I’m not the most organized of people and don’t make a habit of scrutinizing my credit card statement every month. But one practice of UOB has made me extra paranoid about doing so.
UOB has a policy of automatically deducting UNI$ from your UNI$ balance whenever your annual card fee becomes due, assuming you have a sufficient UNI$ balance (if not they’ll charge the fee to your card like all other banks). Although I think this practice is extremely sneaky, UOB does disclose this in their T&C.
The first time this happened to me was in March this year when I was billed UNI$4,800 for my UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX card (regular fee S$192.60).
I spotted it within a few days and called up customer service to get it waived, so the waiver reflected within the same month’s statement (see the UNI$4,800 used and adjusted back within the same statement)
The second time this happened was in October, which I only found out yesterday when I checked my bill. This time I’d been billed UNI$5,500 for the annual fee on my UOB Visa Signature card (regular fee S$214). UNI$5,500 could get you 11,000 Krisflyer miles, which even at a very conservative estimate of 2-3 cents each would be S$220-330 of value. In any case you shouldn’t even be paying annual fees, whether in dollars or in UNI$.
Again, I called the bank and got it waived. I was a bit worried about this one because I only spotted it more than a month after it had been charged, but there was no issue getting it waived again. Which leads me to think they charge these fees more in hope than in expectation that you’ll actually pay.
My policy on annual fees, as you may already know, is don’t pay them (unless you want to buy miles). UOB automatically “waiving” the annual fee through a deduction of UNI$ isn’t a waiver at all. You’re paying for it with your hard earned miles.
What is interesting is that there doesn’t seem to be an internally consistent metric for how UOB values a UNI$. I went to look at their annual fee chart and derived the following-
- You should not be paying annual fees
- UOB will automatically deduct your UNI$ balance to pay annual fees
- Monitor your credit card statement and give them an angry call whenever they do this automatic deduction