What’s the best credit card for Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) platforms?

Last Updated:

BNPL services offer an opportunity to maximize your card rewards, stretch your cashflow and enjoy some freebies. Here's which cards to use.

If you’ve been shopping online lately, you might have noticed that many e-commerce merchants have integrated Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) services at check-out. Heck, you don’t even need to shop online; BNPL services are starting to appear at brick-and-mortar shops as well.

Atome ad at check-out | Photo: TodayOnline

The concept is simple: the BNPL service pays the merchant first (less a processing fee), then bills the customer’s credit or debit card in a series of smaller installments (typically 3 monthly payments). Merchants get their money upfront; customers have more time to pay for the purchase. 

These are the main BNPL players currently in the Singapore market:

 InstallmentsLate Payment Fee
Merchant List3 monthsS$20-60
Merchant List3 monthsS$5-30
Merchant List3 monthsFrom S$15
Merchant List3 monthsS$10-60
Merchant List3 months or 4 fortnightsS$1-40
Merchant List3 monthsNone

Contrary to popular belief, BNPL services do not charge interest. Instead, delinquent customers are charged late payment fees, which range anywhere from a few dollars to up to S$60 (services typically cap the maximum fee payable per transaction). It’s certainly less expensive than missing a credit card payment, although you obviously don’t want to do either. 

Now, enough ink has been spilled as to whether BNPL services are useful innovations, or predatory lenders encouraging excessive consumerism. I’m not going to wade into the debate, suffice to say I view BNPL the same way I view credit cards: great if you know how to use them, dangerous if not.

If you use BNPL purely for the benefits (see below) and never pay a cent of late fees, good for you. If you think BNPL might tempt you to spend beyond your means, avoid it like the plague. 

What are the benefits of using a BNPL service?

Here’s what I see as the key advantages of using a BNPL service:

(1) Enjoy customer acquisition offers

Now’s the time where BNPL services are splashing the cash | Screenshot: Rely

BNPL services are still fairly nascent in Singapore, which means we have an old-fashioned land grab on our hands. This is the time where VC money is splashed around in the hope of gaining market share, and (for now) it’s advantage consumer.

For example:

  • Atome has various merchant-specific deals, including a tie-up with CapitaLand where you earn 3,000 STAR$ upon sign-up, and 5,000 STAR$ on your first purchase (equivalent to an S$8 voucher)
  • Pace is giving S$50 off a min. spend of S$250 with the OCBC YES! debit card
  • Rely has a cashback system that gives back 10-20% of the order value, subject to a cap

(2) Conserve 4 mpd caps on specialised spending cards

Imagine you’re planning to buy a S$2,400 laptop on Qoo10. You want to pay with your Citi Rewards Card to earn 4 mpd, but there’s a small hitch. The 4 mpd is capped at S$1,000 per statement month– if you charge the whole purchase, you’d earn S$1,000 * 4 mpd + S$1,400 * 0.4 mpd, or a weighted average of just 1.9 mpd. 

Qoo10 (nor most e-commerce sites) won’t let you split the payment over different cards, but with a BNPL service you don’t have to. Suppose I put this purchase on a 3-month plan with Rely. My card would be charged:

  • Month 1 (upfront): S$800
  • Month 2: S$800 
  • Month 3: S$800

I’d then be able to earn 4 mpd on the full S$2,400 amount, netting 9,600 miles. I also have the freedom to change the card used to pay for Month 2 and 3’s installments, if I so wish. 

Even if you’re a cashback user, the same argument applies. By splitting the payment over multiple months, you can more effectively utilize your bonus cashback cap. 

(3) Stretch your cashflow

This is the most obvious benefit of all, but it’s still worth re-emphasizing. By splitting your payments into interest-free installments, you get to hold on to your cash longer, improving your cashflow position. 

What card should I use for BNPL?

So assuming you’ve decided to take the plunge, the natural question becomes which card to charge your monthly installments to. Here’s the MCC that various BNPL services code as:

BNPL ServiceMCC*
5999: Misc. and Specialty Retail
5399: Misc. General Merchandise
5999: Misc. and Specialty Retail
5999: Misc. and Specialty Retail
5399: Misc. General Merchandise
7399: Business Services Not Elsewhere Classified
*MCCs derived from Visa Supplier Locator. They may be different for Mastercard, but it’s unlikely.

BNPL transactions will be processed online, which means the following cards could be candidates: 

 MCC 5399MCC 5999MCC 7399
Citi Rewards?
(see comments section)
DBS WWMC
HSBC Revolution
OCBC Titanium Rewards
KrisFlyer UOB Card
UOB Lady’s Card
UOB Pref. Plat. Visa

Here’s the good news: it’s possible to earn up to 4 mpd on BNPL transactions, at least for now. 

Note: There are conflicting data points on the Citi Rewards Card. While on paper it should earn 4 mpd, in practice some have reported not receiving any bonus points with Atome. Be sure to test a small amount before proceeding. 

The Citi Rewards or DBS Woman’s World Card would be the safest bet, since they award 4 mpd on (almost) all online transactions. However, the HSBC Revolution and UOB Preferred Platinum Visa are also options, for every BNPL service except Split. 

On the other hand, you’ll want to avoid using the UOB Lady’s Card, since none of the BNPL MCCs are eligible for 4 mpd, even if you choose “Shopping” as your quarterly bonus category. Likewise, avoid the OCBC Titanium Rewards for the same reason. 

In any case, the argument for using the OCBC Titanium Rewards isn’t as strong, because its 4 mpd cap is applied on an annual basis (S$12,000). This means there’s more scope to earn 4 mpd on the full amount of a big ticket transaction.

The key question I have is: how long will this last? Banks don’t award miles or cashback on their own installment plans, so why should they for a third party’s?

Of course, it’s important to remember that the model is slightly different. Banks may not give rewards for their own installment plans because they’re the ones bearing the cashflow costs (they have to pay the merchant immediately, but collect the money from the cardholder in stages). With BNPL, that burden is shifted to the BNPL platform. So long as they’re paying the bank a healthy MDR, I don’t see any reason to exclude them. 

Conclusion

For those who use them the smart way, BNPL platforms are a way of maximizing your credit card rewards and cash flow, while enjoying some of that sweet VC money in the process. 

Read all the fine print, don’t spend beyond your means, pay your installments on time and in full, and you’ll be fine. 

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

Similar Articles

Comments

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

27 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tan

I’m guessing this has a really simple answer, but how to BNPL models work when they don’t charge interest? Is their only source of income from late fees? Do they get a commission from the seller?

Tay

Does PPV earn 4mpd if we use the app to pay and not via paywave?

Tay

Would PPV earn 4mpd if we are using the app to pay?

ZYX

“Imagine you’re planning to buy a S$2,400 laptop on Qoo10” – Qoo10 is so 2013, nobody still uses Qoo10 now

Im Eugene

Well, imagine…

ong sing bong

How does one make sure they pay back the BNPL lender on time, everytime, so that they can’t screw us over to late charges?

D K

Hi Aaron, would it still count as an online transaction if I were to make the purchase at the physical store with Atome?

I was at a store yesterday, spent over $1k – saw the Atome sign, ask the sales staff and was brushed aside “this one is for show only”…. grrh…

Anyway, CRV and CRM – my recent experiences suggest that they don’t award 10x rewards for shopping – quite strict about the “shoes, bags …” rule. Called the CSO and was “reminded” about the rules. 🙁

D K

Hi Aaron, I just spoke to Citibank CSO as I did not receive the bonus points for my Atome transaction. I was informed that MCC 5999 does not qualify for the bonus points despite it being an online shopping transaction. May be you need to check and update the information on this article.

D K

Hi, I have just written in to clarify with Citibank quoting their T&C clause 6(ii). Will keep everyone posted when I receive the final verdict. Thank you.

D K

Hi, I would like to provide an update on the MCC 5999 issue. I had used my Citi Rewards Visa card to purchase furniture online using Atome for instalment payments. Despite several calls and emails, I have not been able to receive the 9x rewards point from Citibank for the first two payments. Hence, I conclude that Citi Rewards Card do NOT award 10x rewards. Another thing to note is that Citibank call centre does not provide a 24/7 card call centre. The call centre is also closed on public holidays. So, do yourself a favour and use other card… Read more »

M L

Retailers are not typically informed of their MCC or how the back-end of the payment processors work. If you’re after the miles it really is up to you to check or ask Atome directly.

The simplest way of course is to test with small transactions and see if it gets points.

Githio

Any idea what the Grab PayLater MCC code is? Could only find Grab under Ground Transport Service code.. Merchants seem to prefer Grab PayLater over others, at least the one I shop at

playereleven

#dp: Just used Pace for a $7k big ticket item. Limit given was $3k, hence 1st txn was $4k and 2nd/3rd txn is $1.5k respectively. Used AMEX Ascend for the $4k and got awarded 1.2mpd with MCC 5999. For 2nd/3rd txn, I have switched the card in the app to HSBC Revo to tap on the 4mpd. There is option to pay off the 2nd/3rd txn early but why do that when I can max out the monthly $1k Revo threshold.

playereleven

Just got the 9X from HSBC Revo, so it works! And I also learnt that there is flexibility of how much and when you want to make payment via the app. For example, I could have made payment for $1,000 to max out HSBC Revo and the remain $500 on another 4miles card anytime before the charge date. Starting to love BNPL!

drawar

hoolah’s MCC has apparently been changed to 5734. Made a transaction with them ytd.

Gerald Tham

Did u get any credit card reeards from it?

TTT

I believe DBS WWMC does not award bonus points for MCC 7399, I have tried appealing before but they did not budge at all

John

Does anyone know what’s the MCC of the latest kid on the block – LatitudePay?

Sean

Would it be possible to combine amaze with DBS WWMC for additional 1% cashback?

JTKZ

There is now SPayLater for Shopee where you can use your own card instead of Shopee Wallet (different from Grab’s BNPL) – perhaps time for an update of this article?

Woshiprodevils

There is also shopback paylater and fave pay later.

Been using grab pnpl but there no miles since I’m using amex cashback card. Will switch to fave/shopback if mcc code is eligible for 4mpd.

Good to split into multiple installment and earn miles since most card have capped limit of $1-2k. Not sure what their mcc code thou. Perhaps time to update article?

Last edited 1 month ago by Woshiprodevils

CREDIT CARD SIGN UP BONUSES

Advertisment

Featured Deals

Advertisment

Follow us

7,110FansLike
2,641FollowersFollow

RECENT COMMENTS

TAGS