Tag Archives: promotions

Why the maths behind UOB’s latest promotion makes my head hurt

For the festive season, UOB is running a promotion to encourage people to spend overseas on their credit cards. Banks generally earn big margins every time you swipe your card overseas, so it’s not surprising to see them trying to sweeten the deal with giveaways like this.

From 23 November 2016 (yes, I’m late) to 31 January 2017, anyone who spends the foreign currency equivalent of S$300 on their UOB credit card in a single receipt is eligible for one prize token. Online spending does not qualify- only physical, in-person swiping counts.

There are a total of 400,000 prize tokens to claimed during this promotional period.  These prize tokens can be entered on UOB’s promotional site in exchange for a chance to win one of the following prizes

The top prizes sure sound sweet. But if you’ve got your eyes on the miles prizes and are about to splurge on your card overseas, let me explain why I’m a bit uncomfortable about this giveaway.

(1) Are there really 10 million Krisflyer miles up for grabs?

Although UOB slaps a big “10 million Krisflyer miles to be won” sticker on this, I have my doubts that the 10 million figure is anywhere near the actual figure that will be won. Why? Look at column 3.

Column 3 describes the theoretical maximum number of prizes of each category that can be won each day. This promotion runs from 23 Nov 16 to 31 Jan 17, both dates inclusive. That’s a total of 70 days.

On each day, a maximum amount of 260,000 miles can be won based on the 43 Krisflyer miles prizes available (1 prize of 60K miles, 1 prize of 43K miles, 1 prize of 39K miles…..20 prizes of 1K miles). So 70 days into 260K miles per day gives a figure of 18.2 million miles, potentially up for grabs. So far so good, that’s well in excess of 10 million. But if that’s the case, why does UOB advertise 10 million instead of 18? Here’s what I’m thinking-

(a) 10 million miles might be the expected number of miles to be given away (based on probability) – which I doubt because even if we assume that UOB can buy miles from SQ at 1 cent each, you’re talking about $100,000 worth of miles. That seems like a very expensive promotion if you factor in a 55% win rate (10/18.2)

(b) 10 million miles is the correct theoretical maximum (and that implies my 18.2 million figure is wrong because of some other factor I’m unaware of so we’ll ignore it from now on) because not all gifts will be won. I was trying to figure out why there was a discrepancy between what it says here

and what it says in the T&C

I think the reason for the discrepancy is that there are 500,000 sure win prizes + 3,010 Krisflyer miles prizes to be won (43 prizes a day * 70 days), but only 400,000 tokens, meaning that in theory 10 million miles could be won but in reality the number depends on the odds of how many of those 3,010 tokens are within the 400,000 claimed.

In any case, it’s safe to say that UOB has carefully set its probabilities behind the scene and the odds aren’t in your favour. Which brings me to my next point…

(2) The probabilities are difficult to pin down

Here’s how the T&C describe the prize card draw

Prizes are awarded for each Prize Card based on a random probability-based prize generator at the Prize Card Website. Where there is any breakdown or malfunction of the random probability-based prize generator at the Prize Card Website, the Bank shall have the right to allocate the Prizes for each Prize Card on a random probability basis

(emphasis mine)

The problem is that we don’t know what the probabilities assigned to each prize are.

When I first saw this I thought- ok, there are 2,199 different prizes to be won each day (sum of column 3) so my odds of winning 60,000 Krisflyer miles are 1 in 2,199.

That’s not correct. First, even if number of prizes is related to probability, there are an “unlimited” number of Kaligo $35 vouchers and UOI insurance discounts to be won (see next point) that mess up your calculations.

Second, it’s not correct to say that the maximum number of prizes in each category/ total number of prizes= probability of winning because they could be two completely unrelated numbers.

This gets simpler with an example. Let’s look at a 3 prize scenario with the number of prizes and probability of winning in the brackets)

(1) 60,00 Krisflyer miles (1 prize, 5%)
(2)  Wallet  (10 prizes, 20%)
(3) UOB Travel Voucher (Unlimited prizes, 75%)

We know the red number, not the green. As you can see, in any independent token redemption, I have a 5% chance of winning the miles, a 20% chance of winning the wallet and a 75% chance of winning the travel voucher. However, once all the wallet prizes are exhausted, I have a 6.25% chance of winning the miles and a 93.75% chance of winning a travel voucher.

That’s why the unlimited prizes are included in this game- because they can’t be exhausted, they soak up the bulk of the “wins” and ensure that the odds of winning the miles remains small. Presumably, in the UOB system, the unlimited prizes have been assigned a much higher probability of being won.

(3) The draw is flooded with prizes that aren’t quite prizes

You’ll notice I highlighted some prizes in yellow above. These are the ones I like to call “give with one hand” prizes. Some of these are obvious marketing tie-ups, eg the opportunity to buy a Canon camera or Rimowa luggage at a discount. Plaza Premium’s contribution to this giveaway is just sad- they’re awarding a maximum of 2 free lounge passes a day, but will gladly give away 110 prizes of 50% off lounge access for the second person. Yup, the second person. The first person needs to buy lounge access at full price.

The UOB Travel vouchers? T&C state no combining of vouchers in a single booking. Yup, it’s just to sucker you into paying UOB Travel’s inflated prices. And don’t get me started on the unlimited number of 50% off single trip plan/20% off annual multi trip plan “prizes” offered by UOB Insurance. That has to be the ultimate booby prize.

The way I see it, there are only 122 prizes per day that come with no strings attached (in the form of minimum spending ,or require you to buy something to enjoy the discount)- the 43 miles prizes, the 27 tote bags, 50 wallets and the 2 lounge passes.

Conclusion

I could of course just be misreading all of this, and I invite any reader with a better understanding of probability (and online giveaways) to educate me about this. Have a read of the full T&C here.

TL;DR. If you’re planning to spend overseas anyway be sure you get your token. But don’t spend deliberately just to take part because I suspect we’re going to see a lot of lucky UOB Insurance discount voucher winners…

Here’s a challenge to any mathematically inclined reader- can you figure out the maths behind this? Is my analysis correct? Or am I just embarrassing myself here?

In summary- this is the question you need to ask yourself:

Image result for do i feel lucky clint eastwood

Standard Chartered 20% off Uber and $150 signup credit- what’s the catch?

The headline is certainly catchy.  For the next one year (1 October 2016- 30 Sept 2017), Uber and Standard Chartered are partnering up to offer 20% cashback on all your Uber rides, at home or overseas. All you need to do is charge your Uber ride to a Standard Chartered credit card. What’s more, new Standard Chartered Manhattan cardholders can get S$150 of Uber credits.

Of course, we know promotions are never as simple as the headline would like us to believe. So let’s look closely at the fine print of these 2 promotions

20% Uber rebate for all Standard Chartered cardholders

Image result for uber singapore

A 20% rebate is amazing, unprecedented and ultimately too high to be sustainable in and of itself. There needs to be a catch, and there is-

  1. You need to spend a min of $600 on your SCB card each month to qualify
  2. The total cashback per month is capped at $50 (meaning a maximum Uber spend of $250 per month)

Now remember, every POV I take on this blog is with the view towards earning the greatest number of miles. There may be people who are not interested in miles at all, and to them the below doesn’t really apply.

SCB lacks a true, accessible, general miles earning workhorse. DBS has the Altitude ($30K income requirement), Citibank has the Premiermiles ($50K) and UOB the PRVI ($80K).

Image result for standard chartered visa infinite

Standard Chartered’s best miles offering comes in the form of the Standard Chartered Visa Infinite card, which at an income requirement of $150K per annum is not exactly main street material.

So assuming you don’t have an SCB Visa Infinite card, you’re looking at forgoing the miles you’d have earned from $600 of spending. This could be anywhere between 840-2,400 miles, depending on what type of spending that was.

It’s also important to note the following types of transactions are expressly excluded under the T&C

  • Insurance premiums, including premiums for investment-linked policies, charged to the Card;
  • Bill payments (Examples of bill payment merchants include but are not limited to Telecommunications and utilities providers such as Starhub, Singtel and M1, Singapore Power);
  • Any payment via AXS network;
  • Any payment via SAM network;
  • Payments to government agencies which include but not limited to Land Transport Authority, Housing Development Board, Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, Public Utilities Board, Immigration & Checkpoints Authority and the Ministry of Manpower;
  • Income tax payments;
  • EZ Link cards transactions;
  • Transit Link transactions;
  • Any transactions pertaining to Merchant Category Codes 6211 (Security Brokers/Dealers) and 7995 (Gambling/Lotto)
  • Balance transfers, cash advances from the Card, purchases via NETS and ongoing installment payments;
  • Any fees and charges (including annual fees, interest charges, cheque processing fees, administrative fees, cash advance fees, finance charges and/or late payment charges and other miscellaneous fees and charges) charged to the Card;
  •  Any amount charged to the Card during the Promotion Period that is subsequently cancelled, voided or reversed;
  • Balance owing on the Card account from other months

The long and the short of it is that SCB wants to reward your discretionary spend, not the spend you’d have been making anyway on your bills and routine payments. The express exclusion of AXS and income tax payments is going to be a dealbreaker to some. That said, the $600 minimum spending requirement includes spending on Uber and Ubereats.

Regarding the cap, unless you’re riding Uber daily it’s quite unlikely you’ll max out the $250 limit (although given Uber’s nasty new practice of hiding surge pricing, you still might…). So this wouldn’t be my main objection, it would be the having to forgo miles on $600 of spending.

Other relevant pointers to note- this 20% cashback promotion is only valid for SCB Credit Card holders, so linking a debit card won’t work. AIA co-branded SCB credit cards and corporate cards are also not eligible.

Also, the caps and terms apply on a card basis. So if you had 2 Standard Chartered cards and spent $600 on each, you could get your a total of a $100 of Uber rebates in a month.

Uber credits for new SCB credit card applicants

It seems there are two types of promotion ongoing- one for new SCB credit card holders and another for new holders of the Manhattan World Mastercard specifically.

Promotion A: $30 Uber Credits for New SCB Credit Card holders (and new Uber users)

New SCB credit card holders are eligible for a $30 Uber credit provided they are new Uber users. At this point in time I’d struggle to think of any of my friends who haven’t already tried Uber so this already eliminates a large swath of people.

The $30 Uber credit comes in the form of 3 X $10 credits that can be used on any form of Uber except Uber Taxi. Only a maximum of one $10 credit can be used per ride, and if the value of the ride is <$10 no excess is rolled over. You can read the full T&C for this promotion here. The promotion runs the same duration as the 20% Uber rebate one, that is, 1 October 2016- 30 Sept 2017.

Promotion B: $150 Uber Credits for New Manhattan World Mastercard holders

This promotion is applicable to those who sign up for the Manhattan World Mastercard only.

To qualify for the $150 in Uber credits, you must be a first time SCB principal cardholder (I knew that $500 limit Manhattan card I applied for in uni was going to come back to haunt me. If you’ve held an SCB credit card before as a principal cardholder, you get a $20 cashback on the Manhattan card) and apply for the Manhattan World Mastercard via www.sc.com/sg/uber

These $150 in Uber credits come in the form of 15X $10 Uber credits which must be used for consecutive Uber rides in Singapore. These must be consumed within 6 months. Unlike promotion A, these credits can be used for any type of Uber including Uber Taxi. Unlike Promotion A, you do not need to be a new Uber user.

The annoying part is that if you’ve got this promo on your Uber App, you’re going to want to be very careful that all your 15 rides exceed $10. If you’re going below that you’d be better off taking Grab/regular taxi. You cannot pick and choose which Uber rides to apply your credit to.

The full T&C can be found here.  This promotion runs for a shorter period, from 1 Oct 2016 to 31 Dec 2016.

My take

I do love my miles, so the absence of a good miles earning card from Standard Chartered stops me from taking advantage of this. But if you’re more of a cashback person, I see no reason why you shouldn’t jump on. 20% is a generous rebate, and assuming you don’t spend enough to hit the $50 cap then this could be a good deal for you.

Everyone should still be aware that Uber’s new upfront pricing model effectively hides surge pricing from you. Uber tries to spin upfront pricing as providing greater transparency, but really how hard is it for them to tell you both the price beforehand and the surge in place? They’re not mutually exclusive pieces of information, you know.

3 freebies for anyone booking an SQ ticket this month

Mastercard and SIA are running a promotion until 30 Sept where those who use Mastercard to pay can redeem special gifts. If you’re already intending to buy an SQ ticket why not use your DBS Woman’s World Mastercard and get something out of it?

Offer 1: Free Movie Tickets

For every SQ ticket purchased from 1-30 Sept 2016 on Singaporeair.com departing from Singapore and paid for with a Mastercard, you are eligible to redeem a free Cathay movie ticket.

Image result for cathay cineplex

Redemption is straightforward

Step 1: Purchase a Singapore Airlines Ticket within qualifying promotion period departing from Singapore through Singaporeair.com to a MasterCard Credit Card which is in good standing.

Step 2: Head down to Singapore Service Centre at ION to redeem the movie pass between1 Sep – 30 Sep 2016 with your Digital/ Print out electronic ticket receipt. One movie ticket per e electronic ticket receipt

Step 3: Staff will verify the details for redemption.

This is limited to the first 1,000 redemptions but a friend who just redeemed this said her tickets were number 74 and 75, so apparently there is still quite a bit of stock available.

Offer 2: RWS Invites Silver Membership

This one is a bit more intriguing. For every Premium Economy or Business Class ticket bought on singaporeair.com or singaporeairgetaway.com until 30 Sept and paid with mastercard, you can get a complimentary RWS Invites Silver Membership.

RWS Invites Silver Membership comes with a choice of welcome gifts

  • Halloween Horror Nights (value: $163.80)
    • 2 admission tickets to the RWS Halloween Event
    • 2 light up lanyards
    • limited edition Halloween card
  • USS Package (value: $178)
    • 2 USS one day adult passes
    • $30 of dining vouchers
  • SEA Aquarium & Adventure Cover Waterpark (value: $176)
    • 2 SEA Aquarium one day adult passes
    • 2 Adventure Cover waterpark one day adult passes
    • 2 Ray Bay interaction program passes
  • RWS Dining Vouchers (value: $200)
  • Dolphin Island (value: $196)
    • Dolphin discovery interaction program for 2 adults
    • 2 Adventure Cover waterpark one day adult passes
  • ESPA at RWS (value: up to $225)
    • Choice of 60 minute personalised massage or Indulgence Hammam Ritual

Also remember the general privileges that come with RWS Invites Silver Membership

Invites$ Rebate

  • Earn Invites$ rebate at participating outlets all year round. Invites$1 is equivalent to S$1
  • Use your Invites$ to redeem hotel stays, attraction passes or to offset your next purchase

Earn:

  • 20% Invites$ rebate on:
    – Dining at our star and celebrity chef restaurants
    – Regular priced a la carte treatments at ESPA
    – Regular priced day passes to Trick Eye Museum, Dolphin Island and Ultimate Marine Encounters
  • 15% Invites$ rebate on:
    – Regular priced day passes to K-Live Sentosa
  • 10% Invites$ rebate on:
    – Regular priced day passes to Universal Studios Singapore, S.E.A. Aquarium and Adventure Cove Waterpark
  • 3% Invites$ rebate on:
    – Every dollar spent at other participating outlets

Redeem:

  • Use your Invites$ to redeem all-day parking, hotel stays, attraction passes or to offset your next purchase

Parking

  • Redeem all–day parking with Invites$1.50

Priority Access

  • Priority entry to Universal Studios Singapore, S.E.A. Aquarium and Adventure Cove Waterpark² when you show your RWS Invites Card
  • Complimentary access to Typhoon Theatre with purchase of S.E.A. Aquarium One-Day Pass
  • Universal Express™ and Adventure Express at discounted rates

Hotel

  • Complimentary wireless high-speed broadband Internet access during your hotel stay²

Kids Club

  • 1–for–1 hour at Kids Club, where children are enriched with arts and crafts, interactive story–telling and fun activities in a safe environment

Birthday Benefits

  • Receive special privileges during your birthday month. For more info, click here

Only 500 redemptions are available for this promotion, and remember that you must be on a revenue business or premium economy booking as per the T&C (although I’ve got reports that even redemption bookings are passing muster for this- YMMV, but if you’ve already made a booking and paid for the surcharges with a MC you might want to try your luck?)

Full T&C for this promotion can be found here.

Thanks to Milelion reader Hannah for this tip!

Bonus Offer: S$10 KrisShop voucher for any booking on Singaporeair.com

When scrolling through the website I found another freebie- receive a S$10 KrisShop eVoucher when you book your flight on singaporeair.com during September. To receive your voucher, click on the KrisShop link found on your booking confirmation e-mail and register your e-mail address.

This doesn’t require you to book with Mastercard or anything, so if you’re buying an SQ ticket this month be sure not to leave money on the table. S$10 won’t get you much but still…