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The BillyB, Aster & JR8 roundtable!

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Postby aster » Sat, 28 May 2011 8:40 pm

BillyB wrote:Hey Aster, on a side note. Do you know of a thread or could share your advice that goes one step further than your airmiles post and compares the best SG credit cards across more general things like groceries, events, cashback, coffee shop discounts, international spend etc.

I haven't used CC's for years - only corporate and AMEX - and wouldn't know where to start. But my GF keeps telling me that there are all sorts of good benefits from holding multiple cards in SG.

You seem like a bit of a guru on this so would appreciate your input.


Hi Billy,

I'm quite up to date with the card situation in Singapore, though I'm not the sort of freak who tries to get every card out there in an effort to always get the most miles out of every transaction (or get every possibly discount imaginable out there). :)

To be honest I'm more like the guy who spends loads of time going through everything... and then I end up drawing the line somewhere within reason. So instead of going for 100% coverage in terms of discounts/most miles and getting 20-30 cards in the process, I'm quite happy to cherry-pick my way through this maze by getting just half-a-dozen cards for say 90% of what's decent out there.

You're basically looking at two things to make use of:

1. air miles
2. shopping/dining discounts

1. This is quite straightforward IMO. The DBS Altitude Amex is the best card out there by far - it's basically the must-have card for those who are serious about racking up air miles. Roughly 1.2 miles per $1 for the first $1k spend per month, and 1.6 miles/$ thereafter.

To be honest for most people this card is enough. The number of places that don't take Amex is quite small, and they're not the type of places you visit regularly anyway. And usually the amount of non-Amex transactions doesn't warrant stuffing yet another card into your wallet.

If you must then a good back-up is the Citi PremierMiles Visa card. 1.2 miles to the $ currently. It was more last year when they tried to take on DBS' Altitude card head-on, but at the end of 2010 they hoisted the white flag and dropped back to 1.2 miles per buck.

The only two other cards I'd consider are if you A) do a LOT of overseas spend (or purchases in foreign currencies) -and/or- B) spend a lot in supermarkets/dept. stores.

Maybank has a card that gives 2 miles for every $ on overseas spend, but keep in mind that you lose a lot on currency exchange, as your purchase first gets converted into USD before being converted further into SGD. If you currently use your Singapore cards for overseas spend then you might as well go for this card - otherwise give it a pass.

For the supermarket/department store angle, Citi's Platinum card gives 2 miles/$ for all such spend in Singapore. It's definitely worth taking into consideration if the numbers add up for you. The thing is, if you spend say $1,000 each month at your supermarket, then using your Altitude Amex card you'd get 1,500 miles (to keep things simple I'm averaging their mileage ratio to 1.5/$). Citi wil give you 2,000 miles. Is it worth using a whole separate card for 500 miles/mth? That's a question you need to ask yourself. Either way, I think you're better off getting this card and using it for groceries than getting the PremierMiles card for the rare non-Amex transaction.

This pretty much sums up the air miles scene. :)

2. Shopping/dining discounts are an entirely different ball game. Of course to cover all angles you'd need to have accounts with all the banks whose offers you see displayed around the various shops and restaurants that you frequent. Overall there are about 8 banks playing this game.

There are also offers based on the type of card used be it Amex or, to a rarer extent, Visa/MC.

Often you can 'kill two birds with one stone', as is the case with the Altitude Amex, because you get to take advantage of both DBS' offers as well as that of Amex.

There's nothing more annoying than going into a place and seeing a 1-for-1 offer for cardholders of a certain bank... where you don't hold an account. Or the free glass of wine added to your dish. Or the 25% discount on everything, including booze. Bottom line - it's annoying when those around you are getting a deal and you're left out.

The best bank for local deals is probably DBS. Second comes UOB. Then I'd say Citi is quite good, OCBC rarely shows up with something decent but can be useful. SC has a lot of small, 10% offers which I'm not really into. HSBC is handy only once in a very long while.

To cut a long story short, I'd get the DBS Altitude Amex to cover both this bank and Amex in general, a debit card with UOB to take advantage of most of their dining offers (sometimes they'll make it unique to credit card holders, but this is quite rate), a debit card with OCBC as you can use all their cardholder offers, and probably the same with Citi (unless you want to get a CC there as well). This quartet should do you just fine.

Keep in mind that a lot of deals are kept on the low, not even advertised openly at restaurants. So it's worth checking out the web pages of the banks where you hold cards quite regularly.

For coffee deals I believe Citi has a regular offer going on with Starbucks, whereas I've seen The Coffee Bean (admittedly a place I visit about as rarely as an eclipse of the sun) offer 1-for-1 lattes when using UOB Visa PayWave cards. I didn't get into the details, but they have a little flyer about this next to the cashier.

To sum up, DBS and UOB are a must, the rest are optional.

Hope I've shed some light onto the miles/discounts scene, any questions just feel free to ask. :)

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Postby JR8 » Sat, 28 May 2011 9:27 pm

Blanchflower: A euro debt default 'inevitable'
Former Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member David "Danny" Blanchflower tells Robert Miller that a failure by the ECB to tackle the debt problems in the Euro zone means a default is inevitable and that the crisis could be heading through Spain to France.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/fina ... table.html
-----------------------------------------------------

Holy carp :o

3 minute phone interview that sums it all up!

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Postby BillyB » Sat, 28 May 2011 10:10 pm

Thanks mate, appreciate you taking the time to write that!! You start another thread with it as its really useful to people just moving here and not being aware of the benefits of holding multiple cards in SG.

Your points are pretty much in-line with what I found from the bank websites this week. It took me the best part of one evening going through all the offers available and, you are right, you could get carried away and apply for about 30 cards at 8-10 banks to cover all your bases. But I reckon there are some really good rewards/savings out there that I haven't been taking advantage of at all. I can never remember the U.K, France or HK offering such a wide range of discounts across so many sectors. But then again I used corporate cards for everything back then.

I ended up going for the DBS altitude for miles and going to get rid of my current AMEX. It arrived in 2 days and I already got a non advertised discount last night on main courses when we asked which card they prefer and also a discount on wine today in Cold Storage, happy days!! Also applied for Citi rewards as it replaced the platinum, and Citi SMRT as it gives really good grocery rewards in all the major supermarkets so it will come in handy at times. Also a UOB CC to take advantage of dining rewards as they are quite extensive across the island. What I also found is that most of the exclusive offers on the websites that appear to be associated with a certain card from a bank - if you read the small print you'll find the majority are applicable to all or most cards from the offering bank.

I think I covered about 80% of the bases with those cards.

Can you remember years ago in the U.K when you could get 0% for 12 months on purchases including cash withdrawals and people caught onto this and started hammering their cards for free money and putting it into current accounts and making a cheeky little bit of dollar in the short term? I think it lasted about 3-4 months and then the banks realised their mistake!!

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Postby JR8 » Wed, 01 Jun 2011 11:43 pm

Most people don't realize how stunningly high the figure EUR 110 billion that Greece has devoured is. For all practical local purposes, it's infinitely high. All predictable laws of economy and the rational behavior resulting from it break down. Greece has 11 million people, if I count the infants. That means that the average Greek, including infants, has devoured the "loan" of EUR 10,000 per year. And this is just the infusion from outside.

http://motls.blogspot.com/2011/05/greec ... n-remain...

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Postby aster » Thu, 02 Jun 2011 7:35 pm

Hi Billy, no prob, glad I could help. :)

What's the best way to do a currency exchange nowadays? Is wiring money to a place like XE, having them do a conversion, and then receiving your funds back in another currency the ideal way to do it?

P.S. Is that Irvine's restaurant next to GWC worth checking out? :)

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Postby BillyB » Thu, 02 Jun 2011 10:47 pm

aster wrote:Hi Billy, no prob, glad I could help. :)

What's the best way to do a currency exchange nowadays? Is wiring money to a place like XE, having them do a conversion, and then receiving your funds back in another currency the ideal way to do it?

P.S. Is that Irvine's restaurant next to GWC worth checking out? :)


I didn't realise XE did transfers - I only tend to use the app on my Blackberry. But I'd imagine they'd be pretty fair on the rates. I'll check the site out for more details!

Irvin's is a great place and highly recommended!! Not eaten there for a while but if we have friends over we go and pick a few new dishes each time. All the dishes are very fresh as you'd expect in Singapore.

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Postby BillyB » Fri, 03 Jun 2011 9:48 am

More overvalued 'social / internet daily deals garbage' jumping on the IPO bandwagon:

A potential $25 bn valuation on a company that one year ago was worth $1.3 bn. Note that the whole market capitilisation for the daily deals industry in 2015 is projected to be around $3.9 bn, even if Groupon stabilises at $25 bn (It's likely to be much higher than that) it constitutes investors willingness to pay for hype and no real substance. If they take 100% of the market cap; sales to enterprise value is around 15%. What assets does Groupon hold apart from data centres and hardware? Yes, they collect information and this is where the big money is, but from a fundamental perspective the world is going mad!!

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-06-0 ... llion.html

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Postby JR8 » Mon, 06 Jun 2011 6:13 pm

Isn't it great that Americans have helped keep Greece and the euro, ECB, and German banks solvent for a few more months.

I'm sure all Americans are feeling mighty proud right now!

:P

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Postby JR8 » Mon, 06 Jun 2011 6:33 pm

EU child propaganda: silly or sinister?
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/danie ... -sinister/

'One of the unexpected pleasures of parenthood is reading Brussels propaganda to your children. The material is unintentionally hilarious, and will soon have your progeny shrieking with laughter. Little ones enjoy The Raspberry Ice Cream War, which tells the tale of a group of intrepid youngsters who travel back in time to a barbarous age where there are still sovereign states, and teach the inhabitants to scrap their borders. ... [contd]

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Postby JR8 » Mon, 06 Jun 2011 6:36 pm

'Portugal elects new government but youth abandon country for opportunities abroad
Hundreds of thousands of Portuguese are seeking a future abroad as the nation goes to the ballot box tomorrow to elect a government to implement the bail-out and pull Portugal from the brink of bankruptcy.'...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... broad.html



Hmmm.... now who was it that was recently claiming that 'All Portugese are happy to have the euro'? :lol: :cool:

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Postby JR8 » Mon, 06 Jun 2011 8:00 pm

--------------------------------------
'Many in Europe assume that Greece will ultimately have to default on a portion of its debt. In an interview with SPIEGEL, European Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn, however, insists that debt restructuring is not on the agenda. He also discusses reports that Athens is considering a return to the drachma.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Rehn, your Greek colleague on the European Commission, Maria Damanaki, said last week that either Athens and its lenders agree to tough sacrifices, "or we return to the drachma." Did she merely say what everyone is thinking?

Rehn: The public misunderstood my colleague's statement. She was trying to encourage her countrymen to implement the austerity program so that Greece can remain a member of the euro zone.

SPIEGEL: So you are no longer ruling out a return to the drachma?

Rehn: I do not see a withdrawal from the monetary union as a serious option. It would harm the Greek economy and be a setback for European integration. The euro is more than a currency; it's the central political project of our community. For this reason, too, we would not accept a Greek withdrawal.
http://www.greekcrisis.net/2011/05/inte ... ioner.html

---------------------------------------



But has Captain Euro got the message yet?

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Postby JR8 » Tue, 07 Jun 2011 7:36 pm

JR8 wrote:'Portugal elects new government but youth abandon country for opportunities abroad
Hundreds of thousands of Portuguese are seeking a future abroad as the nation goes to the ballot box tomorrow to elect a government to implement the bail-out and pull Portugal from the brink of bankruptcy.'...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldne ... broad.html



Hmmm.... now who was it that was recently claiming that 'All Portugese are happy to have the euro'? :lol: :cool:


Posted: Wed May 04, 2011 12:18 pm
aster wrote:Everyone in Portugal is happy they're part of the Euro



Oops sorry, my hand slipped, honest :P :twisted:

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Postby aster » Wed, 08 Jun 2011 1:27 am

And if you were Portuguese you would want all your savings to be in Euro right now or a local currency that has collapsed in value much like Iceland's currency did when they got taken to the cleaners? :)

And what was Iceland's main objective after they saw what happened to them? Joining the Euro was put on the agenda and seriously considered for the first time!

Is there anyone in the UK who wouldn't want to move back in time and convert all their Pounds into Euros at 1:2 or even 1:1.5? Suddenly those trips abroad have become veeeery expensive. :)

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Postby JR8 » Wed, 08 Jun 2011 2:06 am

aster wrote:And if you were Portuguese you would want all your savings to be in Euro right now or a local currency that has collapsed in value much like Iceland's currency did when they got taken to the cleaners? :)

And what was Iceland's main objective after they saw what happened to them? Joining the Euro was put on the agenda and seriously considered for the first time!

Is there anyone in the UK who wouldn't want to move back in time and convert all their Pounds into Euros at 1:2 or even 1:1.5? Suddenly those trips abroad have become veeeery expensive. :)



Blah blah blah blah blah....

But that's not what you said was it?

Which for the avoidance of doubt was 'Everyone in Portugal is happy they're part of the Euro'

You agree that was at best misguided?
:) :P

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Postby aster » Wed, 08 Jun 2011 9:55 am

Yes - like I mentioned, people are sure happy (make that immensely happy :) ) that they have their savings in Euro and not some tiny, dinky, second-rate toilet-paper currency. Then again maybe not everyone, after all they could have a handful of people there like yourself who are on some sort of raging obsessive crusade against everything to do with the EU, Euro, etc. regardless of all facts.

As mentioned, you want to look at a different example of another European country that went to economic $shit and was unfortunate enough not to have the Euro... just look at Iceland.

I bet EVERYONE there wished they had the Euro when the $hit hit the fan. :D


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