Instarem Amaze Card Review: Less amazing, still essential

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Despite its numerous nerfs, the Amaze Card still offers 4 mpd with no FCY fees. And maybe that's all it has to.

Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

This mantra, hackneyed through it may be, should really come embossed on every single one of Instarem’s Amaze Cards. 

When I first published this review back in July 2021, Amaze was truly amazing: Zero FCY fees, 1% cashback, regular credit card rewards, and virtually no exclusions. Demand was so off the charts that Instarem had trouble shipping out physical cards in time for year-end VTL travel. 

Since then, however, a whole lot has happened:

  • Amaze added numerous rewards exclusions in January 2022 (though no more onerous than those of regular banks)
  • Amaze’s exchange rates have progressively diverged from spot and Mastercard rates (though it’s still cheaper than paying with a credit card)
  • Amaze devalued its cashback programme multiple times, and has now scrapped it altogether in favour of a points-based scheme with fixed-block cash rebates
  • DBS added Amaze to its rewards exclusion list in June 2022

Such a lengthy list of nerfs would torpedo any other product, but it speaks volumes about how good Amaze used to be that even after all this, it’s still my first choice card for overseas spending. And while it may be dying the death of a thousand cuts, there’s little reason not to use Amaze so long as the banks keep the rewards tap on.

Even if it’s less amazing than before. 

💳 tl;dr: Amaze Card
  • Link up to five Mastercard credit/debit cards
  • Overseas transactions are converted into SGD (no FCY fees, but subject to FX spread) and charged to the underlying credit/debit card
  • Transaction MCC remains the same, offline transactions charged to Amaze become online transactions for the underlying credit/debit card
  • Earn 1 InstaPoint per S$1 spent on all FCY transactions of at least S$10 (except exclusion categories), capped at 500 InstaPoints per transaction
  • Redeem InstaPoints for cashback in blocks of 2,000 InstaPoints= S$20

Overview: Amaze Card

Apply here
Use code 7HK2A2 for 225 bonus InstaPoints
T&Cs
Income Req.Annual FeeFCY Fee
N/AN/AN/A
Local EarnFCY EarnPoints Expiry
None1 InstaPoint per S$1 6/12 months

The Amaze Card is available to anyone with an Instarem account, and has no minimum income requirement or annual fee.

Amaze Cardholders will receive two cards:

  • a virtual card for online transactions
  • a physical card for in-store spending 

If you’re waiting for your physical card, you can still spend in-store by adding the virtual card to your mobile wallet (only Google Pay is supported at the moment).

Amaze Card transactions can be funded through: 

  • Amaze Wallet
  • A credit or debit card

Let’s ignore the wallet for a moment and focus on cards, because that’s the main draw of Amaze.

Amaze Cardholders can link up to five Singapore-issued Mastercard credit or debit cards to Amaze, and designate a default card to be charged during a transaction.

Every time a transaction is charged to the Amaze Card, two things happen:

  1. Amaze converts any foreign currency (FCY) amounts into Singapore dollars based on its own internal exchange rate
  2. Amaze then charges the Singapore dollar amount to the linked credit/debit card

In that sense, transactions are a two-step process, with Amaze working like a passthrough. At the end of each month, there’s no Amaze bill to pay; instead, you settle any outstanding amounts on the credit card you linked to Amaze. 

While Amaze’s internal exchange rates entail a spread, there’s no additional FCY fee charged on top of it (using a credit card usually entails a spread plus 2.8-3.25% FCY fee). This isn’t novel, in and of itself. Other multi-currency cards like Revolut and YouTrip have given customers the convenience of cashless spending sans FCY fees for a while now. 

But why Amaze is so revolutionary is that unlike Revolut and YouTrip, which require customers to trade credit card rewards for zero FCY fees (you can’t earn points for topping up a Revolut/YouTrip wallet), Amaze cardholders enjoy both credit card rewards and zero FCY fees. 

In fact, when you spend with Amaze, you earn two types of rewards:

  • Credit card rewards
  • Amaze rewards

Credit card rewards

Amaze transactions earn regular credit card rewards (with the exception of DBS cards), just like any other retail transaction.

Transactions processed through Amaze:

  • Code as online spend
  • Retain the same MCC as the original merchant
  • Have an AMAZE* prefix added to the transaction description 

For example, here’s how a Lazada transaction looks like when paid with Amaze. Notice how the MCC remains the same, but AMAZE* is added to the transaction description.

The upshot is that if a credit card awards bonuses for online transactions or based on MCCs (e.g. Citi Rewards), you can pair it with Amaze and earn bonuses as per normal. 

However, if a credit card awards bonuses based on transaction description (e.g. Maybank Family & Friends), pairing it with Amaze will lead to forfeiture of those bonuses. Fortunately, such cards are the minority. 

Here’s the cards I’d recommend pairing with Amaze (remember: you can only pair Mastercards).

CardEarn RateCapRemarks
Citi Rewards4 mpdS$1K per s. monthExcept travel
UOB Lady’s Card4 mpdS$1K per c. monthSelected MCCs
UOB Lady’s Solitaire4 mpdS$3K per c. monthSelected MCCs
OCBC Titanium Rewards4 mpdS$13.3K per m. yearSelected MCCs
KrisFlyer UOB Card3 mpd
(min. S$500 SIA Group spend per m. year)
NoneSelected MCCs
UOB PRVI Miles MC1.4 mpdNone 
Other general spending options: Citi PremierMiles Card (1.2 mpd), OCBC 90°N Mastercard (1.2 mpd)

For additional information on what card to pair with Amaze for different types of spending, refer to the article below.

After the nerf: My new Instarem Amaze Card strategy

Amaze rewards

Transactions on Amaze earn InstaPoints

In addition to credit card rewards, Amaze also offers its own rewards system. 

Historically, Amaze transactions would earn 0.5-1% cashback, credited directly to the Amaze Wallet every quarter. However, Amaze scrapped the cashback system from July 2022 and introduced its own rewards currency called InstaPoints (T&Cs).

Amaze awards:

  • No InstaPoints for spend in SGD
  • 1 InstaPoint per S$1 spent in FCY, subject to a minimum transaction of S$10, and capped at 500 InstaPoints per transaction (i.e. S$500)

The minimum spend and cap are certainly annoying, since S$10 would rule out points on smaller items like public transport rides or snacks. Likewise, a cap of 500 InstaPoints per transaction would require you to break up any transaction larger than S$500 (which won’t always be possible).

InstaPoints will be awarded by the 15th of the following month after each calendar quarter.

Spend PeriodInstaPoints Credited
1 Jan to 31 Mar15 Apr
1 Apr to 30 Jun15 Jul
1 Jul to 30 Sep15 Oct
1 Oct to 31 Dec15 Jan

The expiry of your InstaPoints depends on when they were earned:

  • Points earned before 1 October 2022 expire six months after date of crediting
  • Points earned from 1 October 2022 expire 12 months after date of crediting

InstaPoints can be converted into cash rebates in fixed blocks of 2,000 points= S$20. This is a decidedly inferior system to the previous cashback scheme, because it creates orphan points and effectively slows the rate at which you can claim your cashback (you’ll need to assemble blocks of 2,000 points/S$2,000 spend).

The InstaPoints rewards portal went live on 1 October 2022.

What FCY rates does Amaze offer?

When you make a foreign currency transaction on a credit card, you normally incur two kinds of fees:

  1. An implicit fee arising from the spread between the spot rate and the actual rate used
  2. A FCY transaction fee of 2.8-3.25%

Amaze avoids (2) altogether, since your credit card is charged in Singapore dollars. You will still incur (1), but the idea is that Amaze’s spread is relatively modest.

In the first edition of this review (dated July 2021), Amaze rates were very close to the actual spot rate. Since then, they’ve diverged somewhat. Here’s a sample of transactions I made on Amaze over the past six months, in a mixture of currencies. I’ve included the official Mastercard rate, to facilitate comparisons with a regular credit card.

DateAmountAmaze/
MC (SGD)
Spread
14-SepUS$70S$98.98/
S$98.44
0.55%
 11-SepUS$176S$248.47/
S$247.11
0.55%
 5-AugTHB 396S$15.32/
S$15.26
0.39%
 21-JulVND 70KS$41.92/
S$41.72
0.48%
 18-JulMYR 90S$28.58/
S$28.46
0.42%
 31-MayIDR 2714005S$256.71/
S$256.47
0.09%

What I’m seeing is a spread of up to 0.55%. It’s certainly more than a year ago, but you’re still better off using Amaze than a credit card with a 2.8-3.5% FCY fee. 

One annoying thing about Amaze is that the rate is opaque until after making the transaction. In other words, you can’t check the rate beforehand; you’ll only know what rate you got once the transaction is completed.

What about the Amaze Wallet?

As an alternative to credit/debit cards, Amaze transactions can also be funded through an Amaze Wallet balance. 

  • Amaze Wallet can be topped up with a Mastercard or Visa card, with PayNow support coming soon
  • A minimum top-up of S$20 is required
  • Top-ups to the Amaze wallet code as MCC 6540 (POI Funding Transactions), and therefore don’t earn rewards with any card in Singapore. 

Any cashback from InstaPoints conversions will also be credited to the Amaze Wallet. Your Amaze Wallet balance can be used for local or overseas spending via the Amaze Card, at the prevailing FCY rates.

❓ How is this different from Revolut or YouTrip?

Revolut and YouTrip also utilise a wallet system, but there’s one key difference.

With Amaze, your wallet balance is maintained in SGD. Any foreign currency transactions will be converted into SGD based on prevailing rates at the time of the transaction.

With Revolut and YouTrip, your wallet balance is maintained in any supported foreign currency. Any foreign currency transactions will be deducted from the relevant wallet. This allows you to lock in a favourable FX rate today, for use in the future.

An Amaze wallet balance cannot be used for partial payment. For example, if you have S$20 in your Amaze wallet, you cannot pay for a S$30 transaction (the system is not clever enough to deduct S$20 from your wallet, and charge the remaining S$10 to your card). 

An Amaze wallet balance cannot be cashed out to a bank account, but a simple workaround would be to top-up a GrabPay account using the Amaze card, then withdraw the GrabPay balance. Do note that the minimum GrabPay top-up amount is S$10. 

If you’re stuck with an odd balance in your Amaze Wallet, one idea is to top it up with a card and then cash out the whole amount. For example, suppose I have S$8.29 in my Amaze Wallet. This is insufficient for a GrabPay top-up, but I can:

  1. Top-up S$21.71 using my credit card (Amaze requires a minimum top-up of S$20)
  2. Use the S$30 Amaze Wallet balance to top-up GrabPay
  3. Cash out S$30 from GrabPay to my bank account

What transactions are excluded?

The following transactions do not earn InstaPoints:

  • Any transaction in SGD
  • Any foreign currency transaction smaller than S$10
  • Any transaction with the following MCCs
MCCDescription
4111Railroads, Transportation Services
4784Tolls and Bridge Fees
4900Utilities: Electric, Gas, Water, and Sanitary
5047Medical, Dental, Ophthalmic and Hospital Equipment and Supplies
5199Nondurable Goods (Not elsewhere classified)
5960Direct Marketing: Insurance Services
5993Cigar Stores and Stands
6012Financial Institutions: Merchandise, Services, and debt Repayment
6211Security Brokers/Dealers
6300Insurance Sales, Underwritting, and Premiums
6513Real Estate Agents and Managers: Rentals
6540Non-Financial Institutions – Stored Value Card Purchase/Load
7299Other Services (Not elsewhere classified)
7349Cleaning, Maintenance and Janitorial Services
7523Parking Lots, Parking Meters and Garages
8062Hospitals
8211Elementary and Secondary Schools
8220Colleges, Universities, Professional Schools, and Junior Colleges
8241Correspondence Schools
8244Business and Secretarial Schools
8249Vocational and Trade Schools
8299Schools and Educational Services
8398Charitable Social Service Organisations
8661Religious Organisations
8675Automobile Associations
8699Membership Organisations
9211Court Costs, including Alimony and Child Support
9222Fines
9223Bail and Bond Payments
9311Tax Payments
9399Government Services
9402Postal Services

The exclusions list more or less matches the ones published by banks, with education, insurance, government payments and hospitals all ineligible. This means you won’t earn any InstaPoints should you use the Amaze to pay for overseas school fees, visa applications or medical treatment. 

Conclusion

Apply here
Use code 7HK2A2 for 225 bonus InstaPoints

Should you still be using the Amaze card? The answer is a resounding yes. 

Even though its cashback system has been nerfed, even though its FX rates aren’t as good as before, even though it’s got additional rewards exclusions, it’s still hands down the best option for overseas spending or for turning offline transactions into online ones.

Will it last forever? Clearly not. DBS was the first bank to exclude Amaze transactions, but it certainly won’t be the last. Sooner or later, banks will start to question why they’re letting Amaze eat their FCY fees while subsidising its operation via rewards. And when they pull the plug, there’ll be very little reason to choose Amaze over Revolut or YouTrip. 

The lesson here is to make hay while the sun shines. Every month that you can earn 4 mpd with no FCY fees is a good month, and when the party inevitably comes to an end, well, at least we can smile because it happened. 

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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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 year 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

lolol

“couldnt care less” but you replied!

LOL

called you out and WON

keyboard warrior 1, can care more 0!

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 year 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 year 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

Ong

Is it possible to add GPMC into Amaze as one of the 5 cards, and earn GrabRewards that way?

Darren

Tried, it doesnt work with GPMC

Benedict Deroose

Linked the physical Amaze card to DBS Womens World but transactions do not qualify for 10x points

SH Lim

Darned

Adrian

I have 800 plus points now on my instarem. What do I do with it?

Candy

Just saw this in my email :(.
As of April 1, 2022, amaze cashback on SGD currency purchases will be updated to 0.5% while the cashback on non-SGD currency purchases will remain 1%.

newbie_to_miles

hi Aaron
how did you get details on merchant category for your transactions? if already mentioned elsewhere, appreciate if you can direct me there

James

If paired with UOB PRVI Miles, do you think we can get the ongoing 4.4 miles per dollar promotion for overseas charges? I think it can be a good use of Amaze if that’s possible.

Fees

No. Two things. The Amaze txn is coded as online which is excluded by UOB. The Amaze txn is charged in SGD which is excluded by UOB. You have to physically use the UOB PRVI card at overseas payment terminals and not use DCC.

calamari

Then how come the article asks to pair Amaze with UOB Lady’s Card? I assume this is also excluded by UOB. And it would have convert the spend to an online transaction which will not earn 4mpd if that is the case.

Mark

FX rates aren’t as good as before! Yep, you can say that again. I am in New Zealand at the moment and the FX rate seems to be 3% now, no different to any other card. With the SGD/NZD rate at around 0.844 right now, and a transaction going through at 0.8701, I have stopped using the card in NZ.

JHH

FX fees for Amaze are closer to 2% now, as of Sep 2022

Last edited 22 days ago by JHH
Will

As a DP, just used in Melbourne today and Amaze charged 2.51%

Rudolf

Looks enticing enough still. But I’m still unclear how using Amaze will earn the 4 mpd. I’m using Maybank PremierWorld MasterCard

Last edited 21 days ago by Rudolf

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