Instarem Amaze Card Review: Amazing while it lasts

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Instarem's new Amaze card boasts zero FCY fees, 1% cashback, and the ability to stack your regular credit card rewards. Intriguing.

Instarem has finally launched its Amaze card in Singapore, having repeatedly delayed the debut due to regulatory hurdles and COVID-19. 

Amaze was originally announced in October 2019 as a Visa Platinum debit card, with a targeted launch date in December that year. That was pushed to February 2020, before COVID-19 put the product in limbo for more than 15 months, raising questions of vaporware. 

But the Amaze is now here (it’s switched to the Mastercard network as a World Mastercard debit card), packing a simple yet intriguing value proposition: Zero FCY fees, and 1% cashback on top of your regular credit card rewards. 

Here’s the tl;dr for those who just want the juicy bits:

💳 tl;dr: Amaze card
  • Link up to five Mastercard credit or debit cards
  • Amaze card transactions are charged to the underlying credit/debit card in SGD, with no FCY fees
  • Transaction MCC remains the same
  • Earn 1% cashback on all spend except prepaid account top-ups
  • Physical and virtual cards available; virtual card cannot be added to Apple/Google Pay wallet
  • (to be confirmed) Transactions made with physical Amaze card code as online for underlying credit/debit card

Overview: Amaze Card

Sign Up Here
T&Cs
Income Req. Annual Fee FCY Fee
N/A N/A N/A
Earn Rate ATM Fees Max Spend
1% cashback Not supported* No annual cap; per trxn cap of S$25K
*T&Cs state that the Amaze card cannot be used to make cash withdrawals via any ATM inside or outside Singapore.

The Amaze works at any merchant which accepts Mastercard debit cards, and has no minimum income requirement nor annual fee. Both virtual and physical versions are available; the former is used for online transactions, the latter for in-store transactions. 

Applications for the Amaze card can now be made through the Instarem app. If you use my referral code 7HK2A2, you’ll receive 75 Instapoints as a welcome bonus, and 400 Instapoints when you make your first transaction. 

Instapoints can be used to offset Instarem transfers of at least S$500. 100 Instapoints is worth S$1.25, and a maximum of 400 points can be redeemed in a single transaction. 

Do note that the Amaze card does not support ATM withdrawals either in Singapore or overseas. 

How does the Amaze work?

Unlike Revolut or YouTrip, Instarem does not use a prepaid wallet to fund Amaze. Instead, users link up to five Singapore-issued Mastercard credit or debit cards to Amaze, and select a default one to be charged at the time of transaction.

⚠️Before you ask, no, you can’t link the GrabPay Mastercard to Amaze.

In that sense, transactions are a two-step process, with Amaze working like a passthrough.  First your Amaze card is charged, then the underlying credit/debit card is charged. The concept is similar to Curve, if you’re familiar with that platform. 

The Amaze has two main draws: zero foreign currency (FCY) transaction fees, and 1% cashback, on top of your regular credit card rewards.

Zero FCY transaction fees

When you make an FCY purchase with the Amaze, Instarem converts the transaction into SGD based on the mid-market exchange rate, with a small mark-up. The linked credit or debit card is then charged in SGD; think of it like DCC, but without the rip-off rates or additional bank charges. 

To illustrate this, I made a US$5 transaction on Amazon’s USA website. Amaze converted it to S$6.79, which is pretty darn close to the actual mid-market rate at the time (S$6.81). 

Just for kicks, I made the exact same transaction on my DBS Woman’s World Card seconds later, and was charged S$7.01. 

In case you were wondering, Amaze transactions don’t trigger bank DCC charges. I checked this by using a Citibank card, which imposes a 1% fee on DCC transactions. You might have seen it on your monthly Spotify subscription, which costs S$9.90 plus a 9 cent DCC fee. 

I made an A$1 transaction on the Amaze, this time linked to my Citi PremierMiles Card.

It posted as S$1.01, without any DCC fee. 

So by paying with Amaze, you avoid the bank’s mark up on FCY conversions, plus their FCY transaction fee which ranges from 2.8-3.5%. 

1% cashback, plus regular credit card rewards

But the ability to avoid FCY fees is not a gamechanger in and of itself. That’s the value proposition of every other multi-currency card out there. 

Where Amaze really starts to get interesting is rewards, which are earned both from Amaze itself, as well as the underlying card linked to it. 

Amaze cardholders who spend at least S$500 each calendar quarter will earn 1% cashback on all transactions, capped at S$100 per calendar quarter. Cashback will be credited to your Amaze wallet on the 25th of the month after the end of the quarter, e.g. Jan to March cashback will be paid out on 25 April. 

👛Amaze Wallet?

It’s not clear at this time whether the cashback earned can be withdrawn to a bank account, or must be spent through Amaze. I see “Amaze Wallet” as one of the funding options for the Amaze, so I’m leaning to the latter.

Another question is whether you’ll be able to combine two funding sources. For example, if my Amaze wallet has a S$50 balance, does this mean I can only buy something that costs S$50 or less? Or can I buy something that costs S$80 and use a linked card to cover the balance?

The exceptions list is refreshingly brief. No cashback will be earned on:

  • Transactions that have been subjected to refunds and chargebacks;
  • Any transactions made by You to top-up other prepaid cards and/or virtual online accounts
    such as Grab Wallet;
  • Any cash withdrawals; and
  • Transactions which are below SGD5.00

Basically, apart from prepaid wallets like Grab, everything else is fair game. This means you could earn 1% cashback on education bills, government transactions, insurance premiums, charitable donations and the like. However, AXS does not accept Amaze, so you’ll have to hope the counterparty accepts Mastercard.

💡 Of course, you could already earn 1.7% cashback on such transactions via a combination of the UOB Absolute Cashback Card and the GrabPay Mastercard. I see the Amaze as more useful for those who don’t qualify for credit cards, or have maxed out the S$30K annual spending cap on the GrabPay Mastercard.

1% cashback alone isn’t enough to get excited about, but remember: this is earned on top of your regular credit card rewards. 

As it turns out, Amaze is a bit like PayPal in the sense that all transactions code with an AMAZE* prefix, but still keep the underlying MCC. 

For example, I bought something on Lazada, and it coded as MCC 5399: Misc. General Merchandise Stores. 

Likewise, my Amazon USA transaction coded as MCC 5942: Book Stores. 

So in other words, by linking your Amaze to the Citi Rewards or DBS Woman’s World Card, you’d earn 4 mpd plus 1% cashback on these online transactions. And if your transaction happens to be in FCY, you’ll save on the 3.25% FCY fee (charged by Citibank and DBS) compared to using a credit card alone. 

I hope you see why this is so fantastic. With other multi-currency cards, you save on FCY fees, but forego credit card rewards. If I use my YouTrip card for a US$500 Amazon USA transaction instead of the Citi Rewards, I save 3.25%, but miss out on 4 mpd. 

With Amaze, it’s no longer either/or. I can save on the FCY fee, and get my 4 mpd + 1% cashback. 

Does Amaze turn offline transactions into online ones?

Mark this as unconfirmed, but I’ve heard a few intriguing data points that transactions paid with the physical Amaze card are tagged as online

Pause a minute and consider the implications. If this really is the case, then you can basically turn the Citi Rewards or DBS Woman’s World Card into 4 mpd everywhere cards (so long as the underlying MCC isn’t excluded by the bank, e.g. education), like the Imagine in days of yore.

Moreover, it means there’s really zero opportunity cost involved with using Amaze. For example, suppose I’m at a restaurant in Bangkok and weighing between paying with: 

  • UOB Visa Signature , earning 4 mpd with a 3.25% FCY fee
  • Amaze linked to UOB PRVI Miles Mastercard, earning 1.4 mpd + 1% cashback (remember, Amaze converts the transaction into SGD)

By opting for Amaze, I’m foregoing 2.6 mpd and saving 4.25%- actually a decent trade. 

But if Amaze indeed converts all offline transactions into online ones, then my alternative option would be Amaze linked to the Citi Rewards Card, earning 4 mpd + 1% cashback. I’m basically saving 4.25%, while raking in 4 mpd. 

I’m waiting for my physical Amaze card to arrive so I can test it myself, and will update this section once I have. Unfortunately, you can’t add the virtual Amaze card to Apple or Google Pay (or rather you can, but only for online transactions). 

Conclusion

Sign Up Here

Amaze isn’t just another multi-currency card, since it bypasses the wallet concept in favor of consolidating multiple cards into one. You might think of it as a multi-card card, actually. 

The prospect of avoiding FCY transaction fees while still earning up to 4 mpd is excellent, and the 1% cashback is merely the icing on the cake. And should it be the case that physical Amaze transactions code as online, that increases the value of the Citi Rewards/DBS Woman’s World Card exponentially. 

I have a sneaking suspicion this won’t last forever, given that the banks won’t be too pleased to miss out on FCY fees while still having to pay out 4 mpd. It’s likely a case of making hay while the sun shines, but it’ll be amazing while it lasts. 

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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Syok

I’d hope this card could be the morning call for banks who charge 3+% for foreign currency transaction to finally wake up

Jem

Just wondering if this would work out for OCBC TR card as well (for all the incl categories):
Local spend: 4mpd + 1%
FCY spend: 4mpd + 1% – FCY Fees

Adam

In theory it should but only for the whitelisted MCC, as you mentioned.

RIP Amaze

Banks are gonna exclude AMAZE* from earning points real soon like they did YOUTRIP*.

Caleb

So does this works for example topping up my crypto account using this method to save on the transaction fee?

Crypto

I attempted to top up into binance. It was rejected

Y.S.

Does it convert the insurance premiums into miles earned if i link up the miles card to the AMAZE?

Migas

I am wondering the same for my uob one card cashback as well

facepalm

You can’t even link Visa cards to it now.

dkdk

Afaik from hwz forum, no. The cc receives the same MCC as though U used it directly to pay so they will get the insurance MCC, thus no rewards. But I guess U get the 1% cashback…?

Migas

Does it converts my insurance premiums to be eligible for uob one 5% cashback + amaze 1% cashback?

reader

people need to learn to read the article better. if the mcc is passed through, then it will still code as insurance. does insurance earn cashback with uob one?

msflyer

SCB Unlimited ==> Amaze ==> AXS. Wonder will get 1.5% + 1%? Or at least 1%?

facepalm

AXS doesn’t take Amaze.

Last edited 1 month ago by facepalm
bui

Hi! Burning qns before I sign up using your code: does AMAZE card earn us 1% cashback for charges made on AXS mobile stations? (I.e Using Amaze card to pay insurance premiums on AXS mobile)

james

It’s answered above – AXS doesn’t take Amaze. But you can use UOB Absolute to top up GPMC and pay via AXS to earn 1.7%.

msflyer

WWMC ==> Amaze ==> online spend. Does it earn 4mpd on WWMC?

Chris

For now maybe yes… so try it yourself.
Till Banks decided to exclude the transactions start with AMAZE*

Fees

Use cases are pretty limited. Only Mastercard can be linked. MCC exclusions still apply. Forex rates are pretty good compared to banks but Instarem’s rates for normal transfers are worse than Transferwise. How long until banks nerf this? Hopefully get a few months but it’s not earth shattering.

drawar

I hope it lives longer than GrabPay top-ups since this time we won’t have people calling up Citi or DBS asking if GrabPay top-ups qualify for 4mpd.

Kenny

Worse? Instarem has better rates than Transferwise from SGD to MYR for starters.

dkdk

I’m waiting for amaze to accept amex so I can pay insurance with amaze + UOB Absolute Cashback

Bear

Sign up process doesn’t work (to be precise the ID verification), both manual verification and via Singapass, tried on 3 devices and on 2 internet connections. Never managed to get through it due to (varying) error messages appearing at some point. Basically impossible to become a customer. Lousy.

Adam

Even if the ability to earn rewards via bank cards get nerfed, I’ll still prefer this card over something like YouTrip since there will be no orphan values left behind in the card. Although I might still hold on to my Revolut for the ability to withdraw cash overseas.

Bear

You can withdraw Revolut value free of charge to a Singapore bank account. Done it many times.

Kay

Bear is correct. Just link your Singapore bank account to Revolut. You can then transfer to and from your Revolut wallet FOC. Also, your Revolut card can be used for public transport so there are ways to use up that money without travelling.

Fees

I think if you make a habit of doing credit card topups and then withdrawals to your local bank account you’ll have problems – but the occasional withdrawal of small amounts left over from credit card topups seems to be ok.

Migas

Can use amaze to pay cardup/ ipaymy?

facepalm

You really need to learn to read the article again, it’s written in plain and simple English after all.

Migas

This is a blog, we only read the title and the details we ask questions and spoonfed. what wrong?

JW19

There’s actually a reason why Aaron didn’t answer your question……. Perhaps some reflections.

Migas

I think you didn’t know how a blog works.

also, you know everything? never need to ask?

lolol

so you can read? you said you read the title? why dont you continue to read the article? if you used the time spent on the comments section on the main article instead, you could have finished the article and gotten you answer.

LOL

LOL

couldnt care less

i love it when keyboard warriors try and act smart and be so proud of knowing everything

cheesecake

Aaron… when you did the Amazon transaction with Amaze, did it require individual OTP to be inputted, or was it only required when you first linked the card?

Lifshitz

It sounds awesome, but after three tries via SingPass, each of which getting me only a “Something went wrong – Got it” message, maybe I won’t link my payment methods with these people.

Adam

applied and waiting for the card to be delivered.
i dont have any useful mastercard on hand so have to add the posb everyday card first and tried to add ICBC global travel card afterwards, but fails every time (even swith from iphone to android) at the 3D verification stage (icbc’s problem).

Dan

The Instarem app doesn’t like rooted phones 🙁

Seriously?

Same goes to fintech/banking apps.

Bayle

I am not from the credit card industry, but I would be curious about the security implications of routing transactions via the Amaze card. Card issuers have certain safeguards against credit card fraud by blocking suspicious transactions or sending alerts, for example. It’s not clear to me if any of these safeguards would be compromised by making the payment using the Amaze card. Would it be harder to dispute Amaze transactions with your issuing bank? Would the responsibility of blocking suspicious transactions now fall on Amaze (just like with PayPal)? How well will Amaze handle disputes or complaints about fraudulent… Read more »

lolol

is like using paypal. same concept.

Vik

As per DBS CSO, its highly likely that Amaze transaction may not earn bonus points with WWMC because there was no OTP 🙁
However CSO did mention to hold on till next month till bonus points are out.

I have remained discreet and ambiguous about Amaze- so just mentioned made an online payment through a different way.

@aaron any ideas?

Jon G

Hi Aaron

Ok. Managed to sign up using your referral code.

Simon Leung

I’ve spent like $3000+ via instarem and referred one person, but i haven’t been credited any points yet – anyone got any points yet?

it’s been over a week.

anon

hi guys, i think its credited quarterly?

Ed A

Deleted and started a new comment instead

Last edited 1 month ago by Ed A
Yong

Hi Aaron, do you know if cards from the other multi-currency accounts like TransferWise/Revolut can be linked to the Amaze card?

If it works for say Revolut, you could stack 1% + 1% cashback on transactions (Revolut Metal provides 1% cashback)

Ed A

Hi aaron,

You mentioned that this card is considered a debit card but i wonder if it can work with merchants that accept NETS only ?

I.e. we plug this into their nets machine, key in the pin and charge it to our credit card.

If yes, i think there might be some use case for it too

Last edited 1 month ago by Ed A
Seriously?

Nets has nothing to do with it

Anonymous

I think HSBC already closed this loophole starting 2 Aug by introducing Everyday+ program of additional 1% cashback which excludes PayPal-like transactions.

S K

They have very bad tech implementation. They will send you the email that you transaction was declined because of system error but balance already deducted from your cc and if you reach them then they will say oh sorry balance was already approved from our backend. We send you wrong email. Can you please check with the merchant.. so they expect customer to do here and there because of their errors. They will hold your money for 14days even though trx was declined and reverted. Maybe try to order and cancel any order from your cc you’ll see your amount… Read more »

S K

I’ll suggest to not to use Amaze for any big transactions or for the merchant where you can’t contact to get refund because Amaze can approve the trx which was declined at merchant. So, if you can’t go to the merchant place again then maybe you’ll not able to settle your amount. For 1% of cashback maybe you’ll lose the whole principal amount 😟 I’ve faced this incident and decided to close my amaze account. If you add your cc then they will not allow to delete it even though there is an option but it will gives you error.… Read more »

curious

oh dear thats scary!

John

Been using it for big transactions and haven’t faced that issue. That said in the event of disputes you can actually file for a claim with Mastercard’s liability protection under those circumstances.

https://www.mastercard.com.sg/en-sg/personal/get-support/safety-and-security/liability-protection.html

Bankrupt

Yeah all these fintech deals feel like picking up pennies in front of a steam roller. Risk/reward isn’t great and people get blaise until they lose all their money and find out they are actually unsecured creditors with zero protection.

Jessica Lawrence

anyone get referral points or cashback yet? over a month wait for me – nothing

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