Give it a few more months and we won’t hear of this couple again, but UOB One and GrabPay MasterCard were just that iconic a pairing it made even some hardcore miles people cashback chasers for a while.
16 March is upon us and UOB One is relinquishing its position as the King of Cashback… or is it too quick to rule this card out?
|Earn Rate||– 3.33% cashback|
– 5% cashback
|Conditions||– Spend $500/$1,000 a month for 3 months for $50/$100 quarterly rebate (3.33%)|
– Spend $2,000 a month for 3 months for $300 quarterly rebate (5%)
– Additional 5% for Grab transactions excluding top-ups
|Limits||$2,000 per month|
|Tracking||– Post date |
– Statement month
New to bank
$80 via PayNow
$20 GrabFood vouchers
A conditional card with few conditions
As far as conditional cards go, the UOB One has only a couple of requirements. It doesn’t dictate spending to be done online, Paywave, or swiping like it’s the 90s, and also does not restrict it to certain categories like Maybank Family and Friends does, but it does have one pretty big ask: your spending needs to be consistent for at least three months to get an optimal cashback rate.
Spend $500 or $1,000 per month for three months? Good, you get $50 or $100 respectively at the end of that quarter, representing 3.33%. Consistently clocking $2,000? Great, $300 or 5% cashback for you. It’s all fine and dandy if you keep it consistent, but deviate from this and your cashback rate plunges:
|1st Month||2nd Month||3rd Month||Quarterly Rebate||Earn Rate|
As you can see, your lowest month dictates your cashback amount, so if you’ve been spending $2,000 for two months and can only clock $500 on the last, that’s a miserable 1.11% cashback for you.
Also, any amount that isn’t a round $500, $1,000, or $2,000 is also wasted. $999 per month for three months earns you the same cashback as $500 does, so your cashback yield gets destroyed too.
Surviving the nerfs of 16 March 2020
In the past, this regular spend amount was easily met by topping up your Grab account monthly. Even if you didn’t have $2,000 of expenses for the month, the money can reside in your Grab account until you use them via GrabPay or GrabPay MasterCard.
This is no longer possible, but the nerfs done to UOB One extend beyond merely excluding Grab top-ups. It also removed insurance, among other financial-related payments, from the cash rebate, which many banks and cards have already excluded for miles and cashback alike.
Collectively, these nerfs upset a lot of spending routines of people who have been periodically topping up Grab and/or paying insurance regularly with the card.
However, I don’t think it’s all lost for this card. A little birdie told me that ipaymy transactions will continue to be eligible for the cashback. If true, this card would still be one of the best ways to get card rewards for commonly excluded insurance payments and things that can’t traditionally be paid for with card (eg. rent, income tax etc).
Moreover, it’s not even that bad when you consider the other cards that exist in the current climate:
How does it fare on the Tier List?
|5||1.5%||1.2 to 1.5 mpd||Miles|
As a card that’s either 3.33% or 5% cashback, the UOB One card resides in both Tier 2 and Tier 3. I suppose it can be quite the Tier 1 card if someone spends a lot on Grab stuff. If you spent $500 or $1,000 monthly on Grab rides and GrabFood, you are getting 8.33% cashback, besting Maybank’s FnF card. At $2,000, it becomes an unparalleled 10% again, but I think you may want to reconsider your spending habits.
Realistically, if you add one or two hundred dollars worth of Grab rides and food deliveries into your monthly spend, your cashback yield will increase slightly beyond the 3.33% and 5% rates. It’s still pretty decent.
If you can be consistent in your monthly spend, the UOB One also gives you an edge over Maybank FnF since there’re no fixed categories of spend. Against the DBS LiveFresh, it boils down to spending amounts. If you can only spend $600 to $800 a month, you’ll find the LiveFresh a lot more relevant. High spenders will find the $2,000 cap more roomy.
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Nerfs are always hard to take, especially when something falls as hard as the UOB One did. It was a clear 10 Star card that ruled the roost for a good year. Nevertheless, there are practical use cases for this card that other cashback cards cannot provide. Spend $2,000 every month? No one comes close to providing $100 cashback.
My strategy for this card moving forward is to put a regular amount of transactions that don’t generate rewards elsewhere on it via ipaymy, on top of paying for Grab rides and food deliveries through the card. There would still be cashback left after deducting for ipaymy’s fee, and the Grab transactions would earn at least 8.33% cashback.
- High $2,000 capacity for 5% cashback
- Few restrictions in category of spend
- Bonus cashback on Grab transactions (+5%) and SP bills (+1%)
- Consistent spending amount required each month for a quarter
- $2,000 minimum spend required to hit 5% cashback tier
- Missing one month of spend by $10 after hitting $2,000 for two months (I’ve heard of this actually happening)