The CIMB Platinum Mastercard and Visa Signature credit cards caused quite a bit of buzz last year-end (Nov 2018), when they offered a whopping 10% cashback for 5 bonus spending categories each.
Their glory days, however, were short-lived. Just half a year later (Jun 2019), CIMB revised the terms and conditions once more: although they kept the highest-in-market 10% cashback rates, they shuffled the spending categories between the 2 cards, splitting up the more popular categories and thus, making it much harder to maximise savings.
Of the popular spending categories, the CIMB Platinum Mastercard got dining, transport and petrol, while the CIMB Visa Signature got groceries and online shopping.
Since it’s easier to hit the $800 minimum spend with expenses like dining and petrol, it may seem like the Platinum Mastercard got the longer end of the stick. However, because the cashback is capped at $20 per category (that makes an expenditure cap of $200 each)… Personally, I’d say the 2 cards are in the same (not-very-good) tier.
Here’s a summary of the CIMB Platinum Mastercard credit card.
CIMB Platinum Mastercard credit card terms & conditions
|CIMB Platinum Mastercard credit card|
|Annual fee & waiver||$0|
|Supplementary annual fee||Free|
|Interest free period||23 days|
|Annual interest rate||25.90%|
|Late payment fee||$100|
|Minimum monthly repayment||3% or $50, whichever is higher|
|Foreign currency transaction fee||2%|
|Cash advance transaction fee||6% (minimum charge of $15)|
|Minimum income||$30,000 (Singaporean) / $60,000 (Non-Singaporeans)|
|Wireless payment||Mastercard Paypass|
CIMB Platinum Mastercard benefits
The CIMB Platinum Mastercard works like any other cash back card: At the most basic level, you will get a base cashback of 0.2% on all transactions made on the card. If you meet the minimum spend criteria ($800 in this case), your cash rebates get bumped up to 10% for certain bonus categories.
This is the CIMB Platinum Mastercard, in a nutshell:
|Spending category||CIMB Platinum Mastercard cashback|
|Wine & dine||10%|
|Transport & petrol||10%|
|Travel bookings in foreign currency||10%|
|Health and medical||10%|
|Electronics and furniture (selected merchants)||10%|
Wine & dine
To clarify, “wine & dine” refers to all restaurants and night spots. If you’re going out for a nice meal and then to party or grab some drinks, it should qualify. This category includes cafes, restaurants, bars, clubs and even caterers, and only excludes dining and drinking places located within hotels (and similar ones whose main business is holding wedding banquets).
Transport & petrol
As its name suggests, this category covers all modes of public transport — bus, train, taxi, and private hire rides — and transactions made at petrol kiosks. It also covers ferry rides, which is interesting. Do note, however, that transport card top-ups (under ‘EZ-Link’, ‘Transit’ and ‘Transitlink’) don’t count.
Travel bookings in foreign currency
This category only covers travel bookings via airlines, hotels, travel agencies and railways made in foreign currency, not all forex transactions. Do note that the foreign transaction fee of 2% still applies.
Health & medical
Health and medical covers all the private GP clinics, dentists, optometrists & opticians, chiropractors, as well as your favourite personal care stores like Watsons and Guardian. But before you try to cash in on that big hospital bill, it excludes government hospitals, clinics and polyclinics.
Electronics & furniture (selected merchants)
This is the most niche category, covering electronics and furniture, but only at selected merchants Harvey Norman, Best Denki, Challenger, Ikea, Courts and Parisilk.
Who should use the CIMB Platinum Mastercard?
As mentioned, you get a base cash back of 0.2%, and if you want the +9.8% boost to 10%, you need to spend at least $800 per month. Although it seems a tad high, it’s actually quite “normal”.
Generally, the CIMB Platinum Mastercard is not bad for those who drive, dine out and make occasional travel bookings. The other categories like medical, electronics and furniture are quite niche – nobody plans to consistently fall sick and shop for household furniture and appliances every month, right?
Based on the cash back categories alone, the CIMB Platinum Mastercard sounds like it could be a decent card. After all, quite a majority of young, working adults fit the above-mentioned profile.
Sadly, the card comes with quite a few caveats that stop most people from maximising savings on the card.
First of all, cash back is capped at $100 per month. That may seem generous, but it is not a blanket cash back cap for all 5 categories. Instead, your rebates are capped at $20 per category, which means an expenditure cap of $200 each only.
For most people, that is insufficient for dining and perhaps just enough for petrol. If those are the only 2 categories you can confidently max out each month, then you can expect your cashback to only be around $40 to $50 – a far cry from the $100 advertised.
In order to earn the full $100, you need to spend at least $200 on each of the 5 categories (total at least $1,000), which is quite hard.
Travel bookings in foreign currency sounds like another one you might be able to capitalise on, but you’re forced to pay in foreign currency, which means there is an additional 2% forex transaction fee. So although you still get cash back, it’s not 10%.
On its own, I find that it’s not a very competitive card.
However, if you’re a big spender who can swipe at least $1,600 per month, you can consider using the CIMB Platinum Mastercard together with the CIMB Visa Signature Card to cover all the key spending categories.
The $20 split cashback cap still applies though, so even then, your spending will have to be very evenly spread out between the 10 categories.
Alternatives to the CIMB Platinum Mastercard
Comparing the CIMB Platinum Mastercard with others in the “all rounder” category, it lacks certain key categories like online shopping and groceries.
BOC Family Card — This is the only card that matches CIMB Platinum Mastercard’s 10% on dining. The other categories are less attractive though. You only get 3% on transport, groceries and online purchases. The minimum spend is the same ($800), but the cashback cap is $25/category.
Citi Cash Back Card — This card covers dining and petrol too, but with an additional groceries category, which is better than the CIMB Platinum Mastercard’s personal care stores category. The minimum spend is more ($888) and the cashback is less (8%), but the rebate cap is also higher ($25/category).
UOB One — If you spend on random stuff that don’t fit into any of the above boxes, consider the UOB One card. Unlike the CIMB Platinum Mastercard and above-mentioned competitors, this card doesn’t award cashback based on spending categories. If you can spend at least $2,000 per month for 3 months, you will get $100 back that quarter (up to 5%).
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