Optimizing your spending

3 ways to optimize your spending (plus $5 up for grabs!)

Imagine this, for every $1 that is spent, you get back 5 cents. On the surface, that amount is minuscule. But what if that $1 now becomes $300 instead? With a rebate amount of $15, it now starts to look more considerable doesn’t it? At the very least, you could settle meal expenses for one day with that amount and still have some leftovers😅.

From the example above, we can see how aiming for rebates on your spending can become sizeable in the long run. While I used a rebate figure of 5% for the above example, you could actually easily get more. It just requires a bit more knowledge in knowing what options are available.

For this post, I would be sharing three simple and foolproof methods to start ‘optimizing’ your regular (or impulsive) spending. I would also share the best method to get the most out of your regular monthly expenses. Plus, read till the end for an opportunity to get a one-time $5 cashback on your spending!

Before this post becomes another long one (hopefully it doesn’t), let’s get right into it!

1) Use cashless payments

Before even looking to optimize your spending, the first step you need is to embrace cashless payment options.

This is extremely crucial as only cashless payments would unlock the full rebate potential of your spending. Can you think of an instance where you get a discount while using physical cash without any ongoing store discount? Yea same, I personally can’t think of one too.

In the case of cashless payments, you are entitled to the perks as long as your spending fulfils the rebate requirements. This is regardless of whether there is any ongoing store discount or not. If there is, you gain dual benefits, if not you would still get something from your cashless payment. Either way, it would be a win-win situation for you.

Now, I need to emphasize that not all cashless payment options are created equally. Some provide rebates only for specific types of spending while others are more suitable for general spending. In addition, the rebate amount would also differ depending on which option is used. To determine which cashless payment option to use would require some research and comparison. This is however out of the scope of this post.

While I would not be going into detailed comparisons, I would be covering two of the most common payment apps in the market now. Note that these options generally do not require credit cards but depend on top-ups via bank transfers instead. So think of them as mobile wallets, actually, that’s also what they are termed as. And yes, you would need a smartphone with a data plan and in-built NFC function or camera for such payment options to work.

GrabPay

Given the popularity of Grab, you may have come across or used its mobile wallet called GrabPay. The whole rationale of using GrabPay is to earn GrabReward points through everyday spending. These points are then exchanged for a range of rewards such as discounts for rides, food delivery, online shopping, grocery vouchers or even Krisflyer miles.

However, one caveat for using GrabPay is that the points earn is dependent on the reward tier of your account.

As seen, the highest amount of GrabReward points awarded is for the Platinum tier. To reach that tier, one has to spend at least $1.7k annually via GrabPay. This works out to a spending amount of at least $142 a month. Certainly doable if GrabPay is your only payment option.

For its rewards program, 500 GrabReward points is equivalent to $1. Hence at 4 points per $1 spent, you would be receiving a rebate of 0.8% for every dollar spent. If you are at the Gold or Silver tier, your rebate would instead be 0.6% and 0.4% respectively.

Singtel Dash

Similarly to GrabPay, Singtel Dash is also another mobile wallet payment option. To be frank, Singtel Dash has the exact same rewards system as Grab. Even the valuation of its points is similar, at the rate of $1 per 500 points😂. The only difference between the two mobile wallets is the earning process and rate for points.

While GrabPay awards reward points based on cumulative spending in a year, Singtel Dash is more stringent as points are awarded based on monthly spend.

At the highest monthly spend of $300 per month, you would be looking at a 1.2% rebate off your spending. For the Gold and Silver tier, the rebate would instead be at 0.8% and 0.4% respectively.

In terms of the rewards program, Singtel Dash is similar to Grab as it also provides vouchers for groceries and online shopping. In addition, Singtel Dash also provides Grab ride vouchers, the irony of it all.

If you ask me, both Singtel Dash and GrabPay are good entry-level options to get more out of your spending. Singtel Dash slightly edges out due to its higher rebate amount. Furthermore, with Singtel Dash, you would be eligible for a 0.8% rebate with lower spending requirements as compared to GrabPay.

Nevertheless, both GrabPay and Singtel Dash are useful for those who are not eligible to sign up for credit cards or for instances where a QR code payment option is the only alternative to paying physical cash. You should always avoid using physical cash until the last resort.

In addition, both payment apps have either their own virtual or physical contactless card. This allows individuals to use these apps for contactless terminal payments too. However, if you want to get the most out of your spending, credit cards would definitely be the way to go.

2) Utilise credit cards

For working adults earning at least $30k in yearly income, I would recommend using credit cards to get the most out of your spending. Why is that so? Well, because it offers the most bang for your buck.

Think about it, the most basic of cashback credit card, the Standard Chartered Unlimited Cashback card, already gives you a rebate of 1.5% on general spending. This beats the highest rebate amount of 1.2% that Singtel Dash can offer. Not to mention, there are credit cards which have enhanced cashback or reward points for certain spending categories or when a minimum monthly spend is met.

For instance, the Maybank Family & Friends card provides an 8% cashback on grocery, telco and transport spending, albeit with a required monthly spend of $800 and a rebate cap of $80. Let’s say you do not spend that much in a month, you could still get a 5% cashback as long as your monthly spend is at least $500.

When it comes to paying with credit cards, there is generally two separate paths of rewards, cashback or miles/credit card reward points.

Cashback

As the term might suggest, you get cash rebates when spending with cashback credit cards. This cash would then be credited as a lump sum into your credit card statement at the end of the month. The main advantage for going the cashback route is that it is foolproof and you get a straight discount off your credit card statement.

Below are some notable mentions for cashback credit cards:

  • Maybank Family & Friends card (5% or 8% cashback on groceries, telco bills and food delivery), minimum spend $500 or $800 per month
  • UOB One card (3.33% or 5% cashback on general spending, additional 5% cashback for selected grocery, retail spending and Grab), minimum spend $500, $1000 or $2000 per month for 3 months
  • UOB YOLO card (8% cashback on dining, entertainment and Grab, 3% cashback on online fashion), minimum spend $600 per month
  • OCBC Frank credit card (6% cashback on online and contactless mobile payments), minimum spend $600 per month
  • DBS Live Fresh card (5% cashback on online and visa contactless payment), minimum spend $600 per month
  • Citi Cash Back card (8% for dining and groceries spending), minimum spend $888 per month

Do note that in addition to a minimum monthly spending, cashback credit cards often have cashback caps on their selected categories. As such, do be mindful and switch to other cards or payment options once the cap is reached. Else you would be earning a paltry cashback on the excess spending.

Miles/credit card reward points

Besides cashback, there are credit cards which instead offer miles or reward points for spending. You might be asking, what’s the difference?

The main difference is that miles and reward points have no absolute value to it. Their ascribed value is very subjective and might depend on the rewards redeemed or personal perspective. With miles or reward points, you are effectively buying experiences, be it flight tickets, hotel staycations or other products.

If you do not care two hoots about flying in business class or other rewards, cashback would be a better and more convenient option. In addition, individuals who opt to go for miles should be fully aware that miles can be devalued (higher points or miles required for redemption), be it by the bank or the relevant airline companies.

For those committed to playing the miles game, opt for credit cards which provide reward points that you can exchange for miles. This way, you would generally be earning a much better rate of 4 miles per dollar spent instead of the stipulated direct miles awarded by the card.

Below are some notable mentions for miles credit cards:

  • Citi Rewards Card (10X reward points or 4 miles per dollar for online spending, selected retail shopping, Grab, Gojek and online food delivery), bonus point cap per month at $1000 spent
  • UOB Preferred Platinum Visa card (UNI$10 or 20 miles per $5 spent on online shopping and entertainment and mobile contactless payments), bonus point cap per month at $1000 spent
  • OCBC Titanium Rewards card (50 OCBC$ or 20miles per $5 spent on selected online and retail purchases), additional 2% cashback on spending at BEST Denki, bonus point cap per anniversary year at $12000 spent

A case for both options?

While cashback and miles are separate rewards for credit card spending, you do not have to solely focus on just one. As a matter of fact, there are benefits to combining the use of both cashback and miles credit cards.

As miles credit cards do not have minimum spending amounts, they are a viable alternative once you have reached the rebate cap for a cashback credit card. This is especially useful when your monthly spend is not that high to hit the minimum spending of a second cashback card. This is also how I personally ‘maximize’ my spending benefits, by using miles credit cards to supplement my main cashback card.

In addition, focusing purely on miles may incur an opportunity cost. As mentioned above, there are cards which can offer up to 6% or 8% cashback on your spending. Unless you value 1 mile at 1.5 or 2 cents each, there might be more value in opting for the cashback instead. Personally, since I value 1 mile at 1.25 cents, it makes more sense for me to opt for a 6% or 8% cashback, provided I am able to hit the required minimum spending.

While some purists might say that I am not getting the full benefits by going both ways, I will still stick to my decision. After all, having a monthly cashback of around $32 and amassing approximately a total of 80k miles is not too shabby at all. Furthermore, this was achieved with a regular monthly spend of not more than $800.

Regardless of which choice you take, credit cards remain one of the best options for getting the most out of your spending. And if you are signing up for credit cards, do check out Singsaver.com.sg (not a referral link). They have nice rewards for new credit card sign-ups.

3) Double dipping whenever possible

Now, while using credit cards would already give you perks on your spending, the best method to get the most out of your spending is to pair the use of credit cards with another reward or payment app. Doing so allows you to gain dual rewards from both your credit card and the payment app. For starters, I would recommend FavePay (for QR code payments), Google Pay and Shopback.

Disclaimer: The following section of this post would contain referral links. Clicking and signing up through such links may provide monetary benefits to me. If you are uncomfortable with that, you can always sign up through the app or website itself. However, most of these referral links also provide certain monetary benefit for yourself. Hence, I would encourage you to sign up through the referral links to get these perks and also as a show of support for this blog:). I would really appreciate it!

FavePay

I have to admit, I only started using FavePay recently. Hence, if there are some errors in this section do let me know and I will amend them.

As an introduction, FavePay provides cashback or discounts if you pay via QR code at the relevant merchants. The best part about it is that it allows you to link your credit card to the FavePay wallet. Hence, you would be earning both rewards from using your own credit card and any cashback from the Fave app itself! One thing to note though, the cashback is only applicable upon your next payment with the same merchant.

Besides double-dipping with the use of FavePay, the Fave app also provides various deals and vouchers at certain merchants. For those without a credit card, you can pair the use of GrabPay or Singtel Dash with FavePay. This allows you to get discounted prices from Fave merchants and earn rebates at the same time! Talk about accessibility and convenience.

You can download the Fave app via the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store. Use this referral link or key in referral code V090M for $1 off your first purchase via Fave with minimum spending of $20.

Google Pay

When Google Pay first came out, there wasn’t much to as it was a mobile wallet with no usage rewards. However, since implementing its rewards program around 3 months back, Google Pay has become my go-to mobile wallet. This is due to the generous amount of cashback awarded and the convenience of it.

Google Pay rewards
All these sweet cashback!

It should be noted that Google Pay’s cashback is not a guarantee. Instead, it is based on a sort of jackpot system. Basically, you get scratch cards each time you pay with Google Pay. These scratch cards contain cashback of up to S10 and there is a maximum number of scratch cards you can earn per week.

In addition to cashback on store spending, Google Pay also offers cashback on food delivery and payment to friends. Thus, it becomes very convenient if you are looking to split the bills with your friends or ordering in some food delivery. Similar to payment at merchants, this cashback also comes in scratch cards with a maximum number weekly.

Overall, Google Pay is a convenient mobile payment app for everyone. While you can only earn a certain amount of scratch cards weekly, the cashback rewards from it are generally not too bad. For Apple or Samsung smartphone users, you can also opt for Google Pay and get the maximum number of weekly scratch cards before switching over to either Apple Pay or Samsung Pay. This way, you get the most possible rewards from your credit card spending.

For those new to Google Pay, you can use my referral code v014u7I (the last alphabet is a small letter L) or use this referral link to download the app. Doing so gives you $5 cashback after making your first payment of at least $10 with Google Pay! (offer only valid to first-time or new users of Google Pay). Do remember to enable offers and rewards under your Google Pay settings to get cashback from your spending!

ShopBack

Ahh Shopback, it was my first double-dipping experience when I used it for my online shopping a few years back. If you do not already know, Shopback is a website that offers discounts on popular online shopping websites. They do offer some insane cashback amounts.

Source: Shopback.sg

In order to enjoy these cashback amounts, you have to access these sites through either the Shopback app or website. After confirming payment, the cashback amount would then be credited into your Shopback account. After a set amount of days, the cashback would then become redeemable with a minimum withdrawal amount of $10.

Besides cashback on online spending, Shopback also offers cashback with their Shopback Go function in their app. Basically, you get cashback while spending at merchants which partner with Shopback.

All you need to do is link your credit or debit card within the Shopback app and spend as per normal with the said card. Thereafter, cashback would then be automatically be credited into your Shopback account. Thus, with Shopback GO, you would be rewarded twice for just using your credit card! Talk about convenience!

For those interested in Shopback, you can use my referral link to sign up for a new account. Doing so provides you with a $5 cashback with minimum spending of $20! Start saving on your spending!

Conclusion

As you can see, there are multiple ways in which to get more out of your day-to-day spending. While double-dipping with credit cards is definitely the best option, there is no harm in starting with just mobile payment apps. The important thing here is to get started.

I know some might dismiss the whole notion of ‘optimizing’ spending due to the small rewards. However, let me say this, every penny saved is a penny that you can use for other purposes. Ideally, this penny would be used to advance your own interests or dreams in life. With that, can we still ignore the usefulness of this penny? I definitely would not if I were you.

Do you have other ways in which to get more out of your spending? Share them with me in the comments! I would definitely love to know what other options are out there.

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