Friday, August 22, 2014

I Love Using Credit Cards (Revision 03)

Revision 03 (last paragraph): updated on August 28, 2014
Revision 02: updated on August 23, 2014

I am a big fan of credit cards. I once owned more than 20 credit cards but I have canceled some (due to zero chance of using them) and I still have about 15 credit cards with me. I get annoyed when there are so many articles, interviews, saying they hate using credit cards. They claimed it is bad to use future money. Credit is dangerous, etc. I have no clue what are they talking about, obviously nonsense.

Last Sunday "Me and My Money" article, this guy said he spent about S$4,000 to S$5,000 per month and he did not use credit cards. Oh dear, what a waste for a big spender like him. I will make sure every single cents go into my credit card expenses if they accept credit card. Let me share with you, what are credit cards mean to me.


Singapore credit cards are all free, unlike Malaysia credit cards, you have to pay RM 100 to use the second credit card. It is like a compulsary credit card fees. If you were in Malaysia, I would suggest you to minimize the quantity of your credit cards. In Singapore, banks reward you to sign up for credit card. Of course, it is not the FREE luggage that attract me to sign up for the credit cards although I have MANY free luggages from the banks. In good days, they even pay you FREE cash to sign up for credit cards. Maybank Singapore gave SGD100 free cash upon application, Standard Chartered and UOB gave SGD80 free cash upon application, etc.

Credit card is extremely good if one can control the expenses. There are people who have no control over their expenses, they just use credit card to "defer their payments". In that case, you better stop using it. Although Singapore credit cards impose annual fees charges (usually after second or third year of usage), what you need to do is to dial their 1800 toll-free number to request to waive the annual fees. My requests to waive the annual fees were 100% approved for the past 11 years in Singapore. There is no problem to waive the annual fees at all. One disadvantage to own too many credit cards is you can forget to make the payment. I did have 3 encounters of late payment and I was charged the late payment fees with interest! Thanks goodness, I got all of them waived. I was shocked that they waived the late payment charges too! I now make sure I remember to pay the bills. In short, I DO NOT pay annual fees or late payment fees for any Singapore credit cards, NEVER!

For frequent traveler, it is extremely good to own a right credit card especially if that is a business trip. I make sure all the charges are transacted with credit cards. The oversea hotel charges help me to accumulate spending really fast within a month. I wish I can use my credit card to pay for the business trip airfare! I love my current job and I have the privilege to choose to travel at least once in a month or not to travel at all if I don't feel like to.

As for now, the best Singapore credit card (for me) is UOB Signature VISA card. It gives 5% oversea cash reward! I use it all the time for my business trip until it reaches the cap of S$2,000 per month. Then, I will stop using it and use my second best Singapore credit card, UOB One card. It has quarterly cash reward up to 3.3% and additional 2% oversea spent cash reward up to S$5,000 per calendar year (S$100 cash rebate a year).

You just need to make sure all the tricks that the banks require. It is not difficult to meet the criteria.

UOB Signature VISA card: All oversea transaction must be made in local currency, not Singapore dollars. For example, if you swipe the card in Malaysia, make sure the transaction is in Ringgit and not Singapore Dollars. The monthly minimum foreign transaction must be at least S$1,000 in order to enjoy the 5% cash reward. The maximum cash reward they give you is 5% of S$2,000 per month, which means, you get FREE cash S$100 per month from UOB. I get this free cash all the time. Really damn shiok!

If you have a lot of oversea transactions (e.g. more than S$4,000), I recommend you to ask your spouse to apply for UOB Signature VISA card and you get the supplementary card from him/her and you swipe the supplementary card as well up to S$2,000 per month, you can get FREE cash of S$200 per month. :) You have two UOB Signature VISA card (one primary and one supplementary card). Shiok?

UOB One card: All you need to know is you need to make MINIMUM 3 transaction per month, and CONSISTENTLY for 3 months for more than S$300 spents, then you will be rewarded S$30 cash in quarterly basis. Of course they have higher tier of S$800 and S$1,500 per month (cash reward of S$80 and S$150 in quarterly basis). In additon, you get 2% oversea spent cash reward up to S$100 per year (cap at total S$5,000 oversea spent per calendar year). Maybank recently launched a similar credit card, or I would say exactly the same feature as UOB One card, totally the same cash rebate percentage (3.3%) with NO MINIMUM transaction required per month. That can be a good alternative but I have too many credit cards, ha ha.. I do not have that Maybank credit card. I am thinking to get one.

I have a habit to put all my travel photos, expenses claim report nicely in one folder for each business trip and I just realized I had 48x business trips for the past 4 years (almost once per month), that exclude my personal vacation trips. :)

Beside the best two credit cards (both from UOB bank) I mention above, I also use the following Singapore credit cards very often.

(1) Citibank Dividend Card. It is because of 10% cash reward of Starbucks. In every business trip, I enjoy my breakfast and tea break at Starbucks at Changi airport. That is why I don't go to Starbucks elsewhere in Singapore (sianz liao la ! ). Ha ha. Citibank had great GSS promotion in year 2013 May, June and July for 3 months. They as well gave 5% cash reward for oversea spent, with minimum spent of S$1,200 per month up to S$2,000 spent per month. Same great deal as UOB Signature VISA card. This dividend card gives 0.5% cash rebate for all spent but Citibank rewards you only when the cash rebate amount accumulated to S$50. Take note on this. Many people do not aware of this. It is like you have to spent a total of S$10,000 in order to get your cash rebate of S$50. But my savings in Starbucks (10% cash rebate) easily more than S$50 by now. 

(2) POSB Everyday Card. I use it for 20.9% discount on SPC fuel (bundle with the SPC member card). This is the highest fuel rebate in Singapore, of course I take it. I also use this card for my SP Power utilities bill payment through GIRO to enjoy 1% cash rebate. I pay HDB car park monthly fees using this card as well to enjoy 1% cash rebate (used to be 3% cash rebate! ). That's all the Everyday card for.

(3) OCBC Robinsons Card. I love Robinsons store. I am very happy that they now have Robionsons store at JEM, Jurong East, just a stone throw from my house! I love their in-store purchase cash rebate, member private sale events, etc. That is why I have the card and I don't need to go to Orchard anymore. Woo hoo !

(4) OCBC 365 Card. They give 6%  and 3% cash rebate when you dine locally on weekend and weekday (oversea dining too). There are some rules and I have yet to strategize and materialize the benefits. I have the card but I need to do some homework in order to hit the minimum spent of S$600 per month. I will share more next time about this card if I manage to reap the benefits.

Many of the time when my oversea spent at UOB Signature card is accumulated to say S$800 only, that's this month, August, example shown below (S$200 more in order to hit the minimum spent of S$1,000 per month), I will just make a visit to AEON at Bukit Indah, Nusajaya, Johor to have shopping spree on milk powders (biggest saving!), diapers, petrol, etc. (NOT FACIAL, FOOT MASSAGE or FREE LAUNDRY? NO, THANK YOU.) That easily helps me to have the minimum spent of S$1,000 and I get all the 5% cash reward. Hey, it is 50% cheaper for the milk powder in Malaysia too!

You do not need to make multiple trips into Johor (who ask you to pay custom fees, VEP all the time?). You just need to make ONE TRIP and get enough inventory for 10 months supply. Why not? The baby milk powder expiry date usually last for 2 years and your kid will consume them all within a year. Typically for me, one Nusajaya trip helps to save at least S$500. Not bad indeed. :) 

Singapore credit cards grant me 4 digits cash reward every year.
Why don't you love using Singapore credit cards?

Refer to my blog written in May 2012 too, "Who Say Credit Card is Not Good?".

Updated on August 23, 2014
Yes, 90% of my oversea spents are business trips related, hence, they are all claimable from the company. When I joined the company, they immediately issued me a corporate American Express Card. After I know I got zero benefits of owning such corporate credit card, I canceled it.

Guess what, the company is paying annual fees to issue me such corporate American Express Card and there is no reward point system at all for the corporate credit card. What is the point to own a corporate credit card then?

The only benefit of owning such corporate credit card I can think of now is you DO NOT have to pay a single cent out from your own pocket. The company will pay the credit card bills on behalf of you. Well, I do not mind to pay the credit card bills myself first and claim it from the company as my company is able to refund the expenses claim within 30 days. I am fine with that. To make it worse, in Malaysia, particularly at Penang, the merchant stores don't really like American Express card, they still prefer VISA !

So, throw away your corporate credit card and own one beautiful UOB Signature VISA card! (UOB bank should pay me referral fees from now, don't you think so?)

Updated on August 28, 2014
Biggest SCAM ever!

I suddenly realized my cash reward points down to S$17 when I am making a payment for my Citibank Dividend Card. I remember clearly I have definitely more points than this. I made a phone call to Citibank and guess what? They told me the cash reward points will be expired exactly 1 year and 3 months time. WHAT? This is not mentioned anywhere! The worst thing is, Citibank only rewards you the cash reward points after you have accumulated up to S$50 (that's quite a big mark to hit !).

Surprisingly, the Citibank officer immediately told me that he can reimburse those expired points to me and it well passes S$50 this time, total 56 reward points. So, in my next billing cycle, a cash reward of S$50 will be granted. How nice is this Citibank officer? The bill statement immediately updated after I hang up the call. That is really efficiency!

For those who owns this Citibank Dividend Card, most likely you have forfeited many reward points after the 15 months expiry date. Go and check it out!

Too bad, I will NOT recommend Citibank Dividend card anymore. I will only use it for 10% Starbucks instant cash rebate (not the same as rewards points). Bye Bye , Citibank Dividend Card.

UOB bank is still the BEST!

FREE cash from UOB ONE card. :)

In short, the BEST Credit Card in Singapore is the following (my choice):

(1) UOB SIGNATURE VISA - 5% Oversea Cashback
(2) UOB ONE VISA - 3.33%  Local spent Cashback + 2% Oversea Cashback
(3) MAYBANK PLATINUM VISA - 3.33% Local spent Cashback + 3% Oversea Cashback (until Dec 2014 only)
(4) STANDARD CHARTERED MANHATTAN - up to 3% local spent Cashback.
(5) CITIBANK DIVIDEND VISA - 10% Starbucks Cashback 
(6) POSB EVERYDAY MASTERCARD - 6% SPC fuel Cashback (on top of 17% SPC U Card discount).
(7) OCBC 365 VISA - 6% local dining Cashback on weekend and 3% local dining Cashback on weekday. Oversea dining Cashback 3%. Singtel/Starhub/M1 - Cashback 3%.
(8) CIMB INFINITE VISA - 1% local spent Cashback, 2% Oversea Cashback

I used the above 8 credit cards frequently. Please refer to their individual credit card Terms and Conditions in order to enjoy such Cashback percentage stated above.

For Singapore Credit Cards, go for Cashback feature. It is the best. Do not accumulate points to redeem vouchers. It is not worth it. Cash back percentage (3 to 5%) is so much higher than than voucher redemptions (usually only 0.2 to 0.3% of your total spent amount). 

p/s: yet to explore the new CIMB SIGNATURE VISA. 

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