Friday, 10 May 2019

Goodbye CIMB, Here's the next best Credit Cards in Singapore for 2019

Bad news for the cashback folks - several cashback cards have changed their terms in the last few months, and what used to be attractive is barely so anymore.

Yes, I'm referring to the OCBC 365 card, CIMB Visa Signature and CIMB Platinum Mastercard. I've written about the first change before last year (read it here), so I'll zoom into what CIMB has done recently, and why their cards have gone from stuff I was actively recommending to something I'm gonna ditch now.



Notable changes in the respective cards T&Cs come 5 June 2019:
  • CIMB Visa Signature
    • Definition of "Online shopping" has been furthered narrowed to merchants whose main business activity involves selling clothes, accessories, shoes, bags and electronics.
      • Movie tickets and F&B orders no longer included
    • Shifted categories
      • "Cruises" was previously lumped together under "travel" in their Platinum Mastercard
      • "Beauty and wellness" was previously lumped together with "Health" in the other card
  • CIMB Platinum Mastercard
    • Definition of "Transport and Petrol" now specifically excludes GrabPay top-ups
    • Definition of "Travel" now specifically excludes cruises
    • Introduction of 2 new categories i.e. "Electronics & Furnishing" and "Foreign Spend"
    • Shifted categories
      • "Wine & Dine" used to be under Visa Signature
None of the cards now give you 10% for booking of flights and hotels, as it seems like CIMB has almost eliminated that category completely.

The minimum spend for BOTH cards has been raised from $600 to $800 (following the footsteps of OCBC 365 perhaps?). Now this is a biggggggg problem for folks like me because as you can see from my expense table above, I can no longer hit the minimum on either cards and my cashback rate drops from 10% to 0.2%.

Houston, we've got a problem.

Looks like I'll be retiring these two cards and as a result, it's time for a review of our cashback credit cards strategy.

Some other key changes I've made recently include:

I'll be reviewing some other cards that I think look interesting for now.




Get 5% cashback across major categories, min. $500 monthly.

Unlike CIMB, Maybank recently improved their card by increasing their max. cashback cap from $50 to $80 (w.e.f. 1 May 2019) and this card doesn't limit you to per category spending either!

This means that you can get 5% cashback if you spend on any of the following with a minimum  of $500 monthly:
  • Groceries: Cold Storage / NTUC
  • Transport: Bus and trains (via ABT), taxis, Grab
  • Personal care and health: Unity, Guardian, Watsons
  • Children: POPULAR, Toys R Us
The other plus point would be for drivers who frequently travel between Singapore and Malaysia, especially if you go across the causeway to top up your petrol, because now you can get 5% (or 8%) cashback on that too!

Minimum spend: $500
If you spend >$1000 in a month on this card, your cashback rate gets revised to 8% across these qualifying merchants and categories.

2. DBS Live Fresh

Don't wish to be limited by the merchants? Then here's another underrated card that gives you 5% cashback as long as you use Visa contactless or online, which includes mobile wallets and Grab Pay transactions. I'm currently looking at this card as one to be paired with the DBS Multiplier account and will do a more in-depth review in a subsequent post soon!


Can't hit $500 a month on your card(s)? If you can hit at least $300, then you can get 3.3% on that with the Maybank Platinum Visa.

Provided you can hit $300 for consecutive quarters (eg. Jan - Mar), you can get 3.3% cashback on your local spend and $3 off movie tickets at Shaw Theatres.

Not too shabby at all.





Not even sure if you can spend consistently every month, much less every quarter? Then go for an unlimited cashback card that doesn't require any minimum spend. The trade-off is a lower headline rate (typically 1.5%), but hey there are two cards which can give you 1.6% right now.

Contrary to its name, this card is not just for football lovers!

Disclaimer: I'm not sponsored by Maybank in any way to rave about three of their cards in one go; it just so happens that their cards are arguably among the better offerings in the cashback market right now.

There's another card in the market that offers you 1.6% with no minimum spend or cap, and that's the ICBC Chinese Zodiac Credit Card, which also currently gives you 20% cashback on your public transport expenses till 30 June 2019 via SimplyGo. Unfortunately, I hesitate to recommend this card due to the bad feedback on its application process and customer interface. You can search online for those reviews and decide for yourself if it's worth all that hassle... Between that and Maybank's, I would opt for the latter.



Here's a little known secret card that gives all the rest a run for their money. What's 1.5% or 1.6% when you can get even better?

This hasn't been well-advertised, but at 1.5% cashback for all spend and 2% for dining / alcohol / entertainment, it's hard to find another card to beat such a good headline rate.

Let's just hope CIMB doesn't pull another major change on this one to us like they did on the other two cards...

Miles Cards

Even if you're predominantly a cashback person like me, you might still want to add at least one miles card into your wallet for the times where cashback may not be as compelling eg. when the category you're spending on doesn't qualify under your cashback rewards.

Here are 3 of my favourite picks at the moment:




This is, without doubt, my favourite miles credit card from UOB thus far.

The general miles earn rate for this card is 1.4 miles per dollar for local spend, so I use it to swipe for all categories of spending that my cashback cards don't give me bonus cashback on, or in cases where I've reached the max. cashback rate on my other cards.

The best part of this card right now is its 7 miles per dollar rate for travel on Agoda and Expedia. Yes, you read that right, that's 7 mpd! Any seasoned miles hacker worth his salt will tell you that's a insanely good rate, and not one that's often seen. The catch? This attractive offer ends 30 June 2019, so you have two months to quickly book your travels and take advantage of this.




You seldom see me talk about rewards cards because I'm generally not a fan of rewards cards (will elaborate on this in another post next time), so naturally I never really thought highly of the UOB's Lady Card as it had a ridiculously high requirement of $3000 monthly spend BEFORE you even get to earn their headline rate of 5X UNI$ (the equivalent of 2 miles for every $1 spent).

But ever since UOB revamped the card last year, it has now become one of the best reward cards in the market, earning you 10X UNI$ (the equivalent of 4 miles per dollar). And since UOB has also removed the minimum spending, this card now becomes a worthy addition to your wallet for general miles spending since it offers the highest miles per dollar earn rate. Of course, that's provided you convert the UNI$ to miles (and you should). Please don't be silly and claim cash vouchers instead because you yield a pretty sad cashback rate...

The only caveat? You have to pick one spending category to stick to for every quarter. Groceries qualify if you pick the Family category, so that's something fellow parents might want to take note of!

Other notable and exclusive partner merchant discounts that this card gives you:
  • $30 off a $120 bill at Haidilao Hotpot
  • $30 off $140 on Zalora
The biggest catch? Like its tagline, the men don't get it. But hey, there's nothing stopping you from getting your wife or mom to apply for it so you can use it too ;)


Other cards still worth considering for 2019:

Of course, my strategy may not be the best fit to your spending habits and lifestyle, so here are the other great credit cards that I can think of which deserve a shoutout:
  • UOB One Card: A must-have if you're on the UOB One savings account and/or you've an upcoming big purchase to fund. Most recommended for couples who wanna get cashback on their wedding expenses. Do a search on my blog to find out more about this card.
  • Citi Cash Back Visa: 8% if you drive and dine out (or take Grab) often, provided you can hit $888 a month. Read more here.
  • UOB YOLO: If you find that food, entertainment and Grab are your biggest expenses each month, then this card offers you up to 8% for these categories, which is the highest headline rate for this particular (and potent) combination. Read more here.
  • Citi Premiermiles: Breakdown in this post. The welcome offer this time is 30,000 miles which can get you an economy ticket to Hong Kong or a business class seat to Bali (+8k more miles - take it from another miles card!) via SIA. Its 2017 welcome gift was better though. Singaporeans love this card for the fact that Citi miles never expire.

Card Best for (Profile)
CIMB Visa Signature / CIMB Platinum Mastercard Parents / Those who spend largely on dining, travel, groceries and/or online shopping. 
Maybank Platinum Visa Those who can only hit $300 minimum. Gives you 3.3% cashback.
UOB One Card Folks with UOB One account / upcoming big spend
eg. wedding couples
UOB YOLO Card Those who Grab, dine and spend on entertainment often (eg. movies / clubs / karaokes).
Citi Cash Back Visa Card Those who drive and dine out often.
Maybank Family & Friends Platinum MasterCard Those who travel between SG and Malaysia frequently (even if it's just to top up petrol).
UOB PRVI Miles  Best for general spending (miles)
+ If you need to book travels this year
Citi PremierMiles Visa Card If you want free miles that won't expire, but don't have the time to enforce a detailed miles-hacking strategy
CIMB World Mastercard  Fuss free or big spenders. Unlimited cashback.
Maybank FC Barcelona Visa Signature Card

Cheap Thrill!
I recently booked my family vacation using the powerful combination of my
CIMB Platinum Mastercard (SIA, 10% cashback) + UOB PRVI Miles (Agoda, 7 mpd). Unfortunately, the former offer is no longer valid, so it was good while it lasted.


Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links, of which I'll receive a small commission if you decide to apply via these links. However, some of the best cards listed in this article are NOT affiliate links. All opinions are strictly that of my own. 

I always sign up for new credit cards via SingSaver due to the attractive welcome bonuses offered, which are often more than the bank online rewards or even at roadshows.
Not all the cards I've shortlisted in this post qualify for a sign-up bonus from SingSaver, but since this article is all about the best credit cards for 2019, I've included a comprehensive list of the ones I love and/or already using this year. If you're applying for any card recommended in this list but which is not part of SingSaver's current campaign, I will not get a single cent :)


What are your favourite cards for 2019? If there's any other hidden gems out there that I've not covered, please let me know!

6 comments:

  1. Yea disappointed by the drastic change by CIMB as an early adopted of their card many years ago. I spent heavily on healthcare especially supplements and medical. Probably will change to MayBank soon.

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    1. right?! I was so happy when I saw there was finally a cashback card giving 10% for medical / hospital which I could actually achieve based on spending requirements. not a fan of the new changes :((

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  2. AFAIK, topup Grabpay from DBS live fresh card no longer entitle 5% cashback.

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    Replies
    1. oh yes you're right! dear me. let me make that correction, thanks man!

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  3. How about Standard Chartered Unlimited cashback card with 1.5% on all spend (with some caveats) ?

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    Replies
    1. I used to love it (maybe I still do), and we still have it! but that was last year before the 1.6% cards came out, so it's not quite right for me to recommend that anymore I feel? even though I get paid affiliate fees for SCB Unlimited if readers sign up through my link, and none for any of the other cashback cards I highlighted as best in this post lol.

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