The Milelion’s wallet is a deep, mysterious place. Amidst the receipts of yet-to-be-claimed expenses, wet tissues shaped like prophylactics kept to convince onlookers of virility and personal hygiene, and a mysterious key that may either open a portal to the netherworld or side gate to house, lie a pile of carefully curated credit cards.
As we look forward to 2018, I wanted to share with you the cards that I’ll be carrying in the new year, or at least until any of them drastically change their T&Cs.
UOB PRVI Miles Mastercard
$256.80 (First Year Free)
UOB PRVI Miles Mastercard
- Earn 1.4 mpd on local spending and 2.4 mpd on overseas spending, without cap, 6 mpd at Expedia, Agoda and UOB Travel (selected airlines), and 10 mpd on Kaligo
- This is a World Mastercard, so you get to enjoy special privileges like the fourth night free with selected SPG resorts and a US$100 hotel credit among other things
Use for: Whatever doesn’t fall into a bonus spend category, >$30
Remarks: This is the stalwart general spending card that anchors my wallet, earning me 1.4 mpd wherever the rest of my specialized spending cards cannot.
Why the Mastercard and not the AMEX? Wider acceptance for one, but also because I no longer feel I’m able to hit the $50,000 annual spending requirement needed to get 20,000 bonus miles on the PRVI Amex so won’t bother trying.
Moreover, I’m using the contactless function on the Mastercard to pay for my public transport rides via ABT and earn 1.4 mpd (does anyone notice that the strength of the contactless function for Mastercard is nowhere near that for the EZ-Link? I always have to remove the card from my wallet to tap). I know I could potentially be earning 2.0 mpd on such rides with the HSBC Revolution card, but I don’t otherwise have a compelling case to apply for it right now so am holding off.
The card has a hefty 3.25% foreign transaction fee but almost all my overseas expenses are for business anyway so I’m happily using it as the general spend card when I travel for 2.4 mpd after I’ve exhausted the UOB Visa Signature’s cap (see below) and where 10X opportunities are not available.
DBS Altitude Visa
Use for: Whatever doesn’t fall into a bonus spend category, <$30
Remarks: Two general spending cards? Why?
I’ve written about the rounding issue with UOB PRVI Miles vis a vie DBS Altitude which is well worth a read, but long story short if you’re comparing these two cards, the Altitude generally comes out on top for spend <$30 and the PRVI Miles for anything >$30 (some would argue the inflection point should be $20 because between $20-30 you’re indifferent and to further complicate matters, if you’re spending exactly in intervals of $5 the PRVI would come out on top. Too much info) because of differences in rounding policies.
I’ll admit to not being as disciplined with this as I should, but it always helps to have a range of bank cards in your wallet in case there are bank specific promotions.
UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX
Use for: Dining at restaurants (5812), drinking places (5813) and fast food (5814)
Remarks: The utility of this card has somewhat declined ever since UOB capped the 10X points on dining at $6,000 of spending per year. Therefore I see this card eventually disappearing from my wallet in the later part of the year as I reach the cap.
While it lasts, however, this card will be a solid fixture in my wallet as my first choice for dining spending both in Singapore and overseas. This card can no longer be obtained (but the conspiracy theorists among you might be interested in this) so there’s little more to be said.
Maybank Horizon Visa Signature
Maybank Horizon Visa Signature
- From 1 Aug-30 Sept, earn 4.2 miles per dollar on dining, petrol and taxi fares. Earn 3.0 miles per dollar on foreign currency spend, air tickets and travel packages, and 1.4 miles per dollar everywhere else. Minimum spend of $1,000 applies, see this article for details
- Complimentary access to selected airport lounges
Use for: dining at restaurants (5812), petrol (5541, 5542) and for taxis
Remarks: My default port of call for dining would be either the UOB PPA or the Titanium Rewards card/UOB PPV wherever mobile payments/paywave is accepted (see below). But I do need a backup card for occasions where none of these options exist, and that’s in the form of the Maybank Horizon Visa Signature, which earns me 3.2 mpd on dining.
The card can also come in handy on the rare occasions when I do take a regular taxi (I’m aware you can top up Singtel Dash and use it to pay for taxi fares, or use the Comfort Delgro App to earn 4 mpd via the WWMC but I regularly max out the $2K on my WWMC anyway) or when I need to pump gas.
The drawback for me is that once I put a single dollar on this card, a sort of internal countdown starts where I know I need to hit $300 minimum within the month or else get 0.4 mpd on everything.
UOB Preferred Platinum Visa
Use for: Paywave at any place that isn’t a SMART$ merchant
Remarks: Even if you don’t have a specialized dining card, you can use the Preferred Platinum Visa to earn 10X points (4 mpd) at any place with a Paywave terminal. Paywave terminals turn up in the most unexpected places (I earned 4 mpd at my physio, which I attend because these beefy triceps don’t maintain themselves), so always be on the lookout!
How does this interact with the Titanium Rewards card when most places that have a Paywave terminal will almost certainly accept mobile payments? Remember that the UOB PPV caps 10X at $1,000 per month, but the Titanium Reward caps 10X at $12,000 per year. So there may be instances when one might make more sense than the other. Also, remember that if a merchant offers SMART$, you won’t earn any UNI$ with the PPV, so having the Titanium Rewards card linked to your mobile payment app can help to mitigate this.
OCBC Titanium Rewards
$192.60 (First 2 Years Free)
OCBC Titanium Rewards
- Until 31 December 2018, earn a bonus 6 mpd on Mileslife, capped at your first $1,000 spend
- Earn 4 miles per dollar when you shop at department stores, electronics stores, babies' and children's wear, or clothes, shoes and bags both online and offline, in Singapore and overseas
- Bonus miles are capped at $12,000 of spend per card membership year. But apply for both the Blue and Pink version of the card and double that cap to $24,000 (96,000 miles)
- Spending on the OCBC Titanium Rewards helps you earn bonus interest if you have an OCBC 360 account. Check out this article about bank accounts and miles cards
Use for: Mobile payments
Remarks: Fine. This is in my “virtual wallet”. I recently got my Titanium Rewards card, linked it to my Android Pay account and put it in my drawer. I’ll probably take it out if I need to make big ticket purchases on electronics (since the Titanium Rewards card is the only card that offers 10X points on such purchases both online and offline). There’s no real need for me to carry the card around because it’s already saved in my Android Pay app, so any time I see a contactless terminal I’ll be paying with this card to get 4 mpd.
What’s not in my wallet (but I’m using anyway)
DBS Woman’s World Mastercard
Use for: online transactions
Remarks: The old girl is my default option for online spending (and I’ve memorized all her measurements right down to her sexy, sexy CVV number) but I’d never take her out in public because there’s simply no reason to. 4 mpd on online spending and 0.4 mpd everywhere else (fine, 1.2 mpd on foreign currency transactions but there are better cards around) means it’s a no brainer where this card should be used.
Citibank Rewards Visa
$192.60 (First Year Free)
Citibank Rewards Visa
- Spend $3K in your first 3 months and get up to 22,800 miles (new-to-bank customers)
- Earn 4 mpd for all your online and offline shopping, capped at $12,000 of spend each card membership year. This includes purchases of bags, shoes and clothes as well as shopping at department stores
- Points have a 5 year expiry and Citibank has the widest range of airline partners in Singapore- SIA, Cathay, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Air France, KLM, Etihad, Thai, Malaysia Airlines, British Airways, EVA, Turkish Airlines and Garuda
- Citibank does not pool points among different cards. This means you will have to pay a separate conversion fee for each credit card when you want to cash out your points
Use for: department store spending, miscellaneous online
Remarks: I generally limit my use of Citibank cards because of the bank’s annoying practice of not pooling, but there are situations where I’d dust off the Rewards Visa. For example, they frequently run 20X promotions with Amazon/Lazada which represent a great opportunity to rack up points (buy a gift card if you have nothing in mind at the moment). I’d also use it if I maxed out the $2,000 cap on the WWMC.
UOB Visa Signature
Use for: overseas spending (but you could use it for Paywave and Petrol too if you pleased)
Remarks: This card isn’t a regular fixture in my wallet but whenever I fly overseas I always make a point of bringing this card with me because it gives 4 mpd on overseas spending capped at $2,000 per statement period (may not be calendar month). You need to spend a minimum of $1,000 to qualify for this, otherwise you earn 0.4 mpd.
It’s interesting that despite the superior earning rate on overseas transactions, this card has a lower foreign transaction fee than the PRVI (2.8% vs 3.25%)
It’s also worth noting that this card can earn you 4 mpd on Paywave and Petrol transactions, but again that’s subject to a minimum total spend of $1,000 per statement period and I’m not confident on hitting that based on those two categories alone. Hence, I don’t carry it around with me unless I’m flying overseas.
Please don’t go away thinking this is the only acceptable strategy and you need to follow it to a T. There are many other perfectly valid strategies that involve other good cards that I haven’t mentioned here (like the Citi Prestige and Citibank Premiermiles Visa), simply because it doesn’t match my spending patterns (I don’t want to pay the hefty fee for the Prestige and dislike Citibank’s no pooling policy).
What cards will everyone else be using in the new year?