Credit Cards

Reminder: Citi reducing FCY earn rate on PremierMiles Visa, Prestige and ULTIMA to 2.0 mpd from 1 Jan

FCY earn rate on PremierMiles, Prestige and ULTIMA cards reduced from 2.4 to 2.0 mpd from 1 Jan 2019, FCY transaction fee remains at 3%.
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Back in August, Citibank quietly unveiled some major changes to its rewards program that took place from 4 Oct 2018. To summarize, effective 4 Oct…

  1. The earn rate on FCY transactions with the Citi PremierMiles Visa, Citi Prestige, and Citi ULTIMA increased from 2.0 mpd to 2.4 mpd until 31 Dec 2018
  2. The FCY transaction fees for Citi PremierMiles Visa, Prestige, and ULTIMA increased from 2.8% to 3% permanently
  3. The Citi Rewards card began capping the bonus 10X ThankYou points at 10,000 per statement period instead of 120,000 per year
  4. Numerous new MCC ranges and merchants were excluded from earning rewards points

My guess is that (1) was meant to temper some of the unhappiness with (2), although the former was temporary and the latter permanent. Citi certainly didn’t miss the opportunity to big up the boosted FCY mpd rates, and many cardholders would have received SMSes like this over the past few weeks:

<ADV> Citi PremierMiles Visa: Earn 2.4 Citi Miles per S$1 spent in foreign currency. Till 31 Dec 2018.T&Cs Apply. SMS UNSUB to 72484. citibank.com.sg/contact

Well, 31 Dec is almost here, which means Citibank is about to call time on the enhanced FCY earning rates. What does this mean for using your Citi cards overseas?

Citi PremierMiles Visa, Prestige and ULTIMA cardholders will now pay 1.5 cents per mile on FCY transactions

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What’s interesting is that for the past 3 months, Citi cardholders have actually been better off than they were before 4 Oct:

Before 4 Oct 184 Oct-31 Dec 181 Jan 19 onwards
FCY MPD2.02.42.0
FCY Fee2.8%3.0%3.0%
Cents Per Mile1.41.251.5

Prior to 4 Oct, Citi cardholders earned 2.0 mpd on FCY transactions in exchange for a 2.8% fee, or 1.4 cpm. Between 4 Oct and 31 Dec, that figure dropped to 1.25 cpm because the incremental 0.4 mpd on FCY spending more than offset the 0.2% increase in FCY fees. From 1 Jan 2019, the figure will increase to 1.5 cpm, cardholders will be worse off than before 4 Oct, and the circle of life will continue.

Which card has the best earning rate for FCY spend?

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2018 has been a really crappy year as far as FCY card charges are concerned. In addition to Citibank, other banks have also been raising (or will raise) their FCY transaction fees:

  • On 1 Apr 18, Maybank increased its FCY charge on Visa Diamante, Visa Infinite and World Mastercard from 2.5% to 2.75%
  • On 1 Nov 18, HSBC increased its FCY charge from 2.5% to 2.8%
  • On 1 Jan 19, CIMB will remove the admin fee waiver for FCY transactions on the Visa Signature and Platinum Mastercard, thereby increasing the fee from 1% to 3%
  • On 2 Jan 19, DBS will increase its FCY charge on Mastercard and Visa transactions from 2.8% to 3%
  • On 15 Jan 19, BOC will increase its FCY charge on Mastercard transactions from 2.5% to 3% (Visa fees increased from 2.5% to 3% on 1 Dec 18)

With all those changes, here’s what the landscape will look like from Jan 2019:

CardFCY RateFCY ChargeCents/Mile
UOB Visa Signature (min $1K, max $2k FCY per statement period)4.02.8%0.7
BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard3.03% (from 15 Jan)1.0
SCB Visa Infinite(Spend >$2K per month)3.03.5%1.17
SCB Rewards+ (capped at $2,222 per year)2.93.5%1.21
OCBC VOYAGE2.32.8%1.22
AMEX KrisFlyer Blue and KrisFlyer Ascend (June and Dec)2.02.5%1.25
UOB PRVI Miles2.43.25%1.35
DBS Altitude2.03.0% (from 2 Jan)1.5
Citibank PremierMiles, Prestige and ULTIMA2.03.0%1.5
AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend1.22.5%2.08
AMEX KrisFlyer Blue1.12.5%2.27

Conclusion

If you’re looking for out and out miles earning power, you’d be better off using the BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard or UOB Visa Signature for your foreign currency spending. However, if you’re looking to transfer your points to programs other than Asia Miles or KrisFlyer, then Citibank’s extended list of transfer partners may make a case for using the card anyway.


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