Heads up: UOB’s expanded list of UOB$ (formerly SMART$) merchants

UOB's list of non-miles-earning UOB$ merchants has been growing in recent months, and now numbers 85 strong. Switch to other cards here!

Back in October 2021, UOB rebranded its SMART$ programme as UOB$. While this was always bound to cause confusion given the similarity of the name to UNI$ (UOB’s other rewards currency), it’s effectively the same cash rebates scheme as before.

But here’s what’s changed: The list of SMART$ merchants was remarkably stable over the years- I remember there being only 20 or so for the longest time. Under the UOB$ branding, however, it’s ballooned to 85 and counting. 

Popular merchants like Baker & Cook, Cellarbration, the Hitoyoshi Group and Starbucks have joined (or will join) legacy heavy-hitters like BreadTalk, Cathay Cineplexes, Cold Storage, Giant and Guardian.

This means fewer opportunities to earn up to 4 mpd with your UOB cards, in particular the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa and UOB Visa Signature.

What’s the problem with UOB$ merchants?

Not a place to use your UOB card

Nothing, if you don’t care about miles.

But experienced miles chasers will know to avoid using UOB credit cards at any UOB$ merchant. Why? Because of this clause in the UNI$ T&Cs

UNI$ will not be awarded for:

20.4 Any transactions at UOB$ merchants where UOB$ are issued

To illustrate, suppose you visited a Cold Storage and bought S$30 worth of groceries. At check-out, you tap your mobile phone and pay with the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa Card. That’s the right choice, isn’t it? Mobile payments > UOB Preferred Platinum Visa > 4 mpd?

Wrong. You’ll earn absolutely nothing on your transaction. That’s because Cold Storage is a UOB$ merchant, which awards 1% cashback with a minimum spend of S$50.

That’s abysmal, to say the least. Even if you spent S$50, the S$0.50 you’d received is a pittance compared to the 200 miles you might have been expecting. 

⚠️ Exception

The UOB PRVI Miles AMEX does not participate in the UOB$ programme, and therefore you’ll earn UNI$ as per normal regardless of merchant. 

The T&Cs of the UOB$ programme can be found here.

Expanded UOB$ merchant list

UOB has been busy expanding its UOB$ merchant list, which currently numbers 85. 

CategoryMerchants
Dining
  • 8 Degrees Taiwanese Bistro
  • Aburi-EN Grand (paragon)
  • Baker & Cook
  • Bee Cheng Hiang
  • Bones ‘N Slaw
  • BreadTalk
  • Canteen by Trapeze Rec. Club
  • Cellarbration
  • CHICHA San Chen
  • Co Chung
  • Chicken Claypot House
  • Famous Kitchen
  • Fatburger & Buffalo’s
  • Feng Tian Xiao Chu
  • Hard Rock Cafe
  • Hitoyoshi Ramen & Gril
  • Hitoyoshi Yoshi Sushi
  • Indian House
  • I.N.U Cafe & Boutique
  • Mr Coconut
  • Mun ZUk
  • Nam Kee Chicken Rice Restaurant
  • Patisserie G
  • Pazzion Cafe
  • Polar Puffs & Cakes
  • Potato Corner
  • Prince Kitchen
  • Qin Ji Rougamo
  • Q-WA Izakaya
  • Ramen Hitoyoshi
  • Starbucks (coming soon)
  • Tangmen Restaurant
  • Tian Tian You Yu
  • ToastBox
  • Wangzi Music Restaurant
  • Xiu Jie Shan Cheng Fish
  • Yuan Cuisine Group
Gourmet Dining
  • Bincho at Hua Bee
  • Bincho at Min Jiang
  • Marguerite
  • Hortus
  • Kotuwa
  • Majestic Bay
  • Meatsmith Little India
  • Meatsmith Telok Ayer
  • Restaurant Majestic
  • Salted and Hung
Groceries
  • Cold Storage
  • Giant
Retail & Services
  • agnes B
  • Buf’d Nail Spa
  • bYSI
  • Crocodile
  • Delta Dental Surgeons
  • DermaCurate
  • EMW Physiotherapy & TCM
  • Fenjiu Flagship Store
  • Gordon Max
  • G-Star Raw
  • Guardian
  • Honey World
  • iRUN
  • King Koil & Ashley Homestores
  • Limited Edit Underground
  • Marco Nail Spa
  • Masculine Men Skincare
  • Miniso
  • MissFit
  • New Era
  • Optique Paris Miki
  • Osman Silk House
  • Pazzion
  • Perky Lash
  • Picota Nail Spa
  • Qoosh Nail Spa
  • Replay
  • Salivan Beauty Clinic
  • Sports Fashion
  • United Overseas Insurance
  • Winter Time
  • Western Corp
  • Yangyi Beauty and BodyCare
Travel & Entertainment
  • Cathay Cineplexes
  • City Tours

Apart from long-time participants like Bread Talk, Cathay Cineplexes, Cold Storage, Giant and Guardian, the major additions to note (in my opinion anyway) are:

  • Baker & Cook
  • Cellarbration
  • CHICHA San Chen
  • Hitoyoshi Ramen & Grill, Hitoyoshi Yoshi Sushi, Ramen Hitoyoshi
  • Miniso
  • Mr Coconut
  • Starbucks (not yet at least, but it’s “coming soon!”)

Interestingly, Jasons and Market Place are no longer listed as UOB$ merchants, but I’d be very hesitant about using my UOB cards here since it could be an oversight (they’re all part of the Dairy Farm Group, after all). 

You’ll want to explore using other cards at these merchants to maximise your miles. The easiest solution would be to use Amaze and the Citi Rewards Card or DBS Woman’s World Card (until 31 May 2022), which will give you 4 mpd subject to the usual monthly caps. 

Conclusion

After an extended period of stagnation, UOB has been steadily growing its list of UOB$ merchants in recent months. This suggests they’re doubling down on the programme, and miles collectors will need to be extra careful when paying with their UOB credit cards. 

(HT: Justin)

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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Mark Lim

Urgh, UOB giving people more of what they don’t want.

ekinchow

Starbucks confirm already. I used my Prefer card with Apple pay, only cashback get.

Foodie

What about Food Republic since they are under Breaktalk group?

Michael

This is why I stopped using UOB PPV.

Wei Lin

The addition of random restaurants really justifies promoting HSBC Revo to be ones standard paywave card now.

Tony

Wondering if the same applies to UOB KF Card?

Abc

Always thought the SMART$/UOB$ program was brilliant for UOB. Get merchants to subsidise their cashback program, and use that as an excuse to avoid giving rewards of their own. I’ve now switched to a combination of HSBC Revo (4mpd + 1% cashback) and OCBC Frank (6% cashback) for my paywave needs.

mokhc

Been using Preferred Platinum at 7-11. So far so good.

bluepanda

The Amazing Lady is fine.

chk

I’ve not used the UOB PPV for some time. Trying to cut me out of 4mpd is not going to benefit UOB Bank in any way.

Wang

For uob wise, there is a major issue whereby it doesnt consider their miles credit card as eligible spending for its uob one account.

Hence, one is only able to enjoy EITHER miles OR uob one account interest and not BOTH.

cheesecake

Same here. Since getting the HSBC Revo, my transactions on UOB PPV is zero. And adding more merchants to the dreadful Smart$ program isn’t doing them much favour.

Anon

I guess the best use for UOB cards now is to buy miles…

no questions asked mile buying program..

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