Review: A 2022 Look at CIMB Visa Signature

I consider 1st January 2020 as the time Sethisfy.com really started, but in 2019 I was already writing a few articles here and there… a grand total of 11 pieces across 7 months. It was in one of these articles I wrote some three years ago where I declared the CIMB Visa Signature dead (along with its sibling CIMB Mastercard).

Good old days

Before its nerf in 2019, CIMB VIsa Signature was a 10% cashback card that required a reasonable $600 of spend, and it had three common and easy categories: dining, groceries, and online transactions. Each category had a $50 monthly cashback cap, with the card having an overall $100 cashback cap per month.

More importantly, Grab top-ups counted as online transactions then. It was the good old days of getting 10% cashback for topping up $500 to Grab, then meeting the $100 shortfall with dining or groceries. 10% cashback for Grab top-ups, or even for dining or groceries, is obviously a very good rate, particularly against the cashback cards we have now.

CIMB Visa Signature

🔥 👍🏼

New to bank
Choose:

  •  Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum-mop 2 (worth S$399) 
  • S$250 cash

Plus: 2 x lucky draw chances
Upon activating and spending min. S$988 within 60 days following card approval.

Until 8th January 2023

Sign-up Process

  1. Apply with the link
  2. Important: find SingSaver email and fill in redemption form after application; no form no reward
  3. Fulfil requirements as stated in terms and conditions

Credit card terms and conditions
Credit card terms and conditions (UOB)
Banking account terms and conditions
Priority banking terms and conditions

Get 10% cashback on online shopping, groceries, pets expenses, cruises, and beauty & wellness. No annual fees for life.

The current form

It took a hard fall back then, and remained the way it has been until now. The card presently has 5 categories that are decidedly more esoteric than before, and each comes with a cashback cap of $20 each. The minimum spend has been raised to $800, which means you now have to spend $200 each in four categories in order to get the advertised 10% cashback. The categories are:

  • online shopping ($20 cashback cap)
  • groceries
  • beauty and wellness
  • pets
  • cruises

During the nerf, dining was removed, online transactions became a much narrower “online shopping”, and only groceries remain as something easy and common for most to clock spend on. The added categories of “beauty & wellness”, “pets and vets”, and “cruises” are areas of spend that are about as common as say “gardening supplies” – you either do a lot of hoeing and find such a category useful, or you don’t.

Theory of Relativity, or something

So why talk about a card that I declared dead? Did something change about the CIMB Visa Signature? Well, no… but the cashback landscape has, and continues to shift in ways usually for the worse. CIMB VS hasn’t gotten any better, but some notable cashback cards became lousier, such as the once-10% UOB One Card, 8% Maybank Family and Friends Card, and even the 6% OCBC FRANK come November 2022 (more on this soon).

With 6-10% cards being nerfed left and right, we should perhaps take a closer look at cards boasting 10% cashback.

Seth
Seth

Easy deal: get up to S$160 by opening a Citi Plus account, and additional S$100 when you deposit $15,000!

The use cases for this 10% card

When a card promises something like 10%, scepticism should naturally arise. The good news is that CIMB Visa Signature is able to indeed give true 10% cashback. The bad news – for people who don’t own pets – is that only pet owners might be able to get 10% cashback consistently from this card.

Nonetheless, there are still some use cases I can think of for this card, even for non-pet owners:

Groceries spend card

The first use case would be to use this as a grocery spend card, much like how the Citi Cash Back Card can be used. It does take some trickery to skirt the cashback cap on each category, and you have to buy the right amount of vouchers from the right places:

PurchaseCategoryCashback
$200 vouchers at supermarketGroceries$20 (10%)
$200 vouchers at pharmacyBeauty & Wellness$20 (10%)
$200 vouchers from onlineOnline Shopping$20 (10%)
Remaining spend elsewhere0.2% to 10% depending on spend

Your mileage may vary when it comes to buying supermarket vouchers from pharmacies, but there are anecdotes of people still being able to top up their NTUC gift cards at Unity cashiers.

Spending $600 on vouchers, and then $200 elsewhere gets you $60 cashback on $800 of spend. That’s 7.5% cashback, which is close to Citi Cash Back’s 8%. The advantage, however, is that you not only get a high 7.5% cashback rate on supermarket vouchers, you also get that 7.5% cashback on $200 of nearly anything else (that is not excluded).

If you’re someone who has been using the Citi Cash Back for 8% on supermarket vouchers, it’s actually a pretty great trade-off to give up a small 0.5% cashback for the versatility of paying $200 on anything else at 7.5% cashback.

Suboptimal use

Credit card optimisers (like yours truly) constantly think of ways to maximise a card’s rewards, but using the card sub-optimally can also yield pretty decent cashback. Because the card’s maximum rate is a high 10%, even using it at half its ideal use case can get 5% cashback.

Spending $400 on pharmacies/cruise, $200 on groceries, and $359 on the latest AirPods Pro online, for instance, can still get one a decent 5.2% of cashback on $959 of spend, and not many cashback cards can pay for things like this and still get away with more than 5% of cashback.

A pet owners’ card

As mentioned, animal-rearing folk would be able to reap the most rewards from this card, since $200 of pet-related expenses within a month probably isn’t too difficult for most, especially since quite a bit of pet stuff can be bought in advance for future use.

Some may even find this too small an amount, and for the more extravagant pet owners this card’s other categories like groceries and online shopping are actually great for buying pet supplies as well.

A card for the sign-up offer

Do I need to elaborate on this? Keep the card if you want, and there is no annual fee ever.

Conclusion

I believe I was a little too hasty in writing the CIMB Visa Signature off a few years ago, but it is only more obvious now as popular cashback cards get features and earn rates cut one after another. OCBC FRANK is on its way out next month (again, more on this really soon – subscribe to my Telegram), and I would definitely need another cashback card to “absorb” FRANK’s spending.

Also, I got a cat since then, so there’s also that.

But even for non-pet owners, I believe this card would be able to find use every now and then to give a decent earn rate. CIMB Visa Signature probably isn’t a card you can use reliably each month, but it does do okay as a one-use card every now and then when the situation calls for it. The lack of annual fees also doesn’t hurt it one bit in being a card you lose in your drawer.

The good:

  • Great for pet owners
  • Good for groceries
  • Situationally decent for some spend cases
  • No annual fees forever, great sign-up offer

The bad:

  • Low cashback limits per category
  • Some categories are not the most common… cruises, really?

The ugly:

  • This card might just look better with more nerfs to other cards yet to come 🤞🏻

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