Friday, May 27, 2016

How to save money on hotels without sacrificing comfort


Here are 7 ways Singaporeans can save money on hotel rooms without downgrading to budget hotels. Sure, we all know you can save on hotels by getting the cheapest room available. But for those of us who like the luxury of working toilets and have issues with bedbugs, it’s about getting a good hotel for less. Therein lies a true challenge. Here’s how you can sleep well, and have enough left over to shop, dine, and sightsee:

 
1. Use Dreamcheaper After You Book Your Room

After you book a refundable room, check out DreamCheaper.com. This website tracks the price of the hotel room – when the room price falls, it will rebook the room at the cheaper price, and cancel your old reservation. You don’t need to do anything besides wait for the site to capture the lowest price point. The potential discount is highly variable – you might end up saving just $30, or you might save $300. It depends on how low the price happens to fall. Still, it does mean you can nab a discount on even a five-star hotel.

 
2. Experiment with Different Travel Dates

If possible, plan to travel during a range of different dates (or just plan so far ahead that you can experiment with different times). Hotel prices in each city follow their own price cycles. In New York City for example, the cheaper rates tend to be available in July, whereas Paris tends to have cheaper rates in January. December tends to be expensive everywhere, plus there are hordes of tourists; avoid this month if you can. Don’t take our word for it – experiment with various booking sites and see for yourself. You should also sign up for notifications from sites like The Luxe Nomad. This will update you on flash discounts from top hotels  when they occur.

 
3. Use Your Air Miles or Credit Card’s Hotel Discounts

Some hotels accept frequent flyer miles just like airlines do. If you have a lot of miles to let go of, you can use them to book overnight stays. For example, Citi Miles earned from the can be redeemed for Asia Miles, which you can then use to book accommodations anywhere in the world. According to the Asia Miles website, an overnight stay at a Bali resort in July starts at 17,750 Asia Miles. Citi Miles can also be converted to IHG Rewards Points and Hilton Honors Points. If you can’t wait til you’ve earned enough points for a free room, you can use still use your points for free WiFi, free breakfast, or free additional guests. Either way, you save quite a bit of money. You should also check if your air miles credit card offers hotel discounts. For instance, cardmembers get access to the Visa Luxury Hotel Collection, which grants them preferential rates, VIP status, and free room upgrades at over 900 luxury hotels. As an alternative, check if you have a concierge service on your existing credit card. The is one credit card that has such services. Call the concierge ask them to help you find a good luxury hotel rate. The concierge service has significant bargaining power, as they may refer hundreds to guests to the hotel on a regular basis.

 
4. Check for Bundled Packages

If you are already booking a flight on sites like Expedia, check out how much it would cost to add a hotel. When accommodations or rental cars are added, the site may “bundle” them and give you a discount. This may be cheaper than booking the hotels on other travel sites.

 
5. Do Not Use the Room Phone Except to Call Reception

If you must use the telephone in the room, check the prices first. The rates for your room’s landline can easily go up to $12 a minute. You really can be charged $180 for a 15-minute call to your friend. Yes, it’s more expensive than even the wi-fi, and there’s no logical reason for the pricing and no good reason to be using it.

 
6. Buy a Prepaid Unlimited-Data SIM Card Instead of Using Hotel WiFi

Most luxury hotels still charge for WiFi unlike their cheaper counterparts. It’s just a frustrating fact of higher-end accommodations. Before you pay for it, check the prices of prepaid sim cards, particularly those with unlimited data. If you can tether your laptop to your mobile (or you have a tablet that can use a sim card), it may be cheaper than paying the hotel rate. If you don’t need to be online much, consider ducking into a WiFi-enabled cafe or mall when you need to send the occasional e-mail. The prices for hotel wi-fi can be exorbitant: in North America and many parts of Asia, fees can be up to $50 a day, and in Europe high-end hotels may charge up to $30 a day.

 
7. Join the Loyalty Programme

Most four and five-star hotels will have loyalty programmes. In the case of chain hotels, these programmes will extend to many different countries. You can get a better deal from these than even online bookings – the key is to ensure you use the same hotel(s), and often. On top of the stated benefits, many hotels will give you little bonuses when they become available. For example, if there is a corner room that’s a little more spacious, or a room with a better view, you are more likely to get it. The biggest benefit is, of course, savings. If you are part of the loyalty program, you will often get the lowest rates right off the bat.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

2 million views!

This blog has reached another milestone, attracting 2 million views!

Thanks for all the support over the years! :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Which Air Miles Credit Card Are You?


 We take a look at the best air miles credit cards for three types of Singaporeans: credit card newbies, travel junkies, and high flyers. Which are you, and what’s your air miles credit card? With all the air miles credit cards in Singapore, you’re basically spoilt for choice. But it’s not enough to compare the base miles you can accrue – there are other factors to consider as well.

Each air miles credit card has its own benefits, and one card might be better for you than another. Try finding yours in our best air miles credit cards list below:


1. Best Air Miles Credit Card for First Time Cardholders

Winner: American Express Singapore Airlines Krisflyer Credit Card

Here’s the scoop: It’s the most convenient way to earn miles. Unlike other air miles cards, which charge a fee to convert miles earned into their partner airlines’ miles programmes, any Krisflyer miles earned on this card gets automatically credited to your Krisflyer account. Earning miles is very easy. To start off, you earn 5,000 bonus KrisFlyer miles on your first charge, and 3,000 KrisFlyer miles if you spend S$700 on your first 6 months. You also get a cool 1.1 KrisFlyer mile for every dollar spent in Singapore and overseas, and 2 KrisFlyer miles on purchases made on singaporeair.com, silkair.com, and KrisShop. If you spend overseas during June and December, you get 2 KrisFlyer miles for every S$1. We did some quick calculations of how many KrisFlyer miles you can potentially earn in a year, assuming you spend S$800 on your card each month, and book a weekend holiday in Hong Kong in June: 20,400 KrisFlyer miles is more than enough for a one-way ticket to Bali from Singapore!

 
Amount Charged to Card
KrisFlyer Miles Earned
Bonus miles
 
8,000 KrisFlyer Miles
Local monthly spend
S$800 x 12 = S$9,600
10,560 KrisFlyer Miles
Round trip ticket to Hong Kong purchased on SingaporeAir.com
S$620
1,240 KrisFlyer Miles
Overseas spend in June
S$300
600 KrisFlyer Miles
KrisFlyer Miles Earned in 1 Year
 
20,400 KrisFlyer Miles

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
With the first year’s annual fees waived, and subsequent ones at S$173.50–one of the lowest in the market–this card is great to start with if you have never owned a credit card. And its S$30,000 minimum income requirement allows the majority of Singaporeans to be eligible for it.

A number of perks also come with the Krisflyer Credit Card, including a S$100 cash rebate at Grab, 500 bonus miles on your first charge at GrabPay, and up to 50% off restaurants in Singapore through the American Express Selects dining programme. Not bad for your first air miles card at all.

 

2. Best Air Miles Credit Card for Travel Junkies

Winner: Citi PremierMiles Visa Card

Frequent fliers shouldn’t do without the Citi PremierMiles Visa Card in their wallets. For one thing, you earn a decent 1.2 Citi miles per S$1 spent locally. New cardmembers can earn up to 42,000 miles if they spend wisely in the first 3 months – the highest welcome miles being offered in Singapore today! Here’s how it works: you get the first 15,000 Citi miles just by using the credit card within the 3 months. And if you spend a total of S$10,000 during those first 3 months, you get another 15,000 Citi miles, plus 12,000 base Citi miles earned from your S$10,000 spend.

Citi PremierMiles Visa Credit Card Acquisition Promotion May-August 2016 is valid until 14 August 2016. Subject to payment of 1st year Card annual fee.”Miles” refer to Citi Miles. In addition to the welcome offer, Citi PremierMiles Card also a fantastic accelerated miles programme. With a high earn rate of 2 Citi Miles for every S$1 spent abroad, 50% more miles per S$1 overseas spend during long weekends, 6 Citi Miles per S$1 spent on Expedia.com, and 10 Citi Miles per S$1 spent on Kaligo.com, you can rack up thousands of miles in just one trip! Let’s say you and a friend book a flight and hotel to Phuket on Expedia for the Easter long weekend (3 days, 2 nights). You manage to land a package deal of S$1,000 for flights and hotels for two adults. During your holiday, you spend S$250 each on food, drinks, and tours. Here’s how many Citi Miles you can expect to earn from that weekend.

 
Amount Charged to Card
Citi Miles Earned
Hotel and Flight for 2 (via Expedia)
S$1,000
6,000
Overseas spend for 2
S$500
1,000
50% bonus miles on long weekend spend
 
500
Total
 
7,500 Citi Miles

 
 
 
 
 
 
Add this to the 42,000 welcome miles, and you have 49,500 Citi Miles – enough for a trip to New Zealand. Citi Miles also never expire, which means you don’t need to spend unnecessarily just to catch up and use your existing miles. And with over 70 airline partners worldwide, you get the flexibility of choosing how to use your miles. Finally, Citi PremierMiles Visa cardholders enjoy regular discounts of up to 50% on Agoda, and an additional 8% on top when booking selected destinations on Agoda by 31 December 2016.


3. Best Air Miles Credit Card for High Flyers

Winner: Standard Chartered Visa Infinite Card

For high flyers, this card wins all other air miles credit cards in the market hands down. With base miles of 1.4 miles per dollar spent locally and 3 miles per dollar spent overseas, the accumulates points faster than most. With a minimum income requirement of S$150,000, for non-priority/private banking customers and S$30,000 for Singaporean priority/private banking customers, this card is mostly applicable for frequent business travellers. If you’re to use your own credit card to charge company expenses overseas, the Standard Chartered Visa Infinite Card helps you rack up miles. Say you charge S$2,000 per month on flights, accommodations, and dining on business trips abroad – you’ll get 72,000 miles at the end of a calendar year! You’ll also receive 35,000 miles or 25,000 miles and S$100 Uber credits when you apply for the Standard Chartered Visa Infinite Credit Card. Our detailed review has more details about the amazing privileges in store for you.


(This article is an editorial from SingSaver.com)

SingSaver.com.sg is Singapore’s #1 financial comparison platform. Launched in May 2015, SingSaver.com.sg is committed to helping consumers find the right financial product with easy-to-use self-serve comparison tools. SingSaver.com.sg provides free, quick and easily accessible resources to help consumers understand personal finance products in Singapore including credit cards, personal loans and insurance. In a constantly changing financial landscape, SingSaver.com.sg strives to provide consumers with detailed and accurate data and insights so they can make the best choice before applying for the financial products that suit their needs.

Seven Mistakes That Ruin Your Credit Card Score In Singapore


A poor credit score keeps you from getting bank loans and credit cards. Watch out for these common mistakes that ruin your credit score. Your credit score is all-important when it comes to loans. From getting a house to an education loan, critical life opportunities can come down to a number and a single letter on a sheet of paper. So you’d be surprised that some of the little things you do make an impact on your credit score for the worse.


How Credit Scores are Calculated

Your credit score is determined by an algorithm. The company that owns the algorithm keeps it secret, so it’s method cannot be copied by others. For that reason, we don’t know the exact details of how your credit score is affected. However, there are a couple of behaviours that affect your eventual score. (Foreigners should note that their credit rating elsewhere will not affect their credit score in Singapore, or vice versa).

 
1. The Total Amount You Owe or Number of Credit Accounts You Have

The more money you currently owe, the worse your credit score will be. Note that the number of different accounts matters as well: If you don’t owe much, but you owe small amounts scattered across six credit cards, two lines of credit and a personal loan, your credit score can still be quite bad. This is why it’s a good idea not to have more than two credit cards (it’s confusing to keep track of multiple billing cycles anyway).


2. Taking Too Many Loans Within a Short Time Period

If you apply for multiple forms of credit in short order (e.g. you apply for three personal loans in Singapore within a month), your credit score will drop. It is assumed that your financial situation has taken a turn for the worse (or is about to) when you take multiple loans in a short time. In Singapore this often happens with first time homebuyers, who take a personal loan to cover the down payment on top of a home loan. You can get around that by saving enough for the down payment, or by using a HDB concessionary loan, which lets you make the entire down payment with your CPF. When taking loans, work out how much you need and take it out in a single loan. Don’t take out one small loan, realise it’s less than you need, and then take out another loan later.

 
3. Late Payments

Credit cards and lines of credit require a minimum repayment before the billing cycle ends. This is often S$50 or 5% of the amount owed, whichever is higher. Other loans, such as a student loan, car loan, or personal loan, may have fixed repayments. If you are more than 30 days late on the minimum repayment, you will be considered delinquent. If you often incur late fees (around S$60), you probably have a credit rating that indicates delinquency. The only way to fix this is to make reliable, timely repayments. Over the course of a year, your credit score will improve. If you are going to be late with repayments, call your bank in advance and inform them. They are sometimes willing to work out an alternative mode of repayment with you.

 
4. Your Credit History

If you have a history of reliably making repayments, you’ll have a good credit score. This impacts many crucial financial decisions. For example, when you are buying a flat, a bank can loan you up to 80 per cent of the flat’s value. But if you have a bad credit score, you may only get 60 or 70 per cent. If you never use credit at all, your credit rating will be Cx. This is not desirable, as banks have no understanding of your history, and you are unknown risk. It is equally plausible that you will not get full financing for your flat, if you have no credit history at all.

To get the best results, have at least one credit card that you use as a mode of payment only (i.e. you always pay it back in full). This will build your credit score while avoiding any kind of interest.

 
5. Submitting Too Many Loans and Credit Cards Applications At Once

If you hope to submit applications to several banks and decide at a later time which bank you will eventually take up the loan or card with, you are hugely mistaken. Every time you apply for credit from a bank – regardless of whether you have finished the application process or not – the bank will look up your credit score. If there are multiple enquiries within a short time, your credit rating will drop. This is called being “credit hungry”, and it’s assumed you are facing some kind of financial difficulty. If you have been turned down for a loan, for whatever reason, try to wait a month before making another credit enquiry. Don’t knock on the doors of a dozen banks in the space of a week, and show a desperation for credit. It is therefore essential to check up your credit score on Credit Bureau Singapore before and compare interest rates between loans and credit cards before you submit any applications.

 
6. Defaulting

A default occurs when the bank writes off your debt. Unsecured loans, such as credit card loans and most personal loans, do not have any collateral – if you cannot pay them, the bank will simply have to treat it as a loss. This is not a good thing. A single default can ruin your credit score for years to come, as it will show up on your credit report indefinitely. There are people who will never be able to buy a house or get their degree, because a default ruined their chances of getting a loan. Don’t be one of them.

 
7. Bankruptcy and Pending Litigation

If you are a declared bankrupt, or are in the middle of legal complexities (e.g. being sued), most banks will not extend credit to you. You may still be able to get small loans of S$500 or less, as your credit score is not usually checked for these amounts. If you have been discharged from bankruptcy – by which we mean you have an official letter of discharge from the Court – the bankruptcy will be removed from your credit report after five years.


(This is an editorial from SingSaver.com)

SingSaver.com.sg is Singapore’s #1 financial comparison platform. Launched in May 2015, SingSaver.com.sg is committed to helping consumers find the right financial product with easy-to-use self-serve comparison tools. SingSaver.com.sg provides free, quick and easily accessible resources to help consumers understand personal finance products in Singapore including credit cards, personal loans and insurance. In a constantly changing financial landscape, SingSaver.com.sg strives to provide consumers with detailed and accurate data and insights so they can make the best choice before applying for the financial products that suit their needs.

Five Retirement Problems Singaporeans Don't See Coming


If you haven’t started saving for your retirement, you really might want to soon. Especially after reading this article. A disturbing number of Singaporeans think they can live like cave-dwelling hermits. When we ask around, we still get responses like “Oh, I can live on just $1,000 a month when I retire.” That’s like scuba diving without oxygen and saying it’s fine because you took a deep breath. Retirement is not as simple or cheap as most Singaporeans imagine, and CPF savings won’t be enough. In addition to living expenses, your retirement savings must also cover unforeseen situations like the following:


1. Being Doomed to Homelessness After Giving Up Your Flat

This is one of the most common problems faced by retirees. Some Singaporeans sell their flats (sometimes giving their children the money), and then move in with their children or grand-children. But if you’ve had to share a hotel room with friends for a week, let alone move in with someone, you know things don’t always work out. Quarrels happen. And when the retired parents get kicked out of the house, they are often penniless, and unable to get a place of their own. Cue social welfare and a rented studio apartment. To prevent this happening, you either (a) hold on to your flat, or (b) ensure you have a big enough retirement fund that, even if it happens, you will not end up homeless. Option (a) is the easier solution; but if you must sell and give the money to your children, speak to a financial advisor about a safety net.

 
2. Inflation Risk Rate

Inflation rate risk refers to the way the rising cost of goods reduces the value of your money. The cost of goods in Singapore rises every year, so S$10,000 today will not buy you S$10,000 worth of goods in 10 or 15 years; this is why your grandparents could buy satay sticks for one cent in their time. So no, you cannot “just live on S$1,000” a month. Your income after retirement has to be sufficiently large to cope with the new cost of living. To do that, you should have an investment that beats the inflation rate by two per cent per annum (at present, this means you need returns of at least five per cent per annum). It is not possible to get this from most bank accounts. Unless you are a multi-millionaire with access to an exclusive private bank, you will be lucky to get one per cent on a fixed deposit. You either need to build a portfolio to generate sufficient returns, or pay a financial advisor or wealth manager to do it for you (e.g. let them choose insurance and mutual funds for you).

 
3. Rising Retirement Expenses During the First Few Years

Most people underestimate their spending. Ask a financial advisor or wealth manager, and they can often show you significant evidence that expenses post-retirement can actually rise, not fall.

In the years immediately preceding retirement, every day is an off day. And like at present, we tend to spend more on weekends and off days than we do at work. This can result in a sharp spike in spending, for reasons of sheer boredom – retirees who are adjusting to a non-working lifestyle often take overseas trips to visit friends, go to the movies more often, eat out more, etc.

(Some of you are shaking your head and insisting it won’t happen. But we already said, most people underestimate their spending. Do you really spend less on weekends and holidays? That’s only true for a tiny minority). The best way to fix this is to plan for what you want. Look at your weekend, and think of the things critical to your lifestyle (e.g. golfing, travelling, photography). Make sure your wealth manager factors this into your retirement plan. In addition, remember that medical costs rise as you get older. Ensure that your integrated shield plan covers this.

 
4. Your Flat Depreciates in Value

Many Singaporeans count on their flat as being a source of retirement funds. For the most part, this works – it is only under rare circumstances that flats fail to appreciate. However, you do have to be braced for it. You may find that your flat does not rise significantly in value, thus not meeting your needs for the entirety of your retirement (usually planned to age 90.) Government policy can also be a significant factor here: consider how, since 2014, property prices of resale flats have fallen because of government imposed cooling measures. You can’t be certain that, when you need to sell, market conditions will be good. You also need to consider psychological and health concerns – illness, lack of mobility, lack of personal comfort, etc. can make the mere thought of selling the flat impossible. In which case, you will need another source of retirement funds beyond your four walls. If your income permits it, we advise that you plan for retirement as if you are not going to be able to sell your flat. This will prepare you for the worst, and can leave you with the option of not moving.

 
5. Costly, Messy Divorces Late in Life

Divorces can do significant financial damage, and if they happen at a late stage in life (e.g. less than a decade before retirement), a large chunk of your retirement funds can vanish. You may also be forced to sell the flat at an inopportune time, if your spouse is also a co-owner. The cost of legal fees can also be exorbitant.


Conclusion: Start Saving for Retirement Now

For these reasons, you should start saving for retirement NOW. In addition to saving for your retirement, you should keep the habit of maintaining a personal emergency fund (about six months of your income) to deal with such unexpected situations. If you have a good wealth manager or financial planner, your portfolio’s performance may be higher than expected. That could also give you the edge you need to deal with these types of problems.


(This article is an editorial from SingSaver.com)

SingSaver.com.sg is Singapore’s #1 financial comparison platform. Launched in May 2015, SingSaver.com.sg is committed to helping consumers find the right financial product with easy-to-use self-serve comparison tools. SingSaver.com.sg provides free, quick and easily accessible resources to help consumers understand personal finance products in Singapore including credit cards, personal loans and insurance. In a constantly changing financial landscape, SingSaver.com.sg strives to provide consumers with detailed and accurate data and insights so they can make the best choice before applying for the financial products that suit their needs.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Ride with me to 创新高 !

Doing short-term trades on fundamentally-strong counters while building up warchest for the next major crisis. Always prudent to take profits off the table.

Here is my portfolio

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