SUMMARY OF FINDINGS: Maybankcard 2 Gold Card – American Express gives excellent returns via its 5% rebate for weekend spending and Maybank TreatsPoints. With even moderate spending timed to be done on weekends, you will easily cover back the RM50 Government Service Tax.
However, American Express charges higher rate on the business using it. So I suggest to only use it for big companies (e.g.Tesco, Jusco, Shell etc) and avoid using it on small businesses (e.g. family cafes) and charities (e.g. Barnabas Fund) as you will be basically transferring their hard-earned profits to the American Express company.
The following may contain inaccurate data due to the vast amounts of calculations, choices and terms/conditions involved. If you spot any error, please inform me.
UPDATE: Sadly both the AmEx and Mastercard share the same total credit limit. So if your credit limit is RM5,000 and each card has reached RM2,400… You cannot swipe either card for a RM300 purchase!
The Maybankcard 2 Gold Card provides one American Express (AmEx) and one MasterCard (MasCa) credit card. Hereafter referred to as the 2card.
Among the extolled advantages, the two cards share one statement and – attractively – one Government Service Tax (GST) of RM50/year. This means that you can flexibly wield two different credit card lines without paying extra GST – although in Malaysia this is something of a moot point, as the question is more of where does accept AmEx and where doesn’t accept Mastercard. See bottom of post for a list.
The AmEx gives you 5x Maybank TreatsPoints which can be collected to redeem for products, cash vouchers – or even to negate the RM50 GST. Meanwhile, the MasCa only gives 1x TreatsPoints. So avoid using the MasCa whenever possible.
Using solely on the AmEx, you have to spend just RM2000 a year (RM166.67 a month) to get the 10,000 TreatsPoints needed to waive the RM50 GST. I’m quite certain anyone eligible for the card will spend more than that already on basic unavoidable expenditures such as petrol and grocery shopping,.
Furthermore, using AmEx on weekends gives ‘5% cash back’ in the form of a discount off your bill for the respective items. (I’ve tried it for buying petrol at Shell, and it really works.) Limited to RM50 a month though. You’d have to spend RM1,000 each month on weekends alone to reach the cash back limit, so it’s really more of an occasional small bonus.
UPDATE: In less than a year of using the AmEx, I have earned back far more in rebates than the RM50 government tax. Even though I often missed chances to use it (e.g. by shopping on a weekday instead of a weekend). Definitely worth it.
Membership is also free for life.
Altogether, looks pretty attractive right?
So the question is, are the 2card’s benefits better than alternatives?
For this exercise, I’m going to use my own ad hoc unit of measurement, PBR (Pay Back Ratio) which is a measurement of how fast each Ringgit of expenditure through a credit card pays back in the form of vouchers, rebates or etc.
The following calculations will exclude the weekend 5% cash back bonus which is limited to RM50/month for ease of comparison.
VS. Citibank Gold Credit Card
Citibank’s gold cards give 3x Citi Reward Points that can be used to redeem stuff. Now obviously this seems much lower than Maybank AmEx’s 5x points – but when you average out the 5x AmEx and 1x MasCa, it comes to 3x anyway. Simple solution, use AmEx whenever possible.
So let’s go to the actual benefits in terms of cash. For ease of comparison, let’s use two basic items that anyone will be able to use – shopping vouchers and rebate on GST.
The best points-to-rewards ratio Jusco voucher from Citibank Gold is worth RM100 for 21,000 points. That’s a ratio of 100/21000 = 0.00476 PBR (higher PBR is better as it shows how much each reward point is worth). But don’t forget the 3x rate. The actual ratio is then 0.00366 x 3 = 0.01428 PBR (meaning you get back RM1 in vouchers for every RM70 you spend thru Citibank). Note that other versions of the card are different, for example AirAsia Gold card needs 27,300 points instead of 21,000! Laaaaaame.
The best ratio Tesco voucher from Maybankcard AmEx Gold is worth RM50 for 11,000 points. That’s 50/11000 = 0.00455 PBR, but the AmEx 5x rate makes it 0.00455 x 5 = 0.02275 PBR (meaning you get back RM1 in vouchers for every RM44 you spend thru Maybank Amex.).
So purely on shopping vouchers, Maybankcard AmEx is clearly the winner at 1.75x faster money back speed than Citibank Gold. Without factoring in 3x and 5x, Citibank Gold’s base voucher ratio is marginally better (and the AirAsia Gold is worse!).
Moving on to GST rebate, Citibank lets you waive the RM50 tax for 10,000 points. That’s a ratio of 50/10000 = 0.005 PBR, factor in the 3x rate makes it 0.005 x 3 = 0.015 PBR (you get back RM1 in rebate for every RM66.67 spent). Again, note that other versions of the card are different, for example AirAsia Gold card needs 13,000 points instead of 10,000! Boooo!
Meanwhile, Maybank GST rebate is exactly the same ratio of RM50 tax for 10,000 points. That’s a ratio of 50/10000 = 0.005, factor in the 5x rate and it’s a stunning 0.005 x 5 = 0.025 PBR (RM1 rebate for just every RM40 spent)!
So again, the AmEx’s 5x again makes it 1.67x the money back speed as Citibank Gold’s 3x.
And don’t forget the weekend 5% cash back that AmEx offers you!
Furthermore, the number of Citibank branches seems much lower than Maybank ones. This comes into play when you want to pay your credit card bill. Without easy access to a Citibank branch and without a Citibank account, you either have to mail the cheque to Citibank (60 sen now) with risk of interception or getting lost, or else pay RM2 to GIRO transfer via online banking.
Using your likely existent Maybank account to pay your Maybank 2card online means zero fees. A small saving even over a year, but it contributes. Together with Maybank AmEx’s other benefits (5% cash back and 5x points), it’s overkill.
And finally, Citibank charges annual membership fee of RM195 and RM100 for supplementary, against Maybank AmEx’s free for life!
In practise it should be easy to get waived with points or plain old begging/threatening the customer service desk… But why add that hassle?
WINNER: Maybank AmEx
(UPDATE: Most or all insurance companies do not accept AmEx for auto-payment of policies. And since insurance policies tend to be large sums – especially for families – the 3x points of using MasCa under Citibank Gold becomes more substantial. Nevertheless, it’s quite unlikely IMHO that insurance expenditures will outstrip combined petrol, groceries and nonessential purchases for which the Amex 5x points can apply.)
VS. Tesco RHB Credit and Debit Cards
First, the Tesco Credit Card. It gives you 2% cash back at Tesco at any time (0.02 PBR, get RM1 back for every RM50 in spending).
You also get 1 Tesco Clubcard point per RM2 spent at Tesco or ‘anywhere else’ (that is, 0.5x points earning ratio). Each Clubcard point is auto-converted into 1 sen (RM0.01) worth of Tesco vouchers by Tesco itself. The end result is a ratio of 0.01/2 = 0.005 PBR (get RM1 back for every RM200 in spending). You have to have the Tesco membership of course, which is like BonusLink or J-Card.
Apart from the Tesco stuff, you then also get RHB points at a 1x rate that can net you an RM50 Tesco voucher for 12,200 points (0.004098 PBR, RM1 vouchers for every RM244 spent) or the usual RM50 GST rebate for 10,000 points (ratio of 0.005).
Altogether, the Tesco Credit Card’s three benefits of 2% cash back, Clubcard points and RHB points means that you get a money return ratio of 0.02 + 0.005 + 0.004098 = 0.029098 PBR (get RM1 back for every RM34.37 spending).
It however charges a RM88/year fee after the first free year! So you need to spend 34.37 x 88 = RM3,024.56 yearly just for your savings to break even with your annual fee! Whatmore if you have a supplementary card at RM20 per year (another RM687.40 spending needed).
And don’t forget the usual RM50 GST, which can be waived for the usual 10,000 points as with the other card brands.
Second option is the Tesco Debit Card. This baby gets you 5x Clubcard points at Tesco and presumably 1x anywhere else. With the ordinary ratio being 1 Tesco Clubcard point per RM2 spent, 5x rate means 1 point per RM0.40 spent. Not being a credit card, you don’t get RHB points to redeem I think.
So we’re working with just RM0.01 vouchers for every Clubcard point, calculated to 0.01/0.4 = 0.025 PBR (get RM1 back for every RM40 in spending). Looks good by itself, but loses out to the combined three benefits of the Credit Card version.
And even the Debit Card has a fee! RM20 per year means you must spend 20 x 40 = RM800 annually for your savings to break even with the stupid fee. Throw in another RM400 spending for each supplementary card’s RM10 fee.
So what if we compare the two RHB Tesco Cards’ ratios against Maybank AmEx’s ratio?
First, we need to add in Tesco Clubcard ordinary points earnings to the AmEx, because you still get Tesco Clubcard points for your Tesco membership no matter how you pay the bill! So AmEx’s usual ratio of 0.02275 + 0.005 = 0.02775 PBR (get back RM1 voucher for each RM36.04 spending).
Now the comparisons:
RHB Tesco Credit Card = 0.029098 PBR
Maybank AmEx (Tesco vouchers) = 0.02775 PBR
Difference = 0.001348 PBR
To make up for the RHB Tesco Credit Card annual fee = 88/0.001348 = RM65,281.90 needs to be spent per year, after which the RHB Tesco Credit Card starts saving you money compared to Maybank AmEx
RHB Tesco Debit Card = 0.025 PBR
Maybank AmEx (Tesco vouchers) = 0.02775 PBR
Difference = -0.00225 PBR
RHB Tesco Debit Card NEVER saves you money compared to Maybank AmEx
And once again, this isn’t counting in AmEx’s 5% cash back which trounces the RHB Credit Card’s 2% cash back at Tesco only.
WINNER: Tesco RHB Credit Card if you’re hardcore Tesco-reliant and spend tens of thousands of Ringgit on groceries/electronics/furniture/etc every year. AmEx for normal people. If you plan on getting Maybank AmEx, the savings from having a Tesco RHB Card as well are almost impossible to realize!
VS. OCBC Titanium MasterCard
The following is excerpted from My Credit Cards which has in-depth looks at various cards.
Comparison between Maybank 2 American Express Card and OCBC Titanium MasterCard
MBB 2 Amex gets 5X Reward Points Everyday, Anywhere and Anytime vs. OCBC TMC Nothing, Nil, None, Zero;
MBB 2 Amex Free Lifetime Annual Fees vs. OCBC TMC need to swipe 12 times;
MBB 2 Amex GST must pay (but with 5X points only need to spend RM2K to get 10,000 Treats Points to offset GST ) vs. OCBC TMC must pay but auto waived if spend RM10K annually;
MBB 2 Amex 5% cash back on weekends anywhere vs. OCBC TMC 5% cash back anytime but not everywhere;
MBB 2 Amex offers Travel Insurance vs. OCBC none; and last but not least
MBB 2 Amex overseas transactions are subjected to 2.5% Admin Charge but with 5X maybe this is acceptable vs. a lower overseas conversion rate with OCBC TMC (do note again that the RM50 cap which may limit the usefulness of OCBC Titanium MasterCard for overseas spending).
BOTH MBB 2 Amex and OCBC Titanium cash rebate is capped at RM50/month 😦
So does the above comparison conclude that you should not get the OCBC Titanium? Not necessarily. It depends on your spending pattern.
If you don’t spend more than RM1,000 per month with credit cards then maybe no point getting the OCBC as Maybank 2 Cards consists of 2 in 1 i.e. you get AMEX with Visa or MasterCard. Therefore, in the event a particular merchant does not accept AMEX, you’ve still got the Visa or MasterCard as standby.
For the Maybankard 2 AMEX card, on weekends it’s like you get something equivalent to about 7.5% cash back for anything including Petrol (for your information if you spend your money at ESSO you get another 1.5% with Smiles Points and at 1U another 1% with the One Card). Click here to read my post – Cards to compliment your CC.
How did I get 7.5%? The 5X Treats Points (TP) you get for every Ringgit can be said to be equivalent to approximately 2.5% cash back based redemption of voucher(s). For example, 2,000 TP gets you a RM10 McD voucher, 10,000 TP gets you a RM50 Metro Jaya voucher and 20,000 TP gets you a RM100 Jaya Jusco Voucher. Click here to see Treats Points Catalogue for vouchers.
Before you go saying AMEX is not widely accepted, let me repeat here again that AMEX is accepted at ESSO/MOBIL, Guardian, Watsons, Caring, OTO, GIANT, Carrefour, Harvey Norman, Courts, All IT, DELL, TESCO, JAYA JUSCO, TGIF, FOS, Poh Kong, PappaRich, Pasta Zamai, Canton i, Air Asia, JetStar, Malaysia Airlines, DiGi, Maxis, Celcom, Assessment Tax (Cukai Pintu) and many other places and not necessarily only at high end luxury outlets.
I’m not going to delve into the minutia of rewards points or PBR (yet).
Where American Express is Accepted in Malaysia
Do feel free to comment with your first hand accounts of where else in Malaysia AmEx was accepted.
Paying Telekom and Tenaga Nasional bills thru Maybank2u online bill payment!
Most major hotels
Steam (digital download games)
Barnabas Fund – however not encouraged as AmEx charges them more, which means you’re getting more reward points by depriving the persecuted needy.
Direct2Drive (digital download games)
Ipoh Specialist Hospital
Pizza Hut dine in
MPH book stores
Pamuri 100 Yen
Where American Express is REJECTED in Malaysia
Do feel free to comment with your first hand accounts of where else AmEx was NOT accepted.
Secret Garden (Ipoh dining – contact number is outdated, use 052410412 instead)
Good Old Games (digital download games)
Pizza Hut online ordering
David’s Diner Ipoh
Toys ‘R’ Us
In conclusion, for a responsible and fiscally aware person, annual membership fee-less and high PBR cards like Maybankcard AmEx are actually profitable rather than sinking you into a hole of constantly increasing debt.
And that’s all I got for now. Feel free to comment.