(UPDATE 24/10/2019: With the revision to the Hong Leong Wise earlier this year, the original review has been edited.)
Once a credit card with variable cashback categories targeted towards those on the higher end of the spending spectrum, the Hong Leong Wise has transformed into a cashback credit card for basic everyday expenses. With manageable criteria for cashback eligibility, the Hong Leong Wise is a dependable choice to get high cashback for essentials on the weekend.
Cashback For The Essentials
The Hong Leong Wise’s main benefit is the cashback it offers for petrol, dining, and groceries. The rates vary for weekdays and weekends : on weekends, the cashback rate for these categories is 8%; on weekdays, you’ll only get 1%. For all expenditure outside of these three categories, cardholders get 0.25% uncapped cashback.
The 8% and 1% cashback rates are unlocked with a minimum spend of RM500 each calendar month. If you spend less than that, you will only receive a tiny 0.25% cashback regardless of category.
For each category, the cashback cap is RM18 per month – which means you can get up to RM54 in cashback each month using the Hong Leong Wise (besides the 0.25% cashback for other categories). To get the maximum RM18 cashback each month, you would need to spend RM225 per category on weekends. And if you’re already spending that amount each month for the three cashback categories, you won’t need to worry about hitting the RM500 minimum spend.
To get the best returns with this card, you should view it as a weekend-only card; you could make it a general rule to only get your groceries and pump petrol on Saturdays and Sundays.
A Wider Market
Before its revamp in the middle of the year, the Hong Leong Wise was a different creature altogether. With a minimum spend requirement of RM2,000 to unlock the 10% cashback rates, the previous version of the Hong Leong Wise was definitely geared towards those with a bigger income – or at least to those with higher monthly commitments. The rewards were bigger too – cardholders could get up to RM100 per month in cashback.
The biggest blow arising from the revamp would probably be the loss of the Hong Leong Wise as a solid cashback credit card for utilities; the card offered cashback for one pre-selected category and two categories of the cardholder’s choice, and utilities was one of the options available.
The current version of the Hong Leong Wise offers lesser returns (RM54 vs RM100), but on the other hand, it stands to benefit more cardholders.
In fact, the benefits of the Hong Leong Wise now bear some similarities to the Citi Cash Back Card. Like the Hong Leong Wise, the Citi Cash Back Card also offers cashback for petrol, groceries, and dining – but the cashback rate offered is 10%, and an additional cashback category for Grab expenditure. The Citi Cash Back Card offers this high rate of cashback for every day of the week – but the cashback cap per category per month is RM10 (total RM40 per month).
However, the Hong Leong Wise wins out over the Citi when it comes to the overall amount of cashback offered. For a minimum monthly spend of RM500, you can get up RM54 in cashback per month with the Hong Leong Wise compared to the Citi Cash Back Gold’s RM40 (minimum spend of RM500) and the Citi Cash Back Platinum’s RM60 (minimum spend of RM1,500).
In line with being a cashback card for the essentials, the fees and requirements for the Hong Leong Wise are reasonable. Both the Gold and Platinum variants of the Hong Leong Wise card have an annual fee of RM98, with the only difference between the two types of cards being the annual income requirement – even the benefits are exactly the same.
The Hong Leong Wise Gold is available to even fresh graduates with a minimum income requirement of RM24,000 per year (RM2,000 per month), whereas those earning RM60,000 and above annually (RM5,000 per month) can apply for the Hong Leong Wise Platinum.
Conclusion: Back To Basics
While some may mourn the loss of the Hong Leong Wise as a flexible cashback card with big returns, a wider group of people can benefit from the card now that the minimum requirement spend has been reduced. Once you’ve unlocked the 8% rate, you can get up to RM54 in cashback per month – which totals up to a potential RM648 in cashback a year. This does make the Hong Leong Wise a dependable way for you to get your returns in some very essential areas of spending.