The new OCBC Frank card has lost its appeal

Coftea , 4 Comments

Guest post by Coftea
With its 6% cashback given for online spending, the OCBC FRANK card is every online shopper’s must-have. Well, not from 1st Oct 2015 onwards when the new changes come into effect. Good things tend not to last.

What’s so bad about it?

FRANK is turning into every other card out there, tempting you with attractive benefits but making the requirements hard to achieve.
And it has lost its focus on online spending, foraging into cashback for offline spending on entertainment. It is no longer as frank anymore. Let’s run through what’s so bad, from the worst to the worse.

A minimum of $400 offline spending is required to get 6% cashback on online spending

You probably need to read it twice, but yes it sounds counter-intuitive. It’s like studying literature to get better at math. Moving forward, we can’t just spend everything online and hope to get 6% on what we spent. OCBC is telling us, ‘Go out, have fun. Spend a minimum $400 in actual physical stores. Take out and use the pretty card and show everyone how good it looks!’

Criteria of offline spending means you can never hit 6%

So you manage to spend $400 offline, but please note that the 6% is applied to your online spending only. What does your $400 get? If it fulfills the new entertainment cashback criteria, you can get 3% from Mon to Thur and 5% from Fri to Sun. But if your $400 goes into life’s necessities such as groceries, petrol and dining, tough luck there, it’s only 0.3%. Therefore, given that the max cashback you can get is $60, your effective interest rate will never be 6% based on your total spending. Here's an illustration.

Cashback now has an absolute monthly cap of $60

Say goodbye to the 0.5% cashback on any further spending once the monthly cap is reached. Given that you fulfill the minimum spending, it will be a good idea to not spend more than $1000 using FRANK and use other cards for further online purchases.

Nets Flashpay ATU down from 6% to 3%

Since this cashback is for the first 2 Top Ups, the amount of cashback possible will decrease from $6 to $3. I don’t want to sound too negative but man, it is a 50% decrease.

Cashback on any other spending is down from 0.5% to 0.3%

Since there is already so many bad news, why not add this to the mix.

Yeah.. right..OCBC FRANK

Any redeeming factors?

There is a new category of cashback for entertainment, which gives you 5% from Fri to Sun and 3% on Mon to Thur. It includes all cinemas, bars, clubs, KTVs and selected cafes. Now, the ‘selected’ cafes are not those cool, hip and hidden cafes like those in Tiong Bahru, but ubiquitous franchises as follows:
  1. Starbucks Coffee
  2. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
  3. The Connoisseur Concerto (TCC)
  4. Dimbulah Coffee
  5. Coffee Club
  6. Costa Coffee
I guess the cashback are decent for people who go for these specific entertainments, but the exclusion of dining makes it a bummer. If you are the sort who likes to go for happy hours after work on Fri, the card may still serve your needs.

For more details, you may want to compare the new benefits with the existing ones on FRANK’s website. At least they have put out all the facts and didn’t hide certain terms and conditions using obtuse links.

So what now?

FRANK will be relegated to my ‘backup’ pile of credit cards, to be used as an emergency NETS/Ezlink card or on rare occasions where I know I can meet its minimum spending in a month.

I have been searching for a replacement card but couldn’t find one positioned for online spending. Since I am on OCBC 360 account, my best way forward is to use OCBC 365 which gives 3% on this category. Meeting the minimum spending required on 365 isn’t that difficult as my recurring bills are already setup with it.

When it comes to cash rebates, the 3.33% promised by UOB ONE card must be mentioned. Using it together with One account also allows bonus interest on savings, which is actually nice for big savers. However, the requirement to spend $500 monthly for 3 consecutive months is kind of hard to achieve and it stays as a card that I utilize for zero interest monthly repayments.

I have also read about the ANZ Optimum card which is advertised to give 5% on customer’s chosen category of Dining & Leisure, Travel, Shopping or Groceries. It is a must to choose a category every quarterly and explicit redemption of points is required to get cashback, two big hassles to use it efficiently. Cashback on online spending is also restricted to fashion related merchants, i.e. clothing, shoe and bag stores.

Finally, the American Express True Cashback card pips my interest with its promising name. It distinguishes itself by offering 1.5% cashback on all spending, without any cap. There is also a welcome bonus of 5% cashback for the first 3 months. This card looks to be a good choice when I happen to max the rebate cap on my OCBC 365.

Update: The Standard Chartered Singpost Platinum card offers 7% cashback on online transactions! Minimum spend is $600 and cap is $60 a month. Online shoppers be sure to check it out. Thanks to reader Fitri for pointing this out!

Final thoughts

The last change FRANK underwent was in 1 Dec 2014. It hasn’t been a year and it is up for another round of adjustments. The message is clear, please do not assume the benefits will last for long. Similar to OCBC 360 account, change is the only constant.

Sounds good? Make sure to read the details!
The profile of people the new FRANK card is trying to reach is also confusing. A party goer who spends time shopping online? Someone who doesn’t wait for parcels to be delivered at his or her doorsteps, but is outside enjoying most of the time? Maybe it is for one who have found balance between virtual and physical reality...

Have in mind some big ticket items to get online? Don't wait too long, make full use of FRANK before 1st Oct 2015!

Coftea

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4 comments:

  1. "Meeting the minimum spending required on 365 isn’t that difficult as my recurring bills are already setup with it." the minimum is S$600... UOB is lesser..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi there,

      Yup, the minimum spending on UOB One card is lesser at $500. It can be a good alternative people on One account. Do note the 3 consecutive month requirement though.

      For my case, using my 365 is easier because I go with 360 account, which gives me a higher effective interest rate on my savings. 360 account gives a bonus of 0.5% if $500 is charged to OCBC credit cards, so most of my recurring bills are already all tied to 365. So, I guess hitting $600 with some shopping online isn't that difficult.

      So it really comes down to how to synergize our savings and spending :)

      Delete
  2. This - "The message is clear, please do not assume the benefits will last for long."

    Nice read. I guess the only thing that is constant, is change. I got tired of the hassle of rotating between credit cards and bank accounts as new and better ones became available.

    I decided to stick to just one card with average rebates - no changes in years =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kevin,

      Thanks! It is indeed hard to keep up with so many new cards out there. What makes it worse is that banks are offering attractive benefits as marketing campaigns, hit their sign-up target and revise down benefits once the campaigns end.

      Let's see if banks will make features to 'switch and setup accounts easily' and 'guaranteed benefits for xx years' as selling points next time to entice people like you :) I personally can't resist changing once I know there is a better one around..

      Delete