Tag Archives: promotions

I challenge anyone to successfully use this hotel coupon

You know how sometimes there are these promotions that seem to want to give with one hand? The whole please enjoy this $5 off coupon which is valid with a min spend of $200. Or here’s a buy 10 get 1 at 50% off voucher for our highly marked up product. Or here’s a free air ticket, which you can redeem on these dates and only covers the base fare but not these ludicrously expensive fuel surcharges (wait isn’t that just Krisflyer)

Well we can now add UOB and Expedia’s latest promotion to that list.

UOB and Expedia are running a “promotion” (if you can even call it that) which gives you 10% off minimum 2 night Expedia stays booked by 31 March 2017 and consumed by 30 June 2017.

the 50% savings is eye catching but the real saving is 10%. All that 50% is saying is that hey! There are rare occasions when Expedia can get you 50% off some vaguely defined rack rate that no one in the right mind would pay anyway!

The catch?

  1. The exclusion list of properties is longer than Taylor Swift’s list of ex-lovers (I do pop culture references just fine, thank you).

For full visual impact, allow me to copy and paste the list here. Play this game- put your finger on the down key on your keyboard and see how long it takes to get to the bottom

  • Amara Singapore
  • Amari
  • Aston Resorts
  • Barcelo
  • Occidental
  • Radisson
  • Country Inn & Suites
  • Radisson Blu
  • Quorvus
  • Park Inn
  • Park Plaza
  • Arenaturist
  • Radisson Edwardian
  • Clarion
  • Econo Lodge
  • Comfort Inn
  • Comfort Suites
  • Quality
  • Rodeway Inn
  • MainStay Suites
  • Ascend Collection
  • CAMBRiA hotel & suites
  • Suburban Extended Stay
  • Sleep Inn
  • Nordic Choice – Quality
  • Nordic Choice – Clarion
  • Nordic Choice – Comfort Inn
  • Nordic Choice – Nordic Resort
  • Nordic Choice – Ascend Collection
  • Corinthia Hotels
  • Dusit hotels
  • Fortune Hotels
  • Furama
  • Embassy Suites
  • Hampton Inn
  • Hilton International
  • Hilton Garden Inn
  • Hilton Hotels
  • Doubletree
  • Homewood Suites
  • Conrad
  • Waldorf Astoria
  • Curio Collection
  • Home2 Suites by Hilton
  • Hilton Grand Vacations
  • Hotel 81
  • HV Hotels
  • Holiday Inn Express Hotel
  • Holiday Inn
  • Crowne Plaza
  • Inter-Continental
  • Candlewood Hotel
  • Staybridge Suites
  • Ana Hotels International
  • Hotel Indigo
  • Holiday Inn Club Vacations
  • EVEN Hotels
  • Holiday Inn Select
  • HUALUXE
  • Kempinski Hotels & Resorts
  • La Quinta Inn & Suites
  • Langham Hotels
  • Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
  • AC by Marriott
  • SpringHill Suites
  • Marriott Hotels & Resorts
  • Residence Inn
  • Fairfield Inn
  • TownePlace Suites
  • Courtyard
  • Protea
  • Ritz-Carlton
  • Delta Hotels
  • Renaissance
  • Autograph Collection Hotels & Resorts
  • Marriott Executive Apartments
  • marriottvacationclub
  • JW Marriott
  • Marriott Conference Centre
  • MOXY
  • Bulgari Hotels & Resorts
  • Gaylord Entertainment
  • Edition
  • Sol
  • Tryp Hotels
  • Melia
  • Gran Melia
  • Me by Melia
  • Sol Melia
  • Paradisus
  • Innside
  • Meritus
  • Millennium Hotels
  • Kingsgate
  • Movenpick Hotels & Resorts
  • NH Hotels
  • Hesperia
  • Jolly Hotels
  • Omni
  • Pan Pacific Hotels & Resorts
  • Park Royal Hotels & Resorts
  • Raffles Intl Hotels and Resorts
  • RIU Hotels
  • Rosewood Hotels
  • Sandals Resorts
  • Scandic Hotels
  • Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts
  • Six Senses Resorts & Spas
  • Four Points
  • Sheraton Hotel
  • Westin
  • aloft
  • W Hotel
  • Luxury Collection
  • Le Meridien
  • Starwood other branded
  • St Regis
  • element
  • Swiss Quality Hotels
  • Swissotel
  • Vivanta by Taj
  • Taj Hotels, Resorts & Palaces
  • The Gateway Hotels
  • Leela Group
  • The Peninsula Group
  • Thon Hotels
  • Vincci
  • Knights Inn
  • Baymont Inns & Suites
  • Ramada
  • Super 8
  • Days Inn
  • Wingate Inn
  • Microtel Inn
  • Hawthorn Suites
  • Wyndham Hotels
  • Travelodge
  • Howard Johnson
  • TRYP by Wyndham
  • Dolce Hotels and Resorts
  • Universal Orlando Resort

Oh, we’re not done yet. In addition to chain-level restrictions, there are property-level restrictions too

  • Amara Cay Resort
  • Amara Club Marine Nature
  • Amara Dolce Vita Luxury
  • Amara Guest House
  • Amara Hotel
  • Amara Motel
  • Amara Resort Hua Hin
  • Amara Wing Resort Comfort
  • Amarant Hotel
  • Dusit Buncha Resort Koh Tao
  • Dusit Devarana New Delhi
  • Dusit Island Resort Chiang Rai
  • Dusit Princess Korat
  • Dusit Princess Srinakarin, Bangkok
  • Dusit Thani Abu Dhabi
  • Dusit Thani Bangkok
  • Dusit Thani Hua Hin
  • Dusit Thani Laguna Phuket
  • Dusit Thani Laguna Pool Villa
  • Dusit Thani LakeView Cairo
  • Dusit Thani Maldives
  • Dusit Thani Manila
  • Dusit Thani Pattaya
  • dusitD2 Chiang Mai
  • dusitD2 hotel constance pasadena
  • dusitD2 nairobi
  • dusitD2 phuket resort
  • Hotel Phoenicia Malta
  • Mandarin Hotel Guangzhou
  • Mandarin Hotel Managed by Centre Point
  • Mandarin Pacific Hotel
  • Mandarin Plaza Hotel
  • Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort Langkawi
  • The Cosmopolitan Of Las Vegas
  • The Leela Palace Bangalore
  • The Leela Palace Chennai
  • The Leela Palace New Delhi
  • The Leela Palace Udaipur
  • The Venetian Macao Resort
  • V Hotel
  • V Hotel
  • V Hotel – Bandung
  • V Hotel & Suites

I am highly, highly amused that Hotel 81 is on the exclusion list.

2. You can only use this coupon at hotels with Expedia Rates

As if that long list of restrictions wasn’t enough, you can only use the 10% off coupon at a hotel which offers Expedia Rates.

Expedia Rates require that your credit card be charged in full upon reservation (are they refundable? I don’t know because I was never able to find one). How hard can it be to find an Expedia Rate property?

Well, I tried. I looked at KL, Bangkok, Paris, Singapore. I rifled through 10+ pages of hotel listings for each geography. I played with different dates. Try as I might, I could not get any Expedia Rates to appear. Here’s a screenshot of what an Expedia Rate property would look like (if it existed)

Oh, I know! I’ll look for this specific hotel that Expedia featured in the screenshot.

Wait wut.

Try as I might I simply could not find an Expedia Rate. I have hence concluded that they are like a cure for male pattern baldness. You hear about it so much you’re certain it must exist, you just can’t find it.

If you could find one, the theory is you enter the code UOBEXPSG to get a further 10% off.

Conclusion

Between the long list of exemption chains/properties and the impossibility of finding an Expedia rate, I really can’t see any reason to jump on this promotion.

If you can find an Expedia Rate, POIDH.

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.