Like all good things, the sale of the ever-popular EZ-Link Imagine American Express® Prepaid Card has been discontinued since 24 March 2016. The acceptance of this card will also cease from 01 September 2016. This is bad news for everyone who has been using this card as a proxy for the DBS Woman's World MasterCard to earn 4 miles per S$1. Here is a few quick summary of the current and future situation this card is (and will be) in:
1. You can no longer purchase the EZ-Link Imagine American Express® Prepaid Card
That's right, if you don't already have the card, there is no way to purchase it anymore - technically there's really no point to purchase it since it's going to be cancelled soon.
2. Top-ups can only be done until the end of 31 May 2016
If you have not maxed out your DBS Woman's World MasterCard (S$2,000 a month) for March, you should think about doing so now! Since we're approaching April 2016 soon, there is only two more months to take full advantage of this proxy.
3. You can only use this card until the end of 31 August 2016
Merchants will not longer be accepting this card beginning 01 September 2016. If you do have a balance (and you actually should), fret not because you will be able to get a refund (see below!).
4. Balance Refund is possible between 1 August 2016 to 30 November 2016
Since this card allows you to store up to S$1,000, you should definitely load it up (even if you do not have intention to spend). One final hurrah for manufactured spending!
In celebration of the upcoming Lunar New Year ahead, Chope is giving you the opportunity to earn 100 more Chope-Dollars on your next reservation. More importantly, it is allowing you to use some of your Chope-Dollars for a chance to win extra Chope-Dollars (yes, pretty much like gambling really), Shopee credits, Chope Shop credits as well as S$88 Cash - unfortunately bonus KrisFlyer Miles is not one of the prizes though.
In celebration of the brand new Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts mobile app, there is currently an opportunity to earn triple Golden Circle points for all stays booked and consumed between 22 January 2018 and 30 April 2018. Members (both new and existing) will also be able to earn 100 Golden Circle points for simply signing-in during the promotion period.
Hilton Honors have undergone some changes back in 2017 where members are allowed to pool their Hilton Honors Points with up to ten members for free. Come April 2018, there will once again be changes to the Hilton Honors program to reward members who stay more often with unlimited milestone bonuses. Additionally, members who hit a number of calendar nights will be able to gift Gold and Diamond status to a fellow member.
While most of us elite status-chasers do not use Expedia much (since it does not earn you elite-qualifying nights which contribute towards elite status each year), it can sometimes make sense to consider using Expedia when you are planning to stay in a property that does not belong to a greater loyalty program or one that you have no interest in. What a lot of people do not realise is that most banks in Singapore offer a discount code for hotel reservations made via a specific landing page. At the time of writing, Citibank offers the most generous discount of 15% off all participating properties where the 'Expedia Rate' is available - there is also only a one-night minimum stay for this promo code.
There will be some upcoming changes to the number of IHG Rewards Club points required for a Reward Night this year. Additionally, a higher category of hotels will be introduced and these properties will be priced at 70,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night - this is 10,000 more points than the highest requirement of 60,000 points right now.
The Standard Chartered Visa Infinite Card comes with a S$588.50 annual fee that cannot be waived but it is one of the cheapest ways to purchase miles by paying for the card's annual fees. While existing cardholders have been given a fairly lackluster renewal offer, new card applicants can benefit from 35,000 miles when they pay for the annual fee - only S$16.81 for 1,000 miles! With the start of the new year, the Standard Chartered Visa Infinite Card has scaled back some benefits but also started to offer a little more.
The beginning of every new year comes with a multitude of decisions that I have to make and one of them is essentially deciding the number of loyalty programs that I will endeavour to retain elite status with. The InterContinental Ambassador membership is an easy decision to make - it requires zero effort (even though I do stay in InterContinental properties throughout the year) and it simply requires USD 150 to renew each year (USD 200 for the first year). The benefits of being an InterContinental Ambassador can easily pay itself off in one stay and I highly recommend anyone with plans to stay in an InterContinental property to consider purchasing this membership.
While it is no secret that OCBC VOYAGE Cardholders will now earn a reduced rate of 1.6 VOYAGE Miles per dollar on dining and enjoy a higher base rate of 1.2 VOYAGE Miles per dollar on all eligible retail spend charged in SGD, what a lot of people do not realise (myself included!) is that the cardholders of the OCBC Premier VOYAGE Credit Card, OCBC Premier Private Client VOYAGE Credit Card and Bank of Singapore VOYAGE Card now earn 1.6 VOYAGE Miles per dollar on all eligible retail spend - this is extremely generous as it is in line with the highly exclusive UOB Reserve Card - a credit card for UOB Privilege Reserve Clients with S$2,000,000 in deposits/investments with the bank.
Following the revamp of the loyalty program back in late 2016, World of Hyatt has just announced that free night awards will count towards earning and retaining tier status from 01 January 2018. Previously only Points + Cash awards count towards tier status and allowing free nights to go towards this annual requirement is a much-welcomed change. Additionally, World of Hyatt is also extending the validity dates for certain free night awards from 120 days to 180 days from the date of issuance.
As the year comes to an end, I thought that it would be interesting to reevaluate which cards to physically hold in my wallet for the year ahead. While most of the best credit cards for 2017 (in my opinion) have made it into the 2018 list, the diffusion of innovation has seen the digitisation of many credit cards as contactless payment becomes more prominent in Singapore. This is by no means an exhaustive list of credit cards to apply for (since the recommendation varies from person to person) but rather an indication to which credit cards I am holding physically and digitally for the new year ahead.