Credit Cards

Guide to Merchant Category Codes — 15 Popular Companies in Singapore with Unexpected MCCs

MCC code singapore

If you’ve ever heard credit card nerds and mile chasers yak about “MCC codes” but catch no ball, this 101 article is for you.

They’re actually referring to the merchant category code (MCC), which is a 4-digit number assigned to businesses based on what goods and/or services they sell and provide.

That sounds like boring stuff (and it is…) but knowing the MCCs can be useful for consumers too, especially if you have a credit card strategy. With the specific MCCs, you can decide which credit card to swipe, and calculate your cash back and/or air miles more accurately.

If you don’t care about all that and are happy with your current “agak agak” method, then feel free to gloss over this one.

Contents

  1. What are merchant category codes (MCCs)?
  2. MCC case study #1 — RedMart and Lazada
  3. MCC case study #2 — Dining at hotels
    1. Dining MCCs
  4. What is the MCC for online transactions?
    1. Travel MCCs
  5. 15 Popular brands and their unexpected MCCs

 

What’s the MCC got to do with me?

When you compared credit cards (hopefully on MoneySmart) and finally decided on one, you probably picked the “best” one based on the categories each card rewards you bonus cash rebates, air miles or rewards points for.

For example, you’re after air miles and spend mostly on food, so you got the newly revamped UOB Lady’s Card and picked your “pet spending category” to be “dining”. That way, you can earn 4 miles (10X rewards) per dollar — easy as pie.

But have you ever wondered who decides what categories your expenditure falls in? Do the oompa loompas manually go through the millions of transactions every day to make sure you’re really “dining”?

Nope.

MCCs are determined by card networks like Visa, MasterCard and American Express, who use it to decide how much to charge the businesses for accepting credit card payments (interchange fee). That’s none of our business, but it just so happens that banks use the MCCs to categorise our spending.

There is a specific code for all types of goods and services — you can refer this list of MCCs, compiled by Citibank.

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But aren’t MCCs quite straightforward?

Yes, most of the time, it is. The same way roses are red and violets are blue, Esso is a petrol kiosk and NTUC Fairprice is a supermarket.

However, there are grey areas and it can get confusing for some merchants… like RedMart (or should we say, Lazada).

Confusing MCC case study #1: RedMart and Lazada

When RedMart was still RedMart.com, it was clearly categorised as a supermarket. But now that it’s been bought over by Lazada, will your RedMart-Lazada purchase still be considered as “groceries”?

Initially, I thought it would stamp-plus-chop be under Lazada’s MCC of 5311 (Department Stores), but if you check your statement, you’d realise that they actually separate the RedMart-Lazada and regular Lazada orders.redmart lazada mcc code

… and according to the experts of HardwareZone, the RedMart-only purchase will still qualify as groceries (MCC 5411 Grocery Stores, Supermarkets). redmart lazada mcc code

So although there’s no official answer, from what we know, you’re probably safe.

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How do I check the MCC?

The RedMart-Lazada case isn’t the only one that’s confusing. And unfortunately, there is no “official” way to check MCCs.

While there is a list of MCCs, there is no list that matches them to the businesses in Singapore. The only way is to check directly with the business or bank, but chances are, they won’t be bothered to reply you.

Figuring out MCCs is quite tedious business — most people simply work backwards, guessing the MCC based on the number of rewards points they were awarded for the amount they spent.

For example, let’s say you spend $400 on a hotel buffet for your family, hoping that it’ll be classified as “local dining” so you can earn 5X rewards on your credit card.

1. If you get 2,000 rewards points, then the MCC falls under dining.

2. If you only got 400 rewards points, then the MCC is probably under the hotel/travel umbrella.

Confusing MCC case study #2: Dining within hotels

The latter would not be surprising: Hotel restaurants may not count as “dining” because they are located within a hotel, whose main business is lodging and may hence have a different MCC. Plus, the bank wouldn’t know anything about the nature of your expenditure — all they know is that a hotel (say, Shangri La) charged you $400.

mcc code shangri la

It’s also worthy to note that the card networks assign the MCCs separately, so they may differ between Visa, MasterCard and etc. Typically, for an expenditure to qualify as “dining”, it must be made at a merchant with the following MCCs:

Typical dining MCCs:

Dining MCCs  Description
MCC 5811 Caterers
MCC 5812 Eating Places, Restaurants
MCC 5814 Fast Food Restaurants

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What is the MCC for online transactions?

Thanks to the rise of e-commerce, more and more cards are rewarding customers for making online transactions nowadays. So you might be wondering what MCC to look out for if your card benefit is for online shopping.

However, “online” is not a business category per se — it’s not a good or service to be sold! — so there is no MCC for it. It’s just a type of transaction, and generally, it includes any transaction made online.

Sad to say, one common exclusion for this spending category is travel. Some credit cards exclude travel-related spending, so you might not be able to earn bonus rewards for swiping your expensive flights and hotel bookings.

These are the common travel MCCs:

Travel MCCs  Description
MCC 300 to 3350 Airlines, air carriers 
MCC 4511 Airlines, air carriers (not elsewhere classified) 
MCC 3351 to 3500 Car rental agencies
MCC 7512 Car rental agencies (not elsewhere classified)
MCC 3501 to 3999 Lodging – hotels, motels, resorts
MCC 7011 Lodging – hotels, motels, resorts (not elsewhere classified)
MCC 4112 Passenger railways 
MCC 4411 Cruise lines 
MCC 4722 Travel agencies and tour operators 
MCC 5962 Direct marketing – travel-related arrangement services 

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Top 15 popular merchants and their unexpected MCCs

I did some research online and surveyed the mile chasers around me to compile this list of merchants and their MCCs.

Merchant MCC  Description 
Lazada   MCC 5311 Department Stores
RedMart (via Lazada)  MCC 5411  Grocery Stores, Supermarkets
Qoo10 MCC 5699  Accessory and Apparel Stores–Miscellaneous
Shopee MCC 5699  Accessory and Apparel Stores–Miscellaneous
Ez Buy  MCC 5691 Men’s and Women’s Clothing Stores
Taobao app  MCC 5311  Department Stores
Taobao website  MCC 5411  Grocery Stores, Supermarkets
GrabPay MCC 7399 Business Services Not Elsewhere Classified
Grab rides MCC 4121  Taxicabs and Limousines
GrabFood MCC 5499 Miscellaneous Food Stores–Convenience Stores, Markets, Specialty Stores, and Vending Machines
FoodPanda MCC 5499 Miscellaneous Food Stores–Convenience Stores, Markets, Specialty Stores, and Vending Machines
Deliveroo MCC 5499 Miscellaneous Food Stores–Convenience Stores, Markets, Specialty Stores, and Vending Machines
iShopChangi  MCC 4582 Airports, Airport Terminals, Flying Fields
Duty Free Shopping at Changi Airport  MCC 5309  Duty Free Stores
Don Don Donki  MCC 5411  Grocery Stores, Supermarkets
Tokyu Hands  MCC 5311  Department Stores

As mentioned above, there is no official confirmation on this, and the below MCCs are based on my research from forums, as well as the newly launched community-driven site, www.WhatCard.sg.

In other words, they could also be wrong… But they’re most likely correct, lah. Feel free to leave a comment and ping us with any corrections to improve this list.

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MCCs for online shopping & marketplaces (Qoo10, Lazada, EzBuy, Taobao and more)

Merchant MCC  Description 
Lazada   MCC 5311 Department Stores
RedMart (via Lazada)  MCC 5411  Grocery Stores, Supermarkets
Qoo10 MCC 5699  Accessory and Apparel Stores–Miscellaneous
Shopee MCC 5699  Accessory and Apparel Stores–Miscellaneous
EzBuy  MCC 5691 Men’s and Women’s Clothing Stores
Taobao app  MCC 5311  Department Stores
Taobao website  MCC 5411  Grocery Stores, Supermarkets

There’s no MCC for online marketplace platforms, so they all kind of fall into different categories. Lazada is a department store, Qoo10 is an accessory and apparel store, while EzBuy is just “men’s and women’s clothing”.

These are mostly the same as retail shopping stores, so they’re likely to fall under online spending, shopping and online shopping.

The funny one is Taobao — according to WhatCard, there is difference between the Taobao app and website. If you order on mobile, it’s considered a department store. But if you order on your computer, it’s actually… a supermarket.

Yup. If that’s true, your cart of $4 dresses and $0.50 knick-knacks will count as grocery shopping.

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MCCs for Grab services (GrabPay, GrabFood and Grab rides)

Merchant MCC  Description 
GrabPay MCC 7399 Business Services Not Elsewhere Classified
Grab rides MCC 4121  Taxicabs and Limousines
GrabFood MCC 5499 Miscellaneous Food Stores–Convenience Stores, Markets, Specialty Stores, and Vending Machines

Since they have so many services, you may be wondering what the MCCs are for Grab.

For Grab rides and GrabFood, it’s quite straightforward. However, there’s a lot of speculation about GrabPay.

Some people think it may be considered stored value or quasi cash, but WhatCard says it’s “business services not elsewhere classified”. I have no idea who is right — @Grab, what say you?

Personally, I don’t think it matters because I suspect that GrabPay is big enough for banks to just consider it a stored value top-up (to be excluded) at their discretion.

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MCCs for food delivery apps (GrabFood, FoodPanda and Deliveroo)

Merchant MCC  Description 
GrabFood MCC 5499 Miscellaneous Food Stores–Convenience Stores, Markets, Specialty Stores, and Vending Machines
FoodPanda MCC 5499 Miscellaneous Food Stores–Convenience Stores, Markets, Specialty Stores, and Vending Machines
Deliveroo MCC 5499 Miscellaneous Food Stores–Convenience Stores, Markets, Specialty Stores, and Vending Machines

It would seem most food delivery apps have the same MCC. It’s considered a convenience store of sort, so they may not be considered dining.

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MCCs for duty-free shopping at Changi Airport (and iShopChangi)

Merchant MCC  Description 
iShopChangi  MCC 4582 Airports, Airport Terminals, Flying Fields
Duty Free Shopping at Changi Airport  MCC 5309  Duty Free Stores

Changi Airport is interesting too — although the physical duty-free shop in Changi Airport is considered a “duty free store”, carting out online via iShopChangi is not.

That one seems to be considered a transaction with the airport, and will not earn you any rewards.

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MCCs for Japanese department stores (Don Don Donki and Tokyu Hands)

Merchant MCC  Description 
Don Don Donki  MCC 5411  Grocery Stores, Supermarkets
Tokyu Hands  MCC 5311  Department Stores

Lastly, I checked the MCCs for these 2 Japanese mega stores. They’re super popular, and I always wondered what they’d be classified as.

It seems that Don Don Donki is a supermarket, while Tokyu hands is just a department store.

 

Do you have any tips for checking MCCs? Tell us in the comments below! 

 

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The 7 Best Rewards Cards in Singapore 

The 7 Best Air Miles Credit Cards in Singapore 

Cashback vs Air Miles vs Rewards – Which is the Best Credit Card Type to Use?

 

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