CIMB Visa Signature Credit Card – MoneySmart Review 2020

cimb visa signature

Once upon a time the CIMB Visa Signature was my favourite cashback credit card, but since the revision of the terms and conditions in June 2019, I cancelled my card.

The card has been around forever, but it rose in popularity in November 2018 when it was revised to offer a whopping 10% cash back on key categories dining, groceries and online shopping. That was very impressive and comprehensive for one card, which explains why everyone (myself included) was raving about it.

However, to everyone’s disappointment, the “perfect cashback card” was taken away months later. Effective 5 June 2019, the CIMB Visa Signature credit card only offers 10% cashback on the following categories: Beauty & wellness, online shopping, groceries, pet shops & veterinary service and cruises.

CIMB has maintained the market-high cashback rate of 10%, but removed the most important (well, to me, anyway) category of dining and entertainment. They also introduced caveats like an $800 minimum spend requirement and a $20 cashback cap on each category, which we’ll get into later.

Here’s our take on the revamped CIMB Visa Signature credit card.

CIMB Visa Signature credit card terms & conditions

CIMB Visa Signature credit card
Annual fee & waiver
Supplementary annual fee
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)
Overlimit fee
Minimum income $30,000 (Singaporean) / $15,000 (Singaporeans above age 55)
Card association Visa
Wireless payment Visa PayWave
CIMB logo
Bank Promo
Cash Back on Beauty & Wellness, Online Shopping, Groceries
10%
Min. spend per month
S$800
Cash Back Cap
S$100
Bank Promo: Get $100 cash credit when you apply and spend at least S$350 per month for the first 2 months from approval! T&Cs apply. Valid till 31 Oct 2020.

How the CIMB Visa Signature credit card works

As mentioned above, the CIMB Visa Signature credit card is a cashback card. Each time you swipe your plastic, you earn cash rebates that are deducted from your next month’s balance. Cashback is earned and credited on a monthly basis.

Here are the new bonus cashback categories (effective 5 Jun 2019):

Spending category CIMB Visa Signature credit card cash back
Beauty and wellness  10% (capped $20) 
Online spend 10% (capped $20) 
Groceries 10% (capped $20) 
Pet shops and veterinary services 10% (capped $20) 
Cruise 10% (capped $20) 

This is actually the card’s 2nd revision in 2018 to 2019. Previously, the CIMB Visa Signature credit card only offered 10% cashback on dining and online transactions in foreign currencies, which wasn’t that useful.

Then, effective 23 Nov 2018, CIMB extended the bonus rebates to include groceries and online shopping, instantly elevating it to gold status in the cashback league.

Those glory days were short-lived though: CIMB announced that effective 5 Jun 2019, they will change their terms & conditions again. And this time, it’s not for the better.

They basically replaced dining & entertainment – the biggest, most important spending category – with ridiculously niche expenses like beauty & wellness, pet shops & veterinary services and… cruises.

In addition to the above, CIMB also increased the minimum spend criteria from $600 to $800, and lowered the split cashback cap from $50 to $20 per category (total cashback cap $100). That means you can only earn cashback on the first $200 of each category, which is very stingy for categories like groceries and online shopping.

If you want to shop online in foreign currency, it may also be worthy to note that the transaction fees are on the high side. CIMB used to charge just 1%, but as of Jan 2019, it’s now 2%.

If you’re a fan of mobile contactless payments, you’ll also be bummed to know that CIMB cards are not compatible with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. The only good thing about this card is that it’s one of the rare few cards with no annual fees – so you’ll never need to “press 1 for annual fee waivers”.

 

Who should use the CIMB Visa Signature credit card

With its latest list of benefits, the CIMB Visa Signature credit card seems like it would only be good for a very specific type of shopper: don’t be fooled by the seemingly high 10% cashback and generous $100 cashback cap – most people will not be able to get much out of this card.

The $20-per-category split cap is what makes earning the cashback so tricky. In order to maximise your rebates, you must  “swee swee” spend $200 in all 5 niche categories. But the average Singaporean doesn’t blow that much on things like grooming products and cruises every month, right?

If you only manage to max out your rebates for more “normal” categories like online shopping and groceries, you will only earn $40, which is disappointing. And without dining and entertainment as a bonus category, the $800 min. spend criteria will be hard for most entry level cardholders to hit.

I suspect that this card is meant to be used together with the CIMB Platinum MasterCard. When you combine the two, the bonus cashback categories cover almost everything imaginable – including dining, entertainment, groceries, petrol and online spending.

But you’ll still need to spend minimum $1,600 monthly ($800 on each card), and each category is still capped at $20 cash back ($200 spend).

 

Alternatives to the CIMB Visa Signature credit card

Citi Cash Back Card – The Citi Cash Back Card is popular with those who need petrol discounts and rebates. The cashback is slightly lower, but the bonus categories are much more attractive (dining, groceries and petrol) so it’s easier to chalk up rebates. The minimum spend requirement is a bit higher at $888 (huat, ah!) and the split cap $5 more per category at $25.

Citibank logo
MoneySmart Exclusive
Cashback on Dining, Groceries & Grab
Cash Back on Dining, Groceries & Petrol
8%
Cash Back Cap per category, per month
S$25
Min. Spend per month
S$888
MoneySmart Exclusive: <div>Get a <strong>Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones</strong> worth $549 when you apply and spend on your card! Fill in the redemption form after the application to redeem. T&amp;Cs apply.</div> Valid till 30 Sep 2020.

UOB One – This card is preferable if you want to spend freely in every and any category, because there are no specified bonus cashback categories. Basically you just need to spend at least $500/$1,000/ $2,000 or 3 consecutive months to earn $50/$100/$300 cashback. That roughly equates to 3.33% to 5% in savings.

UOB logo
Bank Promo
Rebate on Dairy Farm Group, Grab, SP and more
Up to 10%
Rebate Cap per quarter
S$300
Min. Spend per month
S$2,000
Bank Promo: Receive S$150 cash credit when you apply! Valid till 30 Sep 2020.

BOC Family Card – Although the BOC Family Card only offers 3% cashback for groceries and online shopping, it gives you a neat 10% cashback on dining and movies. The minimum spend is the same, but the split cap is $25 per category.

Bank of China logo
10% cash rebate on Everyday Dining (Restaurants & Fast Food), Movies
10%
Cash Rebate on Family Club Merchants
5%
Cash Rebate on Supermarkets, Online Purchases, Hospital Bills
3%

What do you think of the CIMB Visa Signature credit card? Tell us in the comments below!