The idiot’s guide to panic buying

What's the best card for panic buying?

Dear Milelion

I am currently in the midst of panic buying an emergency preparedness and pantry rightsizing exercise. Can you advise me what credit cards I can use to earn miles for a future I’m quite certain does not exist?

Anxious Annie

That’s a great question, Annie, and can I just say I’m glad you’re displaying the kind of critical thinking and common sense that survivors of tomorrow will no doubt need.

I mean, in times like this, it’s heartening to see survival instincts being honed, whether it’s cramming a trolley full of stuff only to abandon it when the queue gets too long, or holding battle royales over the last roll of toilet paper.

Come the apocalypse, all the sheeple who didn’t do as you did will be clamoring at your (hopefully steel-reinforced) door. The fools! I bet they trust vaccinations too.

But I digress.


The first stop on your emergency preparedness exercise should be the supermarket, where you can load up on supplies while fiat currency is still accepted.

After the economy collapses, all transactions will be settled on the basis of mortal combat and/or dance-offs.

Sure, the government says they’ve got 3 months of food stocked up, but have you actually seen it with your own eyes and touched it with your own hands? Didn’t think so.

I mean, what sounds more plausible to you? That our government, realising it was unwise to be overdependent on a single nation for food, spent years carefully diversifying our food resources, accumulating stockpiles of critical goods in a strategic and systematic fashion, or that they used the drone tech from Spiderman Far From Home to project the images below?

Clearly the product of holographic drone technology. They even forgot to remove the Mediacorp logo from post-production

I know what I believe.

Now, what should you buy? It’s imperative that you stockpile as much perishable food as you can. Why? Because electricity services are sure to be interrupted in the coming apocalypse, and having a big stash of decomposed food to burn is the only way you can generate heat to survive the nuclear winter (btw there will probably be a nuclear war too at some point).

Stockpiling perishable vegetables is a stroke of unmitigated genius

Toilet paper is a similarly important commodity, because in the ruins of tomorrow, it is probable that mankind will lose the ability to manufacture more of it. This makes toilet paper a prime candidate to become a new kind of global currency, like bottlecaps in the Fallout games. Remember: he who controls the toilet paper, doesn’t need to control the bowel movements.

New world currency

Finally, be sure to stockpile eggs. They are very good for throwing at intruders, and besides everyone knows you can grow chickens from them. Furthermore, it is uncertain what the dominant species on earth will be after the coronavirus ravages humanity. It could be chickens; I don’t know. Doesn’t it make sense to have a foot in both camps?

Hail our ovoid overlords!
If someone else grabs all the eggs before you can, try to fart and convince them the eggs are rotten. It works more often than you think.

Now, regarding the miles stuff: When raiding supermarkets, be sure to pay via Paywave with the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa to earn 4 miles per dollar (mpd). Alternatively, since you’ll obviously be buying more than S$1,000 of groceries, the UOB Visa Signature also works for 4 mpd.

The exception is Cold Storage, where UOB cards earn SMART$ instead of miles. Here, you’ll want to top up your GrabPay balance with the Citi Rewards Visa (4 mpd) and pay with the GrabPay Mastercard. Grab, as you know, will be the de facto one-world government after this is all over, so you might as well start using their services before they install the compliance chip in you anyway.


Let’s move on to petrol. Even if you don’t own a vehicle now, you want to pay attention because it’s surely only a matter of time before the roads look like this:

Regular morning commute in Yishun

What do you think those engines run on? CNG? Hydrogen? Crystallic fusion? Sorry Greta, come the collapse, it’ll be fossil fuels all the way.

Given that your daily routine will soon involve foraging quests to hollowed-out relics of our fallen civilization and various death race tournaments, it’s crucial to secure and maintain a vehicle of appropriate lethality (or failing which, an e-scooter).

As a bonus, petrol will also come in handy when igniting burnt offerings to Hoar-Ding, the patron saint of emergency preparedness.

Remember to get several large jerry cans and store them near flammable objects at home- you want to make sure everything’s in the same place when you need it.

When buying petrol, consider using the Maybank Horizon Visa Signature for 3.2 mpd, or the Maybank World Mastercard for 4 mpd. There’s no cap on the 4 mpd, so feel free to fill up the war rig.

Future public transport

Medical supplies

With petrol settled, we can now move on to medical supplies. Sure, you’re no doctor, but that’s no reason your home shouldn’t have more masks and disinfectant than the average hospital.

This guy knows what’s up

Hand sanitizer is particularly important, but not for reasons you think.

Your average sanitizer contains 70% alcohol. You think the vineyards of Reims, the distilleries of Kentucky or the breweries of Munich will survive this? Obviously not. It’s entirely on you to restart the world’s alcohol production, and the first step involves procuring enough hand sanitizer to intoxicate the average Russian. 

There’s a nefarious plan afoot to get zero-alcohol hand sanitizers into circulation. Resist these schemes! What’s the point of hand sanitizer if you can’t get completely stone drunk on the fumes?

I realise by this point in time it may be difficult to stock up on surgical masks (can you believe the nerve of those medical professionals, hoarding all the supplies), but there are other equally useful masks for post-apocalyptic life.

Superhero identities made available on a first-come-first-serve basis. You can’t all be Batman.

Think about it- when social order collapses, the only law will be swift, brutal vigilante justice. By donning one of these masks, you can be Captain Corona, or Super Stockpile, or whatever you want to call yourself. Plus, you can wear your underwear on the outside and no one will judge your fashion choices.

When clearing out the pharmacy, use the same cards as you would for the supermarket, with the exception of Guardian- it’s SMART$ here again instead of miles.


Now go to the bathroom and turn on your tap. Is the water still flowing?

OK, fine, but who’s to say it’ll be running tomorrow? Yes, yes. I’m aware of Singapore’s four taps strategy. But can this really be trusted?

NEWater best water

I have it on good authority (someone forwarded it to me on Whatsapp) that in times of crisis, this can fail miserably. The soot from the aforementioned nuclear exchange will disrupt the hydrological cycle, no one will sell water to us, no one will be alive to create the vital pee needed for NEWater, and the salt in the oceans may turn to sugar, rendering desalination plants useless.

What you need to do is turn on the tap and fill your bathtub full of water. If you don’t have a bathtub, fill several large pails and leave them lying around the house. After all, when was stagnant water ever a bad idea?

Make sure your water supply is not contaminated by dihydrogen monoxide- a lethal compound that can cause severe burns and corrosion of many metals. Be safe. Get informed.

No doubt this will be an expensive exercise, but the good news is you can earn miles on the SP Utilities app with most general spending cards except DBS and BOC. I earn 1.2 mpd with the AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend, although you could just as well use the UOB PRVI Miles for 1.4 mpd.

It’s a well-known fact that breathing releases precious water vapor. Such profligacy may be acceptable today, but it could be life-and-death in times of crisis. Practice holding your breath for at least 10 minutes, several times each day.

Summing it up

With all the tips I’ve given here, you’ll be well-placed to weather the breakdown of civilization, and earn a big chunk of miles in the process. Sure, there’ll be no airlines to spend them on, but you can always hoard them like you do everything else.

What’s that you say? You’re having second thoughts about panic buying emergency preparedness? There’s a little voice in your head saying “there’s really enough for everyone, and if we simply don’t act like complete and utter morons everything’s going to be fine”?

Pay it no mind, Annie. It’s just the killjoy thoughts of someone who has never known the thrill of building a throne made of toilet paper, or running a mini-mart out of their bomb shelter.

Keep panicking, you’ll be just fine.

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Someone needs alternative programming now that there’s no more travel…


Best Milelion article so far



Happy Camper

I can picture you in a dance-off… scary.. 🤣

Happy Camper



Thanks for the great article! I had a good laugh on an otherwise quiet office day, with everyone on split ops and WFH arrangements and whatnot.


You, Sire, have just outdone yourself =) *applaud*


well written 🙂


There are SOOOO many gems in this one!! Also, I can neither fight nor dance.. I’m doomed 😀


+1. Thanks for the laughs. Even the title is great.

ovoid overlord

the “idiot’s” guide to panic buying…

i c what u did there


This Dihydrogen Monoxide sounds like a real silent killer!