The 3 Credit Cards You Need This Chinese New Year

The 3 Credit Cards You Need This Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year is just around the corner, which means it’s almost time to start filling ang pow packets – unless you’re one of the lucky ones who take instead of give.

However, the excitement that The Year of The Dog is nearing could cloud your judgement when it comes to money.

Last year, The Star, reported that Malaysians were anticipating to spend more than the previous year, based on figures released by the United Overseas Bank Malaysia Bhd’s (UOB) Lunar New Year Survey.


The survey focused on 2017’s expenditure based on interviews with 500 people, and compared the findings to the previous year. The following are the astonishing data found in the latest survey:

Majority of respondents expect to spend

14% (RM1,008) more on food

7% (RM2,334) more on going overseas
66% higher (RM1,263) on travelling within Malaysia

UOB Malaysia economist Julia Goh, who was quoted in the report, said that a seasonal increase of 50% was expected due to the weakened currency.

The danger of potentially spending more than you bargained for is no different this year as – your bank account is doomed for a dip whether you like it or not.

Thus, we’ve got a few promotions to help keep you within your spending limit.

Overview of the top three cards  

Before we dive into the details, let’s talk credit cards.

We’ve narrowed down the top three cards with cashbacks handy for the avid driver to the enthusiastic shopper.

But which one fits you?

Here are the top three cards, categorised according to your personality and priorities for the New Lunar Year.

Personality type CardPerks
The average Joe

You drive to work, to the grocery store, and to everywhere else. You would rather save than shop.
Citibank Citi Cash Back Card• Up to 5% cashback on petrol
• Up to 2% rebates on groceries
• Get back 2% on telecommunication services
• Enjoy 2% rebates on pharmaceuticals
• 0.2% rebates on others
The avid driver

You spend more on fuel than on anything else, and you love long-distance driving.
HSBC Amanah MPower Visa Platinum Credit Card-i

• Up to 8% cash back on petrol and groceries if you spend above RM2,000 (2% for spending less than RM2,000)
• 0.2% for other local retail spending
The shopaholic

You want to be rewarded every time you spend on gadgets, bedding, home appliances and more.
Maybank2 American Express® Card• Earn 5x TreatsPoints in Malaysia or Overseas
• Get 5% weekend cashback (Spending cap of RM50 per month)

Cardholders can also enjoy promotions from clothes to a delicious dinner as banks often hold deals for specific cards.

For CNY, we’ve hand-picked some of the best deals that run from now and through February – great for your preparations!

Shop and swipe

As new clothes symbolise a fresh start, the struggle of picking the right outfit can be overwhelming.

To make shopping easier, take advantage of retail promotions and discounts.

Citibank Citi Cashback Card

• Enjoy 0.2% rebate on top of your expenditure.
19% off Zalora with promo code CTBM19
• Valid with a minimum spend of RM120 on selected items.
• Complimentary delivery is applicable on paid price of RM75 and above only.
• Brand and item exclusions apply. Products sold by ZALORA partners are excluded.
• Valid till February 28, 2018.
Maybank2 American Express® Card

• Get 5% cashback when you spend on weekends.
10% off Giordano
• Valid with normal priced items.
• Offer ends on December 31, 2018.
• Complimentary core tee with minimum spend of RM280 in a single receipt. Subject to availability.
• Offer cannot be exchanged for cash or used in conjunction/combination with other discounts, promotions, vouchers or loyalty/privilege cards.
• Participating outlets here.

Discounts at Hermo
10% off for first time purchase with promo code HMXMBB15
• Use promo code HMXMBB15 at Hermo with no minimum spend for first time purchase at
• Maximum discount is capped at RM15.
• Promo code is valid one time per use throughout promotion period.
• Valid until December 31, 2018.

RM15 off for existing customers with promo code HMXMBBAPP
• RM15 off with a minimum purchase of RM180 for existing customers.
• Must be logged into your account on the Hermo app to use promotion code.
• Valid until December 31, 2018.
Maybank 2 Cards

Maybank 2 Cards

Up to 5% cashback on weekend retail transactions

Earn 5x TreatsPoints in Malaysia or Overseas

So, from the table above, if you are an online shopper, the Citibank Citi Cash Back Card and its Zalora discounts might be what you need for a relaxed shopping experience. Just note the terms and conditions of these sites before making a purchase. Here are some important terms and conditions to look out for!

The family man, on the other hand, might find the perks on the Maybank card just right with its retail discounts and its 5% cashback on weekends, which makes it an ideal card to tote on Saturday shopping spree.

A feast with financial ease

When was the last time you ate through your budget during a festivity or a special occasion? But if you are set on trying a different tack this time round – meaning sticking to your budget – here’s what we managed to pull up.

Citibank Citi Cash Back Card

• Get 0.2% rebates for your dinner.
• Up to 2% rebates on groceries.
Complimentary Crispy Roasted Duck at Grand Imperial Group at Casa Klang

• Minimum spend of RM888.
• Valid at all Grand Imperial outlets except Pavilion KL and Genting Highlands outlets.
• Redemption is valid on a first come first serve basis for dine-in or take-away.
• If the dish is fully redeemed for the day, a voucher will be given for redemption during the next visit.
• Offer is not valid with other promotional programmes, offers, discounts, vouchers or privilege cards.
• Valid until March 2, 2018.

10% off at Jason’s Food Hall, Bangsar Shopping Centre

• Valid with a minimum purchase of RM300 in a single receipt on Saturdays and Sundays.
• Offer not valid for infant milk powder, alcohol beverages, cigarettes, E-Pay top-up & bill payment services, Touch n Go Reload and other promotional programmes or privilege cards.
• Offer lasts until December 15, 2018.
Citi Cash Back Card

Citi Cash Back Card

Up to 5% cashback monthly

Up to 2% cashback per month at Giant, AEON Big, Tesco, Cold Storage, Everrise, Servay, Econsave, Mydin

Given that Malaysians already spend roughly 31% of their monthly income on food and food away from home a card that offers you some rebates and discounts for shopping helps stretch your ringgit even further.

But if you want to draw up a budget for that steamboat reunion dinner, then plan ahead and choose a healthy mix of fresh and frozen items. Look out for food stuff zero-rated for GST, too.

Travel wisely

The sojourn back to your hometown is not complete without braving the traffic jam across the highway. The crawl is so bad that even highway concessionaire PLUS released an advisory on the best travel times last year.

So, the best card here would be one that rewards you for time on the road and at the gas station.

HSBC Amanah MPower Visa Platinum Credit Card-i

Cashback ratesExpenditureSpending capCategory
2%Spending of less than RM2,000 per monthRM50Petrol & groceries
8%Spending of more than RM2,001 per monthRM50Petrol & groceries
HSBC Amanah MPower Visa Platinum Credit Card-i

HSBC Amanah MPower Visa Platinum Credit Card-i

Up to 8% cashback everyday on petrol and groceries

0.2% cashback on other local spending

Now let’s put this in perspective and find out how much we can save with these rebates.

For the purpose of this evaluation we will take one of the most common balik kampung travelling routes for CNY – Kuala Lumpur to Penang.

The figures below are based on a stock Perodua Alza, assuming that your monthly credit card spending is more than RM2,000:

Kuala Lumpur-Penang (One-way)
DistanceFuel pricePetrol expenditureRefuel round-upMonthly card rebate
RM2.26 per litre*
(8 litre per 100km)
Assuming 8% cashback
*Figures based on weekly fuel price here.

While it may not seem like much, you can continue to accumulate your cashbacks after the festivities and receive larger cashbacks monthly.

Alternatively, you can also check out petrol-saving hacks here, if fuel prices skyrocket during the festivities.

But remember: try not to overspend!

While owning a credit card allows you to make purchases when you don’t have enough funds for the month, it can pose a serious threat to your earnings if you don’t watch your limit.

CNY, is a danger zone for over-spending, so avoid increasing your spending limit. It may seem ideal for now, but you could end up deep in debt long-term. Read about the dangers of an increased limit here.

Furthermore, last year, Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Lee Chee Leong revealed Malaysians had an outstanding balance of RM36.8 billion on their credit cards.

He stated a total of 845 people were declared bankrupt due to unpaid card debt in the first half of 2017!

Fret not, with the right ground rules, you can still retain your financial health.

Here are a few tips you can practise:

  • Spend what you can pay

Avoid using your card for items you cannot afford to pay back within the next month. Limit yourself to only the necessities such as groceries and fuel to avoid heavy interest rates.

  • Pay on time

Always pay your credit card on time because credit card interest is in the range of 15% to 17%, and it is revolving debt. This could also reflect on your credit score, which could affect any bank applications in the future.

  • Pick a card with rewards

If we haven’t stressed it already, cards with rebates are your best pick. You can get cashbacks on necessities you utilise monthly, as listed in the top three cards above.

Remember, the tip is to spend wisely. If you keep within your budget and take advantage of the credit card benefits, you can begin your prosperous new year on the right foot.

Gong Xi Fa Chai!

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