Horizontal links

Thursday, 12 October 2017

How to seduce customers to voluntarily pay their annual CC membership fees

Remember a time several years ago when financial bloggers and bleeding heart people were sharing in forums how to "save" money by calling your credit card companies and asking for waiver of the annual membership fess?

I guess the message was so successful that it was "understooded" no one pays our credit card annual membership fees. Those who do are either so rich they couldn't be bothered, or they are "bei kambings" who didn't know better...

Imagine if you were working in one of these credit card companies. How to turn this situation around as each dollar from these annual membership fees will go straight down to the bottomline.

We can't be throwing good margins away, can we?

Must give props to the marketing person who came up with "rewarding" customers with frequent flyer miles whenever they voluntarily pay up their credit card annual membership fees!

Of course the miles you get would not be enough to qualify for any free trips directly!

Having "paid" for these "free" miles, it would be a "waste" to let them expire worthless. What would any "sane" people do? Of course spend more to save more!

Now the credit card companies' vendors have vested interests to promote "free" miles too! You scratch my back; I scratch yours. Wink.

Of course for this Jedi trick to work, you first need to pay opinion leaders to write aspirational stories how they can have a jet-setting lifestyle, flying all around the world just with their - yes, repeat after me - "free" frequent flyer miles!

And then the wannebes will parrot on the same message down the line - this time really for free as they were not paid a single cent by the credit card companies.

Why they do it? Herding momentum mah! If other bloggers blog about it and you don't, you'll be left out! 

And their bei kambing followers will monkey see, monkey do.

I'll give you an example of these Jedi tricks we used during my snake-oil corporate days.

Recently, I booked a 5 days trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand for this coming January 2018.

Normally I would stay in a hostel as I like the mingling with strangers at the common area.

This time, despite being a dinosaur and all, I registered for the airbnb website to see what's it all about. 

Interesting. I can get an apartment room for $25 a night. So for 4 nights it would cost me $100 plus plus (booking charge and cleaning fee)

Amex and airbnb very fast!

Straight away I received my first junk email offering me a $50 discount for my first booking if I paid with Amex.

The fine print catch is I have to minimum spend $200.

I am sure some people out there will "upgrade" their apartment to $50 a night for 4 nights to qualify for this "$50 savings" from Amex.

Wait. You intend to spend $100. Now you've spent $150... Someone got Jedied! LOL!

Nah! I deleted the email.

This $50 off promotion would really be "free" if I had intended to stay 10 nights or I had intended to book a $50 per night apartment. 

Next time people try to convince you to spend more to save more, what would we do?


  1. in US there is a "job" called manufactured spending. That's how they earn their free miles. Which is where all those fly SQ first class on miles come from.

    They use their cc to buy prepaid cards at some hypermart (walmart, walgreen), then bring the cards to the hypermart, then they can buy a cashier order with the prepaid card, then they deposit the money in their own account, and repeat. I've read some people run USD50k each batch. Just to chalk up miles. Some people do this like a job daily.

    Too bad in SG don't have this loop hole. There used to be some loopholes, but they were plugged really quickly.

    1. Early Retirement SG,

      Like what you've said, its like a "job daily". So even if its a loophole, you got to work for it - so its not "free" ;)

      The best truely FREE is corporate spending and travel during my corporate days! Ah Kong pays for it; I charge it to my card and I earn the points and benefits!

      I suspect someone at corporate has done the sums and proposed its better to let us use our own personal cards than to have our company issue corporate cards and have a dept to administer them ;)

      I do like the Amex NTUC voucher promotion thing too! I use Amex to buy $300 worth of NTUC vouchers and get 10% off.

      I spend more than $300 per year at NTUC anyway. No extra effort needed :)

      Same goes for free Capitaland shopping vouchers. Its a pleasant surprise after paying for something the kind salesperson informs me I am entitled to free vouchers if I present the receipt at the information counters.

      When I were working at Howard Storage World at Plaza Singapura, I was the one informating my customers. You'll be surprised how many rich Indonesian and Bruneian customers gave me their receipts as "tip" for my good service.

      They can't be bothered with the free vouchers as they are leaving Singapore soon :)

  2. Haiz ... I was the bei kambing in the early-1990s when I paid my CC annual fees ... was $18 (POSB) & $36 in those days. My dad laughed his head off when he heard about it .... yeah we don't talk much... Hohoho!!

    Couple years back I paid the $198 fee for a CC, coz was "promised" a cashback of $250 ... sweated for 2 months ... then whew! saw the cashback ... so $52 for 2 months sweating ... hahaha!!!

    Generally I'm bad at scouting for freebies or vouchers ... too lazy ... but also if it involves spending at the same time...

    1. Spur,

      Its typical with Asian dads. Notice how often I talk about my dad? LOL!

      Maybe the younger dads today will do a better job now with work/life balance and stay-at-home dads?

      Our time mention work/life balance people will think we corporate losers or what!?

      You not bad. The best I got was a waiver; you got your CC to pay you back in cash!? You win liao lor!

      Nowadays I don't sweat the small stuffs. Free I take! But if comes with "conditions", I'll pass.

      Funny how people aspire to financial freedom or independence. But how free and independent we can be if what we do is "steered" by carrots and sticks placed by Jedis (marketers) before us?

  3. Nobody pay me to write aspirational stories :(

    Now that you've reminded me, it's time to check how many miles this little hamster has accumulated after running in its wheel for a full year! :D

    You nailed it with the corporate spending part. That's how the Get.com family redeemed their round-the-world SQ ticket.

    1. Kevin,

      I slightly better. But that's because I cheap mah! Buy me a drink and I'll sing like a canary for you!

      Having said that, some never called back after they saw how I write advertorials...

      And they can't stand my only rule - no editting ;)


      What do the Get.com couple do?

      They run a profitable business webiste that gets commissions from credit card companies for every credit card application approved that were introduced from their website ;)

      Its like getting "unbiased" insurance tips and knowledge from a business website that's run by insurance agents! LOL!

    2. Pfft. "Unbiased" indeed. What irked me most was that in almost all the interviews, they made it seem like it was possible for everyone to achieve what they did by following their so-called "tips".

      Anyway, on a lighter note - I *just* had to share this LOL!

      Eat, S*** & D** !!

    3. Kevin,

      If we can do it, so can you all!


      That's why Robert Kiyosaki extols the benefits of being a Business Owner in his book Rich Dad Poor Dad ;)

      And why Warren Buffett can pay less tax than his secretary...

      How nostalgic! Long time never hear Eat Shit and Die!

      Last time must be during my school days...

  4. i was once tempted to hit the $500 Credit card spending to enjoy the bonus interest for my bank account. Can still remember i clock $460 for that particular month, need $40 to hit $500. For the sake of earning $20 interest bonus?

    Oh My!

    Such Jedi mind tricks are truly powerful in the corporate world.

    1. Solace,

      Its knowing what buttons to press to influence others ;)

      Those got study might learnt it from Consumer Behavior, Behavioural Economics, or Psychology studies.

      I learnt it from mainly observing people, although I did study Consumer Behaviour from my part-time marketing classes ages ago ;)

      The same works for supermarkets where if we buy 2 items, there's a further discount - like for fresh milk.

      I just buy one carton of fresh milk since only mom drinks it. If we bought 2, the other carton will frequently "expire" most of he time...

      Understanding WHY we do certain things can be very useful for investing and trading. Most people lose money because we tend to make lots of irrational decisions...

      Especially those decisions that we thought we've made them ourselves; upon further probing, and if we are honest to ourselves, we frequently find we have been "influenced" by others ;)

  5. Hi SMOL

    Spend more good, win win for the economy, economy good my stocks up good, spend more hehehe. Go corporate!!

    1. B,


      Yes, timely reminder to DO the opposite of what we SAY to others!

      Tell others to use public transport while we drive in comfort...

      Tell others to invest for the long term so we can unload to them when we do rebalancing...

      Tell others all schools are good schools but we fight tooth and nail to send our own children to elite schools ;)

      Tell others to SAVE more when that's not how we got here. Shhh...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...