“Wait, didn’t you guys just do an article about the best credit cards for online shopping? Need another list of credit cards for shopping meh? Who even shops offline these days?”
I know, I know. Most things are cheaper online. But I think there’s something to be said for going “analog” when you shop.
Years ago, I bought some clothes on ASOS that looked really good from all angles and in the catwalk demo video. When the parcel arrived, I eagerly unboxed my loot – only to find that one was completely see-through and another had already fallen apart in transit. Since then, I’ve never bought clothes online before going to the store to see, feel and try them on.
Before you head to Orchard Road, though, make sure you arm yourself with the best credit cards for shopping in Singapore. I selected them with 3 criteria in mind:
- Set up to reward offline (not online) shopping
- Versatile and can be used at a variety of retailers
- No crazy minimum spend criteria (because I don’t think we should be forced to spend money when there’s nothing nice to buy)
|Credit card||Key shopping benefits||Things to note|
|Citi Rewards Card||10X rewards ($1 = 4 miles) for shoes, bags, clothes (offline & online)||Expenditure cap $2,000 (total)
Bonus rewards are restricted to certain merchant category codes
|OCBC Titanium Rewards Card||10X rewards ($1 = 4 miles) for fashion, dept stores, electronics, kids wear (online & offline)||Bonus rewards capped at $12,000 per year
Bonus rewards are restricted to certain merchant category codes
|UOB Preferred Platinum Visa Card||10X rewards ($1 = 4 miles) for contactless payment||Bonus rewards expenditure cap $1,000
Earn rewards only in multiples of $5
|DBS Live Fresh Card||5% + 5% cashback (first 6 months) on contactless payment & online shopping||Min. spend $600
Cashback cap $60
|DBS Visa Debit Card||5% cashback on contactless payment up to $200 per purchase||Cashback cap $50
Min. spend $400
Cash withdrawal limitations
|American Express True Cashback||3% cashback (first 6 months up to $5,000)||No min. spend, no cap
Cashback drops to 1.5% after 6 months
|American Express CapitaCard||Earn 3% to 8% rebates (in the form of CapitaVouchers) when you spend at CapitaMalls
Free parking at CapitaMalls
|Bonus rewards expenditure cap $1,200
Min. spend $1,200 for free parking
|OCBC Robinsons Group Credit Card||5% rebate at Robinsons, Zara, Marks & Spencer, Royal Sporting House, etc.
Invites to Robinsons preview sales
Best rewards credit card for shopaholics: Citi Rewards Card
- 10X Rewards (10 points or 4 Miles) for every S$1 spent on Shoes + Bags + Clothes at Online, Retail or Department stores, locally and overseas
- Enjoy discounts of up to 50% at Foodpanda, Lazada, Zalora, Reebonz, and more
- S$1 spent = 1 Rewards point (All other spend)
Rewards credit cards bring together two of Singapore’s national preoccupations: shopping and travelling. Specifically, it lets you put practically all your shopping expenditure – anything from a Ted Baker suit to random junk from Don Don Donki – towards earning free flights. Tell me, who would say no to that!?
The best rewards cards accelerate your rewards 10X when you shop, i.e. let you earn 4 miles for every $1 spent. That’s way higher than what most air miles credit cards can offer. (Though of course you can also choose to convert your rewards points to vouchers or gifts if you don’t fancy flying.)
The Citi Rewards Card is probably the best card around for hardcore shopaholics, with 10X rewards for all spend on shoes, clothes and bags, both offline and online.
There’s pretty high monthly expenditure cap of $2,000 that probably isn’t that easy to burst on a regular basis, unless you’re one of those tai tais who snap up designer clothes the way the rest of us mortals buy chocolates at ValuDollar.
Just be careful as the bonus rewards are based on certain merchant category codes. There’s a very slight chance that a certain store’s MCC is not what you think it is.
Apart from air miles, you can choose to redeem your Citi rewards points against everything from vouchers to toys to hotel stays, and even use them to pay for Amazon purchases. Check out the impressive Citibank credit card rewards catalogue here.
Best rewards credit card for big purchases: OCBC Titanium Rewards Card
- 10x OCBC$ (10 points or 4 Miles) for every S$1 spent on clothes, shoes, bags, department stores, kidswear, electronic gadgets, online, offline, locally and overseas
- 2% Cash Rebate when you spend at BEST Denki, on top of the existing 10 OCBC$ (worth 4 Miles) OCBC Titanium Rewards Cardmembers earn on a usual basis.
- Valid till 31 Jan 2019
If you’re planning to go on a massive shopping spree and foresee yourself bursting a measly cap like $2,000, consider the OCBC Titanium Rewards Card which is bound only by an annual cap of $12,000.
Apart from fashion, you can also get 10X rewards on kids wear, department stores, electronics and personal care stores. But again, it’s restricted by merchant category code, so the same warning applies.
OCBC’s credit card rewards catalogue isn’t as impressive as Citibank’s. Choose from redeeming KrisFlyer miles, shopping vouchers, dining vouchers (at a pretty good selection of restaurants) or cash rebates.
Best rewards credit card for non-fashion shopping: UOB Preferred Platinum Visa Card
- Enjoy 2% rebate at Metro, World of Sports and Winter Time
- Enjoy 3% rebate at bYSI, ColorWash, Crocodile, DHL, and Sephora
- Enjoy 5% rebate at Tissot
If you spend a lot on things that are NOT fashion – for example, beauty products at Watsons – you can opt for the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa Card which lets you earn 10X rewards on contactless payment (as well as online shopping).
Visa payWave is widely accepted in major Singapore retailers, so that’s not an issue. But UOB’s rewards are annoying in that you earn points only for every $5 spent. If you buy a $39.90 shirt at Uniqlo, you only earn UNI$ for $35. You need to bear this in mind and either find a workaround or just give up that $4.90 for lost.
Similar to OCBC, UOB credit card rewards include cash rebates, air miles and vouchers at brands like Spa Esprit, EpiCentre and Les Amis restaurants.
Best cashback credit card for shopping: DBS Live Fresh Card
- Online shopping and payment via contactless methods get 5% cashback
- Contactless Payments: Visa payWave, Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay
- Additional 5% cashback for the first 6 months with S$600/month min. spend when signing up within 8 Jan - 31 Mar 2018, Cashback cap at S$60/month
Sadly, there is a dearth of good cashback credit cards for offline shopping. Every bank seems to be focusing its efforts on rewarding online spending. (Maybe we should blame Singapore’s dwindling retail economy on credit cards?)
Like many of its cashback compatriots, the DBS Live Fresh card is primarily aimed at online shoppers, offering 5% + 5% cashback on online spending. But the same cashback extends to contactless payment, so if your favourite shops take Visa payWave, this is a card you can use.
Thanks to the combination of online and offline bonus categories, it’s not that hard to meet the minimum spend requirement of $600.
If you’re sold on this card, sign up quick as the additional 5% cashback offer (for the first 6 months) is only valid for those who sign up by 31 Mar 2018.
Best debit card for shopping: DBS Visa Debit Card
Okay, this isn’t a credit card, but hear me out.
The DBS Visa Debit Card is one of the rare debit cards that actually have some sort of decent cashback benefits. You get 5% cashback on all Visa payWave transactions (up to $200 per transaction). The total cashback is capped at $50 a month, so you can spend up to $1,000 on the card a month.
And best of all, there’s no minimum spend.
[Update: As of 17 Mar 2018, you need to spend a minimum of $400 a month to get rebates.]
The one big (and bizarre) catch are the limitations on cash withdrawals. If you withdraw more than $400 a month from ATMs, or withdraw cash more than 3 times a month, you won’t get any cashback. But this is easy to work around – just open another bank account for cash withdrawals.
Best credit card for big purchases: American Express True Cashback Card
- 1.5% Cashback on any purchase you make, anytime
- 3% Cashback for the first 6 months up to $5000 spend
- Eligible for use with Apple Pay
If you’re dismayed by the tiny cashback caps on the previous two cards, try the Amex True Cashback Card instead. It’ll give you 3% cashback on up to $5,000 for the first 6 months, after which the rate goes down to 1.5%.
Best credit card for Zara discount: OCBC Robinsons Group Credit Card
- 10% cash rebate with purchases above $5,000 at Robinsons, Marks & Spencer
- 5% cash rebate for purchases below $5,000 at participating 19 retail brands including Robinsons, Marks & Spencer, Royal Sporting House, Golfhouse, Lacoste, Nautical, Speedo, Vans and Quiksilver
- Receive a 25% Robinsons bonus discount letter with min. spend $500 at Robinsons, Marks & Spencer
I’m not a big fan of retailer-specific credit cards like the DBS Takashimaya Card and Metro-UOB Card. Sure, feel free to sign up if you’re expecting to buy a bunch of bedding or kitchen appliances, but their rewards structure basically force you to go back to the same department store. I mean, how much can you actually buy from Metro or Takashimaya?
The OCBC Robinsons Group Credit Card is a notable exception. It gives you an instant 5% rebate when you shop at one of the 18 brands under Robinsons Group. Even if you don’t shop at Robinsons and Marks & Spencer, there’s also Zara, Royal Sporting House and Lacoste.
The rebate is unlimited and there’s no minimum spend or any other conditions you have to meet. So it’s not a bad idea to have this card handy as long as they waive the annual fee. After all, you never know when you might fall in love with something at Zara.
Best credit card for CapitaMalls: American Express CapitaCard
- S$1 = 5 STAR$ on all spend
- S$1 = 15 STAR$ at CapitaLand Malls on eligible purchases
- All STAR$ earned are credited directly into your CAPITASTAR account, capped at S$1,200 per calendar month
- 5,000 STAR$ = S$5 CapitaVoucher / 10,000 STAR$ = S$10 CapitaVoucher / 50,000 STAR$ = S$50 CapitaVoucher
Another standout card in the retailer-specific category is the Amex CapitaCard, just because we Singaporeans spend so much time in shopping malls. And CapitaMalls IS one of the more popular mall chains around, with pretty good tenants.
However, you’ll most likely get a headache trying to figure out the unnecessarily complicated mechanics. TL;DR version: you spend money at CapitaMalls to earn CapitaMalls vouchers, so that you can spend EVEN MORE at CapitaMalls. Long live CapitaLism!
All spending at CapitaMalls gives you 6X rewards, which means if you spend $100, you effectively earn $3 in CapitaVouchers (i.e. 3% “rebate”)
But if you patronise Star-Xtra merchants you can get 16X rewards instead. Suppose you spend $50 at Itacho Sushi, $20 on dessert at Dolce Tokyo and $30 on cute mugs at Naiise, all Star-Xtra merchants. That $100 gets you $8 in CapitaVouchers (i.e. 8% “rebate”).
Also, spend at least $1,200 on this card a month and you get free parking for 3 hours at CapitaMalls all day, every day. Meaning you can keep on shopping and dining at CapitaMalls to your heart’s content. Woohoo!
Image credit: Porapak Apichodilok
Shopping is fun, but it can get out of control fast. Read these tips to get your spending in check:
Do you have any money-saving shopping habits or strategies? Share it with us in the comments below.
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