Max shopping portal: Earn airline miles on your online purchases

MCC lookup tool Max now offers a shopping portal, but its lack of track record and hefty minimum cash-out requirement will be deal-breakers for many.

The past few years have not been kind to milesback shopping portals in Singapore (basically cashback sites where you earn miles instead of cashback). In June 2021, RebateMango went under, and in September 2022, KrisFlyer Spree closed down. That’s left cashback-only ShopBack as the only game in town.

Well, that’s about to change because Max, better known for its MCC lookup tool and its still-percolating Max Card, has launched its own shopping website.

Just like RebateMango and KrisFlyer Spree, Max is offering shoppers the opportunity to earn miles in lieu of cashback, on top of regular credit card rewards.

But as much as I welcome more opportunities to earn miles, I personally wouldn’t be comfortable using Max just yet, given its lack of track record and hefty minimum cash-out amount.

Max shopping portal

Max Shopping

The Max shopping portal currently offers 56 different merchants including Airalo, Klook, KKday, Lazada, Shopee, Trip.com and Zalora.

Customers who shop through Max are awarded Max Miles for eligible purchases at a rate of 0.5 to 5 mpd. These are on top of their usual credit card rewards, which can be up to 6 mpd depending on card.

Max Merchant List
MerchantEarn Rate
Airalo 5 mpd 
Blood 5 mpd 
BTEGA 5 mpd 
Scentses + Co 5 mpd 
Sunday Bedding 5 mpd 
W. Atelier 5 mpd 
YoloFoods Up to 5 mpd 
Ferns N Petals 4 mpd 
Hugo Boss 4 mpd 
IRVINS 4 mpd 
Toyomi-Online 4 mpd 
Trapo 4 mpd 
Weavve Home 4 mpd 
Flower Chimp 3.5 mpd 
Noa Home 3.5 mpd 
Swarovski 3.5 mpd 
Tiquets 3.5 mpd 
Enfa Up to 3.5 mpd 
Lazada Up to 3.5 mpd 
Flower Advisor 3 mpd 
Skechers 3 mpd 
Zalora 3 mpd 
Aliexpress Up to 3 mpd 
Crocs Up to 3 mpd 
Airfree 2.5 mpd 
Jabra Singapore 2.5 mpd 
Origin Au 2.5 mpd 
Superdry 2.5 mpd 
Cotton On Up to 2.5 mpd 
KKday Up to 2.5 mpd 
Klook Up to 2.5 mpd 
Robinsons Up to 2.5 mpd 
Shopee Up to 2.5 mpd 
Sephora Up to 2.5 mpd 
Lululemon 2 mpd 
Kinokuniya 2 mpd 
Puma 2 mpd 
Tripadvisor 2 mpd 
Adidas Up to 2 mpd 
JD Sports Up to 2 mpd 
Microsoft Up to 2 mpd 
Dell 1.5 mpd 
FOREO 1.5 mpd 
Kenzo 1.5 mpd 
Kinohimitsu 1.5 mpd 
TANGS 1.5 mpd 
Decathlon Up to 1.5 mpd 
Trip.com Up to 1.5 mpd 
Go City 1 mpd 
Samsung 1 mpd 
Firefly Airlines Up to 1 mpd 
Razer Up to 1 mpd 
Vestiaire Collective Up to 1 mpd 
Airpaz 0.5 mpd 
GNC 0.5 mpd 
Watsons 0.5 mpd 

Unfortunately, compared to ShopBack, most of the Max rates don’t look all that appealing. 

 Max ShopBack*
Airalo5 mpd22%
AdidasUp to 2 mpdUp to 15%
AliexpressUp to 3 mpdUp to 5%
DecathalonUp to 1.5 mpdUp to 2.5%
Dell1.5 mpdUp to 5%
KlookUp to 2.5 mpdUp to 5%
KKdayUp to 2.5 mpdUp to 8%
Puma2 mpdUp to 17.5%
SephoraUp to 2.5 mpdUp to 10%
Trip.comUp to 1.5 mpdUp to 10%
Watsons0.5 mpd2%
*Some of the ShopBack figures have been temporarily boosted for 9.9 sales

Granted, some of the ShopBack figures above have been temporarily boosted for 9.9 sales, but even when you compare the regular earn rates, your value per mile figure would have to be very high for Max to beat ShopBack.

That said, there are two merchants for which Max’s rates are objectively good- Lazada and Shopee, for existing customers. 

 Max ShopBack
Lazada1 mpd (capped at S$350)0.1% (capped at S$3)
Shopee0.5 mpd (capped at S$140)0.1% (capped at S$3)

How do Max Miles work?

Max Miles will be credited to your account after the transaction is validated, which usually takes anywhere from 30 to 90 days. If you’re booking a hotel or flight, the clock only starts after the hotel or flight has been consumed.

According to Max: 

  • Max Miles can be transferred to 10+ airline and hotel loyalty programmes
  • All transfers will be at a 1:1 ratio
  • A minimum transfer of 10,000 Max Miles is required; subsequent conversion blocks after 10,000 are 1,000 Max Miles
  • Max Miles do not expire
  • No conversion fees are applicable

The full list of partners will only be revealed towards the end of October 2023, though three have been named so far: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, and World of Hyatt (you can find these in the Miles Transfer section of your profile). 

Max Miles can also be converted into gift cards at a rate of 1,000 Max Miles= S$10, but as I’ll discuss in the next section, this is such terrible value that the option might as well not exist. 

On a separate note, if you’ve been referring friends and family to the Max Card, you might remember the promise of 1,000 Max Miles per referral. But you shouldn’t get too excited just yet- you won’t actually receive any Max Miles unless the Max Card actually launches.

Problems with Max shopping

As much as I love the idea of earning miles and points on shopping (especially if they’re the “exotic” kind that I assume Max will offer), I have two big concerns about using Max over an established shopping portal like Shopback. 

The first is viability. Max is a relatively new player with no track record in this segment, and the affiliates business has infamously long payment cycles. When merchants further delay payments, your cashflow situation can get very dicey, very fast- as RebateMango no doubt discovered during the pandemic. If Max runs out of cash and can’t continue operations, your pending rebates are as good as gone.

That problem is compounded by the high minimum cash-out block. Max requires you to accumulate at least 10,000 Max Miles before seeing any rewards. That is a considerable sum, given the highest-earning merchants are set at 5 mpd, and some will cap the maximum miles you can earn per transaction.

This, of course, is a deliberate decision by Max and an obvious cashflow play. Max earns the commissions from merchants based on your shopping, but stretches the payout cycle by requiring you to accumulate at least 10,000 Max Miles before cashing out. And any orphan balances are basically funding the company’s working capital.

Hold on a minute, you say. Doesn’t Max also offer gift cards at a rate of 1,000 Max Miles = S$10? Wouldn’t that put it on par with ShopBack’s minimum cash-out?

Yes, but that’s basically a decoy prize. If you take the gift cards, you’re implicitly accepting a value of 1 cent per Max Mile, and at that valuation, you might as well have used ShopBack in the first place. Don’t believe me? Scroll up to the Max-ShopBack comparison table and replace “mpd” with “%”. 

Back in the days of RebateMango and KrisFlyer Spree, neither platform had a minimum conversion amount. Once your transaction was validated, miles would be credited to your frequent flyer account automatically, no matter how small.

You still had to bear some “holding risk” in the sense that you were vulnerable between the time the transaction took place and the time it was validated, but with Max you have an additional period to deal with: between the time the transaction is validated and the time you have sufficient miles to cash-out.

So all things considered, you’re taking on considerable risk by choosing Max over an established option like ShopBack. I’d be much more willing to consider the platform if the 10,000 miles conversion threshold were removed. 

Conclusion

Max has launched a shopping portal of its own, with up to 5 mpd available at 56 different merchants. Three airline and hotel partners have already been confirmed, with a full list slated to be published by the end of October. 

It’d be great if Max could offer a compelling alternative to ShopBack, but the high cash-out threshold asks the customer to bear a level of risk that not everyone will be comfortable with.

I guess I’m just confused about Max’s business model. One moment they look like the next incarnation of WhatCard, the next they’re launching an aggregator card, and now out of nowhere comes a shopping portal. I hope they can find their focus, because it’d be unfortunate if the Max Card became the latest in a long line of fintech vapourware. 

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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christ

Hopefully you’ll have a post about it after October, when it finds its feet and some people have tried it out. For me, the 10,000 minimum is a deal breaker at the moment

CSS

True… 10k min transfer… probably not worth the trouble for even my redmart Lazada monthly grocery.

Kai

In any case, please note that shopping at Redmart doesn’t get you the same rates as Lazada. I think it’s 0mpd for the former.

Joe Lu (Max - heymax.ai)

Hello! We just announced the “Max Cash-for-Miles” program with 8 more redemption options. Still working on lowering the minimum transfer to a smaller amount though. Stay tuned!

Hey Aaron, thanks for mentioning Max! I’m cofounder of Max. We are working hard to make a product people will love and continue to find good value from (from a small team of dedicated engineers and PM)! Noted on the minimum cashout bar being high, at this time we are still working out the best balance between ease of use and operational work load. Once we are able to automate more, will start to make it more appealing to all. I’m a strong believer in the value of miles, I wish to have a product that allow many to earn,… Read more »

clinic

I’m hopeful your product succeeds as you guys seem to be pretty into engaging the community which is not often the case with tech startups.

Joe Lu (Max - heymax.ai)

Thank you for noticing! We strongly believe in building with the customers together, so we stand on one side – taking and improve upon direct feedback from the end customers. Please share direct feedback with us for us to make the product better for everyone.

Tony

Glad you all coming up with something new. All the best.

Joe Lu (Max - heymax.ai)

Hey Aaron, thanks for mentioning Max! I’m cofounder of Max. We are working hard to make a product people will love and continue to find good value from (from a small team of dedicated engineers and PM)! Noted on the minimum cashout bar being high, at this time we are still figuring out the best balance between ease of use and operational work load. Once we are able to automate more, will start to make it more appealing to all. I’m a strong believer in the value of miles, I wish to have a product that allow many to earn,… Read more »

Dave

So just 142 purchases on Shopee with a value of $140 each before seeing some miles?

Nice!

Joe Lu (Max - heymax.ai)

Hey Dave, I hear your feedback on it. We are working a few ways to make the miles come in faster – including ability to earn on big ticket items – e.g. Samsung purchases now earn 2.5 mpd, SIA flights can now be booked with 0.35 miles per dollar and credit card applications through Max can earn 20,000 miles when conditions are met!

When we have more direct transfer partners onboard, we will be able to lower the minimum transfer bar to lower than 10k. This should come before end of this year.

We’d rather under-promise in the beginning 😀

Just Passing by

Terms & Conditions: New Customers: Up to 140 miles per order. Existing Customers: Up to 70 miles per order. Excludes taxes, fees & service charges. Excludes store credits & gift cards. Excludes purchases made with promo codes. Max Miles cannot be earned in conjunction with other rewards programs like Shopback. Your miles will be tracked within 1 day and redeemable within 60 days.

Well, this is not that promising for somebody like me who always uses promo codes for any purchase with Lazada / Shopee. I guess it is difficult to position discount / voucher code tracking

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