3rd January 2019 - 10 min read
UPDATE (4/7/2019): Effective 1 July 2019, the Hong Leong Wise will no longer offer cashback for utilities payments, while Standard Chartered has also revised the benefits of its JustOne Platinum Mastercard. The article has been updated.
UPDATE (10/6/2019): Effective 1 June 2019, the Maybank 2 Cards and Maybank FC Barcelona Visa Signature no longer offer cashback for transactions to utilities and government bodies. The article has been updated.
As we enter the dawn of a new year, it’s a good time to review your credit cards and see if they are still beneficial for you. For the most part, you’d want credit cards which offer benefits for your daily and monthly spending, such as groceries, insurance, and even utilities. That’s right – you can be rewarded for paying for your utility bills with credit cards!
Many credit cards in Malaysia offer cashback for utility bill payments, either via online services or over-the-counter. But which card should you use to maximise your savings? Here’s a list to help you out.
Cashback rate: 5% on Online & Dining (Mastercard), Entertainment & Department Store Shopping (Visa), capped at RM30/card/month
Annual fee: RM0/free for life
Minimum income requirement: RM36,000/year or RM3,0000/month
The Public Bank Quantum credit cards are fast becoming one of the must-haves in every Malaysian’s wallet. With low income requirements and zero annual fees, these cards have very generous benefits.
The cashback mechanism is unique, in that both the Visa and Mastercard offer 5% cashback on different categories. Since they come as a pair, you get cashback benefits across four categories: Online & Dining (Mastercard), and Entertainment & Department Store (Visa). Each card has a cashback cap of RM30, which may sound little, but there’s one final ace up these cards’ sleeve.
Unlike many, many other cards in the market today, there is no minimum spending required to be eligible for the cashback. Now, to get cashback to pay for your utility bills, you’ll need to use the Quantum Mastercard and pay your bills online – all major telcos (Celcom, Digi, Maxis, U Mobile), Astro, TNB, TM/Unifi, Time, JPJ, PTPTN, and even some insurance providers offer online payment, so you’ll have no issues getting 5% cashback every month. Note that the RM30 cap means you’ll only get cashback up to RM600 in spending on the card.
Cashback rate: 8% with minimum 16 swipes/month, 5% with 8-15 swipes/month, capped at RM50/month
Annual fee: RM7.50/month, waived with minimum 1 swipe/month
Minimum income requirement: RM36,000/year or RM3,000/month
This card will need a bit of work to get cashback, but it is actually one of the most rewarding cards around, thanks to the combination of high cashback rate with low income requirements.
Unlike most cashback credit cards which put tiers on the amount you spend with the card, the UOB YOLO Visa credit card imposes a minimum swipes policy, with no minimum amount per swipe. On top of that, the monthly fee (instead of annual fee) is waived when you swipe it at least once a month – essentially making this a zero annual fee card.
You’ll need to use the card at least 16 times in a month to unlock the 8% cashback, which is an impressive rate given the lack of minimum spend requirement. What many cardholders do is to split their utility bill payments so that they hit that 16x swipes. And, since UOB has a monthly cashback allocation on a first come, first served basis, smart cardholders pay their bills with their YOLO cards at the start of the calendar month.
With that 8% cashback rate, you only need to spend RM625 to hit the RM50 cap – a fantastic rate considering the low barrier of entry for this card.
One last thing to note: this is one of the only cashback credit cards that count JomPAY transactions as online transactions (making them eligible for cashback). Public Bank and Maybank, for example, do not recognise JomPAY for cashback eligibility.
Cashback rate: 10% on all retail spend, capped at RM100/month. Minimum spend: RM2,000/month
Annual fee: RM250/year
Minimum income requirement: RM24,000/year or RM2,000/month
If you are the family breadwinner or spend above RM2,000 a month, the Hong Leong Wise Visa is a fantastic card to earn cashback. With a high cashback rate and high monthly cap, you can earn up to RM1,200 in cashback per year! The Hong Leong Wise card offers cashback for three categories: two user-selected categories (from nine categories including groceries, petrol, dining, utilities, travel, and more) and one “bonus” category (mobile phone bills). Spend a minimum of RM2,000 cumulatively in a single month, and these expenditures will be eligible for 10% cashback. Not to forget, charges made using supplementary cards also count towards the RM2,000 minimum spend, so that will help you hit that amount. The RM2,000 minimum spend requirement means this card won’t be for suited for everyone, but for those who do spend that amount in their monthly expenses, this card has the best cashback rate around. Just note that the annual fee is quite high at RM250 (RM300 for Platinum).
Cashback rate: 6% on Online, Dining & Groceries, capped at RM38/month
Annual fee: free for first year, RM388 after BUT waived when you swipe 12 times/year
Minimum income requirement: RM80,000/year or RM6,667/month
All things considered, the Public Bank Visa Signature credit card isn’t as good as the Quantum credit cards especially when you consider the high income requirement, but it is a more “holistic” card – and less complicated.
For starters, the cashback categories are limited to three (online, groceries, and dining), but you don’t have to confuse yourself with the “which card gives what cashback” mental question you face each time you want to use the card. The cashback rate is slightly higher at 6%, but the RM38 monthly cap is lower than the RM60 combined cashback you can theoretically get with the Quantum.
That said, the Public Bank Visa Signature has other perks, such as free 2x access to any Plaza Premium Lounge in Malaysia, and automatic travel insurance coverage up to RM500,000 when you use the card to pay for your flight ticket.
Finally, like the Public Bank Quantum, this card also has no minimum spend requirement not a tiered cashback system, which is why it makes it into our list.
Cashback rate: 5% on weekends on all retail spend with American Express card, capped at RM50/month
Annual fee: RM0/free for life
Minimum income requirement: RM30,000/year or RM2,500/month
A perennial favourite, and for good reason. The Maybank 2 Gold/Platinum cards are easily among the best cashback credit cards in Malaysia for several years now. The secret sauce is with the American Express card in this two-card combo. On weekends, using the Amex card gives 5% cashback on all retail spend. Using the Maybank2u payment portal, you can pay for a wide variety of bills with the Amex card including electricity, internet, and mobile phone bills. So even if a particular company does not accept Amex cards over the counter or on their online payment platform, you may be able to use it via M2U. Contrary to popular belief, you can use the Amex card in many places these days. Many department stores accept Amex, and petrol stations with new kiosk card machines readily accept Amex in addition to Visa and Mastercard. Even online services such as Grab and Fave accept Amex. Cashback is capped at RM50 per month, with no minimum spending requirement. You also get 5x TreatsPoints for every RM1 spent every day when using the Amex card (note that you will only get 1x TreatsPoints for utilities, insurance, and education payments). Combine these with the fact that it is free for life, this card – as we mentioned in our review – is a must-own.
Cashback rate: Tiered, up to 15% based on spending amount. Capped at RM60/month (RM30 sub-cap for online transactions).
Annual fee: RM250, waived upon minimum spend of RM20,000/year (not automatic)
Minimum income requirement: RM36,000/year or RM3,000/month
Another credit card with high cashback rates, the Standard Chartered JustONE Platinum Mastercard is a useful card – but only for the right users. Its cashback cap is generous at RM85 a month, but the tiered cashback rate means the card is actually designed for a specific set of customers. Cardholders get cashback for three categories: Insurance, Telco, & Utility bill payments (auto-debit only), petrol, and online purchases. This is one of the few credit cards that explicitly offer cashback for insurance payments (via auto debit) – other cards require you to pay online every month and make use of “online” cashback eligibility. Unlike the Hong Leong Wise card, transactions not in these three categories still count towards the minimum spend amount to unlock the higher cashback tiers. It may sound counter-intuitive, but the RM85 cashback cap means you’ll only earn cashback for as much as RM566 across the three categories – so you’ll need to pad that minimum spend figure with other spending.
Its benefits may have been revised, but the Standard Chartered JustOne Platinum Mastercard remains a useful card for a specific group of users. The cashback cap has been revised from RM85 a month to a maximum of RM60, with a sub-cap of RM30 for online transactions. That said, the three cashback categories remain the same: auto-debit for Insurance, Telco, and Utility bill payments, petrol, and online purchases. As before, this card explicitly offer cashback for insurance premium payments via auto-debit, which is one of the few cards in Malaysia with such a feature. The RM30 sub-cap for online transactions mean you’ll need to spend with the card in other categories to get the full RM60 cashback.
Note that while the cashback cap has been reduced, the minimum spend tier remains the same: the 15% rate is only unlocked with a minimum spend of RM2,500 for that month.
Cashback rate: 10% capped at RM100/month (May and August only), 2% capped at RM50/month (all other months)
Annual fee: RM0/free for life
Minimum income requirement: RM48,000/year or RM4,000/month
Even if it is truly outstanding for two months in a year, the Maybank FC Barcelona Visa Signature is a great card to own. Here’s why. For starters, this card should be your primary credit card for the months of May and August, where it grants an incredible 10% cashback capped at RM100 for ALL retail spend. That’s right, with some exceptions (such as payment via JomPAY), you’re guaranteed 10% cashback on whatever you charge on the card, good for up to RM1,000 in spending. Some detractors will say, “that’s only for two months in a year! What about the other 10 months?!” Don’t let that deter you. For other months, this card is a great secondary or back-up cashback credit card if you max out the benefits of your main one (like the others in this list). That way, you’ll still get 2% cashback off all retail spend (capped at RM50), with no minimum spending required. The Maybank FC Barcelona Visa Signature is also free for life, so the cost to own this as a secondary card is minimal.
There is a common misconception that cashback credit cards aren’t as good as advertised. Because there are monthly caps, some will say that the actual cashback amount you’d get won’t be worth the hassle. For the most part, we agree.
But, as we always say, not all credit cards are created equal. The cards mentioned in this list can save you hundreds of Ringgit a year – just by using them to pay for your bills. This 2019, try it out for yourself!
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UOB YOLO Visa had revised the cashback information to cap rm30/month, requires min. 5x swipes/month and min. spending amount rm15/swipe from March 1, 2021 – https://www.uob.com.my/web-resources/personal/pdf/personal/cards/credit-cards/uob-yolo/yolo-tnc-eng.pdf