If you're anything like us, you understand the value of carrying credit cards based on that which you typically spend on to get the maximum rewards.
While there are “no-frills” credit cards such as the Standard Chartered Unlimited, which provides you 1.5% in cashback without any minimum spend and no caps, if you wish to really optimise the cashback or miles you’re earning, you’ll may need to look at specific credit cards that give you 5% and much more in cashback or 4 miles per dollar of spending.
Unfortunately, these credit cards only give their highest rewards for spending in specific categories, such as dining, shopping, or online purchases. And also the answer to understanding whether a particular purchase qualifies as eligible expenses are based on this four-digit number referred to as Merchant Category Code (MCC).
Here’s how MCCs work, the problem together, and something fantastic way to lookup MCC codes as well as find out which credit card gives the best perks in a particular store!
What Are Merchant Category Codes (MCC)?
Merchant Category Codes are four-digit numbers assigned through the acquiring bank to merchants in line with the type of product or service they offer.
It is essential to notice that while charge card issuing banks (like DBS, OCBC, UOB, Standard Chartered, etc) design the credit card rewards, they do not control the MCCs. Instead, they merely make use of the MCCs to trace your transactions and give you the promised rewards accordingly.
The MCC system sounds simple enough, but when you begin optimising your credit credit usage, you’ll bump into several difficulties with MCCs.
The Trouble with Merchant Category Codes
MCCs might not be very obvious for some merchants. Food & beverage stores are pretty straightforward, but shops that sell multiple genres of goods could be confusing. Is Muji considered a stationery shop, furniture store, clothes retailer, or retailer of foodstuffs? Is a cafe run with a hotel considered a food & beverage joint or considered area of the hotel?
MCCs differ even within the same store. If you ever thought you’re smart by visiting an empty counter in a department store or large warehouse outlet, you may be surprised to learn that while you’re capable of making your purchase, your spending wouldn't be tagged correctly, and you end up passing up on the rewards you had been aiming for. MCCs are assigned in the point-of-sale (POS) terminal level, and various POS terminals sometimes get different MCCs.
There isn’t a method to find out a merchant’s MCC beforehand. You might think that the staff at point-of-sale counters would be able to counsel you on their terminal’s MCC, but you’ll be disappointed. More often than not, unless they are avid charge card users themselves, they wouldn’t know what MCC was allotted to their point-of-sale terminal.
Definitions of spending categories differ among banks. This really is less related to MCCs itself but exactly how they are used by banks. Something vague like “travel” may encompass different MCCs, based on your issuing bank. This will be significant if you’re using a new credit card and aren't aware of the various method of how your new issuing bank categorises transactions.
What Are you able to Do To Discover MCCs
Now that we believe the challenges and need for understanding what MCCs for particular merchants, how do savvy consumers find out a store’s MCC (and consequently, which card to make use of)?
In yesteryear, there really wasn’t in whatever way to find out unless you spend money there, and check your credit card statements the following month. Another alternative is combing with the conditions and terms of various charge cards you've.
Calling your credit card bank’s customer support hotline might work, but could possibly annoy the staff who are exist for customers with ‘real’ problems or complaints.
There will also be crowdsourced lists of MCCs on the internet Drive and Hardwarezone, that are awesome, but might be difficult to lookup when you’re standing in line waiting to make payment.
That’s why i was so delighted to discover WhatCard, a local startup that aims to assist consumers quickly look up MCC codes for his or her favourite merchants and maximise the credit card rewards for his or her transactions.
What Is WhatCard?
Launched in May 2021, WhatCard functions as a merchant search engine, where you can key in a merchant's name to determine the MCC, in addition to a list of different credit cards now available in Singapore, sorted by the quantity of rewards given. You can even filter based on cashback or air miles.
Air miles rewards at Muji
This is really handy, since it now takes mere seconds to look up a merchant and choose which credit card I should use. The website is also a great tool for discovering cards that will provide you with better rewards, based on the merchants you usually visit.
There are already more than 1,500 merchants in their database, that the team adds on regularly based on actual user search data. WhatCard also offers an interaction forum section with a budding community of fellow credit card enthusiasts who report errors or omissions, and discuss the latest credit card hacks.
The WhatCard community.
In its current form, WhatCard has already been an immensely useful resource which i personally use regularly, especially when going to a new store. Later on, I imagine personalised search results in line with the cards I own would be an obvious feature upgrade, and maybe auto-complete/auto-correct for merchant searches.
Whether you’re a brand new credit card user or experienced card hacker, do give WhatCard a go and inform them what you think! Their community is another great place to hold out for the latest charge card deals and tips.