March 2020 is a sad month for credit cards. We have the fall of our UOB One + GrabPay MasterCard, which means 10% cashback on practically anything is disappearing. We also see OCBC 90°N becoming a plain vanilla 1.2 mpd after offering 8 mpd on hotels and AirBnb.
Together, they represent a total collapse of our highest tier of cashback and miles cards.
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Tiers According to Cashback % and MPD
|5||1.5%||1.2 to 1.5 mpd||Miles|
I have decided to rename the tiers, this time going numerically rather than alphabetically. This is done because a Tier 5 card isn’t necessarily a D since there are circumstances a Tier 5 card makes more sense than a Tier 1 card, such as a really large transaction.
Instead, each specific card would be rated A to F depending on how good (or bad) they are within their tiers.
Tiers by Specific Cards
|1.5||–||CitiRewards + GrabPay MC||Miles|
|DBS Woman’s World|
UOB Preferred Platinum
OCBC Titanium Rewards
Amex True Cashback¹
|4||SC Spree + GrabPay MC||HSBC Revolution||Cashback|
|5||Citi Cash Back+|
SC Unlimited Cashback
|1.2 to 1.5 mpd||Miles|
- New-to-Amex cardholders get 3% on $5,000 of spend in first six months.
How to use these tiers
Just clock your spending on cards starting from the Tier 1, until you have maximised the limits and rewards of the card. If you have excess spending, move those amounts to the next best tier under your preferred column depending if you’re a miles or cashback person.
If you’re a value optimiser like me, as you should be, you will look at each tier’s winner to decide which card to put spending on.
You can stop here, or read my explanation for each tier and pick up some great promos available this month just by signing up for credit cards.
The unassuming Maybank FnF with 8% cashback sits on top of the hill now with UOB One gone.
Depending on your spending habits, you may want to consider the UOB YOLO card, which rewards 8% as well but it is more conditional than Maybank’s offering.
We still don’t have a proper 6 mpd card, but UOB PRVI Miles does give on certain travel expenses such as Agoda and Expedia bookings.
The awkwardness of having a Tier 1.5 is really appropriate since we all know deep down it’s a matter of time before this Tier disappears along with the equally awkward Tier 0 (previously known as A+) which housed our 10% cashback UOB One + GrabPay Mastercard.
But, it’s still around, and we should accord it with being the second best tier at present with 4 mpd + 0.8% cashback, and having virtually no conditions at all given you earn your 4 mpd on topping up your Grab card, which can then be used for almost any transaction to gain 0.8% worth of cashback in Grab points.
5% cashback and 4 mpd are pretty good rates, and they are less conditional than our Tier 1 cards which make them good choices for people who don’t want too much fuss.
UOB One moves 2 tiers down after its nerf, joining DBS LiveFresh as a 5% cashback card. LiveFresh gives you a maximum of $40 cashback on $800 spend split between online and contactless payments, while UOB One only gives 5% cashback if you maintain a monthly spending of $2,000 every month.
Our usual 4 mpd suspects – UOB Preferred Platinum, DBS Woman’s World, CitiRewards – are the staples of mile chasers, and previously won this tier.
With UOB One in this tier, I think it’s a draw between both categories. People who can hit $2,000 a month would get 5% from UOB One while DBS LiveFresh can cater to smaller spenders.
Big transactions of electronics or departmental store purchases, however, swings the Tier towards miles because of OCBC Titanium Rewards’ lack of a monthly cap for its 4 mpd earn rate. You can earn 4 mpd on a $5,000 OLED TV if you so desire.
UOB KrisFlyer is technically a 3 mpd card which gives 1.2 mpd if you don’t spend on qualifying categories. I call it the card for lazy miles collector, and I think that still applies for people who just want one card instead of managing multiple ones for optimal mile-gathering. No minimum spending nor cap, but you do need to spend at least $500 on Singapore Airlines or its related companies each statement year to qualify for the additional 1.8 mpd.
UOB One is also present in this tier since it gives 3.33% cashback if you spend $500 or $1,000 monthly for a quarter.
It is again a draw and depends on your spending habits as well as your preference for miles or cashback.
StanChart Spree + GrabPay MasterCard used to give 2+2%; and it’s not too shabby at 2.8% right now for most transactions. Perhaps I should put this as a Tier 3.5 instead?
Last month, Citibank’s new Citi Cash Back+ joined this category giving 1.6% cashback.
Since 1 mpd is slightly more valuable than 1% cashback, mile cards tend to take these categories. When you have a large transaction of say $62,666 (well outside the reach of high cashback/mile cards), going to Japan in business class with 94,000 miles is also more exciting than getting $940.
Do you agree with my rankings? Let me know if you have any cards in mind you want me to place in the tiers. As many cards as I have and keep my eyes on, there are bound to be a few gems that I overlook.