Tag Archives: points

Beware of Citibank’s awful Pay with Points program

At long last, I took the plunge and invested in a proper camera because none of you Philistines can appreciate the flawed beauty of Blackberry camera photos.

Image result for sony alpha a5000
it’s not the photographer, it’s the camera…

This baby is currently on the way from Qoo10 and should reach me just in time for my upcoming Japan trip at the end of the month (JAL 767 J, SQ 77W old F and hopefully much better photos of the Oneworld lounges in T1 coming your way!)

I paid for the camera with my Citibank Rewards card because it earns me 10X points (4 mpd) on online shopping, including Qoo10. A few minutes after I finished the transaction on Qoo10, I got this SMS from Citibank

Clicking the link brought me to this page

Citibank was offering me the chance to burn my 43,709 Thank You points in exchange for S$104.07 off my transaction, based on their valuation shown below

The following merchants are eligible for this program.

Remember that 5 Citibank points= 2 airline miles, so you’re either giving up 168 miles per $1 of value (if you pay with ThankYou points) or 140 miles per $1 of value (if you pay with Citimiles. For whatever reason, only Citibank Premermiles Visa cardholders can participate. AMEX cardholders can’t. No loss for you guys, I assure you).

Recall the value of a mile. I don’t need to tell you that both options are terrible, terrible value. You get 0.60/0.71 cents per mile depending on whether you redeem ThankYou points or Citimiles, and both are valuations you should stay far, far away from. Even if you choose SQ’s much maligned Pay with Miles option you get roughly 1 cent per mile.

The only possible exception I could think is if you have expiring points/miles and are below the threshold needed to transfer them out to an airline loyalty program. You can read the full T&C of the Pay with Points program here (they left track changes on, “lol” as the young people say)

We know that Citibank has been progressively moving towards a revenue-based program for their points, at least on the redemption side. This trend was started with the relaunched Citibank ThankYou portal back in January where they tested out a variety of options (and redemption values). My guess is they’re trying to see what threshold people will accept in Singapore.

I don’t know what the answer is to that, but I do know that it’s much more than what’s on offer with this Pay with Points program. So if you get the SMS, do yourself a favor and ignore it.

DBS announces points conversion, mapping for ANZ credit cards

DBS’s acquisition of ANZ’s consumer banking arm has led to a lot of questions for ANZ credit card holders. What will happen to my existing ANZ cards? My ANZ points? Do I need to cash out my ANZ points? If so, when?

There’s been some speculation about this, with ANZ cardholders recently getting a notice that their points and cards will transfer over to DBS equivalents, but we finally have some concrete word from DBS as to what will happen.

Points Conversion

I mentioned that the fair ratio to convert ANZ Travel $ to DBS points would be 2:1, because 1 DBS point is worth 2 miles with Krisflyer and Asiamiles. That’s exactly what has happened.

Similarly, ANZ Rewards Points are valued the same as DBS points with 1 point getting 2/5th of a mile. The conversion ratio DBS is offering is equivalent.

Although your ANZ Travel card’s Travel $ had a maximum validity of 5 years, once they’re transferred over to DBS they will have no expiry, in line with the no expiry policy for points earned through DBS’s Altitude cards.

However, if you’re a holder of ANZ’s Platinum or Switch Platinum cards you’re going to lose out. These points were valid for 5 years, but when they transfer to DBS they’ll only be valid for a further 1 year after the date of transfer, in line with DBS’s points expiry policy for its non-Altitude cards.

Card Mapping

There’s a mapping tool on the DBS FAQ page that shows you what ANZ cards map to what.

  • ANZ Travel Visa Signature= DBS Altitude
  • ANZ Platinum Mastercard = DBS Mastercard Platinum
  • ANZ Platinum Visa= DBS Black Visa
  • ANZ Switch Platinum= DBS Mastercard Platinum
  • ANZ Optimum World Mastercard= POSB Everyday Card
  • ANZ Signature Priority Banking Visa Infinite= DBS Altitude Visa Signature

It’s unsurprising that the Travel Visa maps onto the Altitude, but I am surprised that DBS is converting ANZ Signature Priority VI cards to DBS Altitude cards, given that the Signature Priority VI is for ANZ’s top earners and the DBS Altitude is an entry-level credit card. That said, given how crappy the earn rate is on the ANZ Signature Priority VI, I doubt many will mind.

If you already own the DBS card that your ANZ card will be mapped onto, DBS will transfer your outstanding card balance to a new DBS card account opened exclusively for the payment of your outstanding balance. This account is transitory and is not for further transactions. Whatever rewards points you have will be transferred to your DBS account.

Conclusion

ANZ’s departure from the credit card market in Singapore is unfortunate insofar as it means less competition, but we all know that ANZ’s cards were dying a slow, undignified death in recent times, with the devaluation of several key benefits. So I don’t think too many tears will be shed about that.

DBS updates rewards program T&C with new exclusion categories

I got a tip off from a reader that DBS will be changing its overall rewards program T&C with effect from 2nd July.

Download (PDF, 248KB)

Here’s the relevant portion

One might be confused when seeing this because of the impression that such payments never earned points in the first place. That’s not strictly speaking correct. These transactions do earn base points, but don’t qualify for bonus points earning on category spend cards like the DBS Woman’s card.  You would be able to earn regular points on things like insurance payments with other cards like the DBS Altitude.

Why has DBS done this? It all goes back to encouraging discretionary spend. Most of the categories they’ve explicitly mentioned are non-discretionary spend that consumers would have to make regardless, so DBS doesn’t feel the need to incentivize that sort of spending with points. Where donations/payment to non-profits are concerned, I believe that DBS charges such parties a lower merchant fee and therefore doesn’t want to award points on such transactions.

The other LOL-worthy amendment is that DBS points will not be awarded for spending on your DBS Taka card at Taka. I’m trying to see the logic in that and failing, but I never owned a DBS Taka card anyway so I’m not too bothered.

It’s also interesting that there is some internal inconsistency among the various DBS credit card T&Cs. For example, the T&Cs for the DBS Woman’s card explicitly exclude iPayMy and Cardup from earning any DBS points at all, but the overall rewards program T&C is silent about this. Here’s the equivalent section in the DBS Woman’s card T&C.

My interpretation of this is that if you use your Altitude card to pay iPayMy you should still earn regular points as per your cardholder agreement (i.e. $1= 1.2 miles). Whether or not it’s worth paying the processing fee to earn 1.2 mpd is of course another question.

We’ve recently seen banks starting to tighten their T&C regarding points earning. UOB recently updated its T&C for the UOB PPV, which will take effect from 1 July. The new T&C explicitly provides the MCCs that qualify for 10X points earning on the UOB PPV to the excvlusion of other categories. That said, I wouldn’t get too worried about it. T&Cs change all the time, and although it’s annoying to have to change your gameplan when they do, there’s no reason why you can’t still beat the system if you plan enough.

Thanks to Putera for the tip.