Credit Cards

4 Social Norms Around Credit Card Rewards You Should Learn

It's exciting to rack up miles and cashback for free vacations. In fact, it can be so lucrative that some people might start obsessing with earning credit card rewards. What people may not realise, however, is that obsessing with or bragging about credit card points can have negative impact on their personal relationships. Although it may feel "easier" to talk about money credit card points than about money, cashback and miles are effectively equivalent to money at the end of the day. For avid credit card users in Singapore, ValuePenguin prepared some tips to help them navigate some of the new social norms that formed around credit card rewards.

Don’t brag about how much cashback you earn

Whether we're having a nice dinner or planning a weekend getaway with friends, once in a while one or two people end up putting all of the charges on their cards and asking others to reimburse them. It may not even be intentional: some restaurants only accept a certain number of cards, and it's much easier (and cheaper) to book vacation lodging at once for a group rather than having each person book on his own. Of course, these are opportune times to rack up on credit card rewards easily. However, if you find yourself in one of these situations, you should shy away from talking about how many miles or cashback you are going to earn.

To put it differently, it's generally frowned upon to brag about how much money you make. It would be even worse if you brag about profiting from others' hard work. Similarly, nobody will delight in hearing about how you’re planning to upgrade your flight to business class with miles that they could've earned. It's just bad taste to announce how you are going to reap all the benefits that others could have also earned.

Don’t talk points when you’re treating someone, especially in business settings

Mentioning "points" or "miles" when you are buying a meal for someone can cheapen your act of hospitality. For instance, it's customary to remove the price tag when you are getting a gift for someone. Introducing the concept of price and money is the easiest way of making the recipient feel either awkward or less appreciative of your generosity. The same can be said about cashback and miles that you earn by treating someone to a nice dinner.

If the dinner is in a business setting, it's even more important to avoid mentioning credit card rewards. In fact, the best business practice is to keep the details of payment itself out of sight. If you are the host of a business lunch, we recommend quietly slipping your card to the waiter so the bill never even arrives at the table. Whether you are earning miles on that meal is a frivolous detail that only dilutes the effectiveness of your business meeting.

Tactfully share credit card tips

While it's not wise to brag, we should always seek out to help our friends and family, especially those who are interested in learning how to earn more card rewards. You could even ask them what they spend the most on (i.e. dining vs shopping), and help them find the best credit card for them. However, there's an important distinction between providing information with those who want it and barraging unwanted information onto others, especially if it sounds like boasting or preaching. Money matters are always sensitive, and people don't always welcome unsolicited advice.

Furthermore, you can share more than just advice. Between significant others, for example, sharing miles is a wise practice to minimise both their vacation costs and tensions around finance. Couples often share expenses like hotel bookings and plane tickets on one person's credit card. If the other person is reimbursing the card owner, sharing miles to book their next vacation is an easy way to make sure that both people are benefiting equally from credit card rewards.

Don’t obsess over rewards

Most importantly, whatever you do, don't let miles and cashback become an obsession in your daily life. There are few things that are more unseemly than someone insisting or getting weirdly obsessive about paying in order to earn credit card rewards. To blow it out of proportion, insisting on paying for others so you can earn points and then asking for reimbursement is akin to stealing money (i.e. cashback) that others could've earned with their own credit cards.

Instead, focus your energy on maximising credit card rewards on your own expenses by choosing a card that is optimised for your spending pattern. If you love to travel, for instance, consider getting a miles credit card that you can use to redeem a free roundtrip ticket. Digging further, some cards like Citi PMV Card and DBS Altitude Card do well for people who have highly diversified spending pattern, while HSBC Revolution Card or Maybank Horizon Card are more optimised for foodies who like to dine out a lot. Choosing a card whose rewards match your spending pattern can easily help earn 60,000 to 90,000 miles a year, sufficient for a free trip to Bali. Earning credit card rewards shouldn't involve eroding one's social standing.

Comments and Questions