Thursday, September 30, 2010

The new American Express Rewards Card

One of my colleagues is deciding to buy a 5 year savings plan that costs $20,000 upfront. At the end of the 5th year, he will receive $1,000 and at the 10th year, he will get $25,000. In total, his yield is a miserly 3% (average).

This return is better than our 0.15% banks’ interest rate though.

The good thing about his savings plan is that one can pay using any credit card.

Since the new American express rewards card (ARC) advertisements can be seen anywhere, let me do a simple calculation to see if paying $20,000 using this card actually increases his yield.

ARC gives 100% points on spending for the 1st 90 days. Thus my friend will get 40,000 points upon paying his premium.

He spends $20,000 on a calendar year, thus entitled to 50% bonus points. This is another 10,000 points.

In total, he gets 50,000 points, which allows him to exchange for $250 of cash.

If he adds that up to his total endowment return, his average return is 3.125%.

My friend has a visa infinite card from StandChart. It gives him 2.5x reward points on spending. Thus spending $20,000 gives him 50,000 points. This again works out to a payout of $250 spending credit, similar to ARC.

Hypothetically, if he gets a card that gives him 10% cash back ($2,000) on his spending, he will get 4% return on his endowment plan. Unfortunately, there is no such plan at the moment.

If he uses the Manhattan Card, he will get a $300 rebate. If he pays the bill through NETS using his X tra saver card spread over 2 months, he gets a $100 rebate, a total of $400. This brings his endowment yield to 3.2%.

I am extremely impressed by ARC marketing. I seem to see if everywhere, on papers, buses and even MRT floors! However, there is really nothing much to shout about, considering the points are merely 1.25% cash back on spending (at most).

I almost applied for the card when I was at Ion Orchard, but a mental calculation made me realize that I am better off holding the current cards I have now.

I firmly believe that cashback credit cards are more superior products than points/miles accruing ones. Thus readers should note that points are merely gimmicks to entice spending.

1 comment:

keng hoe said...

Yes I agree. I swear by cashback cards as you can put these money back into your savings account while a $50 voucher will make you spend more than $50 just to realise the value of it. There may also be some occasions when you forgot to claim some of your expiring points or can claim them when you want to cancel your card. =(

I use the Citibank Dividend and get about S$100 every 3 months and another $15+ from my POSB Everyday card.