[Membership Cards] 1+1>2: SPG+Uber

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Many people know me as a big Uber advocate. I have stopped taking cabs when possible unless there are absolutely no Uber around or surge pricing is ridiculously high.

I have stayed in W Hong Kong in December 2016 and that was the first time I stayed in a Starwood property even though I have my Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) membership since 2011. So with this stay and a promotion with World MasterCard, I got upgraded to SPG Gold.

So now with SPG gold, I can earn SPG points faster. But how to make it work even harder? That’s when partner programs will help to maximize.

With a stay done in Starwood property, I can start earning SPG points on every Uber ride. Simply link my SPG and Uber accounts together.

SPG+Uber

SPG+Uber

At the moment, earn rate is as follow:

  • 1 SPG point per US$1 day to day.
  • 2 SPG points per US$1 during stays with Starwood property.

From February 2017 onwards, earn rate will revise to following:

  • 1 SPG point per US$2 day to day.
  • 2 SPG points per US$1 during stays with Starwood property.

From now on, I will write more about how partner programs can help you in maximizing your membership programs and I call this series of articles 1+1>2.

[Travel] Changi Airport: Behind the scenes

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Woke up pretty early on 3rd March 2016 morning around 5:11am and saw a message from Wilson (Global Travelogy) that was sent at 3:31am. He was travelling in New Zealand and saw an email from Changi Rewards about an insider visit to Changi Airport. (That’s when time difference works in your favor.)

Changi Rewards Email

Changi Rewards Email.

Since I have more than 500 points in Changi Rewards account (DFS shopping, dining and gold tier status FTW!), I quickly lock in my redemption and proceed to Changi Airport to make payment for myself and an additional slot for Wilson on the same day. However, I was told that there was no more allowance available for additional slots when I wanted to make payment. Not good news for Wilson. But thank goodness, an additional slot was made available for us and I went down to make payment for Wilson a few days later. On actual day last Saturday (19 March 2016), we discovered that my redemption was 2nd on list. Guessed that helped Wilson in securing his spot. He is a happy man.

So on 19 March 2016, woke up early in morning and head down to Changi Airport on an UberX. Comfy ride as usual even though it is not a limo. This driver provides charger on board for mobile devices. Not bad. The best I have seen so far is charger + drinks + sweets. It is my preferred mode of transport for Airport other than MRT as it is competitively priced against taxis with no midnight surcharge, comfortable and no queue.

Uber

UberX

Upon arrival at Changi Airport, I jumped into action immediately. Started my first Facebook Live broadcast at entrance. After that, I took some photos and met up with Wilson at Terminal 2 Staff Canteen for breakfast. It is quite easy to find the place with prominent signs.

Changi Staff Canteen Breakfast

Changi Staff Canteen breakfast from pancake stall. Had peanut pancake as well. Not bad.

After breakfast, we head down to Changi Airport Group’s office to register and collect airport visitor pass. There are some interesting sights there too.

Changi Airport Group Logo

Changi Airport Group Logo.

Starwars

Star Wars!

Changi Airport Model

Changi Airport Model. I love taking Panorama shots like this using my Sony a5100. No tripod and minimal to no post editing required.

So here are some pictures of our day in Changi airport. Thanks to Changi Airport for hosting us!

Sunflower Garden

Sunflower Garden.

Enchanted Gardens

Plant in a ball.

Enchanted Gardens

Enchanted Gardens.

Koi

Koi

Orchid

Orchid

Swimming Pool

Swimming Pool.

The Social Tree

The Social Tree.

Butterfly

Butterfly

More Butterfly

More Butterfly.

Dom Perignon

Dom Pérignon at DFS Wines and Spirits Duplex.

Wine for sampling

Wine for sampling at DFS Wines and Spirits Duplex.

Bus

Bus for airside tour.

Firefighting Gear

Firefighting Gear.

Water blast

Water blast.

Redbird

Redbird

Changi

Good to see this whenever landing in Changi.

Disclaimer: Drink responsibly.

[Mobile Application] WorldMate Gold

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How many of you used a Palm OS device before? I have been through Palm OS, Pocket PC, then smartphones like iPhone and Android. One mobile application that has been with me through this entire journey is WorldMate.

Worldmate Logo

WorldMate Logo

WorldMate is a travel management application. It helps you generate and monitor itinerary for your trips. Just forward your itinerary (Sent via email from carrier.) via email to WorldMate’s mailbox and you will see information appearing nicely in WorldMate application with little modification required.

WorldMate Gold

WorldMate Gold (Paid tier with premium services like flight alerts/status, calendar synchronization etc. US$9.99 per year. Book hotel or car with WorldMate to get 3 months free WorldMate Gold.)

WorldMate Home

WorldMate Home. (Upcoming trip showup here.)

WorldMate My Trips

WorldMate My Trips

WorldMate Trip

WorldMate Trip Information

WorldMate Flight

WorldMate Flight Information

WorldMate Hotel

WorldMate Hotel Information

WorldMate Booking

WorldMate Booking

WorldMate Tools

WorldMate Tools

This application is available for FREE without ADs on Android Google Play and iOS App Store.

Google Play APP Store

[Credit Card] Annual Fee: To pay or not to pay?

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Just got off a happy call with American Express staffs (Best customer service in my opinion across all banks.) over my American Express Platinum Credit Card annual fee and decided to close it as annual fee benefit is not fantastic. (25,000 points which converts to 13,500 miles for SG$321. Earn rate? 42.056 miles per SG$1.) By closing this credit card, I can consolidate my split credit limit to my American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold Credit Card (When you have 2 credit cards with American Express, they split up your total credit limit among 2 credit cards and is not shared like other banks.) and this credit card has also helped me waived off annual fee for my American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold Credit Card. Besides that, I can always wait 6 months to get this credit card again for free.

Amex Platinum

Bye Ameican Express Platinum Credit Card! See you again in 6 months time!

So you may ask this golden question on which credit card should you be paying annual fee for? In my current credit card arsenal, there are 3 credit cards that I will pay annual fee for:

PremierMiles

Citibank PremierMiles Visa Signature Credit Card

Altitude Visa

DBS Altitude Visa Signature Credit Card

Altitude Amex

DBS Altitude American Express Credit Card

These 3 credit cards charge an annual fee of SG$192.60 and give you 10,000 miles each. (Earn rate of 51.92 miles per SG$1. Versus SG$321 for 13,500 miles for American Express Platinum Credit Card. Why should I pay SG$128.40 more for 3,500 miles? That is too little.) By combining these 3 credit cards together, you earn 30,000 miles which is sufficient for return economy saver redemption on Singapore Airlines for Taipei.

Below is a table to summarize how easy or difficult it is to get your credit card annual fee waived based on my understanding and experience.

Bank Note
UOB
  • Easiest to get credit card annual fee waiver.
  • Punch in credit card number over voice system to get instant decision. (Update 5 March 2016: No longer an instant decision over system. Need to talk to staff over phone.)
  • Low or no usage requirement for credit card annual fee waiver.
Citibank
  • Easy to get credit card annual fee waiver.
  • Speak to staff over phone for instant decision.
  • Low or no usage requirement for credit card annual fee waiver.
DBS
  • Easy to get credit card annual fee waiver.
  • Speak to staff over phone for instant decision.
  • Low or no usage requirement for credit card annual fee waiver.
Standard Chartered
  • Easy to get credit card annual fee waiver.
  • Speak to staff over phone for instant decision.
  • Low or no usage requirement for credit card annual fee waiver.
American Express
  • Not so easy to get credit card annual fee waiver.
  • Speak to staff over phone for instant decision and options.
  • Usage requirement for credit card annual fee waiver.
OCBC
  • Damn difficult to get credit card annual fee waiver.
  • Take damn long to be able to reach a staff over phone for discussion.
  • SG$5,000 annual usage requirement for credit card annual fee waiver.
  • Inconsistency: Heard some of my friends getting credit card annual fee waived by OCBC even though they never use their OCBC credit card at all.

Disclaimer: Use credit card responsibly.

[Credit Card] Miles

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Many people asked me about travel oriented credit cards. So which 1 to get? There is never a 1 card to own them all kind of credit card. So I recommend a combo to maximize your mileage accrual and travel benefits.

Here are 56 travel oriented credit cards that occupy a place n my wallet and how to use them.

PremierMiles

Citibank PremierMiles Visa Signature Credit Card

PrviMiles

UOB PrviMiles World MasterCard Credit Card

Altitude Amex

DBS Altitude American Express Credit Card

Altitude Visa

DBS Altitude Visa Signature Credit Card

[NEW!] American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card

American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card

ANZ Travel Card

ANZ Travel Card Visa Signature Credit Card (Soon to be gone…)

Travel Credit Card Comparison

Travel Credit Card Comparison

From above table, you will be able to see cells highlighted in green or red. Green means best in category while red means poor. As a starter, will recommend the following cards:

American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card.

The good:

  • Annual Income requirement: SG$30,000. (SG$60,000 for foreigners.)
  • 5,000 miles on 1st transaction which will effectively give you an earn rate of 5,000 miles per SG$1 if you charge just SG$1 on your 1st transaction. (No other credit card can beat this kind of earn rate.)
The bad:
  • Earn rate of miles is still quite lousy even after improvement. (Other than welcome bonus.)
  • Miles will be subjected to a 3 year expiry as they are directly transferred to your Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer account immediately.
  • No airport lounge benefit.
  • Travel insurance coverage is quite minimal. (Need to charge full airfare to credit card to enjoy benefit.)
The ugly:
  • No annual fee renewal bonus. So never ever pay for annual fee for this credit card. If you have an American Express Platinum Credit Card, it will be waived. If not, kill this credit card when they charge annual fee. You can reapply 6 months later with annual fee waived for 1 year.

Bottom line:

  • Use this as your Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer membership card after 1st transaction.

DBS Altitude Visa Signature Credit Card

The good:

  • Annual income requirement: SG$30,000.
  • Decent earn rate. (1.2 miles per SG$1 locally, 2 miles per SG$1 after FX conversion for transactions performed using FX and 3 miles per SG$1 on Singapore Airlines.)
  • 10,000 miles renewal bonus by paying annual fee of SG$192.60. (Earn rate of 51.92 miles per SG$1.)
  • No expiry for miles till transfer to programs.
  • Priority Pass.
  • Travel insurance coverage of up to SG$1,000,000. (Need to charge full airfare to credit card to enjoy benefit.)

The bad:

  • No welcome bonus.
The ugly:
  • Block redemption requirement. (10,000 miles per 5,000 points.)

Bottom line:

DBS Altitude American Express Credit Card

The good:

  • Annual income requirement: SG$30,000.
  • Decent earn rate. (1.2 miles per SG$1 locally, 2 miles per SG$1 after FX conversion for transactions performed using FX and 3 miles per SG$1 on Singapore Airlines.)
  • 10,000 miles renewal bonus by paying annual fee of SG$192.60. (Earn rate of 51.92 miles per SG$1.)
  • No expiry for miles till transfer to programs.
  • Travel insurance coverage of up to SG$1,000,000. (Need to charge full airfare to credit card to enjoy benefit.)

The bad:

  • No welcome bonus.
  • No airport lounge benefit.
The ugly:
  • Block redemption requirement. (10,000 miles per 5,000 points.)

Bottom line:

  • Pay annual fee for renewal bonus.

ANZ Travel Card Visa Signature Credit Card

The good:

  • Annual income requirement: SG$30,000. (Advertised to be SG$60,000. 50% discount! Woo!)
  • Decent earn rate. (1.4 miles per SG$1. Good for local not good for overseas as it will stay at 1.4 miles per SG$1.)
  • No expiry for miles till transfer to programs.

The bad:

  • No annual fee renewal bonus. So never ever pay annual fee for this credit card.
  • No airport lounge benefit.
  • No travel insurance benefit.
The ugly:
  • Block redemption requirement. (5,000 miles per 5,000 points.)

Bottom line:

  • Use this card only if you travel to Australia and New Zealand regularly.

Once your income increase to SG$50,000 per annum, that is when a new world opens up for you. 3 more credit cards can come into play.

American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card.

(Note: You can only hold 1 American Express Singapore Airlines branded credit card and no more than 2 American Express issued credit card at any time. Credit limit will also be split among 2 credit cards evenly.)

Ascend

American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card

The good:

  • Annual Income requirement: SG$50,000. (SG$60,000 for foreigners.)
  • 5,000 miles on 1st transaction which will effectively give you an earn rate of 5,000 miles per SG$1 if you charge just SG$1 on your 1st transaction. (No other credit card can beat this kind of earn rate.)
  • SATS Premier Lounge and Plaza Premium Lounge benefit.
  • Travel insurance coverage of up to SG$1,000,000. (Need to charge full airfare to credit card to enjoy benefit.)
The bad:
  • Earn rate of miles is quite lousy even after improvement. (Other than welcome bonus.)
  • Miles will be subjected to a 3 year expiry as they are directly transferred to your Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer account immediately.
The ugly:
  • No annual fee renewal bonus. So never ever pay for annual fee for this credit card. Kill this credit card when they charge annual fee. You can reapply 6 months later with annual fee waived for 1st year.

Bottom line:

  • Use this as your Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer membership card after 1st transaction.

Citibank PremierMiles Visa Signature Credit Card

The good:

  • Annual income requirement: SG$50,000.
  • Decent earn rate. (1.2 miles per SG$1 locally and 2 miles per SG$1 after FX conversion for transactions performed using FX.)
  • 10,000 miles renewal bonus by paying annual fee of SG$192.60. (Earn rate of 51.92 miles per SG$1.)
  • No expiry for miles till transfer to programs.
  • No block redemption requirement.
  • Priority Pass.
  • Travel insurance coverage of up to SG$1,000,000. (Need to charge full airfare to credit card to enjoy benefit.)

The bad:

  • No welcome bonus.

The ugly

  • Block redemption requirement (10,000 miles per 10,000 points with effect from 30 March 2017.)

Bottom line:

  • Use this card on day to day basis especially overseas or online. Always specify to pay in local currency when given a choice for maximum earn rate.
  • Priority Pass.
  • Pay annual fee for renewal bonus.

UOB PrviMiles World MasterCard Credit Card

The good:

  • Annual income requirement: SG$50,000. (Advertised to be SG$80,000. SG$80,000 required for foreigners.)
  • Best earn rate. (1.4 miles per SG$1 locally, 2.4 miles per SG$1 after FX conversion for transactions performed using FX and 3 miles per SG$1 on Singapore Airlines.)
  • Travel insurance coverage of up to SG$1,000,000. (Need to charge full airfare to credit card to enjoy benefit.)
  • JetQuay.

The bad:

  • No welcome bonus. (I got this card when there was a welcome bonus promotion. 15,000 miles by paying annual fee of SG$256.80. 58.41 miles per SG$1. Decent earn rate.)
The ugly:
  • Block redemption requirement. (10,000 miles per 5,000 points.)
  • 2 years point expiry. (Combine with block redemption requirement = FUGLY.)
  • No annual fee renewal bonus. So never ever pay annual fee for this credit card.

Bottom line:

  • Get this just for JetQuay.

Disclaimer: Use credit card responsibly.

[Membership Card] Changi Rewards Gold

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When travelling, some membership cards are worth bringing. Even if I have them virtually on my Perkd application, I will bring physical cards along just in case technology fails or a staff rejects my virtual cards.

Other than my Priority Pass membership card that I must bring along as they only accept physical card, I do bring along some other membership cards as well. Here is 1 of them that I will bring along.

ChangiRewardsGold

Changi Rewards Gold

  • Qualified by spending SG$4,000 at Changi Airport. (Spending requirement waived off courtesy of American Express KrisFlyer Gold Credit Card. Promotion no longer available.)
  • 2 Points for every SG$1. (Normal tier 1 point for every SG$1.)
  • 500 Points = SG$5 rebate.
  • 7% GST savings at participating outlets in Changi Airport public area.
  • 5 Lucky Draw chances per SG$30 spend. (Normal tier 1 Lucky Draw chance.)
  • Points convertible to KrisFlyer miles. (3,000 Points to 1,000 Miles.)
  • 2 Points for every SG$1 at Agoda.

[Deal] Booking hotel through Agoda

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I have been on trips to Hong Kong, Taipei, Tokyo and London previously for leisure. Planning trip is always something that I enjoy. Especially looking for deals for air tickets, attractions, hotels, food, shopping and transports.

In this post, let’s look at hotel booking. 1 of my frequent website for hotel booking is Agoda. They have pretty low rate for hotels and good loyalty reward program which gives you points that can offset your next booking with them. However, most people may not know that they have tie up with several banks and membership programs to offer discounts for credit cards or perks for members. You got to book via special portals on Agoda website and make payment by using specific bank’s credit card to get discounts or specify membership number to get perks.

Agoda

Credit Cards/Membership Cards Portal  Discount
Citibank http://www.agoda.com/citibanksg
  •  8% Discount for:
    • China
    • Taiwan
  • 7% Discount for others.
DBS http://www.agoda.com/dbssg
  •  8% Discount for:
    • Japan
    • Korea
  • 7% Discount for others.
OCBC http://www.agoda.com/ocbc
  •  8% Discount for:
    • Hong Kong
    • Macau
    • Singapore
  • 7% Discount for others.
UOB http://www.agoda.com/uob
  •  8% Discount for:
    • Thailand
    • Malaysia
  • 7% Discount for others.
BOC http://www.agoda.com/boc
  • 5% Discount.
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer http://www.agoda.com/singaporeair
  •  2 KrisFlyer miles/US$1.
Changi Rewards http://www.agoda.com/changirewards
  • 1 point/SG$1 for Member.
  • 2 points/SG$1 for Gold Member.
  • 3 points/SG$1 for Platinum Member.

Hope this helps you in planning your next trip or staycation.

[Credit card] Primer

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You are now studying in Polytechnic/University or just started your first job and want to get your first credit card but do not earn more than SG$30,000 per annum? You can and there are options available: Credit cards with SG$500 credit limit.

Well, SG$500 credit limit may not seems much. But these cards served me well when I started on credit cards. They helped me in building up a good credit discipline and increase my spending power when combined.

So here are 2 credit cards that I started on with SG$500 credit limit each long time ago.

Here are the requirements on these credit cards:

  • Age requirement: 18 years old minimum at time of application. (21 years old for other credit cards usually.)
  • Nationality: Singaporean or Singapore Permanent Resident. (Foreigners on employment pass allowed with higher annual income required usually for other credit cards.)
  • Parent/Guardian consent required for applicant age below 21 at time of registration.
  • Must not be a principal credit card/credit line holder.
  • Non student: Minimum SG$18,000 income per annum. (Standard Chartered Manhattan Platinum MasterCard. Usually SG$30,000 minimum for other credit cards.)

What is required when applying for credit cards:

  • Photocopy of NRIC/Passport.
  • Computerized payslip (Latest minimum. Recommend to submit 3 months.), Income tax Notice of Assessment or 12 months CPF contribution statement. (Self employed individuals will need to submit more.)
  • Completed application form.

What to watch out when applying for credit cards:

  • Annual fee: About SG$30 for these cards. (Usually 1st year waived. Subsequent waiver at bank’s discretion.)
  • Credit limit: SG$500. (Usually 2-4x of your monthly income at bank’s discretion for other credit cards.)
  • Interest rate: About 24% per annum or a minimum amount as stipulated by bank. (Interest can be scary and you will be playing with your credit score if you default. You have been warned.)
  • Statement date: Please call bank after you received your credit card to know your statement generation/cut off date. (This will help you in planning your purchases.)
  • Payment grace period: About 20 days. Pay fully within grace period and there will not be any interest charge.
  • Cash advancement fee: About 6% of amount advanced or a minimum amount as stipulated by bank.
  • Other fees like late fee or over limit fee which you should never ever need to pay if your credit discipline is good.

How to decide which card to get:

  • Your spending habit/pattern:
    • If you are a party guy/gal that frequent Zouk, get Citibank Clear Visa as that credit card offer free entry and 1-for-1 drinks at Zouk.
    • If you are after cashback, get Standard Chartered Manhattan Platinum MasterCard as that credit card offers 0.25% cashback in this case.
    • For other credit cards, you will want to look at rewards on offer and flexibility in redeeming rewards.
  • Bank: If you have any bad blood with any bank or if bank does not has a good reputation, you will not likely want to get a credit card with them. Unless benefit is unrivalled.
  • Payment method:
    • Internet banking (Must have!)
    • SAM (Cut off time 5pm.)
    • AXS. (Cut off time 8pm.)
  • Payment network: Usually I recommend 1 Visa, 1 MasterCard and 1 American Express credit card per bank (At least 2 banks. Just in case 1 bank’s cards just all decide to die on you. It can happen!) for maximum acceptance across the globe. (JCB is an exotic 1 for Japan. Only offered by UOB in Singapore.)
  • Gold/Platinum/Visa Signature/MasterCard Titanium/MasterCard World:
    • Gold is like entry level for American Express. (E.G. American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold credit card.)
    • Platinum is like entry level for Visa/MasterCard/JCB. Premium for American Express.
    • Visa Signature is usually targeted at frequent flyers.
    • MasterCard Titanium is just a fancy gimmick by MasterCard in my opinion. Only offered by OCBC in Singapore.
    • MasterCard World is similar to Visa Signature in terms of level.
  • Contactless payment solution:
    • Visa payWave
    • MasterCard PayPass
    • American Express
    • EZ-LINK
    • NETS FlashPay

Hope this helps as a good start to your journey with credit cards.

Disclaimer: Use credit card responsibly.