Credit Cards

CIMB Visa Signature Credit Card – MoneySmart Review 2019

cimb visa signature

CIMB really did us dirty with this one. I was a self-proclaimed, unofficial ambassador of the CIMB Visa Signature credit card, but the card has since fallen from grace. I feel like it’s gone from being one of the best cashback credit cards in Singapore, to being… well, one of the worst.

Okay, so maybe I’m being a tad dramatic, and it’s not the worst, but hey CIMB! That’s what you get for baiting me with highest-in-market cashback rates (Nov 2018), only to change it 7 months later (Jun 2019).

According to the new terms (effective 5 Jun 2019), the CIMB Visa Signature offers 10% cashback on 5 bonus categories: Beauty & wellness, online shopping, groceries, pet shops & veterinary service and cruises.

10% sounds pretty impressive, except it comes with caveats like an $800 minimum spend requirement and a $20 cashback cap on each category, but we’ll get into all of that later.

Let’s dive into our analysis of 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 25.5% to 28%
Late payment fee $100
Minimum monthly repayment 3% or $50, whichever is higher
Foreign currency transaction fee 3%
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

 

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 the past year. 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 just 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.

Cruises, leh. Seriously?!?! 

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.

… Really no good news at all sia.

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 3%.

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

I used to recommend this card to everyone and anyone who asked for a good “all-rounder” card, but 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).

 

CIMB Visa Signature credit card promotions

If you’re thinking of applying for the CIMB Visa Signature, now might be a good time: CIMB is currently having an attractive promotion for new sign-ups.

If you spend $600 for your first 3 consecutive months, you will be entitled to a free return flight ticket to your preferred destination.

There are 16 Asian cities to choose from, and once you meet the spending criteria, you will be prompted to indicate your 3 preferred destinations and 3 sets of travel dates.

There’s also a referral promotion that gives you $20 cash back for every new cardholder you refer.

Both promotions are valid till 31 Dec 2019 — read the full terms and conditions on the CIMB website.

For the seasonal sign-up incentives, check the CIMB MoneySmart credit card listing for the best deals.

 

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.

Citi Cash Back Card

Citi Cash Back Card


Card Benefits

  • Chinese New Year Giveaway - Win up to S$300 NTUC FairPrice Vouchers!
  • 8% cash back at food & beverage outlets, food & groceries delivery (including Deliveroo, honestbee, RedMart)
  • Up to 20.88% savings at Esso and Shell, and 8% cash back at other petrol stations
  • Total min. retail spend of S$888/month, 8% cash back capped at S$25 per category (Dining, Grab, Groceries and Petrol)
  • For retail spend less than S$888 and/or other retail spend categories, 0.25% cash back is awarded, no cap on 0.25% cash back earned

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 One Card

UOB One Card


Card Benefits

    • Up to 5% cash rebate on all spend for spend above S$2,000/month per quarter (up to 3.33% cash rebate for spend of $500 or $1,000 monthly)
    • Up to 10% additional SMART$ rebate with UOB SMART$ Rebate Programme

    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.

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

     

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