CIMB Visa Signature Card
Ever since November 2018, the CIMB Visa Signature Card has ruled supreme over the other cash back credit cards with its unrivaled 10% cashback for local and overseas Dining, Online spend and Groceries and in the process providing valuable cashback for pretty much most of the major expenses of a modern family.
That will be a distant memory, never to return as from 5 June 2019 onwards, CIMB has finally have had enough of burning cash through the CIMB Visa Signature Card and CIMB Platinum MasterCard and has tightened the requirements for 10% cashback for both cards. They have probably hit their target milestones for number of cardholders and is unlikely to restore the generous requirements for cashback in the near future.
So, what are the Changes?
The new requirements have 5 categories that will get awarded with 10% cash back (namely online shopping, groceries, beauty and wellness, pets shop and veterinary service and cruise) instead of 3 categories (online spend, groceries and dining). Dining as a cash back category has been shifted to CIMB Platinum MasterCard instead and in place of that are 3 not so useful categories (yes, I am referring to beauty and wellness, pets shop and veterinary service and cruise spend). Minimum spend requirements has been hiked to $800 from $600 a month while per category cap has been lowered drastically from $50 to $20.
Impact of the Changes
The lowering of each category cashback cap to $20 means that it is almost impossible for a cardholder to receive 10% cashback on all his or her spending on the card regularly. This is due to the fact that one will hit the maximum category cashback cap with a mere spend of $200 for that category. To add insult to injury, they quietly narrowed the category from "online spending" to "online shopping" which only include shopping sites instead of all online spending. They also remove dining as a spending category and added beauty and wellness, pets shop and veterinary service and cruise spend as spending categories that qualify for 10% cash back. Nobody goes on a cruise every month and even if one were to go, it will easily cost more than $200.
Simply put, CIMB is tightening the requirements for 10% cash back to make it more difficult for cardholders to earn cash back. This is a common "Bait-and-Switch" tactic often employed by banks to bait customers into signing up for some benefits only to take away the benefits when they have fulfilled their target quota for signups. It might be somewhat unethical but it is perfectly within their rights to change the requirements or even alter the cashback percentage at little or no advance notice.
Earn 0.2% base cashback with minimum $1 spend for all transactions. There is no cap for base cashback. Base cashback will be credited to the cardholder within the same statement month. Earn 9.8% bonus cashback online shopping, groceries, beauty and wellness, pets shop and veterinary service and cruise. Bonus cashback will be credited in the following statement month after monthly spending requirement of $800 has been met. Each category cashback is capped at $20 per statement month and total cashback is capped at $100. Monthly spend is calculated on a statement basis (Refer to your credit card statement date for the start date).
Are there any Perks left?
The card was the Best Cash Back Credit Card in Singapore for the first half of 2019 and rightly so with its superior 10% cash back for 3 frequent spend categories.
New cardholders can receive a free return flight to 1 of the 16 choice destinations across Asia with minimum $600 spend for each of the first 3 statement months from Card approval date. Destinations include Bangkok, Brunei, Denpasar, Hanoi, Ho chi minh city,Hong Kong , Jakarta, Krabi,Kuala Lumpur, Mactan Cebu, Manila, Penang, Phnom Penh, Phuket, Surabaya, Taipei. According to promotional materials, the free flight may refer to standard economy class on full-fledged flight or budget economy class on budget airlines but we suspect it will most probably be the later and the full-fledged flight ticket option is there just in case there is no availability on budget airlines. Qualified cardholders will be given opportunity to choose three possible destinations and three possible travel dates and CIMB will offer one of the selected destination and date as the gift. Most qualified cardholders will certainly choose Taiwan or Hong Kong but end up with the other third destination of their choice as Taiwan and Hong Kong flights cost more on paper. The ambiguity of the promotion with regards to destination and $600 minimum spend for 3 months make the promotion not as attractive as it could have been. The promotion ends on 29 Feb 2020.
What is left of its remaining perks are pretty insignificant if you compare them to the other Cash Back Credit Cards in the market. It has unlimited 0.2% base cashback (minimum $1 spend) for all transactions and complimentary basic travel accident insurance coverage of up to $500,000 for you and your family when you book your flights using the CIMB Visa Signature Card. We say basic travel insurance because only the principal cardholder will have coverage for baggage loss or delays, flight delays and trip cancellation. In any case, both perks are nothing to shout about and definitely not worthy to entice you to sign up for the card.
What should I do if I am an existing cardholder?
There is no harm in keeping the CIMB Visa Signature Card due to its lifetime free membership perk (which also applies for all CIMB credit cards). However, CIMB credit cards have few tie-ups with merchants for discounts which means you will be better off chalking this card into your drawer then carrying it about in your wallet if you decide to keep the card.
Alternatively, you can also stand up and be counted to vote against such "Bait-and-switch" tactics by cancelling the card. However, do note that the Bank reserve the rights to reverse any signup gift or credit that you have previously received when signing up for the credit card if you cancel the credit card less than 12 months after the end of the signup promotional period.