Nerfed: Cashback Rate for UOB One Slashed to 3.33% From 5%

Edited from UOB One's website

UOB One has quietly changed the terms and conditions of UOB One, and it’s a big nerf. Thanks to eagle-eyed ZM for spotting this and sharing in the chat, we discovered that UOB One is cutting its 5% cashback tier to 3.33% for spending in your July statement (calendar month of June). No SMS to communicate this change? 💔

TL;DR

  • Executive summary: highest cashback rate has dropped to 3.33%; SimplyGo added as a very trivial consolation
  • People paying mortgage through CardUp → no choice but to carry on
  • People paying income tax through CardUp → for miles, no choice; for cashback, AXS might be better
  • Tier 1 to Tier 3 users without specialised spending (e.g. CardUp, the bonus cashback merchants) → time to consider other cards
  • People with lots of spending on bonus cashback merchants → still a pretty decent card
  • UOB should improve the way they handle nerfs particularly for UOB One
Seth
Seth

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Highest cashback tier drops in rate

TierMonthly SpendQuarterly Cashback (old)Cashback Rate (old)Quarterly Cashback (new)Cashback Rate (new)
1$500$503.33%$50 (unchanged)3.33% (unchanged)
2$1,000$1003.33%$100 (unchanged)3.33% (unchanged)
3$2,000$3005%$200 🔻3.33% 🔻

For a quick refresher on how this card works: you need to hit a minimum spend per month for three consecutive months (according to your statement quarter) to receive a quarterly cashback amount. If you spend $1,000 per month, for example, you will get $100 for the quarter, a 3.33% cashback rate ($100 cashback for $3,000 spend).

The two lower tiers of spending ($500 and $1,000) aren’t affected by this change. The highest tier, unfortunately, sees a significant drop to match the 3.33% rate of the other two tiers.

Bonus cashback for selected merchants is mostly untouched

In 2020, UOB One added a few merchants that’d enjoy bonus cashback. Such merchants would receive additional 5% cashback, which totals 8.33% for Tiers 1 and 2, and 10% for Tier 3.

UOB One has maintained these rates by increasing the bonus 5% cashback to 6.67% for Tier 3 to compensate for the decreased cashback rate.

TierBase CashbackBonus CashbackTotal Cashback
13.33%5%8.33%
23.33%5%8.33%
33.33%6.67%10%

The maximum bonus cashback awarded is capped at $100 per statement month, which is unchanged.

There is a slight difference here for Tier 3 users: because the bonus rate has gone up from 5% to 6.67%, the amount of spending to maximise the S$100 bonus cashback cap has reduced. Previously, one needed to spend $2,000 on the selected merchants in a single month to maximise the bonus cashback. The figure is now $1,500, and you can now spend the remaining $500 on any other merchant.

Bonus cashback for SimplyGo

Typical of banks, there are some things that have improved so that the bank can euphemistically call such nerfs “enhancements”, and UOB has done the bare minimum here of adding SimplyGo to its list of spend that gets the bonus cashback mentioned above.

It’s a common area of spend for sure, but how much can one spend on public transport in a month anyway?

Analysis

UOB One has so many use cases, we have to break down the utility of the card post-nerf for different groups of people.

CardUp users

My use case for UOB One is to put my monthly mortgage on it through a payment service like CardUp. With 5% cashback and the right promo codes, I can easily get over 3% cashback on my mortgage payments. With this nerf, the cashback is now closer to 1.5%.

To be fair, to even be able to get cashback on something like mortgage payments is truly better than nothing, and people in this category would continue enjoying arbitrage between the cashback rate and payment fee for as long as we can. Just sucks that we now earn half of what we used to.

Paying for income tax via this method, on the other hand, may not be as attractive for cashback seekers as doing it through AXS which gives 1.7% cashback (via Grab and UOB Absolute).

Tier 3 general spend users

People who just use UOB One as a generic cashback card are hit quite badly by this. Where previously 5% cashback was a decent earn rate for $2,000 of monthly spend, 3.33% is rather mediocre for a relatively onerous requirement of having to spend as close to $2,000 as possible for three months straight.

There are possibly alternatives to look at, and HSBC Advance has been mentioned a bit in the chat. The GrabPay Card is also a contender, given its overall fuss-free nature in getting almost 3% cashback without much requirements with the UOB Absolute card. Perhaps a fuller comparison is in order, and you can subscribe to my Telegram if you want to be notified when that post comes up.

HSBC
Advance

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New HSBC Cardholders

From 5PM 17th May 2024, first 500 get to choose:

  • PlayStation 5 Disc Version (worth S$799)
  • Dyson Airwrap (retailing S$859)
  • S$500 eCapitaVouchers

Spend S$500 in eligible spend by the end of following month from card approval (e.g. approval in May, make spend by end June)

501 onwards:

  • Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer (worth S$699)
  • Apple iPad 9th 10.2″ WiFi 64GB (worth S$508.30)
  • S$350 eCapitaVouchers
  • 21K Max Miles (sign up heymax account for bonus 1,000 miles)

Spend S$500 in eligible spend by the end of following month from card approval (e.g. approval in May, make spend by end June)

Optional:

  • S$200 top up – Sony HT-AX7 Portable Theatre System (retailing S$769)
  • S$200 top up – Xiaomi Robot Vacuum X20 (retailing S$699)
  • S$1,099 top up – Apple Macbook Air M3 13″ 256GB (retailing S$1,599)
  • S$1,099 top up – Apple iPhone 15 Pro 128GB (retailing S$1,664.25)

Existing HSBC Cardholder²

  • S$50 cashback (with S$1,000 min spend)

⚠️ Important – complete all the following steps to be eligible for rewards:

  1. Provide HSBC consent to receive marketing/promotional materials during application
  2. Fill up SingSaver gift redemption form
  3. Make a min. spend of S$500 by the end of the following month from card approval date to be eligible for rewards

Last date to apply: 2nd June 2024

For quick reference only; refer to terms and conditions for exact terms and save a copy for future reference:

  1. Terms and conditions
  2. Terms and conditions (existing cardholder)

Get up to 3.5% cashback on eligible transactions

UOB Absolute

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S$350 Cash credits: 
 The first 200 new-to-UOB credit card customers in May 2024 who successfully apply for an eligible UOB Credit Card between 1 May 2024 and 31 May 2024 (both dates inclusive) and spend a min. of S$1,000 per month for 2 consecutive months from their card approval date, will receive S$350 cash credit. Click here for full terms and conditions.

Terms and conditions

10% cashback:
For all new-to-UOB Credit Cardmembers who successfully apply for UOB Absolute Cashback Card by 30 June 2024, enjoy 10% cashback on the transactions charged to your UOB Absolute Cashback Card during your card approval calendar month and the following calendar month. Total bonus cashback is capped at S$100. Full terms and conditions apply.

Get 1.7% cashback on nearly anything excluding Grab top-ups which get 0.3% instead.

Tier 1 / Tier 2 users

I’m not sure why, but there are probably people who have been using UOB One for its Tier 1 and Tier 2 spend. They are largely unaffected by this change; in fact they see an improvement because they now get bonus cashback on SimplyGo transactions. But 3.33% remains a poor rate, and having to maintain a consistent spending feels troublesome to me. They are much better served with something like OCBC FRANK which gives more than 4% even if you don’t use that card optimally.

People with lots of Shopee, Grab, Dairy Farm spend

UOB One card users who have a significant amounts of spend on the bonus cashback merchants would still find this card attractive. 3.33% isn’t the best cashback rate, but enough spend with bonus 5% cashback improves the value proposition of this card greatly. Such users are unlikely to shift away from UOB One.

There are even people who simply purchase $2,000 worth of Dairy Farm vouchers (usable at Giant, Cold Storage, 7-11 etc.) per month for $600 ($300 base + $300 bonus) every quarter, or 10% cashback. They now get $500 ($200 base + $300 bonus), or 8.33% cashback. It still seems as best as they can get.

What people are doing with their UOB One

After 2 weeks from the news, here are some of the things people are doing with their UOB One cards.

Conclusion

I’ve mentioned several times before that nerfs and changes are parts and parcel of the credit card game. Unannounced changes or nerfs without prior warning, however, are in bad form and unfair to users.

UOB has so far done a middling job in communication when it comes to this nerf. Did they give a month’s notice? Technically yes, but I imagine you should send out an SMS or email blast to communicate such changes instead of just updating your website with a small footnote and a broken link to FAQs that has been inaccessible for more than a day. Update: the link has been changed to this

Secondly, a month’s notice might be sufficient for most other credit cards, but the quarterly nature of UOB One makes me feel like any changes should only take place after each card member’s current quarter.

Questions remain – no thanks to the missing FAQ page – what would happen to people who are already in the midst of their current quarter. Do we get 5% cashback on April and May’s spending, and 3.33% on June, or would the entire quarter now get the reduced $200 cashback? It’s something for UOB people to look at… after this long weekend break.

Update: UOB has since released the FAQ document, and perhaps I have been too harsh on UOB initially: they are indeed effecting the reduced cashback rate for existing cardholders only after their current quarter is over. The enhancement of SimplyGo will be effective from 1st May 2022 onwards.

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