Hi Billy,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.
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.