Credit card maximization for small-spenders

That's me, I am the real budget barbie (er ok just kidding, I do spend on big items now and then... *sheepish smile*).

This year my trusty UOB One card has increased its tier for quarterly rebate from $300 a month to $500. It is quite difficult to hit since I do not drive and I have just quit my gym membership. So now my credit card spending just revolves around groceries (fyi I don't cook), dining, lifestyle shopping and holidays (max twice a year). I was disappointed to find out that I failed to hit the quarterly rebate before they up-ed the tier as my July spending did not hit $300 (I was still naively spending on big items the following month with the card). This is because UOB's definition of July spending is really 'June spending' as they take the month reflected on the statement date rather than the month which the spending took place. PLUS one must spend on at least 3 transactions in those months. Blur me.

The famous OCBC 365 is out of my picture because the minimum spending per month is $600, furthermore my salary can't be credited there.

Citibank dividend card was my next best choice. Just that the grocery spending has to be done in bulk per time to maximize the rebate eg. $50 to get 5% rebate. I barely managed to 'squeeze out' the $50 annually Dividend$ cash rebate this year before it expires, the redemption is done automatically by Citibank. However, now it has decided to join the herd with a new minimum spending rule and rebate criteria - up to 8% rebate for groceries, petrol and dining when min $888 a month is spent. That means only big (spending) family can 'huat huat huat' with them.

In the coming year I am forgoing my Citibank Dividend to embark on ANZ Optimum World. If you have not heard of it, then I guess you are not much into smart-utilization of credit card or associated cash rebate. Here goes...

I have just applied for it as ANZ has up-ed the cash back on sign-up to $100.
(Catch: You must ask them what is the minimum spending in the first month you get the card in order to qualify for this cashback because I couldn't find it in the fineprint and missed this.)

What are its benefit? Here goes:
  • You could earn up to 5% in cash rebate for the category that you chose - either Groceries, Shopping, Dinning & Leisure or Travel. The categry can be changed every quarter (Jan - Mar, Apr - Jun, Jul - Sep, Oct - Dec).
  • 1% rebate for all other spendings.
  • No minimum spending required.
  • The Optimum$ earned has a validity of 3 years. Quite good in comparison to Dividend$. However, I would advise to redeem asap once you hit $50 so as to avoid having it forfeited should you decide to cancel the card for whatever reasons.

Some catch to note:
  • Optimum$ can only be redeemed in multiples of $50, minimum $50. 
  • The 5% would apply per $10 spent, meaning that if you spend $19 you would still get only 5% off the first $10.

Next set of credit cards which I did a bit of research on lately are the air miles-accumulation cards.

To cut long story short, for long-haul travel the cost per mile is about $0.02-$0.03 for economy class (out of Southeast Asia). Why I only look at long-haul travel? If it's a nearby destination the cost per mile would be lower. The airfare is even lower if you decide to fly by budget airline and it's definitely not going to be worth any redemption of your hard-earned airmiles. When booking for travel, it makes sense to use Air miles card like CitipremierMiles which allows 1.2 miles earned per dollar spent (and there is no expiry date to the miles). This translates to an average of $0.03 cents per dollar spent or 3% rebate.

Unless you are dead-sure that you are booking for some really expensive trip(s) that quarter then it would be worth switching category to earn a 5% rebate on ANZ Optimum World card.  Oh wait... they only allow a max of $30 rebate per transaction. #$#%%^

Alternatively, for short-trips costing about $1000, book online with OCBC Frank card and get the 6% rebate for online spending. It is capped at max of $60 a month, provided you spend a minimum of $400 offline with the card. A bit confusing uh?

These credit cards TnCs really make people see stars. @.@ For us to earn their money, the banks sure made us work harder first hmph!

Related post: 6 credit cards must-know for newbies.


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