There are conditional cards that give you rewards on specific types of transactions. For instance, the Maybank Family and Friends awards a generous 8% cashback rate on dining (for now) while OCBC Titanium Rewards gives 4 mpd on electronics.
Banks look at the Merchant Category Code (MCC) to determine such bonuses. Dining, for instance, is 5812. How do we know if a particular retailer or eatery fulfils the MCC?
1. Test with a DBS card
DBS cards have a very unique ability to suss out a transaction’s MCC. Once the card is charged, you can log in to your online banking (on desktop or iPad) and check.
You would have to charge something to your card first before confirming the MCC. I would usually try out a small purchase first before having the peace of mind to proceed with a larger purchase, but this may not be practicable for many cases. Still, if you can’t find the info from the interwebs, this may be your only option.
Inexplicably, this annoyingly doesn’t work with the chatbot on their phone app.
- Log in to your DBS/POSB iBanking account, and authenticate yourself.
- Open the chatbot (speech bubble in the lower right corner) and type “credit card transaction inquiry”
- Select the card you made the transaction on, then click View Transaction History
- Select Pending Settlement if you have just made payment. From my experience, this is usually instantaneous
- You can also select Current Statement to see your statement’s transactions, or Unbilled Transactions for recent purchases that are not up for payment yet
- Once you have identified the transaction, you can match the Merchant Category with either Visa or MasterCard’s list of merchant codes.
- This is Financial Institution – Merchandise & Services which matches Visa’s MCC of 6012.
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2. Ask your bank’s customer service officer
Again, this has to be done after you have charged your card, but it should be really useful for transactions that you can split into a smaller one first, or payments you do often.
CSOs, unfortunately, have a penchant for being rather ill-advised on their own products, however, so sometimes you must take their information with a pinch of salt. Nonetheless, there are occasions they are all I have.
Recently, I wanted to know whether a particular transaction was classified as online, and this isn’t really linked to MCC. DBS’s CSO was able to confirm with me through their chatbot.