What are the best credit cards for petrol?

What's the best miles strategy for petrol? Does maximizing miles mean having to forgo discounts?

“What’s the best card to use for petrol?”

This is always a tricky question for me, not because I don’t know which card gives the most miles, but because of all the discounts involved.

You see, petrol pricing in Singapore is not exactly what I’d call transparent. You pull up to the pump and say “$50 of gas please”, only to go to the register and pay $45. Now, I love a discount as much as the next man, but the complex structure of membership and credit card discounts mean it’s almost impossible to do price comparisons on the fly.

If you’re looking at which cards give the most miles for petrol, then the answer is pretty straightforward:

CardMPDRemarks
UOB Visa Signature4.0≥S$1K spend on petrol + contactless per statement month, capped at S$2K
Maybank World Mastercard4.0Apply for the Corporate Fuel Card and enjoy 15% off petrol at Shell, plus 4 mpd
Maybank Horizon Visa Signature3.2≥S$300 retail spend per calendar month, capped at ~S$4.3K per calendar month

Where it gets complicated is when you consider the tie-ups with various banks. Thanks to these, the best card from a miles perspective may not be the best card from a discounts perspective.

As much as I want to maximize the miles I earn, at the end of the day it still boils down to what’s a better deal. I hope you have your value of a mile figure handy, because you’re going to need it for this post- it’s how you evaluate whether trading an X% discount for Y miles makes sense.

So here’s a rundown of the five petrol chains in Singapore, and the discounts you can get while pursuing a miles strategy.

For the analysis below, I’m assuming you’re pumping 92/95 grades. Petrol stations may give slightly higher discounts for premium grades (e.g Platinum 98 with Caltex, V-Power with Shell)

Shell

Membership discount

10% discount

Credit card discounts

BankAdditional Discount
+4%
+4%
+4% (via SMART$ rebate)

Citi and HSBC cardholders receive a further 4% discount (total: 14%) at Shell.

UOB cardholders receive a 4% SMART$ rebate instead of a discount. However, this also means you won’t earn any UNI$ when spending with UOB cards at Shell. The one exception is the UOB PRVI Miles AMEX card, which does not participate in the SMART$ program.

DiscountMPD
Maybank World Mastercard10% (15% with the Corporate Fuel Card)4.0
Maybank Horizon Visa Signature10%3.21 
BOC Elite Miles 10%1.5
UOB PRVI Miles AMEX10%1.4 
Citi Prestige14%1.3
HSBC Visa Infinite14%1.252 
Citi PremierMiles Visa14%1.2
Do not use UOB credit cards here- no UNI$ issued (except PRVI Miles AMEX)
1. ≥S$300 retail spend per calendar month, capped at ~S$4.3K per calendar month
2. ≥S$50K spent in previous membership year, otherwise 1.0

SPC

Membership discount

10% discount

Credit card discounts

BankAdditional Discount
+5%
+5%
+11% 

UOB and DBS cardholders receive a further 5% discount (total: 15%) at SPC. However, just like Shell, SPC transactions do not earn UNI$ so you’re better off avoiding UOB cards here (with the exception of the UOB PRVI Miles AMEX).

For 2020, American Express cardholders will continue to enjoy a total of 21% off SPC (registration is required). The additional 7% savings is rebated to you in the form of a statement credit, while you receive a 15% upfront discount at the station.

Can this discount make up for the otherwise abysmal earn rates of the Platinum cards? Platinum cardholders earn 0.69 mpd (0.78 mpd for Platinum Charge) on all transactions, so assuming your alternative was the UOB PRVI Miles AMEX, you’re giving up 0.71 mpd (0.62 mpd for Platinum Charge) for 6% savings. Those 0.71 miles are worth only about 1.3 cents, so you’re doing way better by taking the 6% savings.

Do note that from 1 March 2020, you will no longer earn any points or miles on American Express cards at SPC

The same math applies for the Maybank World Mastercard. The difference in earn rates is 3.31 mpd, while the difference in savings is 11%. You’ll do much better with the bigger discount.

DiscountMPD
Maybank World Mastercard10%4.0
Maybank Horizon Visa Signature10%3.21
BOC Elite Miles 10%1.5
UOB PRVI Miles AMEX15%1.4
DBS Altitude Visa/ AMEX15%1.2
AMEX Platinum Charge21%0.78
(until 1 Mar 20)
Other AMEX Platinum Cards21%0.69
(until 1 Mar 20)
Do not use UOB credit cards here- no UNI$ issued (except UOB PRVI Miles AMEX)
1. ≥S$300 retail spend per calendar month, capped at ~S$4.3K per calendar month

Esso

Membership discount

10% discount

Credit card discounts

BankAdditional Discount
+4%
+4%
+4%

DBS, OCBC, and Citibank cardholders receive a further 4% discount at Esso (total: 14%).

DBS Esso cardholders receive an 18% discount, but since it’s not a miles card we’ll ignore it here. If you’re dead set on maximizing cash savings at Esso, however, this is probably the best option.

The good news is that there’s no SMART$ shenanigans here, so the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa or UOB Visa Signature can be options for those who don’t want to get a dedicated petrol card.

DiscountMPD
UOB Preferred Platinum Visa10%4.0 (via Paywave)1 
UOB Lady’s Card10%4.02 
UOB Visa Signature10%4.03 
Maybank World Mastercard10%4.0
Maybank Horizon Visa Signature10%3.24
Citi Prestige14%1.3
Citi PremierMiles Visa14%1.2
DBS Altitude Visa/ AMEX14%1.2
OCBC 90N14%1.2 
OCBC VOYAGE14%1.2 (1.6 for Premier/Private banking versions)
1. Max ~$1.1K per calendar month
2. “Transport” must be selected as quarterly 10X category, capped at S$1K per month (S$3K for Lady’s Solitaire)
3. ≥S$1K spend on petrol + contactless in a statement month, max S$2K
4. ≥S$300 retail spend per calendar month, capped at ~S$4.3K per calendar month

Caltex

Membership discount

14% discount

Caltex doesn’t actually have its own loyalty program. It used to, but scrapped it in 2016 in favor of Plus! by NTUC Link. Motorists earn 3 LinkPoints per litre of fuel purchased, and 150 LinkPoints can be redeemed for S$1. Also remember that LinkPoints can be converted to Asia Miles, so you earn 0.75 miles per litre of fuel (thanks @Adam)

What Caltex does have is the CaltexGo app, which allows you to pay for petrol from the comfort of your car. You’ll enjoy a 14% discount with any credit/debit card when paying via the app.

Credit card discounts

BankAdditional Discount (via CaltexGo)
+2%
+2%
+4%
Although not listed on the website, UOB cards earn +2% too

HSBC and Standard Chartered cards enjoy an additional 2% discount (total: 16%) when paying with the CaltexGo app. OCBC cards enjoy an additional 4% discount (total: 18%).

Since CaltexGo shares the same MCC as Caltex, you will earn the usual petrol bonuses with the UOB Visa Signature, Maybank Horizon Visa Signature, and Maybank World Mastercard. However, based on community-sourced data points, you will not earn 10X with CaltexGo on the DBS Woman’s World Card or the OCBC Titanium Rewards.

If you have the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa, you can opt to pay via Paywave at the counter to enjoy 4 mpd. Although UOB cards are not listed on the Caltex website, I’ve learned you still enjoy 14% off. Don’t pay via the CaltexGo app, because you won’t earn 4 mpd.

DiscountMPD
UOB Preferred Platinum Visa14% (pay at counter)4.0 (via Paywave)1
UOB Lady’s Card16% (CaltexGo)
4.02
UOB Visa Signature16% (CaltexGo)
4.03
Maybank World Mastercard14% (CaltexGo)4.0
Maybank Horizon Visa Signature14% (CaltexGo)3.24
SCB Visa Infinite16% (CaltexGo)1.45
HSBC Visa Infinite16% (CaltexGo)1.256
OCBC 90N18% (CaltexGo)1.2
OCBC VOYAGE19% (CaltexGo)1.2 (1.6 for Premier/Private banking versions)
1. Max ~$1.1K per calendar month
2. “Transport” must be selected as quarterly 10X category, capped at S$1K per month (S$3K for Lady’s Solitaire)
3. ≥S$1K spend on petrol + contactless in a statement month, max S$2K
4. ≥S$300 retail spend per calendar month, capped at ~S$4.3K per calendar month
5. ≥S$2K spend per statement month
6. ≥S$50K spent in previous membership year, otherwise 1.0

Sinopec

Membership discount

In December last year, Sinopec launched its own loyalty card called, believe it or not, the X Card.

“Get more mileage with the X Card”, the ad copy says. I imagine SCB’s legal team might have something to say about that, but anyway this is a rebate rather than a discount program. You earn between 1-1.5 points per litre pumped, and 90 points gives you S$3 off fuel.

Advertising

Credit card discounts

Sinopec is keeping things very straightforward when it comes to discounts. They’re even running a campaign with the tagline “forget the maths”, which offers a flat 23% discount off all grades of petrol, regardless of payment method.

This 23% discount has been going on for a while now, and as at the time of writing, is due to expire on 29 Jan 2020 (Yishun) and 31 Jan 2020 (Bukit Timah). I’d wager there’s a good chance we’ll see it extended again though.

The flat discount structure makes it a no-brainer to use the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa for a fuss free 4 mpd.

DiscountMPD
UOB Preferred Platinum Visa23% (until 29 Jan @ Yishun, 31 Jan @ Bukit Timah)4.0 (via Paywave)1
UOB Lady’s Card23% (until 29 Jan @ Yishun, 31 Jan @ Bukit Timah)4.02
UOB Visa Signature23% (until 29 Jan @ Yishun, 31 Jan @ Bukit Timah)4.03
Maybank World Mastercard23% (until 29 Jan @ Yishun, 31 Jan @ Bukit Timah)4.0
Maybank Horizon Visa Signature23% (until 29 Jan @ Yishun, 31 Jan @ Bukit Timah)3.24
1. Max ~$1.1K per calendar month
2. “Transport” must be selected as quarterly 10X category, capped at S$1K per month (S$3K for Lady’s Solitaire)
3. ≥S$1K spend on petrol + contactless in a statement month
4. ≥S$300 retail spend per calendar month, capped at ~S$4.3K per calendar month

Conclusion

It only makes sense to get a specialized petrol card if you spend enough on petrol not to have to deal with orphan miles. Otherwise, you’d do just as well by having a UOB Visa Signature or UOB Preferred Platinum Visa and looking out for Sinopec/Caltex/Esso stations.

I don’t own a car, and on the occasions I do borrow the family chariot, I tend to gravitate towards SPC or Sinopec- the former for the 21% off with AMEX, the latter for 23% off and 4 mpd with the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa.

I think petrol is one of the areas where I’d happy forgo 4 mpd in favor of a bigger discount. When you do the maths, the incremental miles very rarely justify the loss in discount.

Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion with the intention of helping people travel better for less and impressing chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Phoebe

Forgotten about UOB ladies card?

Russell

The FAQ for uob/SPC promo states that “No UNI$ or SMART$ will be awarded on your UOB card for any spend at SPC, unless otherwise stated for any respective UOB card entitled privileges.”

Based on this UOB ppv should earn 4mpd if you paywave at SPC

S

Amex cashback card is excluded from the T&C changes in March, so using that card offers effectively another 1+% rebate, bringing the total rebate to 22+%. Sinopec (especially with PPV) is still better for now, but this isn’t far behind.

Jack

SCB Visa Infinite gives additional 10.8% ($200 cap) if >$600 monthly spend. So if you spend >$2000, you will get 1.4mpd and ~25% discount. If you spend $600-1999, then 1mpd and ~25% discount. If you spend below $600, then 1mpd and 16% discount.

Adam

For Caltex, it would be good to include the miles that you can earn should you convert your Linkpoints to miles (I believe Linkpoints has a tie up with Asia Miles)

Adam

The math:
440 Linkpoints converts to 110 Asia Miles (4:1)
1 litre of Caltex fuel earns 3 linkpoints.

Therefore, 1 litre of Caltex fuel earns 0.75 miles.

ken lee

SPC x UOB

can get up to 20% on a normal VISA/MC UOB card ( but no miles 🙁 )

S$3 off is only applicable with every gross S$60 spend (or S$51 nett after all station discount and/or coupons are deducted from the gross amount), for payment made with UOB Visa, MasterCard or UnionPay Credit/Debit Cards only.

https://www.uob.com.sg/personal/cards/cards-privileges/fuel-power/spc.page

YH

UOB one card with Shell 20.88%

Harin

For SPC, doesn’t the POSB Everyday card give the best discount. Have been using it for ages, and don’t know whether I am still mechanically flipping out the card without checking the discount anymore.

Adam

20.1%, inferior to Amex in that aspect.

Kev

Believe you are referring to the AMEX Capitastar card?

Ely

13% + 3% at Caltex for Favepay, link it to Grab and it’ll open other options like CRV or UOB One for Caltex.

https://www.caltex.com/sg/motorists/rewards-and-offers/promotions/favepay-caltex.html

MG

Don’t bother with miles with petrol. Just go for the cheapest based on your CC discount

Bunny

Juat to confirm, does UOB krisflyer card get miles or SMART points at SPC?

Yiwei

I am pretty sure I earn UNI$ for SPC transaction back in January this year. Just make sure you choose transport as the category.
UOB no longer lists SPC as smart$ merchant?

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