Friends ask me, “Cash Back vs. Asia Miles – which type of credit cards is best for me?” My answer for them always the same, “which one is more valuable to you?”
Better to consider two elements – raw value and flexibility. Technically, Asia miles credit cards provide much better short-term value on average, while cash back cards are better long-term. Asia miles cards are also less flexible, though they can be optimized while cash back rewards can be, partially.
When you look at the long-term value potential of credit cards, however, you’ll discover that cash back credit cards tend to provide better and flexible net rewards. After an offer of first-year annual fee wavier end, it tends to play a big role in their net value, which eats away into the returns you get with airline cards and allows cash back offers to provide greater net value long-term, otherwise you lose some exclusive benefits as a long-term card owner when you cut a card within 2-3 years.
Here we will let you know which are the best for you regarding your income level and spending behavior.
Best Cash Back Credit Cards For the Early 20s
Some of the cash back credit cards are quite welcomed to those with lower income, new job-seekers and even tertiary students. Moreover, there are credit card issuers launching 2% rebate offer to all eligible spending. Therefore, our list only includes those with rebates higher than or equal to 2% for specific spending categories.
Best Card for Dining Spending: HSBC Platinum Card
HSBC Platinum Card: By allocating the extra 5X RewardCash under the “Red Hot Rewards of Your Choice” into the dining spending category, you could earn a total of 6X RewardCash. Assuming $1 RewardCash equals to HK$1, you could earn 2.4% rebates. You could pay your bills or other transactions with RewardCash via the app “HSBCReward+”.
Best Cards for Online Spending: BOC i-card, CCB eye Card and CNBCI motion Card
BOC i-card: Tertiary students are welcomed to apply. 1X Basic Points and 9X extra Points would give you a total of 10X Points which equivalent to 4% rebates. You could earn at most 10,000 Points per month with the transaction amount of HK$1,112.
CCB (Asia) eye Card: 1X Basic Points and 4X Extra Points would give you 5X Points in total. You could earn at most 300,000 Points per month. You could also earn an extra 2X Points, which gives a total of 7X, and 2,8% rebates after signing up for Instant Fly Club and pay your travel expenses (e.g. airfare and local tours) with foreign currency or online booking.
CNBCI motion Card: Including 0.55% basic rebates, 1.45% extra rebates and 3% extra rebates for online transactions; you could earn a total of 5% rebates. In particular, the 3% extra rebates carries a cap of HK$100. That means a transaction amount of HK$3,334 is enough to earn the rewards.
Best Cards for Overseas Spending: HSBC Platinum Card, Fubon Titanium Card and DBS Eminent Visa Platinum Card
HSBC Platinum Card: Earn 5X extra RewardCash with a maximum of HK$300 RewardCash at each stage with an accumulated overseas spending of HK$300 in each discount period within this year. You could earn 11X RewardCash with your RMB or foreign currency spending by including the 5X RewardCash multiplier in “Red Hot Rewards of Your Choice”, and “China” and “World” categories.
Fubon Titanium Card: Earn 8X Points with spending in Japan and Korea. You could redeem your points with approximately 3.64% cash rebates. Transactions in Taiwan could earn you 20X Points and 9.09% rebates. Noted that the validation period for Points is only one year and there are caps for the extra Points for the spending in Japan/Korea and Taiwan areas.
DBS Eminent Visa Platinum Card: 2% rebates, could act as back-up. But spending with Macau currency and overseas transactions using HKD are not regarded as eligible spending
Best Card for Supermarket Spending: Citi Rewards Card
Citi Rewards Credit Card: 5X Points equals 2% rebates. Earn 8X Points during birthday month, which is approximately 3.2% rebates. Earn 5X and 8X with spending in department stores and telecom companies respectively. Points are validated permanently.
Best Card offers for Contactless Payments: BOC i-card and CCB eye Card
BOC i-card: Same with most online transactions, you could earn 10X Points and 10,000 extra Points at most per month, which equals to 4% rebates.
CCB (Asia) eye Card: 5X Points. Since the limitation is shared with online transactions, you could earn at most 300,000 Points per year.
Because quite a number of food retailers, supermarkets and cinemas accept contactless payments, these two cards often come in handy.
Best Card for Entertainment Spending: WeWa UnionPay Diamond Card
PrimeCredit WeWa UnionPay Diamond Card: Tertiary students are welcomed to apply. Earn 4% rebates with spending on travel, cinema, karaoke and theme park categories.
Best Octopus Card Automatic Add Value Service: PrimeCredit EarnMORE and CNBCI motion Card
PrimeCredit EarnMORE UnionPay Diamond Card: Tertiary students are welcomed to apply. 2% Rebates all year round with no special discounts. Transaction less than 2% rebates are also applicable for this card.
CNBCI motion Card: New applicants can earn 2% rebates in the first 12 months, including Octopus Card automatic add value service.
Best Cards for Paying Utility Fees via ebanking: CNBCI motion Card, BOC icard, CCB eye Card and HSBC Platinum Card
CNBCI motion Card: Earn 0.55% rebates for the first HK$10,000 online bill payments except for paying insurance premiums and taxes.
BOC i-card/CCB (Asia) eye Card/HSBC Platinum Card: After calculation, we could see that all the three cards offer 0.4% rebates. In particular, BOC i-card offers a maximum of 10,000 Points per month in which the cap is shared with other spending categories. Whereas HSBC only takes the first HK$10,000 bill payments into account.
Best Cards for Higher-Income Individuals
Given the quite satisfactory rebates for early 20s; if you have quite a satisfactory earning, you are eligible to more credit card options with different spending categories, and therefore, more flexible combinations of cards:
Best Cards for Dining: Citi Cash Back Visa and HSBC Visa Signature
Citi Cash Back Visa Credit Card: If you choose to allocate “Red Hot Rewards of Your Choice” into other spending categories; aside from PrimeCredit Earn More UnionPay Diamond Card and CNBCI motion Card, this card would earn you 2% rewards in dining and hotel categories. Noted that you can save your rebates in your credit card account only when you have accumulated HK$200 cash rebates. (Details)
Best Cards for Overseas Spending: Fubon Platinum, BOC Travel Rewards Visa Signature and HSBC Visa Signature
HSBC Visa Signature Card: 9X RewardCash by allocating “Red Hot Rewards of Your Choice” to other spending categories, and enjoying 5X extra RewardCash in online and overseas all year round, and 3X in “China” and “World” categories. (Details)
Fubon Platinum Card: Same as Titanium Card, you could earn 4X, 8X and 20X Points for overseas spending. Just that it has a higher annual income requirement.
BOC Travel Rewards Visa Signature Card: It might be a bit complicated if you want to earn 8% rewards. You need at least 3X local spending, one overseas spending with HK$500 or above and an accumulated amount of HK$6,000 or above per month. You could earn at most HK$500 rebates per month, which means overseas spending of HK$6,250 would be enough.
Best Card for Contactless Payment: BOC Dual Currency Card
BOC Dual Currency Card: In Hong Kong, some of the chain convenience stores, supermarkets, fast food stores, bakeries, food retailers and electronic stores accept UnionPay QuickPass. You could earn 4% rebates within 2018 by using UnionPay QuickPass or mobile payments. You could earn a maximum of HK$100 rebates per month and the upper limit of transaction amount would be HK$2,500. (Details)
Best Cards for Paying Utility Fees via ebanking: ICBC Horoscope Card
ICBC Horoscope Card: Visa Signature and UnionPay Diamond Prestige version provide 1.5% rebate for local and overseas spending, include bill payments (but not tax paying). You can get HK$150 Free Credit Card Spending Limit welcome offer by spending HK$1,500 with the card. Last but not least, you can choose the preferred horoscope cardface design when applying this card.
Best Welcome Offer: Standard Chartered Simply Cash Visa
Standard Chartered Simply Cash Visa Card: Although you are rewarded with 2% rebates as welcoming offer with PrimeCredit EarnMore UnionPay Diamond Card and CNBCI motion Card as new applicants this year, this card offers 100% welcoming rebates. Your rebates are directly proportional to your spending amount. It also offers 2% rebates for foreign currency rebates and 1.5% HKD transactions. (Details)
As the cap of Points is quite low for BOC i-card, you could apply for BOC Dual Currency Card or CCB (Asia) eye Card as back-ups for contactless payment credit cards.
Write for MoneySmart
Dear fellows, MoneySmart would like to invite you to contribute content to our site by sharing your financial management skills, investment opinions, money-saving hacks and other brilliant ideas in your mind. Your valuable experiences would inspire so many people out there, so write them all out! The minimum word count is 600 words. Feel free to attach any pictures or graphs you find relevant and send the draft to Editorial@moneysmart.hk
Whether you want to share your insights or feel determined in becoming a financial KOL, don’t hesitate to offer us a contribution!