Earning miles or cash rebate on your credit cards can feel like you’re getting something for free on your everyday spending. But, there are ways you can get even more. What you may not realise is that card issuers in Singapore are willing to give you a lot more than their counterparts in other countries to earn your business, and provide various incentives for you to boost rewards for repeated business. If you make a little bit of an errot, you can earn more benefits for less money. Here are ValueChampion's six tips on how to do just this.
Different Categories, Different Cards
The easiest way to maximise your rewards is to use a specific card that offers the highest rate of rewards rate for specific categories of purchases like groceries, gas or dining out. It is generally optimal to carry a couple cards that offer optimal rewards in different purchase category so that they can complement one another. Though making the most of your card collection some effort on your part to remember which is most ideal for which category of expenditure, it shouldn't be too hard to do so with 2-3 cards that you use frequently.
Buy Through An Online Shopping Portal
Most banks offer an online shopping portal where you can buy from mainstream ecommerce sites like Agoda or Lazada. If you shop through these portals, you can get extra savings in cash back or even bonus miles that can be couple times higher than the usual amount that you can earn. These portals are easily accessible through the bank's web page for the specific card that you are using. Although it's 1 extra step in your shopping process, it's easy and worthwhile given the amount of savings that you can earn for a very little amount of effort.
Swipe More Often
Banks make money from merchants each time you swipe your card, and therefore reward you for using their products more frequently. Because of this, it's usually a good idea to concentrate your spending on a few cards to satisfy their minimum spending levels and qualify for their maximum reward levels. For example, UOB One Card can provide up to 5% of cash rebate, which is one of the highest rates in the country, but only if you continuously spend S$2,000 on the card every month. Not meeting this requirement even for 1 month can reduce your rebates dramatically.
Not only that, it's important to note that that merchants usually embed their credit card fee into their prices. Therefore, you are effectively losing out by using cash instead of credit cards. This is especially the case in Singapore, where both merchant fees and credit card rewards tend to be much higher than other countries. For instance, best credit cards in US, UK and Korea tend to only provide 1-3% of rewards on your spending, compared to 3-5% offered by the best credit cards in Singapore. The difference can almost entirely be explained by the difference in these countries' lower merchant fees.
Add Another Account From The Card Issuer
Banks typically use credit cards as a way to sell you more products like home loans and savings accounts. To do this, many banks offer extra rewards just by having another account at the bank. Both DBS and UOB provide pretty high interest rates of around 3% for customers who have both a credit card and a savings account with them, under DBS multiplier program and for UOB One Account. Another example is HSBC's new Advance credit card provides extra 1% of cash back for customers who also have a HSBC Advance account with the bank.
Use The Best Redemption
Making the most of your rewards also involves optimizing how you trade them in. Card issuers may offer several different rates for redeeming your rewards points, and it pays to select the best one. For instance, many cards let you convert your points into miles, where every mile you earn is worth roughly S$0.01 if you redeem it for short-haul economy tickets. However, this value can increase to S$0.05 or even S$0.08 if you redeem it for a business class or a first class tickets. Same logic applies to other ways of redeeming your points, so you should always check your card’s rewards program online to find details on their different redemption rates.
Take Advantage of Bonus Offers
While we don't advise you to churn through multiple credit cards every year just to earn their bonuses, it's usually a good idea to look out for promotional offers, especially when signing up for a new card. You often can earn tens of thousands of bonus rewards on many cards just by spending a certain amount within a certain time of opening a card.
Existing cardholders should also watch for seasonal offers, especially around the holidays. Many credit cards tend to provide special promotions in extra miles or cash rebate during high travel seasons like June and December.