28 September 2015

Staying connected when travelling overseas - Mobile WIFI

It's so hard these days to travel overseas and be disconnected from the Internet. The itch starts to set in to want to stay connected. By day two, it's cold turkey.

In the past, I would subscribe to the Singtel overseas daily plan when needed. This can range from $15 to $30 depending on the country. In some countries, buying a prepaid SIM works out to be a better deal. Set it up on a mobile WIFI device and the whole family can use the connectivity. Unfortunately, it tends to be used up real fast.

At Changi Airport, a service centre has been set up to provide such services for travellers, both inbound and outbound. I paid $8 for 5 days (special rate with a coupon code from a travel fair) for 6 days of use in Japan, as the first day's charge is waived.

Check it out: https://www.changirecommends.com/owifi.aspx

And if you use this link to make a reservation, I get a $5 voucher for the recommendation: https://www.changirecommends.com/owifi.aspx?rc=if0nn88]

The data plans vary across countries. These can range from 400 MB limit per day to unlimited. In some countries, once the limit is reached, throughput is throttled, but still functional. In other countries, the mobile WIFI is completely cut off when that happens! So need to check.

For Japan, the limit was 1 GB daily. 1 GB is a lot for a day. Unless you're surfing video none stop! It sure was handy for my Google Map app on my smartphone as I used it extensively to navigate around in Tokyo and to check which train lines to take and connect to.

I encountered frequent dropped connections on my second day there. Resetting the device seemed to work. I wasn't sure what the reason was. Initially, I thought it occurred whenever there were a lot of strong WIFI signals around. And there are plenty in Tokyo!

But I think the problem was that the battery power drained by the afternoon after several hours of use. Once that happened, it must have gone into a power saving mode. I connected it to a power bank for continuous use. That seemed to work fine thereafter.

Else I would have been completely lost in the maze of Tokyo undergrounds and trains! Happy travels.

14 September 2015

Changes to the Citibank Dividend Card

I am one of those people who believe in putting everything I can on credit cards, but I will pay in full when the bills come in. It's so convenient these days where credit cards are accepted everywhere.

Aside from the convenience, more interestingly are the discounts and rebates. Getting money back from your spending, why not? Nothing to lose.

One of the cards I like to use is the Citibank Dividend Visa Card. A few days ago, Citibank circulated a notice that it is making changes to its Citibank Dividend Card. The changes will take effect from 28 Sep 2015.

Merchant Category
Amount of cash back earned on the transaction based on that month's statement of account
if spend is
less than S$888^
if spend is
S$888 or more^
All others

The footnote to the table further elaborated that the amount of cashback (dividend) is capped at $25 for each of the first three categories (i.e. petrol, grocery and dining). Effectively, that means that any spending on a category above $312.50 will not earn any further cashback. On the positive side, the dividend will no longer expire.

My monthly expenditure on grocery and dining tends to go way above that. Looks like I should start diverting spending to my other credit cards like DBS/POSB and UOB One cards? Citibank Credit is going to lose some of my credit spending.

No minimum spend is required to earn the cashback. But as indicated in above table, the cashback will be much lower if the total spend that month is less than $888. Huat ah!

It's rather difficult to figure out what the impact is for the individual. I wish they could have provided some indications by using my last few months' credit bills to illustrate how it would have differed from the past.

I hear OCBC has also made changes to their card (The annoying OCBC Frank credit card). Azrael was pretty annoyed by the changes to OCBC's. The banks always maintain an escape clause that allow them to make changes anytime. So it's their prerogative. But it is annoying.