Tag Archives: dining

Is The Entertainer good value for money?

entertainer

For the uninitiated, The Entertainer is a booklet of coupons that gives you 1 for 1 deals on dining, activities, hotels, spas and retail.

The Entertainer costs S$85 but if you use the code 2016MONEYSMART (I’m sure they doesn’t mind me reposting it, they probably earn a commission for every person who signs up using their link anyway) you get S$10 off as shown below.

entertainer2016

All the coupons in The Entertainer are valid for the calendar year, ie 1st Jan to 31st Dec 2016. Given that we’re already in May, does it still make sense to buy it?

Only you can answer that question, because the value you get depends on your pre-existing lifestyle spending patterns. If you’re the type who doesn’t really like eating out or in general spends very little money on activities/ spas, you certainly shouldn’t let this change that.

But if you already set aside a certain amount of money to indulge in these things, you can still save a lot by buying The Entertainer now.

Below I’m going to highlight some of what I think are the better deals

Dining

The Fat Cow

I do not use the term “life-changing” lightly (I believe the 2 life-changing experiences I have had this year are The Conrad Koh Samui and the discovery of muskmelon), but The Fat Cow is without a doubt life-changing.

fatcow

This restaurant serves some of the finest Japanese beef to ever make it to our shores, and although it’s not cheap (for the best experience, skip the Australia/US offerings and go right for the Ohmi Grade A4 Ribeye @ $120), the 1 for 1 voucher will at least put it in the “splurge” category (as opposed to the insane category)

DSCF7755

DSCF7752

Oh, and you cannot miss the Fat Rice, which is every bit as good as it sounds

fatrice

Protip: If you are craving Fat Cow but don’t want to burn a hole in your pocket you can go for their lunch menu, where $45 buys you a Fat Cow donburri. The beef won’t be as good as the ala carte cuts, it’s still tremendous value all things considered.

IMG_20160506_140318

Ristorante Amarone & Gattopardo

Pasta Mancini, used at Gattopardo

Those who know me know I love my pasta. And am obsessive about it. And that I can spend an hour talking about the differences between bronze-drawn and teflon-drawn pasta, why you should never eat Barilla (much less San Remo which by the way isn’t even an Italian brand) and how you identify a good Italian restaurant (they don’t use Barilla). A great primer on the subject can be found here

San Remo pasta. Not actually from Italy.

 

Till then, know that Amarone and Gattopardo  are on the Milelion’s approved list of Italian eateries and they both have 1 for 1 with The Entertainer.

Amarone at Capital Tower

I realise each person’s dining preferences differ so you should definitely read through the list of restaurants yourself and see if there are 1 or 2 big ticket restaurants where the savings from 1 meal could pay for the cost of The Entertainer itself.

Hotels

Conrad Koh Samui Residences

I mentioned in my article on how to hack the Conrad Koh Samui that the (more expensive) Conrad Koh Samui residences are covered under the 1 for 1 stay voucher. If you’re able to find 3 other people to go with you could still stay for as little as S$280 a person a night. Which, considering the usual S$1,000+ rates isn’t that bad.

Other beach destinations

Shangri-la Maldives

There are also many great hotel deals in beach destinations like Phuket (Banyan Tree, JW Marriott etc), Bali (Fairmont Sanur, Pan Pacific Nirwana) and the Maldives (Banyan Tree, Shangri-la, the Taj). If you’re intending to honeymoon in one of these locations then you should see whether you can make these discounts work.

The only caveat I’d add here is that the 1 for 1 deals might not be a great idea in the Maldives, where the best resorts are located on private islands only reachable by seaplane (~US$500 per person). So unless you’ve got the financial firepower to stay at that particular place your whole trip it doesn’t make sense to stay only 2 nights. Contrast this to a place like Phuket or Koh Samui where you can (relatively) easily resort hop after your 2 nights are up. I suppose you could always get your partner to make a booking as well and enjoy 4 nights for the price of 2 though.

Banyan Tree Maldives

Note that the conditions of the voucher require you to book the first night as the “Best Available Rate”. This refers to a refundable rate, so while I’m pretty sure that 2 x Prepaid-rate room nights will still cost more than 1 x Best Available rate room night, it does make sense to check and see how much of a deal you’re getting

In this example from the Conrad Koh Samui Residences, you can see that the lowest rate available is a prepaid THB 34,425 a night, but the BAR is THB 45,900. Therefore, your savings aren’t technically 50%, but more like 33% (based on 45,900 vs 34,425*2)

kohsamuiprice

Activities and Spa

Not my area of specialty, but there are a large number of buy 1 get 1 free treatments. No guarantee that they’re the sort of places that won’t engage in hard-sell tactics, but there are some reputable names here like Adeva .

Similarly, there is an extensive list of couples activities that you can do on weekends.  Examples include Aqua Spin, BreakOut Games, Climb Asia, Combat Skirmish, Expat Kitchen, LilliPutt Indoor Mini Golf and Forest Adventure.

Conclusion

According to the app I’ve saved more than $500 already this year (although you could make a good argument about how that’s an illusory saving if it made me buy things I would not otherwise have) and I’m definitely going to renew it for 2017 when the time comes.

If you’re planning an upcoming big ticket hotel or restaurant spend, it’s worth it to check out whether you can use The Entertainer to save some money.

UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX: Dead or alive?

TL;DR: The UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX is the best card for dining, both in Singapore and overseas with 4 miles per $1. But because it was a good thing, it is now gone.

Preferred-Platinum
no one cares about the mastercard

Or is it?

Back in Jan I wrote about a method you could use to get a UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX, so long as you had an existing UOB card

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

To give a bit more clarity, “7890” here is the last 4 digits of your existing UOB card (This option will only be available to people who have an existing UOB card and not new applicants). “Yespp” means you want to apply for the Preferred Platinum Account. And yes, 77862 is the official UOB SMS number, you can verify that online.

Based on comments left below the article, the following people tried this method, and the majority reported it worked

@C-Yes

Lionel-Yes

Eddie- No

Tyrhung- Yes

Gabe- Yes

Ice- ?

KT- yes

Zac- Yes

Bench-Yes

D-no

Bleah- yes

Jason- yes

Anna- yes

Nikki- no

Alvin- yes

XTan-yes

Felicity- yes

Andy-yes

Cloudy-?

I can’t explain why it would work for some and not others. I assume everyone already has an existing UOB card and formatted their SMS correctly. So unless the datapoints suddenly all turn negative, I’d encourage those of you who already have a UOB card to give this a try.

For the rest who don’t, check out this article on dining cards in Singapore for alternatives.

Last call for the UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX dining card!

Preferred-Platinum

The UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX is the best card available for dining right now at 4 miles per $1. Yes, it’s AMEX, but like I’ve said before, the whole reason they need to give better rewards on AMEX cards is to compensate for their lower acceptance.

This card currently cannot be applied for online, and a call to UOB customer service confirmed that they are in the process of “demarketing the card”, whatever that means. However, if you’ve missed the boat there is still one more opportunity to get on. Apparently, UOB has not updated their back-end applications for SMS applications. Meaning that you can apply via SMS following the method below-

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

To give a bit more clarity, “7890” here is the last 4 digits of your existing UOB card (This option will only be available to people who have an existing UOB card and not new applicants). “Yespp” means you want to apply for the Preferred Platinum Account. And yes, 77862 is the official UOB SMS number, you can verify that online.

One poster has reported successfully getting his UOB Preferred Platinum card via this method (thanks Lionel!), so if nothing else it is definitely worth a try.

Let me know if this works for you guys

cover photo by seaturtle

The death of the dining card in Singapore

Ah, the dining card. The card which imbues us with a sudden sense of generosity when it comes to paying the bill (“oh let me get this one guys! just ibank me the money, no problem”- me at every social function, which is why I don’t get invited to a lot of social functions)

Things seem grim for dining cards in Singapore. UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX has been removed from the UOB website and you’re no longer able to apply for the Citibank Clear Platinum card via the Citibank website. Does it mean the miles dining card is dead? Let’s find out.

UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX

cardface_preferred

This was the rolls royce of dining cards at 4 miles per $1. It is no longer possible to apply for this on the UOB website. However, an Anoymous poster on the comments had this to say

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.

To give a bit more clarity, “7890” here is the last 4 digits of your existing UOB card (This option will only be available to people who have an existing UOB card and not new applicants). “Yespp” means you want to apply for the Preferred Platinum Account. And yes, 77862 is the official UOB SMS number, you can verify that online.

Does it work? I don’t know, Someone on the comments said he’d test it and I really hope it does because that would be awesome. Will update this as it develops.

Citibank Clear Platinum

citiclearplatinum

This card offers 2 miles per $1 on dining. I wasn’t able to find a sign up link online so I assume it had died, but a call to Citibank’s customer service hotline and I was told that

“Yes sir, you can still apply. However, there is an issue with the website now so you’ll need to call 6363 6666 during regular office hours, 9am-5pm Mon -Fri and do the application over the phone”

So unless my CSO has no idea what he’s talking about, it appears this is still alive and well! Anyone want to check and report back?

HSBC Advance Visa Platinum

hsbcadvance

Tip of the hat to Lionel for this one. The HSBC Advance Visa Platinum gives 10X points (or 4 miles per $1) on online spending, dining spending and entertainment spending. It also has no annual fee.

There does not appear to be any cap on bonus point earning, however you might like to know that:

  • For the avoidance of doubt, transactions made on brokerage/securities and/or money payment/transfer websites are not classified as retail transactions and are expressly excluded.
  • With effect from 1 November 2015, for Online Transactions which involve EZ-Link or Transitlink, 10x Rewards points are capped at 2,000 HSBC Rewards points per Account per calendar month (i.e. S$200 spend).

The other catch (and it’s quite a big one I might add) is that you can’t just apply for this card.  You need to have a HSBC Advance account first. What’s that?

HSBC advance

I wouldn’t quite call it a privilege banking type account, but here are HSBC’s conditions

To qualify for HSBC Advance, you need to be at least 18 years old. The monthly service charge of S$10 will be waived if you fulfil any of the following eligibility criteria:

  • Total Relationship Balance of at least S$30,000 in deposits, investments and/or insurance, with 6 months’ grace period to place in your funds
  • Home Loan with an initial loan quantum of at least S$200,000
  • Salary credit of S$3,750 per month, with 24 months grace period from Advance relationship opening to reach Total Relationship Balance of at least S$30,000
  • Reoccurring deposit of at least S$2,500 per month, with 24 months grace period from Advance relationship opening to reach Total Relationship Balance of at least S$30,000

It’s certainly not difficult to do any of the above, assuming you’re already committed to having a HSBC account. The main drawback I’d highlight with this is the whole “agglomeration” issue- if you’re not intending to use any other HSBC cards it may take a long while before you gain a critical mass of miles large enough to make transferring your miles worthwhile. Unless, of course, you’re able to put some large (non-hotel) banquets over CNY on this…

(Note: this card only awards 10X on local dining, unlike the UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX and Citibank Clear Platinum which award it for for local and overseas dining spend)

OCBC Voyage Card

ocbcvoyage

I don’t know why I’m mentioning this card because it is such, such a bad card from a conceptual point of view (it’s not really a miles card! It’s a cashback card masquerading as a miles card, because your miles are given a fixed value when you redeem them!).

But for completeness sake, let’s talk about this. You get 2.3 miles per $1 on local and overseas dining. That’s not a terrible thing IF you convert your Voyage Miles at a 1:1 ratio to Krisflyer miles. It is a terrible thing if you’re using the OCBC Voyage concierge to redeem your flights though (because those 2.3 miles get you a value of 6.9 cents, versus the 9.2-11.5 cents of value you’d get by redeeming those miles directly via Krisflyer).

And don’t forget the annual fee  of $488 which cannot be waived, and the fact that you’re going to have to concentrate the rest of your spending on the Voyage card if you want to hit that critical mass of miles to cash out.

HSBC Revolution Card

hsbcrevolution

Again, tip of the hat to Lionel for this one (he’s the man to go to for HSBC!). You can get 2 miles per $1 on local dining with this card and you do not need a special HSBC Account. There does not appear to be a cap on earnings on this one either.

Same caveats as HSBC Advance apply re: gaining a critical mass of miles.

Conclusions

It appears that the Citibank Clear Platinum card is still alive, and you can turn to the HSBC Advance Visa card if you’re able to meet the requirements for setting up an account. Otherwise, the HSBC Revolution will give the same rate as the Citibank Clear Platinum. I’m crossing my fingers on the UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX.

It’s good to note that in the past DBS had a promotion for their Black card where you could get 2 miles per $1 on dining. That promotion ended 30 June 2015 and has not been renewed, but it may well come back again.

cover photo by LudovicLubeigt