CIMB nerfing cards; adding GrabPay top-ups to exclusion list from 1 Sept

Heads up: CIMB won't offer cashback on GrabPay (or other e-wallet) top-ups from 1 Sept 2021. Last call for an easy sign-up gift.

From 1 September 2021, CIMB will be harmonizing the benefits of the CIMB Platinum Mastercard and CIMB World Mastercard, effectively making them a single product. 

Unfortunately, this will bring about a major nerf in the form of reduced cashback, new minimum spending requirements, and new rewards exclusion categories- in particular GrabPay top-ups. 

Revised earn structure

I’m not really concerned about the changes CIMB is making to eligible cashback categories, seeing as how I’d never use a cashback card for any of these transactions anyway. But for the sake of completeness, we’ll take a quick glance at the revised CIMB Platinum Mastercard and CIMB World Mastercard benefits below:

 Till 31 Aug 21From 1 Sep 21
Eligible Categories
  • Wine & Dine
  • Entertainment & Recreation
  • Automobile
  • Duty Free Stores
  • Wine & Dine and Online Food Delivery
  • Movies and Digital Entertainment
  • Taxi and Automobile
  • Luxury Goods
Cashback on Eligible Categories2%, with no min. spend
  • 2% with min. spend of S$1K per month
  • 1% otherwise
Cashback on Other Spend1.5%, with no min. spend1%, with min. spend S$500
Cashback CapNoneNone

As you can see, the conditions are getting much more restrictive come 1 September 2021, with lower cashback rates and new minimum spend requirements. In a market where banks are getting more liberal with their cashback offerings (see: UOB Absolute Cashback Card), CIMB is headed in the wrong direction. 

You can read the revised T&Cs (plus definition of eligible categories) in this document.

New rewards exclusion categories

Here’s the part I really care about. From 1 September 2021, CIMB will also be introducing new rewards exclusion categories, as highlighted in red below: 

💳 CIMB Rewards Exclusion List
(w.e.f 1 Sept 2021)
  • Any ez-Link/Transit Link top-up/reload
  • Any payments made to CardUp, iPaymy, Mileslife, SmoovPay and YouTrip
  • Any top-ups or payment of funds to payment service providers (this includes but is not limited to GrabPay, Singtel Dash, ShopeePay, Lazada top-ups)
  • Any payments to online trading platforms and brokerages
  • Any crypto currencies transactions
  • Any cash advances
  • Any gambling-related transactions
  • Any quasi-cash transactions
  • Any payments to insurance companies
  • Any payments to government institutions (this includes but is not limited to government services, government related postal services, government related purchases, court costs, fines, bail and bond payments and tax payments)
  • Any donations or payments to non-profit organisations (this includes but is not limited to religious and charitable organizations and social services)
  • Any payments for utilities (this includes but is not limited to electric, gas, heating oil, sanitary and water utility bill payments)
  • Any payments done via any AXS network
  • Any payments done via any SAM network
  • Any late payment charges or interest charges on any Card
  • Any fees payable to the Bank (or any other third party) for transfer of any debit balance on any other credit card to a Card
  • Any other interest, fees and charges (including without limitation, cash advance, annual or monthly fees or charges) imposed by the Bank from time to time
  • Balance and/or funds transfers to or from the Principal or Supplementary Cardmember’s CIMB Credit Card account
  • Any credit card transaction that was subsequently cancelled, voided or reversed for any reason
  • Any other transactions that may be prescribed by the Bank

I have no idea why they decided to stick Mileslife on the list, seeing as how it went out of business two years ago, but the addition of CardUp/ipaymy isn’t really a big deal seeing as how CIMB cards would never be the right options anyway. 

What is a big deal is the addition of prepaid wallets like GrabPay, Singtel Dash, ShopeePay and Lazada to the list. It means there’s one less card on the market for such transactions, although thankfully alternatives still exist. 

There are still a handful of credit cards that offer rewards for GrabPay top-ups, either as part of their regular T&Cs or as part of a special promotion. 

💳 Cards for GrabPay Top-Ups
CardEarn RateRemarks
AMEX SIA Business Card
Apply
6.8 mpdUntil 30 Sep and capped at S$1K (registration required). 1.8 mpd otherwise
AMEX True Cashback Card
Apply
1.5% cashbackNo cap
OCBC VOYAGE
(all versions)
Apply
0.5 mpd
From 1 Aug to 30 Sep, min. S$1K max. S$20K per month

OCBC Premier Visa Infinite
Apply
1.2 mpd
UOB Absolute Cashback Card
Apply
1.7% cashbackNo cap

Last call for easy sign-up gifts

CIMB World Mastercard
Apply

I suppose the corollary of all this is a confirmation that until 31 August 2021, GrabPay top-ups will earn 1.5% cashback with the CIMB World Mastercard, and count towards sign-up bonuses. 

That’s great for anyone who doesn’t already have a CIMB credit card. Today (31 July) is the last day of SingSaver’s sign-up offer for new-to-bank CIMB customers, who will get S$120 cash or a pair of Jabra Elite 75t headphones when they spend S$500 per month in the first two months of approval.

⚠️ CIMB defines “new-to-bank” as customers who do not currently hold a principal CIMB credit card, and have not done so in the past 12 months.

For example, a new CIMB World Mastercard cardholder who gets approved on 31 July 2021 will need to spend S$500 during each of these two periods:

  • First 30 days: 1-30 Aug 2021
  • Next 30 days: 31 Aug to 30 Sep 2021

The first 30 days aren’t an issue, since GrabPay top-ups will still count towards eligible spending and topping up S$500 would earn you S$7.50 cashback (1.5%) straight away. 

For the next 30 days you’ll need to spend on something else, unless you’re lucky enough to get approved on 31 July (does CIMB do instant card approvals?) and can squeeze in S$500 of GrabPay top-ups on 31 August before the new restrictions kick in.

Your total return for S$1,000 of spend would be:

  • S$15 cashback from CIMB (or S$12.50 if your second 30 day period falls from 1 Sep)
  • S$120 cash/Jabra Elite 75t headphones from SingSaver

That’s not too bad, all things considered. Be sure to follow the instructions in this post carefully in order to get your gift. 

Conclusion

Most miles chasers won’t really care about the cashback revisions that CIMB is making to its Platinum and World Mastercard cards, but they’ll definitely want to take note of the new rewards exclusions. Cashback cards, after all, are still useful in situations when you can’t earn miles.

I’m sticking to the AMEX SIA Business Card for my GrabPay top-ups (1.8 mpd), but if you don’t qualify for that card, the OCBC Premier Banking Visa Infinite (1.2 mpd) or UOB Absolute Cashback Card (1.7% cashback) would be the next best options. 

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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Cash

Looks like Milelion need to be Cashlion to stay relevant.

Simon Leung

If cashback is included, it would be the most wholesome financial blog in Singapore

cheesecake

CIMB is one of the cards that still provide a benefit, albeit cashback, for education payments.

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