Review: Maybank Family and Friends (Late 2022 Edition)

It somehow feels like talking about an old flame when it comes to the Maybank Family and Friends card. Once one of my top picks when it came to credit cards, cashback or otherwise, we broke up more than a year ago under unfortunate circumstances. At this point, you should know I have an unhealthy obsession with credit cards, possibly still feel weird over my past relationship, and that the cashback landscape has changed quite a bit for me to start talking about this card again.

Maybank
Family and Friends

🔥 👍🏼

New customers

Get up to S$180 cash/cashback with these two promos:

Singsaver promo
Receive S$80 Cash via PayNow upon card approval

Maybank promo
Apply for a Maybank Credit Card and a CreditAble Account, make a min spend of $300 per month for 2 consecutive months, and receive:

  • First 4,500 applicants: Samsonite Harts 68/25 Spinner (worth S$500)
  • 4,501 onwards: S$100 cashback

Both promos stack if applied through this site.

Until 13th October 2022

Sign-up Process

  1. Apply with the link
  2. Important: find SingSaver email and fill in redemption form after application
  3. Fulfil requirements as stated in terms and conditions

Credit card terms and conditions
Banking account terms and conditions
Priority banking terms and conditions

Get 8% cashback on selected categories like groceries, telco, and more! Read the review here

Falling out of love – sublimits

In my original 2020 review of the card, I billed this card as “relatively easy way to score 8% off many daily expenses you already incur” and “worth getting”, and it is quite clear why when you consider I have a few hundred dollars in telco bills between my family and my broadband connections and phone bills. The Maybank FnF was perfect: I could spend however much I did on dining, groceries, and transportation for the month, then spend the remaining on paying off my telco bills.

This changed when Maybank imposed sublimits, capping each category at $25 cashback, or $312.50 of spend. It no longer was a go-to card for people who spend predominantly in just one category, since you now need substantial amounts of spending in at least 3 categories.

FnF also saw increased competition from other cashback cards: multiple cards like Citi Cash Back, OCBC FRANK, UOB EVOL (previously UOB YOLO), and UOB One saw buffs to their cashback rates, and I just felt like the card wasn’t worth it any more.

This weakness remains, but thankfully, other things have changed for the better. I no longer think about my ex daily and… oops, wrong window.

More categories to choose from

At the time when sublimits were introduced, Maybank FnF only added one category: “Pets”. While relevant for me, it didn’t offset the pain of sublimits, nor the unceremonious end of my relationship.

The card now has 10 categories, of which you have to select 5 of your favourite ones. While you can only change your selection after a year, this makes the card a lot more useful than a predetermined set of categories.

The categories are:

  • Groceries
  • Transport
  • Dining & Food Delivery
  • Data Communications & Online TV Streaming
  • Retail & Pets
  • Online Fashion
  • Entertainment
  • Pharmacy
  • Sports & Sports Apparels
  • Beauty & Wellness

You should refer to the terms and conditions for a fuller description of each category because there are some things that may not be so readily obvious just looking at the names of these categories. (People sometimes seem happy merely on the surface.)

GrabFood, for instance, will not be covered under Dining & Food Delivery. Fast food, coded as MCC 5814, will also not be under Dining, and neither will bars or even gastropubs if their MCC is 5813. This is because Maybank FnF will only consider MCC 5812 as qualifying Dining spend.

This can result in slightly annoying situations since your McDonald’s won’t get cashback, and even cause really aggravating scenarios where a dining place looks, feels, and worse – costs like a restaurant but is tagged as something aside from 5812 rendering your entire bill ineligible for 8% cashback.

Retail and Pets sounds like a broad category until you check its definition. Though “Pets” is rather broad and encompasses all pet-related stuff you can think of, “Retail” only includes a paltry number of 5 merchants. Kiddy Palace gets 8% cashback, but it is squarely not relevant for me since I won’t be having kids in the near future.

8% cashback is a top-tier rate

UOB One has been significantly nerfed to 3.33% on general spend, and gives a max cashback rate of 8.33%. Realistically, UOB One will not come near its maximum theoretical 8.33% rate unless you spend a lot on specific merchants like Shopee, Cold Storage etc. and even then that requires the significant commitment of $2,000 spend per month for 3 months. And commitment is difficult for some people, apparently.

This makes Maybank FnF’s 8% cashback rate top tier. 6% cashback cards do not come near it, and people using 4 miles per dollar cards should start realising now that their miles are costing them 2 cents of opportunity cost each.

Optimising for 8% cashback

In return, there is some work to be done if one wishes to get a full 8% cashback on this card. In theory, it’s quite easy: get $800 minimum spend each month and do not cross $312.50 of spend on each category.

Identify recurring spend

In practice, you would probably need to strategise a little. Identifying your recurring spend categories is essential to helping you pick the 5 categories of this card. You may like the idea of getting 8% cashback on your online clothing purchases, but if you don’t do that frequently, it might not be a meaningful category to pick if you struggle to hit the $800 minimum spend. Is something truly meaningful if you have to struggle so much?

Things like groceries, telco, transport, fitness memberships should be relatively predictable and recurring in nature, so those are good categories to pick for most. If you adopted an animal together, he or she is still your responsibility after the break up, and pets are an excellent way to burn some cash each month.

Pick categories that allow prepayment

Groceries, telco, and fitness categories also come with the ability to make prepayments so that you can meet your minimum spend on months your other discretionary spending falls short. You can buy supermarket vouchers, pay more than your monthly telco bill (most telcos should allow it), and prepay a couple of months of your gym membership.

In fact, I plan to use this card almost exclusively for prepayment. Every other month or so, I could buy 2-3 months worth of pet supplies, a few months’ worth of groceries (in the form of supermarket vouchers, of course), and my unusually large telco bills.

Alternatives

Sharing the same 8% cashback tier is Citi Cash Back, and they overlap on groceries and petrol, although Citi’s card offers a lower rate of 6% for dining (Citi Cash Back sensibly includes fast food). Citi actually did the opposite of Maybank a while ago, removing sublimits from Citi Cash Back making it entirely possible to use the card purely for a single category. People who just want to buy lots of supermarket vouchers would find the Citi card a lot more convenient.

Otherwise, there are the usual cashback favourites: UOB EVOL and OCBC FRANK. Both offer lower earn rates at 6.67% and 6% respectively, but their sublimits are a lot easier to live with in my opinion. Spend is either Paywave or online these days, and that could be a lot easier to live with than the different categories Maybank Family and Friends offers.

Odds and ends

Maybank Family and Friends, for some reason or another, includes 0.3% cashback for AXS payments, but they cap it at a meagre $50 per transaction. That’s 15 cents of cashback… which I suppose is better than the nothing AXS transactions get with virtually every other card.

In case you were thinking of making multiple payments to overcome this $50 cap, Mt in the chat group had this idea and was apparently warned by Maybank not to do this.

Conclusion

You get back with your ex for a variety of reasons: perhaps they have learnt their mistakes, or you just had a bitter divorce and circumstances have…

You use a card you have once forgotten in your desk drawer for a variety of reasons: perhaps they got better after a nerf, or maybe the cards you are currently using just became worse. For Maybank FnF, I think both have happened over time. It included more categories over the past year, sports new card designs, and even recently threw in Apple Pay support (finally!) for good measure. UOB, on the other hand, got progressively worse within a short period of time.

It’s almost as if your ex went to the gym (FnF now has a fitness category!), got a new hairstyle (the new lilac card, anyone?), and started Apple-Paying for their own stuff! Just in time to get over that bitter divorce, I guess, and let’s end the review here now that I’ve beaten the weird relationship metaphor to death.

The good:

  • Great 8% cashback rate
  • Many relevant and everyday categories to pick from
  • Apple Pay is finally supported

The bad:

  • Sublimits are still an annoying thing

The ugly:

  • Spending quite a bit at a restaurant only to find that Tinder is a waste of time, and that the restaurant transaction is coded something other than MCC 5812


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