5 Credit Cards to Carry in Your Wallet (September 2015)

Anyone who is even the slightest bit interested in travel hacking or earning miles will know that it is impossible to carry just one card in your wallet. Well, technically you could but then you will be missing out on all the potential opportunities that may arise with your day-to-day life. Since the benefits and earning rates of credit cards do change from time to time (unfortunately), the cards that have a permanent place in my wallet change too over time. Here are 5 credit cards that I think you should always carry in your wallet if you are a miles chaser:

1. UOB Preferred Platinum American Express Card

Minimum Annual Income Requirement: S$30,000
Annual Fee: S$192.60 - fee waiver on first year

The UOB Preferred Platinum American Express Card effectively gives you 20 miles (or 10 UNI$) for every S$5 spent at F&B establishments. If you eat out as often as I do (on a daily basis) and if most of the places you to accept the use of American Express cards, then the UOB Preferred Platinum American Express Card is definitely one you have to have. On paper, this card gives you 4 miles per S$1 spend so effectively if you spend $500 a month on food, you should expect to earn approximately 24,000 miles after a year. If you amongst your friends are the one who always foots the bill first, it is not difficult to spend S$1,000 to S$1,500 a month on food - that effectively earns you 48,000 to 72,000 miles after a year of hard work. 

THE FINE PRINT
While 4 miles per S$1 is given out at F&B establishments, majority of restaurants within hotels are excluded from this list as the Merchant Category Code (MCC) represents a hotel instead of an F&B establishment. As such, you will most likely have close to zero luck with earning 4 miles per S$1 at restaurants that are located within hotels. 

 Photo Credit: ANZ Singapore

Photo Credit: ANZ Singapore

2. ANZ Optimum World MasterCard

Minimum Annual Income Requirement: S$80,000
Annual Fee: S$180 - fee waiver on first year

I can't tell you how surprised I am myself to see a cash rebate card on my list of credit cards to carry since I always prefer earning miles to cash back - click HERE to find out how miles can effectively give you 25% cash back through flight redemptions. However, as mentioned in the previous section, dining in hotels generally do not qualify for 4 miles per S$1 and therefore it is often at a pesky 1.4 miles per S$1 (if I use the ANZ Travel Visa Signature Card).

The ANZ Optimum World MasterCard allows you to pick a category of choice to earn unlimited 5% cash rebates (terms and conditions apply of course). My category of choice? Dining and leisure of course! This covers all physical (and some online) transactions made in restaurants, bars, hotels and cinemas. If you dine out at hotels quite a bit and most of the transactions are below S$600, the ANZ Optimum World MasterCard gives you almost 5% cash back (up to S$30 rebate per transaction) on everything.

THE FINE PRINT
Effectively, the ANZ Optimum World MasterCard gives you S$0.10 per S$2 spend in your bonus category of choice (and S$0.10 per S$10 spend in other categories). As a example, assume that you have selected Dining and Leisure as your bonus category of choice, spending S$101.90 at a restaurant will earn you only S$5 rebate (since it is rounded down to S$100 before the rebate is calculated). 

Another thing to take note is that the all cash rebates earned on the ANZ Optimum World MasterCard will be rounded down to the nearest dollar at the end of each month. For the sake of explanation, imagine that you have only utilised the ANZ Optimum World MasterCard one time this month at a restaurant and the total transaction costs S$298.00. You will earn S$14.90 back in cash back through Optimum$. However, this S$14.90 will be rounded down at the end of the month so you have only effectively earned S$14 back in cash rebates - this may sound a little dodgy but they kind of wash out over time with larger expenses. 

 Photo Credit: Citibank Singapore

Photo Credit: Citibank Singapore

3. Citibank Rewards Credit Card

Minimum Annual Income Requirement: S$30,000
Annual Fee: S$192.60 - fee waiver on first year

Citibank Rewards Credit Card (Visa and MasterCard versions both) gives you 10X Rewards when purchase clothing, shoes and the works. Online shopping websites like Amazon also give you 10X Rewards which translates into 4 miles per S$1 so it is really a great card to carry in your wallet in case you fall in love with something you see on the street (or simply just as a backup card for impromptu online purchases). I personally use it for Singtel Bill payments and some PayPal payments as they still qualify for 10X Rewards at the time of writing.

THE FINE PRINT
Depending on MCC, certain stores selling clothing for instance as part of their operations but may be classified under a different MCC so you may just lose out on opportunities to earn maximum miles. Additionally, this card only issues 10X Rewards up to the first S$12,000 spent per annum. A way to get around this is to apply for both Visa and MasterCard versions which will allow you to earn 10X Rewards on the first S$24,000 (S$12,000 on each card) bonus spending. 

4. UOB PRVI Miles World MasterCard

Minimum Annual Income Requirement: S$80,000
Annual Fee: S$256.80 - fee waiver on first year

There are three different versions that come with the UOB PRVI Miles Card - MasterCard, Visa and American Express. Whilst the American Express version comes with complimentary limousine transfer to Changi Airport, it requires a minimum spend of S$1,000 in foreign currency (excluding those incurred online) and the AmEx version charges a higher international fee. 

The UOB PRVI Miles World MasterCard is perfect for booking flights on Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and spending on KrisShop since it earns you 7.5 UNI$ per S$5 (effectively 3 miles per S$1). It will also net you 3.5 UNI$ per S$5 on all other spend (effectively 1.4 miles per S$1). 

1 UNI$ = 2 Miles

THE FINE PRINT
UNI$ are awarded in S$5 intervals and are rounded down per transaction - this leads to a less than accurate representation of miles accrual (especially in smaller transactions). Essentially, if you spend $4.90 on this card, you will earn zero miles since they are only awarded every S$5. Additionally, since UNI$ is rounded down per transaction, spending S$5 in one transaction will earn you only 6 Miles since 3.5 UNI$ will be rounded down to 3.0 UNI$ (effectively only 6 miles instead of 7 miles). Once again, these little rounding issues will be washed out with larger purchases and should not be significant in the long run. 

 Photo Credit: OCBC Singapore 

Photo Credit: OCBC Singapore 

5. OCBC Frank Credit Card

Minimum Annual Income Requirement: S$30,000
Annual Fee: S$32.10 - fee waiver on first two years

If you do not have an OCBC 360 Account to earn bonus interest on, this card may probably not be relevant but if you do and you wish to double-dip or triple-dip on spending then this card will supercharge your savings. For the sake of illustration, assume that you have S$60,000 in your OCBC 360 Account. Spending S$500 on an eligible OCBC Credit Card will net you a 0.50% p.a. bonus interest on your account balance (up to S$60,000) - this is a monthly additional interest of S$25. Spending S$500 on your OCBC Frank Credit Card online will give you S$30 (6%) in rebate on your credit card and it will also trigger your OCBC 360 bonus - a grand total of S$55 rebate from S$500 spend. I recently wrote about using ShopBack and the OCBC Frank Credit Card to save substantially on online purchases - find out how you can stack the promotions even more to triple dip (e.g. spending S$500 on RedMart will earn you S$45 ShopBack rebate and S$55 rebate as shown above - total of 20% rebate ultimately). 

The reason why you should carry this card in your wallet is because of all the unexpected internet purchases that you may have to make and also sine the credit card comes with ATU, NETS FlashPay reloads of up to S$100 per month also count towards making up that S$500 minimum spend.  

THE FINE PRINT
There is a whole list of exclusions that do not count towards hitting the minimum S$500 for activating the 6% rebate on this credit card. In addition, OCBC Credit Cards generally do not have much privileges and benefits outside (as compared to Citibank and UOB cards especially) so the card may seem like a bit of a wasted space. It is also advisable to replace this card with the EZ-Link Imagine American Express Prepaid Card (by combining this with the DBS Woman's World MasterCard to get 4 miles per S$1) should you not have an OCBC 360 Account.