As many cardholders will attest, the most annoying thing about UOB credit cards is the automatic UNI$ deduction in lieu of an annual fee, a yearly ritual done “for your convenience”.
This practice means you need to be on your toes and check your UNI$ balance periodically, all the more so given this new development…
UOB is increasing the UNI$ required for credit card annual fee waivers
From 1 July 2020, UOB will increase the UNI$ required for annual fee waivers.
On a weighted-average basis, the number of UNI$ required for a credit card annual fee waiver is increasing by 33%, even though annual fees per se haven’t changed.
This means that UOB’s internal valuation of a UNI$ has fallen- if we do a comparison on the basis of cents per mile (1 UNI$= 2 miles), we can see that if you used your UNI$ to pay the annual fee, the implicit value you’d get would fall from 2.1 to 1.6 cents per mile.
While that’s still better value than using points for cash rebates, annual fee waivers are generally not difficult to obtain, so you really shouldn’t be trading UNI$ for them. Moreover, there’s an abundance of alternative cards at your disposal should the fee not be waived- why pay for the privilege of earning the bank more money?
Why does this matter?
“Why does this matter?” you may ask. “I’d never use my precious UNI$ for annual fees in the first place.”
Well, not knowingly at least. Dig into UOB’s terms and conditions and you’ll find this gem (emphasis mine):
|14. Priority will be given for the deduction of UNI$ for full or half waiver of your UOB Credit Card annual fees. UNI$ for a full or half waiver of the UOB Credit Card annual fees will be automatically deducted on the first day of the following month when your annual fees are due upon the annual renewal of Card membership. Any UNI$ balance shall expire 2 years from the last day of each periodic quarter (“UNI$ period”) in which the UNI$ was earned. To enjoy the fee waiver, the Cardmember has to set aside sufficient UNI$ in reference to UOB Cardmembers Agreement under Fees and Charges Guide/ Annual Fees and Waiver with UNI$.|
What this means is that UOB has the right to automatically deduct your UNI$ when the annual fee comes due, so long as there’s an adequate balance in your account.
It’s something you’ll periodically encounter as a UOB customer. Your UNI$ balance has inexplicably shrunk, and upon investigating you find this tucked away in your e-statement.
I’ve experienced this enough to know the drill: pick up the phone, call UOB, and follow the prompts for an annual fee waiver. If you’re lucky, you’ll get instant approval and see the UNI$ returned on your next statement.
|⚠️ If it’s any consolation, UOB doesn’t reinstate the UNI$ when refunding the annual fee- it awards fresh UNI$, with a new 2-year expiry period. Woohoo?|
If the waiver isn’t granted, you can ask UOB to cancel the card. They’ll refund the UNI$ for the annual fee (remember- the annual fee is in respect of the upcoming year), which you can transfer out before closing the account. UNI$ pool, so there’s no need to transfer the UNI$ out unless this is your last UOB card.
UOB’s upcoming changes mean it’s more important than ever before to monitor your UNI$ balance, because missing a deduction is going to cost you more than ever before.
It’s best practice to set a calendar reminder for each of your UOB cards. You can tell when the fee is due by looking at your card’s expiry date: if it says 03/25 for example, then your annual fee is due in March each year.
There’s no reason you should be giving up precious UNI$ for an annual fee waiver. However, with UOB cards the onus is on you to be vigilant.