Back in November 2018, Citibank trialled a targeted promotion for its new PayAll service, essentially a cash advance service that earns you miles. The offer was very compelling, and almost the best in town, when you can effectively get a cash advance and buy miles for as low as 0.8 cents apiece.
So what has changed since?
1.5% or 2.0% processing fee
During the initial launch phase, the processing fee was three tiered fees depending on the amount you requested for, but this has now been changed to either a simple 1.5% or 2.0% fee, personalised for each customer.
Based on Mainly Miles’ report, it seems that customers targeted at the trial are now offered 1.5%, while those who weren’t are now offered 2.0%. It’s unclear why Citibank chose to offer different rates for different customers.
How to use?
At present, the facility is only available through the Citibank mobile app under the payment facility in the menu.
The steps to setting up a payment is pretty intuitive. You key in the recipient’s bank account details and the amount you will like to debit either as a one-time payment or a monthly payment. As with the trial, recipients of your payments need not bank with Citibank. They will receive payment via a normal bank transfer, typically within seven working days.
You will then be charged for the same amount, with the 1.5% or 2% processing fee. Miles will be earned only on the base amount.
While Citibank has explicit listed rent and education fees as categories that PayAll can be used for, it is actually unclear (and unproven) how they have decided to enforce this. For instance, if I’m paying my son’s tutor via PayAll each month, is Citibank really going to check whether it’s a bona fide education cost?
So how do I know whether I get 1.5% or 2% processing fee?
As mentioned above, it seems like previously targeted customers will now enjoy 1.5% fee (regardless whether you took up the earlier offer), while everyone else gets 2%.
To check what you get, simply log into the Citibank app, and try setting up a payment. You will be able to see the processing fee you will have to pay and derive the processing fee you are eligible for.
Cost per mile
Here’s the cost per mile analysis for PayAll, depending on whether you are targeted with 1.5% or 2.0% fee, based on the card you use.
|Cost per mile|
|1.5% fee||2.0% fee|
|Citi PremierMiles Amex||1.3||1.15¢||1.53¢|
|Citi PremierMiles Visa||1.2||1.25¢||1.67¢|
As you can see from above, topping the list is the Citi Ultima card, being able to buy miles for 0.94 cents each. As you go down, the Pretige and PremierMiles Amex cards let you buy them from 1.15 cents each, but if you are holding the Visa version of the PremierMiles, you can only buy them from 1.25 cents each. And that’s if you targeted with the 1.5% fee offer.
The Citi Rewards card obviously pales in comparison, so just be sure not to use that card for any of your PayAll transfers.
Is this worth using?
While Citibank has paled in comparison to many other miles cards available in the market, one of the biggest pull that it still has over its competition is the ability to transfer to many other programmes on top of Krisflyer and Asia Miles, including Qantas Frequent Flyer, British Airways Executive Club, Malaysia Airlines Enrich, Thai Royal Orchid Plus and more.
This makes Citi miles very valuable – it opens up new redemption opportunities which can often work out much cheaper than what Krisflyer demands of your precious miles, especially after the most recent round of devaluation.
For instance, you could use your Citi Miles to transfer to Qantas Frequent Flyer points, and in turn redeem it for Emirates flights.
This is definitely a very timely alternative to UOB PRVI Pay, given UOB PRVI’s recent revision of its PRVI Pay rates, making the Citi PayAll a very valuable proposition for any transactions that needs to be done via a bank transfer.
The flat processing fee rate is also a very good improvement over the previous tiered level fees, because simplicity is always good.
However, it’s still beyond my comprehension why they would offer different processing fee rates for different customers, and the segments they would offer a ‘preferential’ rate to.
While the terms and conditions of using Citibank PayAll has been pretty extensive to prohibit paying oneself, or to use the facility as a cash advance, it remains to be seen if the bank will actively enforce them, or if they will mete any penalty for infringements. Banks are notorious for its buried terms and conditions and strict compliance rules, so many a times these rules are in place to indemnify themselves from any unlawful activities surrounding these promotions.