Tag Archives: uob

UOB PRVI Miles new targeted 10K miles sign up promotion

UOB’s sign up promotions are typically lackluster. And by lackluster I mean awful. Here’s an example of a recent promotion they ran for new card members.

Be among the top 6,000 spenders to earn 3 miles on all spend for the first 3 months, with a maximum of 3,600 miles!

Ok so-

(1) I need to be among the top 6,000 spenders
(2) the maximum bonus I can earn is 3,600 miles
(3) I have no way of knowing beforehand how much I need to spend to enjoy this bonus

Which is why it’s such a surprise that UOB’s latest (targeted) promotion is somewhat better

Thanks to a reader for sending this in-

This email was circulated to selected Krisflyer members, and offers a sign up bonus of 10,000 miles when new cardholders spend $1,800 within 30 days of card opening.  This is valid for sign ups by 31 Jan 2017

T&C can be found here. The main catch here is that you must be a new UOB credit card holder. That’s right, if you own even 1 UOB credit card you’re not eligible.

If you don’t, this would be as good time to get a UOB PRVI Miles as any, given that there is no limitation on the number of people who can earn the bonus miles (assuming you’re targeted, of course).

 

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

What credit cards should you use for Black Friday shopping?

Black Friday is here again as Americans try to  ease the pain of too much turkey and the vagaries of the electoral college system by spending their way into a debt-fueled oblivion!

I’m not going to list any great deals here because I’m sure you’re all more than capable of sniffing them out yourselves (plus there are tons of websites dedicated just to ferreting out the best of the best offers).

Instead, I’m going to do a refresher on what options you have when deciding which credit card to put your Black Friday shopping on.

can you believe there is no online resource image of the OCBC Titanium Rewards card that doesn’t have it angled funny like this? Come on guys.

The following cards all give a bonus (4 miles per $1 to be precise) on online spending.

You might want to have a look at this crowdsourced Google Docs form to see whether the specific merchant you have in mind qualifies as “online” (because, unbelievably, sometimes even merchants you swear must be online like Taobao don’t end up qualifying as online because they manually process transactions on their backend), but safe to say that your usual Amazon, Zalora etc e-commerce sites will be a sure bet for 10X.

HSBC Advance Card

Image result for hsbc advance

Ah, my one stop card for all things online. If you don’t mind going through the (15 minutes really) somewhat hasslesome process of getting a card, the HSBC Advance will be your best friend (until possibly the 31st of December this year when the 10X promotion is due to expire- it’s been renewed in the past so watch this space).

You’ll get 10X points (4 miles per $1) on all your online spending. No caps, no exceptions (well, except for EZ link top ups, but that’s not a typical Black Friday purchase).

For me personally my goal is to max out everything I can from the HSBC Advance until the end of the year, then re-evaluate my strategy based on what HSBC decides to do with the 10X program.

Citibank Rewards Card

Image result for citibank rewards

Assuming you haven’t already busted your $12,000 annual bonus limit (applied per card, mind you, so if you have both the Mastercard and the Visa version then your bonus is capped on $24,000 of spending) on bill payments, then this is another potential option for you.

Citibank was previously running a promotion that offered an amazing 8 miles per dollar with Amazon. At the time, I said that if you didn’t have any item in mind or simply wanted to hold out for Black Friday, you could buy a giftcard to front load your miles. Hope someone listened to that!

EDIT: I was just reminded that Citibank has extended the Amazon promotion till year end. 8 miles per $1 is hard to beat so if your Black Friday plans include Amazon then I can’t recommend any other card than this

Another great point about the Citibank Rewards card is that your points are valid for 5 years, so you can accumulate a good-sized haul before transferring.

OCBC Titanium Rewards

Image result for ocbc titanium rewards

OCBC recently relaunched their Titanium card as the Titanium Rewards card, offering 10X on online and offline shopping.

Unfortunately since this card is the newest of the lot we don’t have a lot of data points on how OCBC is interpreting the above categories

What we do know from the T&C is that you will earn 10X at the following merchants

  • MCC 5611: Men’s and Boys’ Clothing and Accessories Stores
  • MCC 5621: Women’s Ready to Wear Stores
  • MCC 5631: Women’s Accessory and Speciality Stores
  • MCC 5641: Children’s and Infants’ Wear Stores
  • MCC 5651: Family Clothing Stores
  • MCC 5661: Shoe Stores
  • MCC 5691: Men’s and Women’s Clothing Stores
  • MCC 5732: Electronics Stores
  • MCC 5699: Miscellaneous Apparel and Accessory Shops
  • MCC 5311: Department Stores

The maximum bonus points you can earn in a year is capped on $12,000 of spending (48,000 miles) and OCBC points are valid for 2 years.

DBS Woman’s World Card

Image result for dbs woman's world card
I find it funny that the default card image for the DBS Woman’s card has a man’s name on it

Despite its $2,000 monthly cap on 10X, the DBS Woman’s World Card is still a solid choice if you’re not intending to bust the bank on Black Friday.

DBS has an ongoing promotion for sign ups for the Woman’s Card where you can get $160 in cashback if you spend a minimum of $500 on the card within the first month from approval date. The $160 applies if you’re completely new to DBS cards. If you already own a DBS card you get $100. Still not a bad deal, I think, and no time to hit that $500 minimum spending like Black Friday.

What I dislike about the Woman’s World Card is that DBS Points are only valid for 1 year.

UOB Preferred Platinum Visa

Image result for uob preferred platinum visa

I’ve been historically cold towards the UOB PP Visa because it’s generally a lot stricter in its interpretation of what counts as online spending (at least, as compared to the DBS Woman’s World Card). But if you’re going down the usual e-commerce route of Amazon et al, I think it’s quite a safe call to use this card.

Now, the T&C of the UOB PP Visa say this-

The 10X UNI$ for online and Visa payWave transactions is capped at UNI$24,000 for both categories per calendar year. After which, 1X UNI$ will be awarded for every $5 spent.

I’ve read 2 interpretations of this- one school of thought says that the cap is really $13,300 because it is the 9X bonus points that are capped at 24,000 UNI$ a year. Others say that no, it’s similar to the Citibank Rewards card in that the cap on total points is 24,000 UNI$ meaning that you can spend a maximum of $12,000. Frankly. I don’t know what the right answer is, and I’ve never got close enough to the limit to find out.

UOB UNI$ are valid for 2 years.

Conclusion

The cards are ranked in no particular order of merit because the best card for you to use really depends on your current situation. If you’re already accumulating with DBS Altitude for your general spend you might gravitate towards the DBS Woman’s World Card. If you’re a UOB PRVI cardholder, you might go with the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa etc etc.

And finally- Black Friday.

Get it?