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When it comes to earning more miles and cashbacks on credit cards, one of the most common “hacks” is volunteering to pay for shared expenses, such as restaurant meals, movie tickets or grab rides first, and then collecting the cash from friends afterwards.
The logic is sound – I pay first, on a large bill that will earn more even more miles or cashback than my actual expenditure, then get my friends to repay what they owe me in cash. What happens in reality is a completely different thing.
While I initially agreed with this “hack”, I try to avoid paying first at all cost these days. Here are four reasons why I think you may also want to stop making use of this “hack”.
# 1 Being Labelled “The Shameless Friend”
We’re all familiar with the moment when the waiter brings the bill to us at the end of a dinner celebration. Majority of us look around awkwardly while attempting to fish out our wallets. Invariably, the most shameless friend is always one step ahead to volunteer settling up the bill first with his credit card.
We all know he hasn’t volunteered out of the goodness in his heart. He’s just done it because he wants to earn the entire cashback or miles on a large bill, while only paying a fraction of it. We were all thinking of doing the same thing.
I’m a tall guy, and my wide wingspan gives me an advantage when it comes to beating my friends to put my credit card on the bill. While I wasn’t entirely averse to being labelled “the shameless friend”, my reputation wasn’t the only thing that would be hurt by volunteering to pay first.
# 2 Begging For My Own Money
Not everyone I was hanging out with would have the exact change for the bill in their wallet. This means I was taking a risk by paying first as one of these three scenarios may play out:
1) I would ask them to pay me back via cashless payment systems such as “PayLah!”, “Pay Anyone” or “PayNow”.
Chasing for payment from several people via several different methods can get really complicated, especially if there are more bills to split during the same outing. If we’ve been short-changed, we’ll only ever realise it after adding it all up when we get home. When that happens, we have to play detective to find out who hasn’t paid us, try our best to recall if they actually paid us in cash but we had spent the cash later that night.
2) I pretended to be #Fam and tell them to pay me back some other time.
Again, this is an equally stressful situation where we have to either demand that a friend pays us back immediately or tell him/ her that they can just pay us the next time we head out…because we’re that close. If there are a few people like that or some friends that we rarely meet, we may never see our money back.
3) I accept getting paid a few bucks short.
Do you demand to get paid the exact amount or accept a few dollars short of the actual amount we should be paid? What if that friend had accepted a few dollars short from us in the past?
For anyone who’s actually calculative enough to want to game this “hack”, none of the scenarios look that appealing.
I got really bugged having to constantly remind my friends and chase for payments if they hadn’t paid yet and check my bank accounts if the money was in. I would be much happier just paying someone else and going without the miles or cashback.
Moreover, if I didn’t get paid from one friend or even if I accepted slightly less from one or two friends, this hack made no financial sense at all – because I would have lost out way more (even more than the pain of being detective and loan shark) than what I would have gained in miles or cashback.
# 3 Paying For Friends…Acquaintances…Randoms…
When I went out for dinner with a large group of friends or colleagues, I wouldn’t always know every single person. Some friends may bring along other friends – people who I didn’t really know that well or at all.
Herein lies the problem – after paying first, I may not even get the full amount back. I would be left playing detective once again to find out who hadn’t paid. After shortlisting a few people, I would have to check in with them, and the worst part was trying to get friends to get in touch with the people they brought along to check if they had already paid up.
This gets very tiring very fast.
# 4 Applying For More Credit Cards Than Card Slots In My Wallet
If you’ve ever tried paying for the bill first, you’d know that others have the same thing in mind. One way to stay ahead of the game is to have the right credit card that gives everyone an additional perk at restaurants, which may include getting a freebie or a discount.
This means I had more credit cards than I could keep track of just so that I could match or beat most other credit cards for the best deals.
After a while, I found that it brought a different type of stress for me. I had to keep up with the latest deals at the restaurants, the latest cards that were coming out, as well as keeping up with paying my bills on time (especially because different companies had different due dates), asking for annual fee waivers, being able to lug all these cards everywhere and all the other little things that I never knew I even had to think about.
Living Less Stressfully
We’re all already living stressful lives taking on many responsibilities in our workplaces and at home. Getting a little more cashback each month or a free flight to Bangkok each year isn’t enough for the amount of additional stress I have to take on by using this “hack”.
At the end of the day, there’s only so many things I can worry about. The price of earning the additional miles and cashback – playing detective and loan shark – is too much to pay. This is why I’ve stopped volunteering my credit cards when the bill arrives, and I’m glad to let someone else worry about whether I’ll be paying, how much I’ll be paying and when I’ll be paying!
There Are Easier Ways To Earn Credit Card Perks And Air Miles
If you’re considering getting a credit card, use these links below to sign-up for any of these 6 air miles cards to receive exclusive cash and vouchers from SingSaver, on top of any perks given by individual banks. The cards eligible for the promotion are:
1) American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Credit Card
[SingSaver Exclusive]: $150 Cash for new and existing customers, 26,600 bonus miles if you spend $3,000 within the first three months, and another $3,000 between 4th month and 6th month.
2) American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card
[SingSaver Exclusive]: $150 Cash for new and existing customers. 49,900 bonus miles if you spend $6,000 within the first three months, and another $6,000 between 4th month and 6th month, and pay the annual fee of $337.05
3) Citi PremierMiles Visa Card
[SingSaver Exclusive]: $200 vouchers Cash for new Citi customers. $30 for existing customers. 30,000 bonus miles if you spend $7,500 within the first three months and pay the annual fee of $192.60.
4) Citi Rewards Visa Card
[SingSaver Exclusive]: $200 vouchers Cash for new Citi customers. $30 for existing customers.
5) UOB PRVI Miles Visa Card
[SingSaver Exclusive]: $50 Cash for new and existing customers.
6) OCBC Titanium Reward Cards Credit Card
[SingSaver Exclusive]: $100 Cashback for new customers.