Asia Miles Credit Cards KrisFlyer

Credit Card Review: Maybank Horizon Visa Signature

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Here’s our review of the Maybank Horizon Visa Signature credit card issued in Singapore. It forms part of our series of credit card reviews, which are all summarised on our dedicated Credit Cards page.

Dollar amounts refer to SGD, and ‘miles’ refer to KrisFlyer Miles, except where stated. This review was updated on 1st August 2018.

Key features

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Annual fee: $180.00/yr
EIR/APR: 25.9%
Sign-up bonus: None
Standard earn rate: 0.4 miles per $1
Bonus earn rate 1: 2.0 miles per $1*
Bonus earn rate 2: 3.2 miles per $1**
Minimum Age: 21
Minimum income (Singaporean): $50,000/yr
Minimum income (Foreigner): $60,000/yr
* On air tickets, travel packages and foreign currency transactions.
** On dining, petrol, selected taxi fares and selected hotel bookings.

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Annual fee

The Maybank Horizon Visa Signature card has an annual fee of $180.00, however this is waived for the first three years of membership and subsequently is automatically waived provided a minimum spend of $18,000 is made using this card per year. A supplementary card is free of charge.

Sign-up bonus

There is currently no sign-up bonus for the Maybank Horizon Visa Signature card.

Earning rates

Note: Maybank launched a bonus miles offer for August and September 2018 offering an additional 1 mile per dollar on all spending categories. For full details of the promotion see our article here.

This card earns 0.4 miles for every $1 of general spending. That’s very poor in relation to other miles earning cards in Singapore, so the key with this one is tapping into one of the two bonus rates.

Bonus earn rate 1

The first bonus category is air tickets, travel packages and foreign currency transactions, which earn at 2.0 miles per $1. That includes any air ticket and/or travel package purchase, the latter referring to a tour arranged by a travel agent where transportation, food and lodging are all provided at an inclusive price.

Jetstar A320
Even low-cost airline tickets are eligible for 2 miles per dollar when purchased with the Maybank Horizon Visa Signature card

Of course any transaction made in a non-SGD currency also qualifies in this category, though the bonus is not cumulative (i.e. you’ll get 2 miles per $1 for an air ticket purchased in foreign currency, not 4 miles).

Bonus earn rate 2

The second bonus category is for transactions on dining, petrol, selected taxi rides or selected hotel bookings made at http://www.agoda.com/horizon. Here you’ll earn 3.2 miles per $1 spent.

There are a few things to be careful of for this (more lucrative) earning rate.

Dining transactions must be charged “at participating Eating Places and Restaurants classified under Merchant Category Code (“MCC”) 5812 (“Participating Dining Merchants”).”

Sadly as many of you will know there’s no way to easily determine the MCC of a retailer in Singapore, however be aware restaurants in hotels are generally categorised under the hotel MCC rather than the dining one, so you may not be eligible for the bonus rate at those.

Food Burgers.jpg
Dining is one of the 3.2 miles per dollar categories with this card, just be careful of the MCC code restriction especially if the restaurant is located within a hotel

Petrol transactions must be charged at local petrol stations classified under MCC 5541 and MCC 5542 (“Participating Petrol Stations”). I can’t see why any petrol station in Singapore would not fall under one of these categories.

Taxi transactions must be charged at selected local taxi service providers, namely Comfort and CityCab, Premier Taxis, Prime Taxi, SMRT Taxis, Trans-Cab and GrabTaxi.

Minimum spend and cap

Note that for both bonus earn rates to take effect a minimum spend of $300 per calendar month is required (on any transaction, not just the bonus ones), otherwise you’ll earn the basic 0.4 miles per $1 on all transactions.

Bonus earn rates are capped at 12,000 bonus miles per calendar month (30,000 ‘TREATS Points’ which convert at a 2.5:1 ratio, see later in the article for details on that). That means if all your spend is in a single bonus category the maximum spend in that category is:

  • Bonus earn rate 1: $7,500 per month (12,000 cap / 1.6 mpd bonus)
  • Bonus earn rate 2: $4,285 per month (12,000 cap / 3.8 mpd bonus)

before the earn rate drops to 0.4 miles per $1 for all subsequent transactions in any category.

If you spend in a mixture of the two bonus categories it’s a more complicated calculation.

For example if you spend $3,000 in foreign currency in a calendar month (Bonus earn rate 1) you have accrued 6,000 miles, 4,800 of which were ‘bonus miles’. That leaves you with a maximum 7,200 bonus miles left to accrue in the same calendar month before you revert to the standard rate again.

That leaves you with $1,894 left to spend on dining transactions in the same month (which earn 4.2 miles per dollar, 3.8 of which are ‘bonus miles’) before you would revert to standard rates for all spending.

Complicated, however only something to really concern yourself with if your monthly spend levels on this card are quite high.

A note about Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC)

This card enjoys a bonus rate for foreign transactions, so here’s the usual reminder on DCC.

Beware the ‘Dynamic Currency Conversion’ (DCC) offer you’ll often experience overseas when paying with your Visa or MasterCard. It’s very common when settling your overseas hotel bill, for example, to be offered to pay in SGD instead of local currency. This is a terrible idea, because:

a) you’ll suffer financially, even after the credit card foreign exchange fee is accounted for. If you remember the SGD amount you were offered to pay, then pay in local currency instead, once the transaction appears on your credit card statement you’ll generally find they were scamming you, you’d have paid at least 2% more using DCC.

b) you will earn credit card miles at the local spend rate if you accept DCC, because the transaction will take place in SGD, not the local currency.

In other words, you’ll pay more, and lose miles. Always insist on paying in the local currency of the country you are in.

A note on Mileslife

When you mention dining to a miles aficionado in Singapore one of the first things they’ll say is ‘Mileslife’. Paying through their mobile app awards you up to 3 miles per dollar spent when you dine at a wide range of restaurants in Singapore – see our full overview of the scheme here.

MilesLife

As one of the major benefits of the Maybank Horizon Visa card is the 3.2 miles per dollar spent on dining transactions, many will ask how does Mileslife fit in to the equation?

Remember that Mileslife transactions are not coded under a dining MCC.

Note: Maybank launched a bonus miles offer for August and September 2018 offering an additional 1 mile per dollar on all spending categories. This affects the Mileslife calculation for those participating in the promotion. For full details of how the Mileslife transactions work during the promotion see our article here.

Let’s say you hold the Maybank Horizon Visa card, primarily for 3.2 miles per dollar on dining, and the Citi PremierMiles Visa for 1.2 miles per dollar on other local spend.

  • If you dine at a restaurant that’s not on Mileslife, use your Maybank Horizon Visa card to get 3.2 miles per dollar, provided the restaurant is not in a hotel.
  • If you dine at a restaurant that is on Mileslife offering 1 mile per $1 spent, don’t pay through Mileslife as you’ll then only get at best 1.2 miles per dollar paying with your Citi PremierMiles Visa plus 1 mile per dollar from Mileslife, a total of 2.2 miles per dollar. Instead use the Maybank Horizon Visa for 3.2 miles per dollar.
  • If you dine at a Mileslife restaurant with 2 miles per $1 spent it doesn’t matter whether you pay using the Mileslife app using your Citi PremierMiles card (2+1.2 = 3.2 miles per dollar) or pay the restaurant directly with your Maybank Horizon Visa (3.2 miles per dollar).
  • Finally at a 3 miles per $1 Mileslife restaurant (or higher if there’s a promotion) you are better off using your Citi PremierMiles card and paying through Mileslife (3+1.2 = 4.2 miles per dollar). Even if you don’t have a Citi PremierMiles card you should use Mileslife to make the payment in this case (3+0.4 = 3.4 miles per dollar) rather than paying the restaurant directly (3.2 miles per dollar).

In summary, do the maths based on the cards you hold but don’t automatically assume Mileslife will be better or that the Horizon Visa will be better – it depends.

Are KrisFlyer miles credited directly?

No, rather than being credited miles directly you’ll accrue ‘TREATS Points’ for your spending on this card. These transfer to KrisFlyer miles at a 2.5:1 ratio.

The standard accrual rate is 1 TREATS Point per $1 spent, which translates to 0.4 miles per $1, and the bonus rates are 5 TREATS Points and 8 TREATS Points per $1 spent, which is 2 miles per $1 and 3.2 miles per $1 respectively as mentioned above.

How much is a TREATS Point worth?

Anything from 0.3 cents (if you convert them to vouchers for specific retailers) to 0.8 cents (if you convert them to KrisFlyer miles or Asia Miles).

Clearly the 0.3 cents option is terrible, and represents a poorer return than you would expect to achieve from many cashback cards, so don’t do that. Conversion into KrisFlyer miles or Asia Miles is the best deal.

Which loyalty schemes can I transfer into?

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles are the two primary frequent flyer schemes you can transfer your TREATS Points into.

You can also transfer your TREATS Points to Air Asia BIG Points, though it won’t be much interest to our readers – BIG Points are only worth about $0.0034 each (0.34 cents), or about 6 times less than we value a KrisFlyer mile / Asia Mile.

What is the transfer cost to frequent flyer miles?

Whether you choose to convert TREATS Points to KrisFlyer miles or Asia Miles, a fee of $26.76 applies each time you transfer.

Transfers to Air Asia BIG Points are fee-free, however as we mentioned above you almost certainly don’t want to be converting to those.

Is there a minimum transfer amount?

The minimum quantity of TREATS Points you can convert into airline miles is 5,000 (giving you 2,000 miles), and they must then be in identically sized blocks thereafter.

It means if you have 9,999 TREATS Points, and you don’t have time to tick it over by making a small purchase, you’ll only be able to transfer 5,000 points across to KrisFlyer or Asia Miles (2,000 miles). You will then be left with 4,999 TREATS Points in your rewards account.

Do TREATS Points expire?

Yes, points are only valid for one year after the end of the quarterly period in which they are earned. Realistically this should give you over a year to redeem in most cases as the expiry structure works as shown in the following table.

Points Earned Between Expire On
1 Jan – 31 Mar 2018 31 Mar 2019
1 Apr – 30 Jun 2018 30 Jun 2019
1 Jul – 30 Sep 2018 30 Sep 2019
1 Oct – 31 Dec 2018 31 Dec 2019

There is an exception however, called ‘Rewards Infinite’.

Rewards Infinite

If you charge at least $24,000 to your Maybank Horizon Visa Signature card in the preceding year you will be eligible to join (or retain) Rewards Infinite status. Your TREATS points will then never expire provided you continue to be eligible for and maintain Rewards Infinite under the same terms (24k+ per annum of spending).

If you earn then subsequently lose Rewards Infinite status your TREATS points will expire at the end of the calendar quarter following the lapsed membership, plus 1 year. The table below illustrates this.

Lapsed RI Membership Points Expire On
1 Jan – 31 Mar 2018 30 Jun 2019
1 Apr – 30 Jun 2018 30 Sep 2019
1 Jul – 30 Sep 2018 31 Dec 2019
1 Oct – 31 Dec 2018 31 Mar 2019

Remember once your points are moved into KrisFlyer they will then have a further validity of 3 years from that date.

How long do miles take to credit to KrisFlyer?

The official line is “7 to 14 business days”.

The FlyerTalk forum post where KrisFlyer members share the actual number of days taken to transfer miles across from various banks is a little light on data points for Maybank transfers, but about 1 week does seem to be the usual timeframe so don’t expect these points to credit into KrisFlyer miles in a hurry.

If you have any further experience of Maybank transfer times do let us know in the comments section below and we’ll update this information.

Other benefits

The only additional benefit of the Maybank Horizon Visa Signature card we think will be of most interest to our readers is a single complimentary airport lounge access.

It’s subject to a minimum charge of $1,000 to your card in a single transaction, valid for the next 3 months following the transaction, at the Ambassador Transit Lounge at Singapore Changi Airport and Plaza Premium Lounge at Singapore Changi Airport, Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Hong Kong International Airport.

Our summary

A reasonable overseas earning rate for a fee-free card in the first 3 years, however the biggest advantage of the Maybank Horizon Visa Signature card is the high 3.2 miles per dollar rate applicable to dining transactions.

For regular taxi users this same rate is also a very nice earning level, though remember in both cases you must spend $300+ on the card each month to qualify for the bonus, and there is a total cap of 12,000 bonus miles (30,000 bonus ‘TREATS Points’ per calendar month) before all subsequent spending in any category falls to 0.4 miles per dollar.

Remember we value KrisFlyer miles at about 2 cents each so at the 2 mile per dollar and 3.2 mile per dollar rates you’re earning 4% or 6.4% ‘value back’ on your purchases with this card.

Outside the bonus rates however it’s a very poor earning rate on this card of 0.4 miles per dollar, so we would strongly recommend having an alternative for your day to day spending (like groceries) where you should be earning at least 1 mile per dollar, and ideally 1.2 or 1.4 miles per dollar.

Overall this one has its perks but isn’t a very exciting offering.

Card

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Our recommendations for credit cards and other similar products on this site do not constitute financial advice.

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