Nerfing Season: The Latest Changes to The Miles Game, and What You Can Do About It

Aaron Wong

Aaron Wong

Last updated 09 April, 2024

‘Tis the season to be nerfing! With banks tightening the purse strings and cutting back on promotions, here’s all the nerfs you should know about- and what you can do to mitigate them.

2024 has not gotten off to a great start for miles chasers, with the DBS Woman’s World Card and UOB Lady’s Cards seeing their earn rates lowered or bonus caps cut.

But who could have guessed that April would bring more drama of its own? It’s almost as if all the banks were waiting till April Fool’s Day to spring some nasty surprises on us! 

 If you haven’t been keeping up, here’s what you should know – and what you can do.

Table of contents


HSBC Revolution Card tightening its bonus categories

At the start of 2024, the HSBC Revolution Card already went through one round of nerfs, with MCCs 4722 and 7011 dropping off its whitelist. This meant the end of bonuses with Klook, Pelago, AirBnB, Trip.com, Hotels.com, and most hotels worldwide.

See also: Best Credit Cards For Agoda Promotions 

Unfortunately, that was just the warm-up, because from 1 May 2024 three additional MCCs are being taken off the bonus list:

  • MCC 5411 Supermarkets
  • MCC 5499 Misc. Food Stores
  • MCC 5814 Fast Food

These transactions will only earn 0.4 mpd, just like any other non-bonus category.

This means the end of 4 mpd at Cold Storage, NTUC FairPrice, Sheng Siong and other supermarkets, as well as convenience stores like 7-Eleven and Cheers. There'll also be no more bonuses for Burger King, KFC, McDonald’s, and Starbucks. 

But what you might not know is that MCC 5499/5814 are also used by food delivery services such as Deliveroo, foodpanda, and GrabFood, as well as QR-code payment solution XNAP (useful in situations where merchants don’t accept cards, like hawker stalls and wet markets).

These are big losses for cardholders, no two ways about it.

For what it’s worth, the HSBC Revolution will continue to earn bonuses on air tickets, car rental, cruises, department stores, restaurants and transport

Enjoy the following rewards when you sign up for an HSBC Revolution Card:

HSBC CC_KV2_BLOGARTICLE_800x250

⚡Flash Deal⚡: Get a PlayStation 5 Disc Version (worth S$799) or a Dyson Airwrap (worth S$859) or S$500 e-capita Vouchers when you are one of the first 500 to apply and spend a minimum of S$500 by the end of the following calendar month from the card account opening date. Remaining applicants will enjoy SingSaver Exclusive rewards. Valid till 4 June 2024. T&Cs apply

HSBC CC_KV1_BLOGARTICLE_800x250

SingSaver's Exclusive Offer: Receive a Dyson Supersonic™ hair dryer (worth S$699) or an Apple iPad 9th 10.2" WiFi 64GB (worth S$508.30) or S$350 eCapitaVoucher or 21K Max Miles upon activating and spending min. S$500 by the end of the following calendar month from the card account opening date. Valid till 4 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

Pay_To_Upgrade_Rewards_Campaign_BLOGARTICLE_800x250-1

Plus, upgrade your rewards when you top up S$200 to get a Xiaomi Robot Vacuum X20 (worth S$699) or Sony Portable Theatre System HT-AX7 (worth $$759). Alternatively, top up S$1,099 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). Valid till 4 June 2024. T&Cs apply.

What you can do

Fortunately, there are still other cards that earn bonuses on supermarkets, fast food and food delivery.

Alternative credit cards to consider

If the HSBC Revolution Card was your dedicated card for all things groceries, dining (fast food), and food delivery, here are other credit card alternatives to opt for instead.


No more 1% cashback for HSBC credit cards via Everyday Global Account

The HSBC Revolution nerf would be bad enough in itself, but there’s more bad news for HSBC cardholders in general.

Currently, the HSBC Everyday Global Account (EGA) awards 1% cashback for spending on HSBC credit cards or the HSBC Everyday Global Debit Card, provided the account holder:

  1. Deposits S$2,000 (Personal Banking) or S$5,000 (Premier/Jade) in fresh funds each month
  2. Makes at least five transactions of any amount on a HSBC personal credit card or HSBC Everyday Global Debit Card

From 2 May 2024, the EGA will only award 1% cashback for spending on the HSBC Everyday Global Debit Card. This means you can no longer earn 4 mpd + 1% cashback with a card like the HSBC Revolution.

In addition to this, EGA customers can also earn 1% cashback on GIRO bill payments, except for HSBC credit cards. From 2 May 2024, an additional restriction will be added on payments to any financial institute and trading platforms relating to crypto-currencies, stock exchanges, and trades. Thankfully, this does not include other bank credit card bills, so at least you can continue to earn 1% cashback on that. 

The total cashback you can earn per month continues to be capped at S$300 (Personal Banking) or S$500 (Premier/Jade).


What you can do

There isn’t a whole lot that can be done here, because the EGA is a unique product within the market.


DBS Altitude Card ends Kaligo and Expedia bonus miles

For a long time now, the DBS Altitude Card has been offering 6 mpd on Expedia flights and hotels, and 10 mpd on Kaligo hotel bookings. These offers were always positioned as limited-time only, but were renewed so often most people had come to see them as evergreen.

Unfortunately, DBS has now ended its partnership with Kaligo, and replaced its bonus miles on Expedia with a promo code system valid only for hotels.

This means you can no longer earn 6 mpd on airline bookings with carriers like EVA Air, Garuda Indonesia, Korean Air, Qatar Airways, THAI and Turkish, which were featured on the DBS x Expedia portal.

Moreover, these hotel promo codes have a cap on the total number of redemptions, as well as a minimum spend requirement:

  • ALT40: S$40 off min. S$380 spend on hotels, capped at 800 redemptions
  • ALT80: S$80 off min. S$580 spend on hotels, capped at 300 redemptions

Given that prices on the DBS x Expedia portal may be higher than the hotel’s official website or other online travel agencies, it’s hard to see this substitution as anything other than a downgrade.

What you can do

If you’re looking for upsized miles on airline and hotel bookings, the Citi PremierMiles Card continues to earn 10 mpd with Kaligo and 7 mpd with Agoda, while the OCBC 90°N Card earns 7 mpd with Agoda. The UOB PRVI Miles Card also enjoys 6 mpd on selected airline bookings with Expedia, as well as Agoda. 

Alternative travel credit cards

If the DBS Altitude Card no longer lives up to your expectation, here are other travel credit cards that reward you bonus miles on all your hotel and flight bookings.

Citi PremierMiles Card open_in_new

Airmiles Travel: Up to 10 miles per dollar

OCBC 90°N Mastercard open_in_new

Airmiles Travel: Up to 7 miles per dollar

UOB PRVI Miles American Express Card open_in_new

Airmiles Travel: 1.40 miles per dollar

UOB PRVI Miles Visa Card open_in_new

Airmiles Travel: Up to 6 miles per dollar

UOB PRVI Miles World MasterCard open_in_new

Airmiles Travel: 6 miles per dollar


Read more:

Best Travel Agencies in Singapore For Flight Bookings and More
Best Credit Cards For Booking Hotels and Flight Tickets


UOB One Account maximum interest cut to 4%

While most hurdle accounts require you to spend on cashback cards, buy overpriced investments or insurance products, or take out a mortgage to unlock their maximum interest rates, the UOB One Account is refreshingly simple.

All you need to do is credit a monthly salary of at least S$1,600 and spend at least S$500 on selected UOB cards each month, including the UOB Lady’s Card and UOB Lady’s Solitaire Card. That makes it a perfect option for miles chasers since most of them would be spending on such cards anyway.

The effective interest rate is currently 5% p.a. on a balance of up to S$100,000, but from 1 May 2024, it’ll be lowered to 4% p.a. on a balance of up to S$150,000

UOB One Account Interest
(Minimum Card Spend + Salary Credit)

 

Till 30 Apr 2024

From 1 May 2024

First S$30K

3.85%

3.00%

Next S$30K

3.90%

3.00%

Next S$15K

4.85%

3.00%

Next S$25K

7.8%

4.50%

Next S$25K

0.05%

4.50%

Next S$25K

0.05%

6.00%

Above S$150K

0.05%

0.05%

Maximum Effective Interest Rate

5% p.a.

4% p.a.

Cap

S$100,000

S$150,000

It’s by no means a fatal blow, though it’s certainly unwelcome, insofar as you’ll need to commit more funds to unlock a lower maximum effective interest rate.

What you can do

One possible alternative to the UOB One Account would be the OCBC 360, which allows customers to earn up to 4.6% p.a. on a balance of up to S$100,000. The minimum card spending required for this can be clocked on the miles-earning OCBC 90°N or OCBC Rewards Card, but the bigger issue is that a big chunk of the bonus interest (1.5% p.a.) comes from the Save criteria, which requires you to increase your average daily balance by at least S$500 monthly. 

That sounds easy to achieve in theory, but if this is your day-to-day account with money flowing in and out all the time, there’s a lot of micromanagement involved to ensure you reach the goal without “overshooting” too much and impacting future months. 

So the way I see it, there’s no point abandoning the UOB One Account, because even after the nerf it’s still one of the best options for miles chasers. 


Amaze now charges 1% fee for SGD transactions 

While the Amaze Card is ostensibly for overseas transactions, it still comes in useful for spending at home. 

That’s because all Amaze transactions code as online, allowing users to trigger online spending bonuses on the Citi Rewards and KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card. For instance, you could pair Amaze to the Citi Rewards and pay in-store at a restaurant, earning 4 mpd by virtue of the fact it codes online. 

But Amaze has now imposed a 1% domestic fee for card-linked SGD transactions in excess of S$1,000 per month. For example, a S$1,500 transaction will incur a domestic fee of S$5 (1% of S$500).

What you can do

If you normally use the Citi Rewards Card with Amaze, you may be fairly indifferent because the 4 mpd cap is already S$1,000 per month, the same threshold at which the 1% domestic fee kicks in. However, you should remember that the Citi Rewards cap is based on statement month, and it’s possible to clock more than S$1,000 spend within a given calendar month.

For example, if your statement period runs from 15th to the 14th of each month, and on the 13th and 20th you charge S$1,000 each to your Citi Rewards linked Amaze, you will earn 4 mpd on the full S$2,000, but you will have to pay a domestic fee based on S$1,000.

Likewise, you need to be careful if you pair the KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card with Amaze. While you can earn an uncapped 3 mpd on shopping by pairing the two, you’ll need to do it outside of Singapore to avoid triggering the 1% domestic fee.

Best miles cards to pair with Instarem amaze

Citi Rewards Card: 4 mpd on eligible online transactions

KrisFlyer UOB Card: 3 mpd on select local spend with min. S$800 annual spend on Singapore Airlines-related transactions

Citi Rewards Card open_in_new

Airmiles Local Online Shopping: 4 miles per dollar

KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card open_in_new

Airmiles Local: 3 miles per dollar

 


Conclusion

With all the nerfs that have happened or will happen, it can be tempting to feel like the sky is falling. But some perspective is necessary. Nerfs are a natural part of the miles game. A bank realises a particular incentive or promotion has fulfilled its purpose, they kill it off, we move on. It’s happened before, it’ll happen again. 

Besides, there’s other things to cheer about: the OCBC Rewards Card has launched the latest of its quarterly 6 mpd promotions, with bonus miles available at department stores and duty-free shopping till 30 June 2024. UOB Lady’s Cardholders can continue to earn 6 mpd on their spending, provided they make a S$10,000 deposit in a UOB Lady’s Savings Account. And with income tax season just around the corner, CardUp and Citi PayAll promotions will offer cardholders low-cost ways of buying miles. 

So it’s not all doom and gloom! Nerfs aren’t game over; they’re just a reminder of the need to rejig your strategy every now and then.

 

 

Read these next:
MileLion: 5 Credit Cards I Never Leave Home Without
MileLion: My Take On The DBS Woman’s World Card and UOB Lady’s Card Devaluations
7 Common Mistakes People Make When Redeeming Miles
How To Maximise The Miles Earned On Big Ticket Spending

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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