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?
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$0.50 you’d received is a pittance compared to the 200 miles you might have been expecting.
The UOB PRVI Miles AMEX does not participate in the UOB$ 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.
|Retail & Services|
|Travel & Entertainment|
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
- CHICHA San Chen
- Hitoyoshi Ramen & Grill, Hitoyoshi Yoshi Sushi, Ramen Hitoyoshi
- 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.
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.