Compare credit cards that reward you whether you spend on entertainment and dining out with friends or on everyday purchases at the supermarket and filling station. Save money and get something back with a rewards credit card.
On Citi's website
Citi Prestige Credit Card
On HSBC's website
HSBC Visa Platinum Credit Card
On Citi's website
Citi Rewards Card (Visa)
On HSBC's website
HSBC Revolution Credit Card
On OCBC's website
OCBC Titanium Rewards Credit Card (Blue)
On OCBC's website
OCBC Titanium Rewards Credit Card (Pink)
Earning rewards points as you spend can put the icing on the cake when doing things you love (entertainment, dining, travel, shopping) and ease the burden of paying for the things you absolutely need (groceries, petrol, transportation, utility bills). That’s because you can redeem your rewards points for shopping, dining or travel vouchers, movie tickets and more.
While it’s never a good idea just to spend for the sake of earning points, you may as well derive some benefit from the spending you would be doing in any case.
The card that is best for you will be the one that delivers the best return: that is, the value of points earned plus other benefits, less the amount of the annual fee and any other costs. So you need to consider your spending habits in order to determine which kind of card suits you best. Some cards give more points per dollar for specific spending categories, such as dining, entertainment, or online purchases. If most of your spending falls into a particular category, choose a card which gives you more points per dollar for that type of spending.
Low-to-moderate spenders will probably be better off choosing a card with a low annual fee, or even no annual fee. Although the rewards points given per dollar spent will be lower, the risk of not earning enough points to recoup the annual fee is minimised.
More affluent cardholders will earn a greater number of points simply because they habitually spend more, and they can afford to look for a card with a higher fee, and consequently a faster points earning rate and more attached perks.
If you do not plan to pay off your total card account balance every month, or if you intend to transfer a balance from another card to take advantage of a zero interest period, a rewards credit card is probably not a good choice. That’s because the interest cost on purchases will far outweigh the value of any rewards points you could earn.
Rewards card fall into three main categories: air miles cards, cashback cards and in-house proprietary rewards program cards. This latter category includes such programs as HSBC Rewards and Citi Rewards.
Air miles and cashback cards are listed elsewhere on this website, so this page will concentrate on in-house proprietary rewards programs.
Typically, you can redeem them for vouchers or gift cards (for yourself, or to give to someone else) to be used for shopping, entertainment, travel or accommodation. You may also be able to exchange your points for merchandise from an online catalogue. Many rewards programs allow you to exchange points for air miles with a chosen airline.
There are two types of bonus points: sign-up or first purchase bonuses, and promotional bonuses.
Sign-up or first purchase bonuses are points given to you by the card issuer when you first get the card. You may get the points simply for applying for the card and being approved, or you may need to make at least one purchase first. Alternatively, you may be required to meet a set spending target, such as $2,000 in the first three months, in order to qualify for the bonus points.
These upfront bonus points are usually numbered in the thousands – anywhere between 10,000 and 50,000 or more – and can be a very valuable benefit as well as a great boost to kickstart your points collecting adventure.
Promotional bonus points are earned by directing your spending towards a particular merchant. Your card may permanently offer three times the normal points earning rate for shopping at a particular department store. Or your card issuer might send you a message advising that, for the next 30 days only, you will earn 10 times the normal rate for dining at a specific restaurant.
This depends very much on the type of redemption you choose. Air miles usually deliver the best return, followed by shopping, entertainment or travel vouchers and conversion to cashback on your card, with merchandise redemptions usually trailing a long way behind in dollar value.
To find out how much a point is worth for a specific redemption, work out the cost of the item if you had to buy it, and then divide by the number of points. For example, if a $50 retail voucher costs you 10,000 points, then each point is worth 0.5 cents.
Also consider how much you need to spend to earn those points. Card A may give you one point per dollar spent and charge 10,000 points for a $50 voucher. So you need to spend $10,000 to get $50 back. Card B may give you two points per dollar spent, but charge 22,000 points for a $50 voucher, requiring you to spend $11,000 for the same $50 return. Card B appears better on the surface, but it only takes a quick calculation to work out that Card A gives greater value.
Although there are some types of rewards points which never expire, most do have a limited life. So you need to remember to use the points you have, and if you are saving up points for a big reward, calculate at the outset how long it is likely to take you to accumulate the required total, otherwise the older points may disappear before you can redeem them.
Some cards (usually those with a higher annual fee) have no limit on the number of points you can earn in a month or a year. Less expensive cards may have a cap on the number of points you can earn in a given period.
As well as earning rewards points for your spending, you could also receive some of the following benefits:
Annual fees usually fall in the range $100 to $350, possibly with an additional charge for a supplementary card. Some cards will waive the fee for the first one or two years, and may waive the fee in any year where you reach a target amount of spending, e.g. $12,500.
There may be other fees involved, such as foreign currency transaction fees, late payment fees or a lost card replacement fee. Also, credit cards charge high interest rates on balances left unpaid after the due date.