Thanks to each and every one of you, 2018 has been a fantastic year for The Milelion. Here’s how the website has grown since starting in 2015:
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As the year draws to a close, let’s take a look back at the 10 most popular articles on The Milelion for 2018…
(1) Dear Singapore Airlines Public Affairs Team…
Published: 21 January
It’s safe to say that Singapore Airlines didn’t have the best of Januaries this year. Fresh off the heels of major changes to its fare structures, which included the addition of charges for seat selections on the cheapest economy tickets, the airline subsequently announced credit card fees for certain fare classes (see below), and started quietly adding travel insurance to customers’ tickets without their consent.
To no one’s surprise at all (well, except perhaps SQ management’s), this created a PR nightmare for the airline. Backtracks and mea culpas were quickly made, and before long we were back at status quo. Dear Singapore Airlines Public Affairs Team was a post I wrote soon after the travel-insurance-by-default option got switched on, and lays out exactly what was wrong with this practice (as if it needed spelling out).
(2) Grab Massively Devalues GrabRewards Without Notice
Published: 21 July
What’s the first rule of rewards programs? You don’t devalue without notice. What’s the second rule of rewards programs? You don’t devalue without notice.
Grab unfortunately broke these two rules back in July this year, when GrabRewards members woke up to find that their earn and burn rates had been unceremoniously slashed without so much as a heads up.
For many, the timing was just too perfect. Uber had exited the market earlier in March, and although the CCCS was watching Grab like a hawk, everyone saw the devaluation of GrabRewards as a subtle way of circumventing the no-fare-increases restriction.
(3) Singapore Airlines’ Move to Charge Credit Card Fees is a Disgraceful Money Grab
Published: 3 Jan
As I mentioned in (1), January was not the most auspicious of times for Singapore Airlines. The move to impose a 1.3% non-refundable credit card fee on the cheapest economy fares was met with widespread derision, especially after the airline tried to justify it “based on local market practices”. Credit card fees were certainly not the “local market practice” in Singapore, unless perhaps SQ was trying to benchmark itself to budget carriers such as Scoot and Jetstar.
Moreover, it just felt wrong that SQ was trying to get customers to bear what should be its own cost of doing business, and although there were ways of avoiding the fee (such as paying through PayPal), the whole thing smacked of opportunism.
So vehement were the protests that barely 24 hours after they announced the fee, SQ had to back down.
(4) UOB (re)launches the UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card
Published: 7 July
One striking thing I notice when I review each year’s stats is how well posts on high-end cards perform. In this year’s list alone, 4 out of the 10 top posts are on cards with an income requirement in excess of $120,000. Perhaps it’s something to do with the curiosity of learning how the other half lives, or perhaps it’s just the whole urchins-staring-through-a-shop-window-on-Christmas-eve dynamic, but either way posts on luxury credit cards are guaranteed crowd pleasers.
In July this year, UOB decided to reposition its erstwhile $350,000 income requirement plastic Visa Infinite card as the imaginatively named UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card, a $150,000 offering.
The card’s design was visually impressive, but unfortunately the features didn’t match the bling. It did allow holders to buy unlimited miles at 1.9 cents each, and offered complimentary data roaming via Singtel. But a $642 annual fee put it at the upper end of the $120-150K card segment (where it had the Citi Prestige, HSBC VI, SCB VI and OCBC VOYAGE for company), and it only came with four free lounge visits a year, a hyper restrictive airport limo policy and an anemic, scaled-down Gourmet Collection membership.
(5) Is the BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard Singapore’s new Best General Spending Card?
Published: 23 July
BOC was the new kid on the miles game block this year, and the Elite Miles World Mastercard was certainly a way to announce their arrival. An uncapped earning rate of 2/5 mpd on local/overseas spending till 31 December was head and shoulders above what any other bank was offering.
Everyone rushed out to get the card, only to soon find out that BOC’s backend processing didn’t quite match the ambition of its marketing team. Wait times of up to 3 months to get the card were not uncommon, and it’s kind of sad that my net assessment of the product is it might have created more ill-will than satisfaction.
(6) My Experience Using Ryde, the would-be Competitor to Grab
Published: 15 May
Uber’s exit from the market in March 2018 left some people desperate for…anyone who wasn’t Grab. Enter Ryde, the would-be competitor. Ryde launched its private car service in May, but it suffered from a lack of drivers, wonky tracking and the lack of an on-demand option. Fortunately, the promos were amazing (97% off rides, anyone?) and over time the experience improved significantly.
I’m still not entirely convinced that Ryde has what it takes to challenge Grab, especially with Gojek now in the picture, but it’s always good to have more options to check when surge o’clock comes.
(7) 10 Important Things to Know About the BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard
Published: 30 July
More variations on a theme here- refer to (5) for the full context. Even after the 2/5 mpd on local/overseas spending ends on 1 January 2019, the BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard will continue to be the best general spending card in the market. That’s assuming you’re willing to navigate the glacier-esque approvals process, however.
(8) What Does the Singapore Version of the AMEX Centurion Card come with?
Published: 4 March
Remember what I said about luxury credit cards? The AMEX Centurion, otherwise known as The Black Card, is the grand daddy of them all. The secrecy it’s shrouded in makes it a wellspring of urban legends, and the qualification criteria and benefits by country are known only to a select few.
Fortunately, a gracious Milelion reader reached out and sent me the invitation he’d received from AMEX, from which I was able to piece together this article. The tl;dr is that the Black Card has a $7,490 initiation fee and a further $7,490 first year fee, which puts you almost $15,000 out of pocket before you’ve spent a single dollar.
On the plus side, it comes with numerous benefits including top tier status with Hilton and Shangri-La Golden Circle, invites to members-only events, priority access to celebrity chef restaurants and other frou-frou things. There is a significant overlap in benefits between The Black Card and the much cheaper (relatively speaking) $1,712 AMEX Platinum Charge card, so if you’re in the elite qualifying segment for this card you’re going to want to examine the incremental benefits carefully.
(9) Breaking Down the Citi ULTIMA, Citibank’s $500,000 Credit Card Offering
Published: 27 April
The ULTIMA is actually one of the OG luxury credit cards in Singapore. First introduced in 2003 with an income requirement of “only” $350,000, the card was later relaunched in 2010 with an AUM requirement of $5 million. Cardholders get 3 unlimited Priority Passes, a complimentary hotel night with any two nights stayed at participating hotels, the usual suite of dining and club memberships and invitations to Bentley car launches and assorted society events.
(10) Is the Citi Prestige Card Worth the $535 Annual Fee?
Published: 5 May
For the first time since The Milelion was started, a post from a guestwriter has made it into the annual top 10. I’m going to let Louis give the lowdown on the year that was for the Citi Prestige…
I’m a little surprised to have made this list since all I’d set out to do was to review one of my all-time favourite cards. It turns out that quite a few people apparently share the sentiment, with the rapid growth of the unofficial Telegram group / channel, which have been pretty useful in helping keep cardholders updated on recent promos and changes.
Things have changed somewhat since I’d written the post – we now have additional exclusions, increased FCY charges, and the upcoming restrictions to the complimentary night programme for the US card have made local cardholders more than a little nervous.
Has this affected my view of the card? Definitely, but on the flip side, we now have Citi PayAll (currently still in targeted beta), and new Mastercard World Elite benefits have been popping up every now and then. All in all, it remains my go-to general spend card… for now.
That’s the summary of 2018’s best performing posts! Be sure to pay The Milelion Archives a visit and browse through any of our past posts. I promise you, it’s a guaranteed aphrodisiac.
Here’s to more great stories in 2019!
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