2024 Edition: Best Credit Cards for Education, Enrichment and Childcare

Earning rewards on education is tough, but not impossible. Here's the cards which still reward this category, plus some workarounds.

Now that the MileCub is in the picture, I’ve been forced to confront the daunting concept of lifelong learning.

My initial plan to let her be raised by the streets has been thoroughly vetoed by the MileLioness, who favors a more traditional gauntlet of childcare, tuition, and enrichment, in the hope that she will one day be a doctor, astronaut and Navy SEAL.

Unfortunately, education is a category much unloved by the banks, who believe that learning should be its own reward- how absurd! 

That said, not every bank has excluded it yet, and by racking the old noodle, you can even find some workarounds.

💳 What’s the Best Card for…
❓ Overall Guide
✈️ Air Tickets
🌎 Amaze 💗 Charity
🍽️ Dining
🏫 Education🥡 Food Delivery
🏨 Hotels☂️ Insurance
📱 Kris+
⚕️ MedicalPetrol🚍 Public Transport
🛒 Supermarkets🚰 Utilities 

What MCC does education code as?

Banks usually define education as transactions under the following MCCs:

👩‍🏫 Education-related MCCs
MCCDescriptionExamples
8211Schools, Elementary and SecondaryAustralian Intl School,  Nexus Intl School, Tanglin Trust
8220Colleges, Universities, Professional Schools and Junior CollegesNTU, NUS, PSB Academy
8241Schools, Correspondence
8244Schools, Business and SecretarialAlliance Francaise, Lingo School of Knowledge, Yi Mandarin
8249Schools, Trade and VocationalMountbatten Vocational School
8299Schools and Education Services Not Elsewhere classifiedThe Learning Lab, CFA Institute, Kaplan, Mindchamps, Heguru

There are, however, certain “education-adjacent” transactions like child care services and enrichment which have their own MCCs and are not subject to the general exclusions on education. I’ll address this later in the article.

If you want to know the MCC of a particular merchant, there’s three ways of looking it up before making a transaction:

MethodEase of UseReliability
HeyMax●●●
📱 Instarem app●●●●
🤖 DBS digibot
●●●

Merchants assigned education MCCs typically pay a below-average processing fee, which makes these transactions less profitable for banks.

Which credit cards earn rewards for education?

A group of ethnically diverse college students lying on the grass and learning, woohoo

Because of the lower margin on education transactions, most banks exclude this category from rewards altogether.

DBS added education to its exclusion list in July 2017, Citibank in October 2018, UOB (with some exceptions) in September 2019, Standard Chartered in May 2020, Bank of China in June 2020, HSBC in July 2020, and American Express (with some exceptions) in October 2023. 

This leaves Maybank and selected AMEX/UOB cards as your only options.

BankAwards Points for Education?
Plat Charge & Centurion
All other cards




Privilege Banking, Reserve, Visa Infinite Metal
All other cards

Here’s the list of cards that still earn miles for education transactions.

CardLocal EarnFCY Earn
Maybank Manchester United Card
2.0 mpd + 3% cashback 
(on days where Man Utd win)

0.4 mpd + 1% cashback
(otherwise)

UOB Reserve Card1.6 mpd2.4 mpd
UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card1.4 mpd2.4 mpd
UOB Privilege Banking Card1.2 mpd2 mpd
Maybank Visa Infinite1.2 mpd2 mpd
amex centurionAMEX Centurion0.98 mpd0.98 mpd
AMEX Platinum Charge0.78 mpd0.78 mpd
Maybank Horizon Visa Signature0.24 mpd2.8 mpd*
*With min spend of S$800 per calendar month on all retail transactions

Most of the options favour the privileged (“that’s a microcosm of the education system right there!” said some edgelord):

This leaves the Maybank Horizon Visa Signature and the Maybank Manchester United Card as the only “mass-market” options.

The Maybank Horizon is actually an excellent card to use if your transaction is in foreign currency. Cardholders who spend at least S$800 in a calendar month (on any retail transactions) will earn an uncapped 2.8 mpd (upsized to 3.2 mpd for new cardholders) on all foreign currency transactions, including education.

The Maybank Manchester United Card offers a potentially intriguing alternative with up to 2 mpd and 3% cashback on local and FCY transactions, although it’s basically a gamble unless you can time your spending to fall on one of those match days where the result comes out before midnight Singapore time. 

👍 No FCY fees

If you have overseas tuition fees to pay and all you’re interested in doing is minimising the overall cost of the transaction, consider using a card with zero FCY transaction fees.

  • Trust Card
  • Revolut
  • YouTrip

Do note that while YouTrip has increased its annual limits to S$20,000 (stock) and S$100,000 (flow), Revolut has yet to do so. This will be an issue if your transaction is >S$5,000 (the maximum that can be stored in the Revolut wallet).

Fee-paying alternatives

If you’re willing to pay a fee in exchange for earning miles, the following options are available.

ProviderFeeCost Per Mile
2.2%1.22 cents
(till 29 Feb 24)
1.9%From 1.36 cents
2.25% (code: GET225)
S$30 off first payment with code: MILELION 
From 1.38 cents
AXS Pay+Earn2.5%From 1.52 cents

These are only options for local payments to selected educational institutions. 

Whether it’s “worth it” to buy miles all boils down to how much you value a mile- I personally wouldn’t pay more than 1.5 cents. 

“Education-adjacent” transactions

As mentioned earlier, banks usually define education as MCCs 8211, 8220, 8241, 8244, 8249 and 8299.

However, there are so-called “education-adjacent” transactions like child care, sports and music enrichment, some of which have MCCs of their own.

👩‍🏫 “Education-adjacent” MCCs
MCCDescriptionExamples
5733Music StoresAureus Academy, Cristofori Music, Yamaha Music
5941Sporting Goods StoresFishlike Swim School, LJE Sports
7997Membership ClubsArchery Academy, FINS Swim School, Wesports Academy
8351Child Care ServicesAlphabet, Beary Fun, Greentree, Mulberry, Ready Steady
⚠️ 7399 also possible
When searching HeyMax, I found that several preschools (e.g. Kinderland, Pat’s Schoolhouse) code as MCC 7399 Business Services Not Elsewhere Classified, which could be because they process payments via a third-party provider like CardUp.

To the extent that these are not explicitly excluded in the T&Cs, you should be able to earn miles under the general spending rate for cards. 

CardEarn RateRemarks
Amaze + Citi Rewards
Apply
4 mpdMax $1K per s. month
Review
DBS WWMC
Apply
4 mpdMax S$2K per c. month. Must be online
Review
UOB Pref. Plat. Visa
Apply
4 mpdMax S$1.1K per c. month, must use mobile payments
Review
UOB Visa Signature 
Apply
4 mpdMin S$1K, max S$2K per s. month on contactless & petrol
Review

On the other hand, there are centres which might seem more in the nature of enrichment, but really turn out to be education. For example, Marsden Aquatics and Happy Fish Swim School both code as MCC 8299.

Therefore, it’s always best practice to confirm the MCC beforehand using the Instarem or DBS “block card” method.

Workarounds

If the merchant you’re paying falls under an education MCC, don’t lose hope. There’s still one final roll of the dice, which is to see whether it partners with a BNPL provider.

For example, Atome codes as MCC 5999, and has a very extensive list of schools and enrichment providers (the list below isn’t exhaustive, refer to the app for the full selection).

🏫 Atome Education/Enrichment Partners
  • Arabic Council
  • Ascenda Academy
  • Bubs and Tots
  • CPD Singapore
  • E.A.T Academics
  • Edupedia
  • EduLife
  • English Explorer
  • Fishlike International
  • Gavin’s Tuition
  • Genius R Us
  • Koco
  • Happy Fish Swim School
  • Lil’ But Mighty
  • LingoAce
  • Little Skoolz
  • PPtutor
  • School of Concepts
  • School of Positive Psychology
  • School of Clinical Hypnosis 
  • Singapore Works Training
  • Spark Edu
  • STEM Institution
  • Superstar Teacher
  • The Collective Knowledge Academy
  • Writers Studio
  • WuKong

Likewise, Shopback PayLater (MCC 5999), and Grab PayLater (MCC not confirmed- likely to be 5999) have their own list of partners too, so it’s always worth checking whether your merchant accepts them.

The following cards will earn the most miles on MCC 5999. 

💳 Best Cards for MCC 5999 (Online)
CardEarn RateRemarks
Citi Rewards Card
Apply
4 mpdMax. S$1K per s. month
DBS WWMC
Apply
4 mpdMax. S$2K per c. month^
HSBC Revolution
Apply
4 mpdMax. S$1K per c. month
UOB Pref. Plat. Visa
Apply
4 mpdMax. S$1.1K per c. month
KrisFlyer UOB Card
Apply
3 mpdMin. S$800 spend on SIA Group in m. year
C. Month= Calendar Month | S. Month= Statement Month 
^Reduced to S$1.5K from 1 March 2024

Remember: it’s best practice to manually trigger the following month’s payment a few days ahead of time, instead of letting it be billed automatically.

This is to avoid a situation where you don’t earn bonus points on the 2nd and 3rd month’s installments because they code as offline (a potential issue for the Citi Rewards and DBS WWMC).

❓ Why not use Amaze?

If the problem is that 2nd and 3rd instalments aren’t coded as online, then won’t pairing the Amaze with the Citi Rewards Card solve the problem?

Yes, but at a price. Ever since 13 October 2023, Amaze has imposed a 1% transaction fee for SGD payments made to MCC 5999 (and others) funded by a linked credit card. That’s why it’s better to just use a “naked” card and trigger the payments manually yourself.

Conclusion

If you’re looking to pay school or university fees, the opportunities to earn miles are few and far between. Only a handful of AMEX, Maybank and UOB cards still offer rewards for this category, and most of the options are only available to high income earners.

However, if you’re looking to earn miles on enrichment or child care services, then opportunities still exist. As long as the MCCs avoid the 8211, 8220, 8241, 8244, 8249 and 8299 range, you can still earn up to 4 mpd with the right cards.

And even if the MCC falls within the education range, you can check whether the merchant is available on Atome or another BNPL platform, which changes the MCC to a rewards-friendly one.

Are there any other ways to earn miles on education/tuition fees?

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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cheesecake

Is the limitations by MCC the same whether you’re paying a local education institution in SGD, or a foreign one in FCY?

Leo

Hi! Will I earn points/miles by paying MOE thru AXS using AMEX CC or GrabPay MC? Thanks!

Aaron

Paid for NUS last month with Amex KF Ascend. Miles awarded!

cheesecake

Shouldn’t CIMB be included in this list?

Hedge Fintech

From T&Cs, CIMB seems to not exclude Education payments, which is great!

Hawaii

Just checking here ..

is it confirmed that CIMB credit cards will earn rewards (miles or cashback) for educational spend?

I would think the fairly new UOB Absolute Amex also allows rewards for educational spend.

Anyone can verify and update? Thank you

J L

How about UOB VI and Reserve ? They excluded education too?

Glenn

Hi Aaron, here is data point for your reference. I realized that the FCY fee is 3% via Grab. Recently the GrabPay mastercard to pay for overseas tuition fees. Thought you might wanna know. This will bring the CPM to 1.67 cents. Not sure if you have other data points which may support this?

“#A better option is to top-up your GrabPay account to earn 1.8 mpd, then use the GrabPay Mastercard to pay. The FCY fee will be 2%, which means a CPM of 1.11 cents.”

Jackie

Is Amex Plat Charge or UOB VI in the list?

Allan

Paid SMU fees in September using Maybank Visa Infinite, but was not awarded Treats points. Reason : Because SMU MCC is 9399 (Goverment services). Who would’ve thought eh?

Andrew

Sad story!

Ray

Heymax is showing 9399 actually.

DingHao

I wish I saw this. Same thing just haplened to me. 🤣 17k in fees paid down the drain.

Patrick

High flyer is fine for NUS school fees and hostel fees

Citi

Has anyone tried paying NUS tuition fee using Citi Payall? not sure which account to use, and they said it is not supported when I emailed them

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