Life Hack #1 – Mall Apps, Plus!

Having WFH-ed for the last 3 weeks, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for stay-home moms and dads – simply for the sole fact that the house /or home you stay in does not take care of itself (read: maintenance, or in business context: BAU). It’s a duh statement whatever but for what it’s worth, there are various elements (read: housework, and that includes preparing meals) when it comes to making sure a home stays a functional home (and not just a place you come back from work to chill, sleep and repeat).

I’m guilty as charged as I write this, and so I’m committed to show you (through a series of life hack posts while adding value of course) that running domestic errands expertly requires skills (and I think it is almost a full time role that deserves more credit). Anyhow, life hack starts off with this problem statement – How do you maximize every dollar that you spend in stores and extract the best value?

And before I go further, there are many ways to skin the cat, and I intend to articulate my experiences grouped in different hack categories, starting with this hack #1 on covering at the bare minimum – the baseline value.

Look, value here is not looking at the quality of stuff you buy, or looking at the promotional discount on offer. Those are extremely important, but I will argue that it is hard to apply them at scale (meaning: (1) the thing on offer may not be what others need, and (2) quality is extremely subjective (and I don’t even want to describe that in the slightest bits to prevent myself going down a rabbit hole). So, the value here is the things you can do to get something back in return (TLDR: rebates, vouchers) because that is the money you have set aside for home errands and will spend anyway (whether Covid or not).

Disclaimer: If your time is extremely precious or am a high roller who gives no f, you can stop reading now. But if you like hunting for value with minimal time invested, let’s get cracking.

I’m laying out three options below, and they can be stacked (or used together) in some instances. As a caveat, they are by no means an exhaustive list (but it is something that has worked for me).

Option 1: Get yourself a Plus! Card Get the basic Plus! Card because it’s completely free (no annual fees or sign up charges). Let’s assume we go to NTUC to get our groceries. With that card, you can tap it at the Point of Sales (POS) counter before payment, and get 2 Link Points for every $1 spent. And once you accumulate enough Link Points, you can use it to offset your transactions on the spot. The last I checked, 150 Link Points = $1. With a bit of math, this works out to be 1.33% cash rebate.

Option 2: Download My NexRewards App This could be any shopping mall that you patronize and near where you stay (as long as they have something like a mall app). I stay a train stop away from Serangoon so NEX is one of the most convenient options for me to get the groceries in check, and they launched the My NexRewards App a while back.

So how it works is you check the participating partners in the app, and make sure the store you intend to visit has exactly what you want. Let’s assume you want to buy bread at BarCook (and your family loves the raisin cream bun) – as long as you can spend a minimum of $20, you can kindly ask the cashier to scan the QR code in your app to get 20 Nex Rewards points (1 Nex Rewards point for every $1 spent). In fact, you get double the points in the month of Mar and Apr (as there is a promotion going on). In other words, you get 40 rewards point for $20 spent.

And once you accumulate enough Nex Rewards points, you can redeem them for cash vouchers.The one I prefer is the $5 eNEXvoucher which requires 1000 points. So the cash rebate here is 0.5%, or 1% (if you are taking advantage of the double reward promotion this month).

Option 3: Download CapitaStar App I’m going to give the gist here that while CapitaStar is great because it covers all 7 Capitaland malls in Singapore, the cash rebate is extremely weak so unless you have to buy something here (or can use this on top of other life hacks – which I will go through in another post), you should consider this as the last option. Every dollar you spent gets you one reward point.

The mechanics is simple. You take a photo of the receipt using the app, and indicate the price you have paid. Let’s assume you went to NTUC in SingPost mall, you can get 100 rewards points if you spent $100 (it’s 1:1). Take note that the minimum amount for a single transaction receipt to be eligible is $20. So anything less than that, CapitaStar will consider that as invalid. You need 5000 rewards point to redeem a $5 voucher, which works out to be a 0.1% cash rebate.

The consolidation here though is if you have used separate NTUC vouchers to offset the purchase, CapitaStar app will give you rewards points based on the receipt price (in other words, if you bought $100 worth of stuff indicated in the receipt, but paid $0 because you used 2x$50 vouchers, you can still scan the receipt in the App and CapitaStar will give you 100 rewards points).

I honestly don’t know if that is a flaw in the app, but thanks anyway.

So there you have it, the three options for life hack #1 to get the baseline value out of your purchases. In the next post, I will cover the intermediate payment apps you can use (as either complimentary to the 3 options listed above, or as standalone). And the validated use cases will be better than using your credit cards directly.

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