UOB has quietly added exclusions to UOB EVOL: spending at UOB$ merchants such as Cold Storage and Giant supermarkets, as well as Shell and SPC petrol stations, will no longer count as qualifying purchases for cashback.
Speaking of UOB Cards, you can sign up for them here.
UOB$ Programme – nobody asked for this
Instead, transactions at places like Cold Storage, Giant, even our dearest Mr Coconut (someone shared that UOB was offering $1 coconut shakes in our chat; gone now, which shows you should really join our little group chat) are now considered UOB$ merchants.
Such merchants no longer get cashback from UOB EVOL, but instead reward you with UOB$… which is another form of cashback. It’s a convoluted little thing that used to be called SMART$ which only used to affect UOB mile cards, but this scourge is now inflicted upon cashback users who use UOB EVOL.
Whether you chase cashback or miles, nobody wants this! UOB EVOL users want to earn 8% cashback (to be pedantic: 6.67%),and UOB PRVImiles and Preferred Platinum card users want their miles (or perhaps more accurately and perhaps confusingly, UNI$). UOB unironically advertises this as a feature of some sort for their cards, as if getting 1% to 3% rebate for some popular stores is something terribly exciting.
Counts for minimum spend, but not for cashback
Update: there are reports that UOB does not consider UOB$ merchant spending for minimum spending. At this point I feel like it’s safer to just not use your UOB EVOL at UOB$ merchants entirely. It’s such an annoyance.
Thankfully, I still got my cashback of $39.88 – 12 cents shy of the maximum $40 monthly cashback. I spent $350 on contactless payments, which maxes out the $20 cashback in that category. The remaining $19.88 comes from online spend, of which I made $248.52 of spending. $19.88 is 8% of cashback on that amount.
|Category||Amount Spent||Cashback Received|
|Contactless||$350||$20 (8%, but capped at $20)|
|Cold Storage payment||$9.80||$0|
This data tells me Cold Storage transactions indeed do not gain cashback under UOB EVOL any more, not even the pitiful 0.3% rate EVOL has. Luckily for me, it still counts for the minimum spend, which is why I still got my cashback for the other $598.52 of spend. Phew.
This change probably happened in the past couple of months, and I only discovered this recently in the most unfortunate manner: I had $598.52 of spend – $1.48 short of my $600 minimum spending for the month of November – and I spent $9.80 at a Cold Storage supermarket to make up the shortfall.
Uncommunicated changes are bad
Nerfs are begrudgingly tolerated; banks cannot be expected to offer immutable terms and conditions, and companies should be able to correct their mistakes or change business strategies over time. Sometimes, promotions are unsustainable, and others are simply not well thought out (cough: Friz, Amaze/AXS etc).
What is a lot less tolerable is changing the terms and conditions retroactively, or not giving sufficient notice period. In this case, UOB did not even inform cardholders at all. It had previously informed cardholders of past nerfs and changes to cards by means of SMS to cardholders, and I don’t see why this was not similarly communicated. People who unknowingly make the bulk of their spending on UOB$ merchants with their UOB EVOL card would and should be very upset.
Will this affect UOB One?
A bigger question looms whether this would affect UOB’s other popular cashback card, UOB One. The current terms and conditions for UOB One suggest that it is so far unaffected by UOB$ merchants. Daryl from the Telegram chat has shared that he got UOB$ on his UOB One card, and my theory is that UOB$ programme is at current moment great news for UOB One users: spending at UOB$ merchants counts towards your $500/$1,000/$2,000 spend tiers of the UOB One for cashback, and you also get UOB$ rebates on top of it.
I can’t confirm this, so don’t take this as fact.
UOB One users should also be careful if UOB$ merchants are quietly added into UOB One’s exclusions.
This nerf isn’t earthshaking; the list of UOB$ merchants is not a very long one, and how much you are affected depends on how much you spend at UOB$ merchants. It, however, adds to the fuss of using UOB EVOL which has thus far been rather fuss free. Previously, you only had to care about the online/contactless split of the card. Now you have to check whether a particular store belongs under the UOB$ programme. Worse, your favourite retailer might just join the UOB$ programme and you wouldn’t be wiser until you realise you haven’t been getting cashback.
UOB still offers pretty strong cards, but the UOB$ Programme is just extra fuss that we could all do without.
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