Merchant MCC listing to earn bonus rebates/rewards for credit cards

Hi all,

Once again, a long time (7 months to be exact) since my last post. This is a continuation of my previous post.  My previous post was about how I make full use of the Citibank Cash Back (formerly known as Dividend) credit to maximize rebates for my expenses.

One of the major questions everyone has before making a purchase is whether the merchant will fall under the MCC which earns bonus rewards / rebates. I know that there is already a crowd-sourced list (here) , but I personally feel that there needs to be some form of control. So, I started off with my own list which are based on the transactions that I had made with my credit cards.

I have also created a menu header so that its easy for everyone to reference. Feel free to contact me at finance4uandme@gmail.com if you would like to contribute and / or comment on this listing.

Cheers,
Naro

Citibank Cash Back credit card – merchants entitled to bonus cash rebate

CITI156-16_CITI-CashBack_Visa_RGB-1024x649

The Citi Cash Back credit card (formerly known as Citi Dividend) is one of few credit cards that is always in my wallet. This credit card covers most of my monthly essential expenses every month.

As usual, the headline cash rebate rate is very attractive but there are conditions to be met in order to meet these conditions. In this post, I would share (1) Citi Cash Back credit card’s terms and conditions & calculation, (2) my recommendations and tips to meet the conditions, and (3) merchants which earn the bonus rates.

Rebates terms & conditions and calculation

Slide1

Recommendations & Tips

Recommended Users: Family with kids and car(s).
Personally, this card cover pretty much all the expenses I need to keep the family fed (dining), alive (grocery, necessities) and moving (petrol). All three categories are essential to make sure one can meet the minimum spending condition (S$888) and category bonus rebate cap (S$25 each category).

Tips: Apply for a supplementary card for your spouse
Personally, I do not spend so much in each category. Therefore, I applied a supplementary card for my wife and our combine expenditure made sure we meet the conditions required.

Bonus Rebate Merchants

One of my issue with this credit card is that I do not know the merchant category code of the merchant that I am going to purchase from. This is especially for the dining category as some merchants are not coded as F&B outlets, such as Swiss Bake and Paris Baguette. I have compiled the below list of merchants are entitled to the bonus rate and merchants who do not.

Slide2

I hope the above is useful for you if you are currently or thinking about using Citi Cash Back credit card.

Cheers,
Naro

Reason why I am not an avid user of contact less payment

contactless

During the month of April and May, Singapore saw a wave of introduction of contactless payment by Apple, Samsung and Android. As with the introduction of new solutions, “carrots” (incentives) were given by the card issuing banks to entice users to hop onto the bang wagon.  The incentives given were tabulated and analysed by the talented bloggers. I think one of the more popular one is here by The Milelion.

Why am I am not using it?
Personally, I am using a Samsung android phone which allows me to use either Samsung Pay and the Android Pay. Although I have registered for both of them, I have not made a conscious effort to use them.

The main reason why I use credit cards is to maximise rebates and rewards points for my purchase of goods and services. Based on my own understanding of the rebates and rewards system (and thanks to this crowdsourced list started by “lcpteck” on Hardwarezone Forums, I have a rough idea of which credit card will enable me to reap the most rebates for my purchases.

Using my phone to make a contactless payment will add more hassle to my purchase. There were a couple of hiccups when I tried to use them. In one case, there was an issue with the fingerprint recognition for Samsung Pay. In another case, one retailer only accepted Android Pay, but my default payment app was Samsung Pay. The examples stated are also a case of user problem that is associated with new solution.

However, these inconveniences in the short run only gives me the short-term rewards in terms of the “carrots” dangled. In the long run, there is no tangible benefits for me to use them when there is no more carrots.

What I think should be done?

Personally, I think the use of contactless payments must value-add to the user experience. There are few features, which I term them as ITR features which I think will help to attract credit card users to use contactless payment in the long run.

Feature 1: INFORM Merchant Category Code (MCC)
I believe that one of the biggest issue which many credit card users have is about the MCC of the retailer or service provider. Credit card rebates and rewards are awarded according to the MCC of the retailer. I always refer to this crowdsourced list started by “lcpteck” to do a check, but I will be lost if the merchant is not in the list.

So, I hope that with contactless payment, I will be informed of the MCC of the retailer when I “tap”. Afterwhich, I can select the credit card which I want to use to pay.

Feature 2: TRACK credit card purchases
Some credit cards requires a certain amount to be spent within the calendar or statement month in order to meet requirements for higher rebates or rewards (eg OCBC 365, Citibank Cash Back) and / or attain higher interest for bank account (eg OCBC 360 account, UOB One account). Therefore, it would be good to have the transactions tracked

Feature 3: RECOMMEND credit card to use
Given that credit card user is already informed and transactions tracked, it would be good that they are also given recommendation on which credit card to use before they make a purchase. The user preferences can be pre-configured.  For example, I may be about to make a purchase at Mothercare. My main credit card is OCBC 365 credit card and I have already met the $600 required for the higher rebates and the $500 required for higher interest my OCBC 360 account. It would be good that before I make the purchase, I would be given a recommendation to use the Citibank Rewards credit card because it will earn 10x rewards instead of the paltry 0.3% cash rebate from the OCBC 365 credit card.

Conclusion

I believe that the emergence of Apple Pay, Android Pay and Samsung Pay is a good start. But for now, without the ITR features mentioned above, I do not forsee myself paying with Samsung Pay or Android Pay.   How about you?

Cheers,
Naro

Avoiding Standard Chartered’s minimum commission for online equities trading

Standard Chartered (SC) announced in early June 2016 that it will start to charge a minimum commission with effect from 1st August 2016. When this news was announced, I can imagine that moan of those who are using this platform for dollar-cost-averaging (DCA) investing. If you would like to find out more about the changes,  you can find more details here (SC’s website), here (Yahoo News) and here (Investment Moats).

Only change is commission, SC is still not charging for custody fee
While there is a minimum commission, there is no change to the zero custody fees. This is the saving grace and I still think it is a strong selling point for Singapore investors who invest in overseas market.

My reaction: sign up for SC Priority Banking
I had been thinking of signing up for SC Priority Banking status for the slightly cheaper trading commissions. However, it does not make sense for me to park my cash in SC accounts because of the much higher interest from accounts such as the OCBC 360 and UOB One accounts.

With SC’s announcement, there was an impetus for me to sign up for SC’s Priority Banking status. In order to qualify for SC’s Priority Banking status, one has to have SGD 200,000 AUM with SC and this includes the equities under the custody for SC’s online equities trading platform. So, I transferred my cash into my SC bank account and went down to one of the branches to sign up.

So, what it means to be a SC Priority Banking customer?
Well, there will not be a minimum commission for all my trades on SC online equities platform. Another plus is that I get to see “Priority Banking” logo when I log into SC internet banking.

… a letter informing you of the Priority Banking status
sc_priority_envelope

… a SC Priority Banking Visa Infinite credit card
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…. a Priority Pass that comes with the SC Priority Banking Visa Infinite credit card
it comes with unlimited Priority Pass lounge access for principal card holder.
Priority Pass looks better than the Priority Pass from my DBS Altitude Visa and Citi Premiermiles Visa
sc_priority_pass

….. and additional perks from SC 360 Rewards programme
need to spend at least SGD500 on the SC Priority Banking Visa Infinite card to use earn additional 360 Rewards points
sc_priority_360_rewards

So, how many of you also signed up for SC Priority Banking status to avoid the minimum commission?
If not, what are the alternatives that you choose? Please share with me in the comments section!

 

Its been a long time since my last post!!!!

Wow. It’s been a long time since my last post!! I wrote that I will try to keep my blog updated more frequently, but I failed!

One of the reasons which I think I failed to post too often is that I try to think of new and interesting analysis to post. As such analysis takes time, this resulted in my inaction. Another reason which I think this is so is because I am lazy! HAHA. Moving forward, I will try to post more often even when there is not much new analysis.

For this post, I would like to share two websites which I think are very interesting. These are two websites which helps you to stretch your dollar and earn rewards/points for your next trip!!
They are:
1. Mile Lion (http://milelion.com/)
– There are a lot of miles site which are focused on US credit cards. But this site is for Singapore credit cards!
– Very nice site interface and there is even a pocket chart which is like a decision tree!!!

2. Card Cow (https://card-cow.com/)
– Has a cow-culator to help you calculate the miles you can earn if you utilize your credit cards
– Rebates calculator which is in progress

There your go. My maiden post for 2016 and I hope to post more often.
Alternative, drop me a note on any topics which you would like me to analyse.

Cheers,
Naro

First Personal Finance blog post: 开源节流 (Broadening income sources and reducing expenditure)

Hi all,

Its the first time I’m posting on my personal finance blog. I grew up with a strong insurance background and got myself certified as with Capital Markets and Financial Advisory Services (CMFAS) Module 5 (Rules and Regulations for Financial Advisory Service) and Module 9 (Life Insurance and Investment-linked Policies), as well as a Certificate in Health Insurance. However, I have not worked as an insurance agent before.

I’ve feel that i’m quite late in terms personal finance, especially in  terms of investing. I’ve read a lot of blogs on investments and I think I should try to pen down some of my personal finance thoughts into a blog. Its also a way for me to improve my writing skills as well. 🙂

Topic for my first post for this blog will be about 开源节流 (broaden sources of income and reduce expenditure)

开源节流 (Broadening income sources and reducing expenditure)

The Chinese idiom 开源节流 translated into English means broadening income sources and reducing expenditure. I am a salaried worker, pretty much like many other fellow Singaporeans. To grow our wealth, our day job already takes up a lot of our time and energy, it restricts us in terms of broadening our income sources, other than investment income. The easiest way for us to grow our wealth is to restrict or reduce expenditure.

I am not so experienced in terms of investment, so this post will focus on reducing expenditure.

Lifestyle expenditure

As the saying goes, a penny saved is a penny earned. However, our expenditure depends a lot on our lifestyle that we are used to. For me, I’m a coffee addict and I always need my caffeine fix in the morning and in the afternoon. I do spend quite some money on coffee at Ya Kun, Toastbox and such coffee joints. I’m trying to reduce my expenditure on this by (1) looking for cheaper alternatives from Ya Kun & Toast box ; (2) bringing instant coffee bags to office and ; (3) asking my overseas friends to help me buy Nespresso capsules back when they return to Singapore for holiday.

Cash rebates using credit cards

I also have recurring expenditure for my telco bills, town council bills and periodical subscription which are charged monthly. For such recurring expenditures, I charge them to my credit cards. The reason is because there are several cards out there which offers cash back if you incur a minimum spending amount each month. There is a very good website which consolidates all the best credit cards for cash rebates: SGTips. This is a very good website and even give you tips on how to achieve the minimum monthly spending to enjoy the credit card cash rebates. The credit cards I use for cash rebates are mainly:

– UOB One and Standard Chartered Bonus$Saver cards for recurring bills (telco, town council, periodical subscription)

– Citibank Mobil Privilege paired with Citibank Dividend card for petrol at Esso stations

– Standard Chartered Manhattan card for one-off big purchases

– Maybank Family & Friends card for groceries

– CIMB Preferred Platinum for other purchases and overseas expenditure. Also use this for my annual motor insurance renewal to get an additional 3.3% rebate

I did a check on my 2013’s expenses and I got back almost S$1k worth of cash rebates! I was quite amazed by the amount of savings I obtained by leveraging on these credit card cash rebates!

I hope the above will give you some ideas on how to reduce expenditure 节流 🙂