Best Credit Cards Hacks To Go With Your Choice Of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL)

Aaron Wong

Aaron Wong

Last updated 25 October, 2021

While BNPL services aren’t for everyone, savvy consumers can use them to maximise their credit card rewards. Here’s how.

If you’ve been shopping online or in-store lately, you may have come across a Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) service like Atome or hoolah at check-out. 

For the uninitiated, these services allow customers to break up payments into a series of smaller instalments (typically three monthly payments). Zero interest is charged, and if you pay off your balance on time, it’s entirely free to use. If you miss a payment, you’ll be charged a late payment fee which ranges anywhere from a few dollars to S$60. 

  Instalments Late Payment Fee
Atome 3 months S$15 - S$30
hoolah 3 months  S$5 - S$30
OctiFi 3 months From S$15
Pace 3 months S$10 - S$60
Rely 3 months / 4 fortnights S$1 - S$40
Split 3 months None

It can’t be emphasised enough that you should not be using a BNPL service to spend beyond your means. While paying in instalments reduces the initial pinch and improves your cash flow, missed payments can lead to big problems down the road when you’re applying for a loan or credit card. BNPL services are useful if you know what you’re doing, dangerous if you don’t.

But assuming you’re financially disciplined and not hard-pressed for cash, there are actually three good reasons to consider paying via a BNPL service. 

#1 Earn credit card rewards on instalments

If you’re new to BNPL, you may wonder what all the fuss is about. Don’t credit cards offer 0% instalment plans with selected merchants too?

Yes, but here’s the catch: you won’t earn any credit card rewards on bank instalment plans. Banks are already taking the cashflow hit on their side; they’re hardly going to reward you with miles or cashback too.

On the other hand, payments to BNPL services are considered retail spend, which means you get to have your cake and eat it: enjoy interest-free instalments, plus credit card rewards. 

BNPL transactions are processed across three main Merchant Category Codes:

  • MCC 5399 Misc. General Merchandise
  • MCC 5999 Misc. and Specialty Retail
  • MCC 7399 Business Services Not Elsewhere Classified
  MCC 5399 MCC 5999 MCC 7399
Atome    
Hoolah    
OctiFi    
Pace    
Rely    
Split    

MCCs are derived from the Visa Supplier Locator. Refer to this post for a guide on how to use it

This means you can consider using the following cards to maximise your miles...

  Earn Rate MCC 5399 MCC 5999 MCC 7399
Citi Rewards 4 mpd
DBS Woman’s World Card 4 mpd
HSBC Revolution 4 mpd  
KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card 3 mpd  
UOB Preferred Platinum Visa 4 mpd  

...and cashback. 

  Earn Rate MCC 5399 MCC 5999 MCC 7399
OCBC Frank 6% cashback
(Min. spend: S$600)
DBS Live Fresh 5% cashback
(Min. spend S$600)
Standard Chartered Spree 2% cashback
(No min. spend)

My personal picks would be the Citi Rewards Card and DBS Woman’s World Card, simply for convenience since they cover the widest range of MCCs. Do note the respective caps, as outlined in the cards’ T&Cs. 

CITI_CC_EURO_BLOGARTICLE_800x250

🎉SingSaver x Citi CC Euro Summer Kickoff Lucky Draw🎉: Be one of the 10 lucky winners to win 120k Max Miles each (enough for a pair of economy-class round-trip tickets to anywhere in Europe) when you sign up for an eligible Citibank Credit Card on SingSaver. A total of 10x pairs of tickets will be given away for over 2 weeks, with 5x pairs given weekly. Valid till 23 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

SingSaver_Score_Big_2024_KV1_BLOGARTICLE_800x250

✨SingSaver Score Big CC Campaign✨: The first 10 applicants to apply for participating products daily at 12pm and 6pm will score a rewards upgrade to a PlayStation®5 (Slim) Disc Edition (worth S$799). Meanwhile, the first 10 to apply at 3pm will score a rewards upgrade to a Dyson Airwrap™ Multi-styler and Dryer (worth S$859). Remaining applicants will enjoy existing rewards. Check out FAQs here. Valid till 23 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

SingSaver Exclusive Offer: Receive the following rewards and experience Fastest Rewards Fulfilment when you sign up for a Citi Rewards Card:

Citi CC_BLOGARTICLE_800x250 (1)

Receive a Sony Portable Theatre System HT-AX7 (worth S$759) or a Dyson Supersonic (worth S$699) or an Apple iPad 10th Gen 10.9 wifi 64GB (worth S$529) or S$450 eCapitaVoucher or S$300 cash via PayNow upon activating and spending a minimum of S$500 within 30 days of card approval. Valid until 30 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

Rewards Upgrade Campaign_BLOGARTICLE_800x250

⬆️Reward Upgrade Campaign⬆️: Upgrade your rewards when you top up S$1,200 for an Apple MacBook Air 13” (M3 chip) 256GB (worth S$1,599) or an Apple iPhone 15 Pro 128GB (worth S$1,664.25). Alternatively, top up S$1,786.00 for a Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Titanium Gray 12+512GB 5G (worth S$2,128). Valid till 30 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

#2 Optimise the bonus caps on your cashback and miles cards

While the ability to earn credit card rewards on BNPL instalment payments is useful in itself, it gets even better. 

Suppose you’re planning to buy a S$3,000 laptop on Qoo10. You’ve decided to pay with your Citi Rewards Card to earn 4 mpd, but there’s a hitch. Citibank caps your 4 mpd at S$1,000 per month. Exceed this threshold, and you earn a measly 0.4 mpd. 

Therefore, your choices are as follows:

  1. Put the entire purchase on your Citi Rewards Card and earn 4 mpd on the first S$1,000, then 0.4 mpd on the next S$2,000 (total miles: 4,800)
  2. Put the entire purchase on a general spending card like the DBS Altitude, which earns a flat 1.2 mpd on the entire S$3,000 (total miles: 3,600)

Neither is optimal, but a BNPL service helps solve the problem.

Suppose you put the purchase on a three-month payment plan with Rely. Each month, your Citi Rewards Card is charged S$1,000, which means that over three months, you’ll earn a total of 12,000 miles! 

The same argument applies even if you’re a cashback user. Suppose you use the OCBC Frank Credit Card, which awards 6% cashback for online spending, capped at S$25 per month. Had you put the entire S$3,000 purchase on this card, you’d earn just S$25. But by breaking up the transaction over three months, you’ll get S$75 cashback instead. 

Therefore, BNPL services help credit card users optimise their bonus miles or cashback caps when making big-ticket purchases. 

#3 Customer acquisition offers

Since BNPL services are fairly nascent in Singapore, they’re going big to acquire customers and gain market share.

While these incentives should not be an enticement to use BNPL if you have concerns about your self-control, there’s no harm enjoying them if you’re using a BNPL solely for reasons (1) and (2) above.

Here’s a brief round-up of some of the offers. These change frequently, so always refer to the official websites for the latest.

  • Atome offers various merchant-specific deals, including a tie-up with CapitaLand that allows you to earn 8,000 STAR$ (equivalent to an S$8 voucher) when you sign up and make your first purchase
  • Pace is giving OCBC YES! Debit card holders S$50 off a min. spend of S$250
  • Rely has a cashback system with periodic offers at various merchants

Conclusion

There’s a lot of buzz about BNPL services now, and the MAS is starting to take a closer look at this relatively unregulated industry. It means we may see a shakeup soon in terms of how BNPL services are allowed to market themselves, acquire customers and charge late fees. 

At the end of the day, BNPL services are a double-edged sword. They can present the temptation to fall into a debt trap, or they can be tools for savvy consumers to get more from their credit cards. Use them wisely!

Read these next:
Buy Now, Pay Later vs Credit Cards: Which One’s More Dangerous?
3 Tips For Using ‘Buy Now, Pay Later’ Facilities Like A Real Shopping Pro
What Really Happens If You Skip Credit Card Bills, Loan & BNPL Payments
Comparison: How Does PayLater By Grab Measure Up Against Other BNPL Providers?
Top Credit Card Promotions And Deals On SingSaver



Aaron founded The Milelion to teach people how to travel better for less, with credit cards, airline and hotel loyalty programmes. With 500,000 miles flown and counting, he’s keen to debunk the myth that you can’t travel in style without breaking the bank.

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