Hefty Income Tax? Pay it With Credit Cards to Earn Rewards! Exclusive CardUp Promo!

Tax season is here again, and you should be getting your Notice of Assessment (NOA) soon! It’s a mixed bag of emotions for me: I want to be in a higher income tax bracket… but I don’t actually want to pay the income tax. But only two things are certain in life and since I’m not about to die yet (I hope), it’s time to explore ways to make this tax less painful.

Using credit cards to pay

It goes without saying that you should always pay with a credit card wherever possible to earn rewards, but IRAS doesn’t accept credit cards for your tax payment. There are certainly ways to get around this, and CardUp is one such service that allows you to pay for various transactions that typically can’t be paid for using credit cards. In fact, you can do this for things like your car loan, insurance policies, rent, and any other invoice you may have that don’t typically accept credit cards.

The recipient does not have to specifically accept CardUp, and to them it is as good as you making a bank transfer to them, so they do not need to be involved when you opt to pay with your card.

Such services charge a fee, but it is definitely worth it if your card can give you rewards greater than the service fee. The simple equation:

Rewards – Service Fee = Nett Gain

Read on to discover how to increase Rewards and decrease Service Fee for maximum gains, and even score some free miles or cashback!

Step 1: Use the right card to increase Rewards

CardUp is listed under MCC 7399, and you’ll need to use cards that do not exclude this MCC. Also, you can refer to CardUp’s list here on cards that are eligible for rewards.

As with most things in life, you can choose between cashback or miles cards to earn you rewards:

Cashback cards

OCBC
FRANK

New to bank
$50 cashback^

Existing cardholders
$20 cashback^

^Make 2 qualifying transactions by the end of the following month

Until 31st August 2021

Cashback Rate6%
RequirementMinimum $600 per month, capped at $25 for online category

OCBC FRANK’s latest revamp late last year made it a very useful cashback card, and I have found its list of exclusions pretty permissive so far. CardUp doesn’t list this as an eligible card, although they are currently confirming with OCBC whether it’d work because CardUp’s list was updated before FRANK’s revamp. Personally I think it’d work, but please don’t try large amounts if you can’t afford to risk it. I have grounds to believe that this doesn’t work for CardUp, but may work for ipaymy (another similar service).

In any case, FRANK’s limit is pretty low; the card offers a maximum of $25 on its online category, which is a maximum $417 spend. You will also have to clock a minimum $600 spending in a calendar month to qualify for 6% cashback, which means you will have to spend another $183 via Paywave to get an optimal 6% rate. If you do all $600 on the online category, the cashback rate is 4.17% ($25 on $600 spend).

UOB One

New to bank
Receive S$150 cash credit with min. spend of S$1,500 on eligible goods and services within 30 days of card approval. Only for first 100 successful applicants who fulfil the spend criteria

Valid till 30th June 2021

Cashback Rate3.33% / 5%
Requirement3.33%: $500 / $1,000 monthly for a quarter
5%: $2,000 monthly for a quarter

UOB One offers a great 5% rate on a sizeable amount of spend, but the catch is that you need to make a minimum of $2,000 monthly spend for a quarter in order to get $300 of cashback. If you have a monthly payment of $2,000 for rent perhaps, you should definitely make use of this to enjoy savings on your expenditure.

Even if your monthly expense isn’t this big, putting them on recurring payments via CardUp can still help you unlock UOB One’s cashback tier more readily, and your other adhoc expenditure can make up the rest.

Other notable cashback cards:

CardCashback RateRequirement
Amex True Cashback + GrabPay Mastercard3% (new Amex cardholders)
1.5% (normal rate)
Use Amex True Cashback to top up Grab, then pay with GrabPay Mastercard
UOB Absolute + GrabPay Mastercard5% (new UOB cardholders)
1.7% (normal rate)
Use UOB Absolute to top up Grab, then pay with GrabPay Mastercard
Maybank Platinum 3.33%$300/month spend or $1,000/month spend for a quarter
Bank of China Family3%$800 minimum spend, maximum $25 cap on online category

Mile cards

If you use a mile card, you are paying service fees in exchange for miles, which means you are essentially buying miles. This is something many people would do given the right price; miles are after all worth something, and the value of each mile increases depending on how you use them.

CardEarn RateCost Per Mile (assuming 1.75% service fee)
High SES Card
(e.g. UOB Reserve, OCBC Voyage etc.)
1.6 mpd1.075
UOB PRVI Miles1.4 mpd1.228¢
Entry Level Card
(e.g. Citi Premier Miles, DBS Altitude, KrisFlyer UOB etc.)
1.2 mpd1.433¢

OCBC
90°N

The OCBC 90°N is a very interesting mile card to use. It has an earn rate of 1.2 Travel$ per dollar spent, and this is equivalent to 1.2 miles per dollar. It also allows users to redeem for vouchers or rebates at a pretty decent rate (unlike other cards/banks). This makes it a very versatile card if you’re undecided on miles or rebates.

Step 2: Use promo codes to reduce Service Fees

To further enhance your nett gain, you should reduce the service fee payable with promo codes. To that end, CardUp has offered an attractive deal to Sethisfy readers:

CardUp

New to CardUp
Get $30 off the fee on your first payment! Remember to use the promo code listed!

New and existing users
Get 1.75% off the fee on your income tax payment! Until 24th August.

Depending on the amount, you may incur no service fee on your first payment at all, meaning free miles or cashback!

Analysis of benefits

With cashback cards, the equation is very straightforward. As long as your cashback earn rate is higher than the service fee, you are making money by moving your non-card payments to these services Also, for cards like UOB One that require high minimum spends, CardUp can help you reach the spending much easier.

With mile cards, you are buying miles which can let you book premium flights which typically go for a lot more if you pay in cash.

If you have read my site for a while, you would know that I don’t normally value miles significantly above 1 cent per mile because I do not place a high premium on business class tickets. Nonetheless, if you have the intention of travelling business class at least once in your life, purchasing miles for 1.433¢ each still makes a lot more sense than buying the business class ticket with cash. A round trip to Japan in business class can cost thousands of dollars with Singapore Air, but it’ll run you around $1,500 if you buy all the miles required at 1.433¢ each.

Ideally, you would be earning miles on your 4 mpd card on your everyday expenses, but even the best 4 mpd card strategy would struggle to gather enough miles if you don’t have a lot of spending. Such services services thus accelerate your ability to reach the needed amount of miles for your desired trip.

With the right promo code, you can even get free miles or cashback! Definitely try out CardUp if you haven’t already done so.


If you prefer, you can also try ipaymy:

ipaymy

New to ipaymy
Use code SETHISFY25 for $25 off the fee of your first transaction! Sign up here and remember to use the code.

Keep up to date on the best cashback/mile cards, savings accounts, attractive deals, and more tips to maximise your financial wellbeing by subscribing to my Telegram channel.

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