How to save on food costs in Singapore during times of inflation

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Following the recent rise in prices from general inflation in 2022, having a nice meal has become more and more expensive. MAS reported that the core inflation of Singapore in June peaked at 4.4 per cent, which is the highest ever since the Great Recession in 2008.

Singapore’s vulnerability to supply shocks, especially during the past two years from the start of the decade.

From the pandemic hurting the supply capacity of the world economy to the ever-increasing Russo-Ukrainian conflict, which has decimated the supply of eggs and chicken feed in the world, as well as our neighbours adopting a more trade protectionist model of cutting exports of fresh chicken to prevent prices from rising in their country.

Even once those supply shock issues are rectified, prices might take a long time to act accordingly.

So, in such turbulent times, what can we do to save ourselves from being priced out from just enjoying a meal? Well, stick here to find out!

Dining promotions and credit cards

There will always be promotions when it comes to dining in restaurants, be it due to special occasions such as national days, SAF day, Christmas, Hari Raya etc., or from restaurant vouchers and discount cards, you can never run out of options to save more money when you dine in.

PHOTO: Unsplash

There are restaurant chain membership cards that provide attractive discounts, such as the Level Ground Community, which offers discounts of up to 15 per cent on your final bill on their affiliated restaurants when you sign up as a member for as low as $30 a year.

There are also Telegram and Facebook groups such as SG Kiasu Foodies and SG food Deals that provide the latest restaurant promotions.

Many credit cards provide great dining deals, and some even allow you to accumulate miles and reward points for future usage. Some restaurants even offer special discounts to certain credit card members, including buffet deals.

HSBC Visa Platinum

  • Rebates on local food and petrol, miles for general spend

Fees, rewards and perks

  • Annual fee: $192.6, two-year waiver, subsequently with $12,500 annual spend
  • Five per cent cashback on local dining, groceries and petrol (up to $250/quarter)
  • 0.4 miles per $1 general spend, unlimited
  • Up to 21 per cent fuel savings with Caltex, Shell (including five per cent card rebate)

Analyst's review

HSBC Visa Platinum Card is one of the few cards on the market that allows consumers to earn cashback and miles. Cardholders earn a five per cent rebate on local dining, groceries and petrol–key spending categories for most consumers–after $600.

All other spending earns 0.4 miles per $1, with no minimum requirement.

Cardholders can earn up to $250/quarter (about $83/month), which is quite respectable, and the $180.0 fee is waived with $12,500 annual spend. Overall, HSBC Visa Platinum Card is worth considering if you want to earn both miles and cashback to spend on essentials like food and petrol.

UOB YOLO Card

  • Eight per cent cashback on online and mobile contactless spend, 0.3 per cent all other spend (max $60/month)

Fees, rewards and perks

  • Annual fee: S$192.6, one-year waiver
  • Eight per cent cashback on weekend dining, entertainment, Grab, select UOB Travel (three per cent weekdays)
  • Three per cent online travel and fashion
  • Free travel insurance

Analyst's review

UOB YOLO Card is the ideal card for social weekend spenders and comes with promotions specifically tailored to young adults.

Cardholders earn up to eight per cent on dining, entertainment, Grab rides and select UOB Travel on weekends (three per cent on weekdays), and three per cent on online fashion and travel.

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There’s a $600 minimum spend requirement, but this amount is standard, and cardholders can earn up to $60/month.

UOB YOLO Card stands out as a dining and entertainment card not only for its high rewards rate but also for its promotions and privileges.

Cardholders can enjoy one-for-one drink and dining specials, discounts at popular restaurants and merchants like Deliveroo, and special privileges through Visa Foodie Trail.

There are also plenty of entertainment perks, including annual parties featuring popular music artists, freebies at nightclubs, and discounted movie tickets.

UOB YOLO Card is great for young adults with high social spending on weekends, with added dining perks.

Grocery credit cards and promotions

Sometimes, supermarkets can offer promotions and discounts depending on the occasion as well.

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There are also membership cards, such as Passion!, NTUC Union, or even SAFRA and HomeTeamNS that can provide discounts and perks for the respective supermarkets like Giant, Cold Storage, Fairprice, Sheng Siong and much more!

Alternatively, you can also shop in online supermarkets such as RedMart and HonestBee to fully use their monthly promotions.

There are also different credit cards with attractive cashback and perks that make saving money on groceries more convenient.

Citi Cash Back Card

  • Up to eight per cent cashback on groceries and petrol, six per cent on dining
  • Promotions: Receive an Apple iPad 9th Gen (worth $499) or Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum-Mop 2 (worth $549) or Samsonite Straren Spinner (worth $600) or $350 Cash within 30 days of card approval.
  • Promotion is valid from Aug 16 - 31, 2022

Fees, rewards and perks

  • Annual fee: $192.6, one-year waiver
  • Eight per cent cashback on dining, grocery, and petrol (any station)
  • Up to 20.88 per cent fuel savings at Esso and Shell

Analyst's review

Citi Cash Back Card is one of the best credit cards for rebates on both food and petrol worldwide. Cardholders earn up to eight per cent cash back on dining, groceries, and petrol (any station).

These rates apply both locally and overseas and are not merchant-restricted. This gives you the flexibility to earn at top rates no matter what brands you choose or where you buy them.

The Citi Cash Back Card does have an $800 minimum spend requirement, but given the average consumer spends nearly half of their budget on food and transport–the two categories rewarded by this card–this threshold is reasonably achievable.

In addition, you can earn up to $80/month, or $960/year. This is one of the higher earning potentials on the market. Ultimately, Citi Cash Back Card is an excellent option to consider if you spend much of your budget on dining, groceries and petrol.

Maybank Family & Friends Card

  • Up to $125/month with just $800/month spend
  • Promotions: Get Samsonite Harts 68/25 Spinner worth $550 when you apply for a new Maybank Credit Card and CreditAble and spend a min of $300 for each of the first two consecutive months upon approval (Limited to the first 4,500 approved applicants)
  • Foreigners are eligible for this promotion: Apply for a new Maybank Credit Card and charge a min of $350 for each of the first two consecutive months upon approval
  • Subsequent approved applicants will receive $100 Cash Credit. Terms and Conditions apply

Fees, rewards and perks

  • Annual fee: $180 (three years fee waiver)
  • Up to eight per cent rebate on five preferred categories (dining and food delivery, groceries, retail, petrol discounts and online TV streaming)
  • Up to $125 cashback per month with $800 min spend
  • 0.3 per cent rebate all other spend

Analyst's review

If you spend quite a bit of time in both Singapore and Malaysia, you might want to consider Maybank Family & Friends Card as a way to maximise rewards for your grocery spending.

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Cardholders earn five per cent rebates after $500 minimum spend, or eight per cent after $800 spend, on fast food and food delivery, groceries, transport, petrol, data communications/online TV streaming (and more) in both countries.

All local grocery stores, supermarkets, and even online grocery spending are rewards-eligible.

Maybank F&F Card is extraordinarily accessible as well. The $500 minimum requirement is already relatively low, and the $180.0 fee is waived for three years (with just $12,000 annually).

Rewards are capped at $80/month, but it's possible to max this out with just $1,000 spent. Cardholders can achieve the fee waiver at this rate and earn $960/year.

Governmental assistance

Governmental assistance during such tough transitional times can help reduce your psychological price shock of ingredients and dining options.

As of 2022, some households are eligible for GST vouchers which are designed to help lessen the blow of rising prices. There are also incentives such as the NS55 voucher which can be used in some dining options and supermarkets.

Lastly, CDC vouchers provide $100 during the past two years to support local hawkers. Do note that, unlike other governmental assistance, CDC vouchers are best used for those with strict prices of multiples of $2, $5 or $10, as no change will be given to you if you overpay.

Cutting down on quality or quantity

In the worst-case scenario, it is recommended that we cut down on the frequency of dining out in pricey restaurants in favour of cheaper alternatives or cutting back on meal portions when cooking meals so that you do not have to buy as often as possible.

Conclusion

Trying to cut down costs for inflation is challenging, especially for something as essential as eating and drinking. However, there are methods to lessen the blow of rising food prices.

Learn more about other promotions, such as finding the best mooncakes for the upcoming mid-autumn festival, getting the best flight deals, and staycation deals with the relevant links.

This article was first published in ValueChampion.