’s face it, doesn’t have an awful lot going on around it) being able feed your kid at all the St Regis restaurants for S$15 a day is a pretty sweet deal. You’re going to want to think strategically about this- how many meals will you be eating in the hotel? Outside of the hotel? Will buying this plan make you feel obliged to eat in the hotel instead of heading out?

Your travels might not involve Starwood properties, so you should know that many other hotel chains offer “kids eat free” type dealies. These sometimes involve booking a special rate, but there are also situations where it’s as simple as showing up at the hotel restaurant and getting a free kid’s meal whenever the adult orders something.

Here are some examples you might find useful. You should definitely check with individual properties when booking, however, as there may be differences among properties in the same brand

  • Holiday Inn– Kids 12 and under eat free at any Holiday Inn restaurant worldwide when accompanied by a paying adult
  • Marriott– Special family rates can be booked that provide Kids Eat Free privileges at restaurants
  • Hilton- Particular properties offer special family rates including Kids Eat Free privileges