Credit Cards

Standard Chartered Manhattan Card – MoneySmart Review 2018

standard chartered manhattan card - moneysmart review 2018

Joanne Poh

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The Standard Chartered Manhattan Card has been around a long time – from the days when it was too expensive for most Singaporeans to holiday in New York. (Makes you wonder if somewhere in New York people are using a credit card that’s been branded as a Singapore Card, eh?)

In any case, the Stanchart Manhattan Card is also one of the more attractive general cashback cards in Singapore. It’s marketed at entry-level earners who are nonetheless craving some of that sophistication that Manhattan supposedly exudes.

So what are the features of this card, and is it worth signing up for? Let’s find out.

 

3% cashback when you spend >$3,000

As long as you spend at least $3,000 in a calendar month, you will get 3% cashback on all eligible purchases. That includes local and overseas transactions, online and offline. It also includes online bill payments and things like school fees – great for family breadwinners.

The StanChart Manhattan Card’s ideal user is someone who has no problem livin’ it up and spending $3,000 every month. Think someone who dines out frequently, goes shopping often and has an active social life. Being a frequent traveller is also a plus.

But even if you don’t have this kind of lifestyle, the Manhattan Card is actually a good card to have around on standby for certain pricey occasions in life. Like that once-in-a-lifetime Raja Ampat dive trip or when your TV finally dies and you need to replace it.

Considering that a $3,000 expense will typically burst the cap of most high cashback credit cards, the StanChart Manhattan could give you better returns on your expensive one-off purchases.

 

But what if you spend less than $3,000?

However, it’s not worth it to use this card if you don’t have any big purchases coming up. The minimum spending requirement of $3,000 is very high for an entry level credit card. And if you don’t hit the minimum spend of $3,000 that month, your cashback goes down quite significantly.

If you spend $1,000 to $2,999.99, you only get a pathetic 1% cashback. If you spend less than $1,000, it goes down to 0.5%.

 

Is there any other catch?

Yes, the major catch is that the cash rebate is only credited to your account quarterly, and a quarterly cap of $200 applies. (To make things confusing, the “quarter” doesn’t refer to a calendar quarter, but just a period of 3 consecutive months.)

This means you need to be patient in waiting for your cashback to come in.

It also means you should time your purchases well. You’re basically “allowed” one big purchase of up to $6,600 every 3 months. Here’s an illustration.

Let’s say you want to take the family for a skiing trip in Hokkaido in January, and you spend $6,600 on the trip:

Period Expenditure Eligible cashback tier Cash rebate
Jan 2018 $6,600 3% $198
Feb 2018 $0 (switch to another card)
Mar 2018 $0 (switch to another card)
TOTAL $6,600 $198 (receive in Apr)

You come back to Singapore and to reality, finding that you need to replace your fridge, TV and gaming laptop. Unfortunately, because of the cashback structure, you need to wait until April before you can make these purchases:

Month Expenditure Eligible cashback tier Cash rebate
Apr 2018 $3,000 3% $90
May 2018 $3,600 3% $108
Jun 2018 $0 (switch to another card)
TOTAL $6,600 $198 (receive in Jul)

Also, not everything is eligible for the 3% cashback. For example, bill payments, insurance premiums and EZ-Link card topups are not allowed.

 

StanChart Manhattan Card vs unlimited cashback cards

Wah lao, so troublesome, you might think. Might as well use an unlimited cashback card so you don’t have to worry about bursting caps.

And you know what? You’re right. If you can make use of introductory promos, it does make sense to use one of the unlimited cashback credit cards on the market. These typically bump up the flat cashback rate from 1.5% to 3% in the first few months of use.

Back to the example – before you hit the slopes in Hokkaido, apply for the Standard Chartered Unlimited credit card which gives you 3% rebate on foreign currency spending in the first 3 months of usage.

When you come back to Singapore and notice that your life sucks and everything needs to be replaced, apply for the American Express True Cashback card to get 3% rebate for the first $5,000 you spend. You can go ahead with that shopping spree at Harvey Norman. No need to wait an agonising 3 months for the next quarter or wait forever for your rebates to come in.

With newer credit cards like these for big ticket purchases, it’s only a matter of time before the ageing Standard Chartered Manhattan gets phased out.

 

If you’re spending $3,000 a month, here are more cashback cards to consider

You might have no trouble spending $3,000 a month if you’re a jetsetting baller or a breadwinner trying to feed your family’s insatiable appetites.

While the StanChart Manhattan Card seems ideal for you, be aware of the quarterly cap of $200. That means you “lose” at least $70 in rebates every quarter, as this illustration shows.

Period Expenditure Eligible cashback tier Cash rebate
Jul 2018 $3,000 3% $90
Aug 2018 $3,000 3% $90
Sep 2018 $3,000 3% $90
TOTAL $9,000 $270 (but capped at $200)

Therefore, you might want to consider one of the following credit cards instead.

UOB One Card – We have a love/hate relationship with this card, but if you spend $2,000 consistently every month, you can get quarterly payouts of $300 each. That’s a great deal higher than the $200 cap on the StanChart Manhattan! Do check your spending religiously though, as you lose it all if you miss the mark in just 1 month in a quarter.

HSBC Advance Credit Card – Become an HSBC Advance customer by crediting a salary of at least $3,500 to an HSBC account. Then get this credit card as it consistently rewards you with 3.5% cashback every month you spend $2,000 and above. The monthly cap is $125, so per quarter you could get up to $375.

ICBC Global Travel Mastercard – If your expenses are mainly overseas ones (or online spending in foreign currency) then consider Chinese bank ICBC’s unlimited cashback card. It has 3% cashback on overseas spend (and 1.5% for local) with no cap.

Our pick for consistent high spenders is the HSBC Advance Credit Card as it’s the most inclusive and least troublesome, as long as you don’t mind becoming an HSBC Advance customer first.

 

Standard Chartered Manhattan Card minimum income

Singaporeans and PRs: $30,000 a year

Foreigners: $60,000

 

Standard Chartered Manhattan Card annual fee

$196.20 (waived for first year)

Do you have the Standard Chartered Manhattan Card? Share your reviews in the comments!

 

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.