One month ago, I wrote about Instarem’s Amaze card, a unique solution that pairs with your credit cards to give zero FCY fees and 1% cashback, on top of regular credit card rewards.
|💳 tl;dr: Amaze card|
|Sign Up Here|
I received my physical Amaze card recently (wait time from application: 2.5 weeks, but you’re likely to face a longer wait now), and have been dutifully field testing it.
The verdict? It’s pretty incredible (I’d have said “Amaz-ing,” but that’d just be lazy writing), doing all it says on the tin and more.
The Amaze converts offline transactions into online ones, with extremely reasonable exchange rates. You also earn credit card rewards as per normal, although that probably won’t last long.
One thing’s for sure- I’m definitely bringing the Amaze with me to Germany for the VTL and using it as my default spending card overseas. 4 mpd with zero FCY fees and 1% cashback? Yes please.
Here’s five things worth highlighting, based on my experience with Amaze so far.
(1) MCCs get passed through, but transaction description changes
I already mentioned this in my previous post, but for the benefit of those just tuning in: yes, transactions made with the Amaze card keep their original MCC.
For instance, I used my Amaze card to pay online at Lazada. The transaction came through as MCC 5399: Misc. General Merchandise Stores.
I also tried the Amaze card for an offline transaction at Wildfire Burger, and it came through as MCC 5812: Eating Places & Restaurants
However, the transaction description will have an AMAZE* prefix added to it. This means you won’t be able to stack the Amaze’s 1% cashback with credit card bonuses for specific merchants.
For example, the Maybank Family & Friends Card allows cardholders to earn 8% cashback at their choice of five preferred categories. In the case of retail & pets, spending must be at POPULAR, Toys R Us, Yamaha Music, Mothercare or Kiddy Palace specifically.
If I pair my Amaze with the Maybank Family & Friends Card and spend at POPULAR, I will not earn the 8% cashback (confirmed on HWZ). That’s because Maybank looks at the merchant description rather than the MCC, and the merchant description has now been modified with the Amaze prefix.
tl;dr: if your credit card offers bonuses on certain categories, go right ahead and use Amaze. If your credit card offers bonuses on certain merchants, Amaze won’t work.
(2) Amaze transactions earn 10X with Citi Rewards
|⚠️ Amaze currently supports Mastercards only, so you won’t be able to pair it with your Citi Rewards Card if it’s the Visa version.|
For instance, I used my Amaze at Daily Cut for a S$6 transaction.
This earned 6 base points (1X) and 54 bonus points (9X) with my Citi Rewards Card, or 24 miles overall. Effective earn rate= 4 mpd.
To reiterate: Amaze turns offline spend into online spend. Why bother with this, when you could just as well use the HSBC Revolution or UOB Preferred Platinum Visa for contactless spending at offline merchants?
Well, the HSBC Revolution (review), while useful, does not earn 4 mpd at every offline merchant; it’s limited to supermarkets, restaurants, hotels and retail stores. Granted, that’s a very wide range, but it’s hardly a universal solution.
The UOB Preferred Platinum Visa (review) caps its 4 mpd at S$1,110 per month, and some folks will burn through that in no time at all.
So pairing the Amaze with a Citi Rewards Card basically gives you another S$1,000 of 4 mpd firepower to play with, and don’t forget, you earn 1% cashback too (with a minimum quarterly spend of S$500).
- Charitable donations
- Educational institutions
- Government services
In other words, there’s no point heading down to make card payment in person (you’d earn 1% cashback from Amaze, but other cards like the UOB Absolute Cashback offer 1.7%).
Also remember that the Citi Rewards card won’t earn 10X for travel transactions, so don’t use it at the check-out counter to pay for staycations.
(3) Amaze transactions *should* earn 10X with the DBS Woman’s World Card
Since transactions code as online, there’s no reason why Amaze transactions shouldn’t also earn 10X points (4 mpd) with the DBS Woman’s World Card. Because of the way in which DBS credits bonus points, I won’t know for sure until next month, but the reports I’ve seen so far are all positive.
This means you can effectively convert another S$2,000 of offline spending into online transactions.
(4) The FCY value proposition is unmatched
Foreign currency (FCY) transactions made on the Amaze card are converted to SGD at pretty much the mid-market exchange rate. I made a US$5 transaction on Amazon’s USA website; Amaze converted it to S$6.79 (mid-market rate at the time =S$6.81).
I made the exact same transaction on my DBS Woman’s World Card seconds later, and DBS billed me S$7.01, ~3.2% more.
Amaze transactions do not trigger DCC fees, so by making FCY transactions with Amaze, you:
I haven’t done a comparison of the rates with alternatives like YouTrip and Revolut, but I don’t think I need to. Even if Amaze’s rates are slightly inferior, it’s more than offset by the opportunity to earn 4 mpd and 1% cashback.
It’s exactly why I’m packing the Amaze when I head to Munich for the inaugural VTL in early September. There’s no reason to use a credit card, not even the UOB Visa Signature (4 mpd, 3.25% fee on FCY transactions) when you have the Amaze.
(5) Cashback is somewhat restricted
Amaze cardholders who spend at least S$500 per calendar quarter will earn 1% cashback on all transactions, capped at S$100 per calendar quarter. 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 S$5
Cashback will be credited by the 25th of the month after the quarter ends, and is deposited into your Amaze Wallet. However, there’s currently no way of withdrawing it to a bank account. In other words, you’ll need to spend it through the Amaze Card.
It is not possible to combine funding sources, which means that if you have a balance of S$25.94 like me, you can only buy something that costs S$25.94 or less. There’s also no mechanism to top-up your wallet further, so it’s difficult to zero-ise your balance.
I tried adding the Amaze Card to my GrabPay wallet, thinking I could top-up GrabPay with Amaze and then cash out the balance (since the Amaze is a debit card), but it failed.
|Sign Up Here|
|Income Req.||Annual Fee||FCY Fee|
|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.|
One final point that didn’t fit into any of the other sections: the virtual Amaze card cannot be added to a mobile wallet like Apple or Google Pay You’ll need the physical Amaze card to really join the party, so I highly recommend ordering one now. This takes less than a minute via the app, but the card delivery may take up to a month.
Let’s not kid ourselves- the banks are already aware of Amaze, and are likely to take a dim view towards Amaze eating their FCY fees while still having to pay out 10X points. This won’t last forever, so make hay while the sun shines.
Fair warning: I’ve not had any reason to refund a transaction yet, so I can’t speak to how efficient that process is. I read a complaint in the comments section of the original post and another one in the Telegram Group (later resolved). Since Amaze inserts another layer into the equation, I can imagine a customer getting bounced between bank, Amaze and merchant- not a fun experience.
If you have more insights, do share them below.