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Which Is The Best Credit Card For You?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hong Leong Bank Malaysia Fortune Visa Cash Back Credit Card

[UPDATE March 2012 - Please check with Hong Leong Bank exactly how much you need to spend  per month in order to earn the 1% cash back and how the cash rebate is deposit into the saving account - i.e. in blocks?]

Firstly, I would like to thank Simon for pointing out that the Hong Leong Bank Fortune Credit Card cash back is capped at RM50/month (please read comments). I then called HLB CS to confirm and was informed that in additional to the cash back being capped at RM50/month, I was horrified when the CS told me that in order to earn the 1% cash back one has to spend minimum RM1K/month with the card. I have on 13th March 2011 edited this post and I must say that this card is indeed complicated and you should understand the terms and conditions fully and know how much you will be spending with this card before you sign up for it.

Hong Leong Bank Malaysia recently in February 2011 launched a new credit card called Fortune Visa Cash Back Credit Card. Those of you who have read my article on Maybankard 2 Cards would remember that I started of by saying that there's a on going "war" between banks in Malaysia trying to gain back loss "ground" (customer base). Many people cancelled their credit cards after the government imposed service tax of RM50 for each Principal card. And in the same article, I ended with a "Top Secret" message to Hong Leong Bank to launch a counter attack by unleashing their three dragons (Amex, Visa and MC)  and not to rely on kids (meals) but to get men to fight their battles. Well, HLB did launch a counter attack a month after Maybank launch the Maybankard 2 Card but is the counter attack effective?

I recommend you read my above article before you proceed reading below as I would be making some comparison between the HLB Fortune Card with Maybankard 2 Cards and OCBC Titanium MasterCard.

Okay, let's begin with my review on Hong Leong Bank Fortune Visa Credit Card.

I like the design with the gold strip and black back ground making it look like an exclusive card. With  annual income requirement of only RM30,000, it will attract customers who are not entitled to Platinum cards. The Fortune card is a pure cash back credit card and competing with other cash back cards like the Citibank Platinum Cash Back Credit Card, OCBC Credit Cards and HLB own Essential credit card where no reward points are earned for spending with the card.

I will now go in detail and counter the benefits of Hong Leong Bank Fortune Credit Card so that you will not be mislead or confused when an agent comes to you and try to encourage you to sign up for the HLB Fortune Visa Card.

Below is the Press Release by HLB on 19th February 2011 and my comments. Click here to read HLB Press Release in full.

Kuala Lumpur, 19 February 2011 - As competition intensifies in the market, Hong Leong Bank (HLB), continues to innovate by developing a brand new Credit Card that would meet the tangible needs of its customers. The Hong Leong Fortune Credit Card in association with Visa International, is the first-to-market credit card to offer customers real cash.

In regards to the opening statement  "competition intensifies in the market", doesn't the above intro sounds like my intro for my Maybankard 2 Cards where we are now entering the second wave of the war on credit cards, hahaha. What I read from this statement is - HLB acknowledges that they are losing customer base and as such their management has to come out with some brilliant ideas to make the consumers think they are getting more in return as compared to other credit cards. As for the real cash thingy, I will discuss about it later.

"From our proprietary research, consumers are keen on the concept that they get to enjoy rebates from all retailers with no specific time/days constraint. The basic consumer expectations from a credit card lies in the simplicity, flexibility of spending habits and more savings compared to existing cards in the market," she added. 

Well, I don't need any researcher to tell me that consumers want rebates from all retailers with no specific time/days constraint. Everybody loves rebates, discounts and freebies. I hope HLB management did not pay a single cent to that "researcher" for common sense, hahaha. What HLB (or their propriety research) failed to say is this - "All consumers want MORE rebates than that offered with their present credit cards".

And you know what, the press release mentioned consumers want simplicity, I can tell you that HLB's innovative Fortune credit card has the most complicated reward system for a credit card in Malaysia.

Actually there are many cards now giving cash rebate or cash back for every transactions anytime and anywhere i.e. Alliance Bank Credit Cards, OCBC Malaysia Banks Credit Cards, UOB OneCard, Public Bank Credit Cards and CIMB Bank Visa Infinite. OCBC Malaysia even have a credit card that gives 1.5% cash back for education related transactions. The difference with Hong Leong Bank Fortune Visa Card is that instead of giving you the cash back immediately, the money instead goes into a savings account earning interest. Must say that HLB way of rewarding back their customers is indeed innovative because instead of giving the customer the cash back upfront, it deposit the cash back earned with the Fortune Card back into a Hong Leong Bank Savings Account. So in other words, the money is with HLB until you go withdraw it out. Whomever came out with this idea certainly would make the bosses at HLB happy but not me, they are forcing me to trouble myself to go get the cash back money from them. 

So what are the benefits of Hong Leong Bank Fortune Credit Card? Below is what was stated in their website:

(A) 1% Real Cash Earnings on your purchases*
Whether it's shopping, dining, petrol or anything else, you will earn 1% cash for every Ringgit spent. E.g. RM100 x 1% = RM1. Spend more, earn more.

(B) Earn interest on your Real Cash Earnings
Your Real Cash Earnings balance will also be earning interest (interest rate is based on the prevailing Hong Leong Bank 3-month fixed deposit rate).

(C) Up to RM1,800 extra Real Cash Earnings on your card's anniversary
Extra earnings are based on your total annual retail spending, up to RM1,800 in real cash. 
Extra earnings are based on your total annual retail spending, up to RM1,800 in real cash.
Total annual retail spending Bonus
Equal or more than RM38,000 RM280
Equal or more than RM68,000 RM880
Equal or more than RM108,000 RM1,800 

(D) Your Real Cash Earnings never expire
The cash you earn is yours to use as you wish. Withdrawals can be made anytime at any Hong Leong Bank ATM

(E) Higher credit limit
Enjoy more spending power with a higher credit limit of up to 5x your monthly income

(F) Conditional Free-For-Life card membership
As long as you use your Hong Leong Fortune Credit Card twice a month or spend a minimum of RM8,000 a year, you can continue enjoying all the benefits that come with being a cardmember - free of charge for life. 

Here are my comments to the above HLB Fortune Visa Card Benefit.

Item (A) - 1% cash back for shopping, dining, petrol or anything.  

I don't understand why they would want to specifically mention  dining, petrol and shopping?  Don't they know that OCBC is rewarding their Customers with 5% cash rebate for dining, petrol and groceries and as for anything, Maybankard 2 American Express earns you 5% for anything on weekends on top of the 5X Treats Points. Even with only the 5X Treats Points, the returns you get from Maybankard 2 Cards in terms of vouchers is more than twice the 1% cash back from HLB Fortune Visa credit card. However if you are comparing Maybankard 2 Visa and MasterCard vs HLB Fortune credit card, then the HLB Fortune credit card is much much better in terms of returns. 

What HLB failed to highlight in the above is that the cash back with HLB Fortune Credit Card is capped at RM50 per month. Not only that, in order to get the minimum 1% cash back, you have to spend RM1,000 with it every month. If your transactions amount is less than RM1K per month, you get nothing, nil, zero!!!

And with a monthly cap of RM50/month, the statement "spend more earn more" is totally misleading.

Item (B) - Earn interest on your Real Cash Earnings.

Well on paper this is indeed a great offer where your cash back earns you interest. But in reality it is a just a marketing gimmick. Why I say this is because you won't earn much if you think you getting a good deal here. When you are issued a HLB Fortune Credit Card, a savings account will be automatically created for you where all the cash back will be credited into the savings account earning 3 months FD rate. In order to enjoy the cash back, you need to go to the ATM or HLB counter to withdraw that very little bit miserable interest you will earn from the Savings Account. You got to check if there is any fee associated with getting a HLB ATM card. I will now show you an example what you'll get from this so call benefit. 

Assumptions: All transactions on 1st of the month. 3 months FD rate @ 3%, 1 month = 30 days.
CB = cash back, IEFSA = Interest Earned from Savings Account at end of month, ASAEOM = Amount in Saving Account End Of the Month. Maximum cash back RM50/month.

Month 1. Spend RM2,000, CB =RM20. Interest on CB for 1 month = RM0.05. ASAEOM = RM20.05 
Month 2. Spend RM3,000, CB =RM50. IEFSA = RM0.12. ASAEOM = RM50.17
Month 3. Spend RM10,000, CB =RM100. IEFSA = RM0.25. ASAEOM = RM100.42
Month 4. Spend RM1,000, CB =RM10. IEFSA=RM0.27. ASAEOM = RM110.69
Month 5. Spend RM30,000, CB =RM50. IEFSA=RM.40. ASAEOM = RM161.09
Month 6. Spend RM0, No credit, haha. CB=0. IEFSA=RM.40. ASAEOM = RM161.49
Month 7. Spend RM2,000, CB = RM20. IEFSA=RM.45. ASAEOM = RM181.93
Month 8. Spend RM8,000, CB = RM50. IEFSA=RM0.57. ASAEOM = RM232.51
Month 9. Spend RM6,000, CB = RM50. IEFSA=RM0.70. ASAEOM = RM283.20
Month 10. Spend RM3,000, CB = RM30. IEFSA=RM0.77. ASAEOM = RM313.97
Month 11. Spend RM10,000, CB = RM50. IEFSA=RM0.90. ASAEOM = RM364.87
Month 12. Spend RM25,000, CB = RM50. IEFSA=RM1.02, ASAEOM = RM415.89

So from the above, you spent RM100K (by coincidence the total amount came up to RM100K which is good too so easy to see difference), the cash back with interest on the cash back only comes out to be RM415.89! Or in terms of the percentage of the total transacted amount of RM100,000, you get back  0.416% only! Heck, not only HLB wasting my time to go to the bank to withdraw the cash back, I may even gain more (without considering annual bonus) with the HLB Essential credit card, Alliance Bank credit cards, CIMB Visa Infinite, OCBC Platinum Credit Card and Citibank Platinum Cash Back Credit Card.

Item (C) - Up to RM1,800 extra Real Cash Earnings on your card's anniversary

This is actually very good where you get extra money by using the HLB Fortune Visa credit card; however, it does not necessary reward you for spending more but instead penalize you in a way because you'll be getting less in terms of percentage. Other banks like Public Bank rewards their customer with higher cash back but HLB the other way around! See below:

Bonus RM280 for spending RM38K to RM67,999 - or returns of 0.736842% reducing to 0.4118%
Bonus RM880 for spending RM68K to RM107,999 or returns of 1.294118% reducing to 0.8148% 
Bonus RM1,800 for spending 108,000 you will get 1.66% or less

By the way,  HLB must have read my "Top Secret" message in my post in MBB Dua about using No.8 for marketing. It is as if  HLB is listening to me, hahaha.

To enjoy maximum returns in terms of percentage from the annual bonus, you got to spend exactly RM68K a year. From above, the more you spend, most likely you end up getting less % in returns! If you spend RM216,000 a year, then your bonus is equivalent to 0.5%, spend more than that, the % reduces further. So not necessary good for big spenders i.e. more than RM20/month. If you know exactly how much you going to spend with the Fortune card, say for example insurance premiums RM38K/yr, then the Fortune card may be beneficial to you. If you can transact exactly RM68K/yr, then you get the highest % returns from the annual bonus.

Now, the HLB Fortune cash back is capped at RM50/month. So assuming you do spend RM60K per year (RM5K per month) with the card and enjoy maximum RM50 cash back per month, you will get RM600 from the 1% cash back portion and annual bonus of RM280 making your total cash back for the year to be equal to  RM880 or RM1.47%. But you got to note once again, the annual bonus is not awarded to you upfront. 

Or take the example above, where one transact RM100K and the amount in the saving account after a year comes out to be RM415.89. Add the annual bonus of RM880 and the total would be equal to RM1295.89 or 1.3% in return for spending RM100K with the Fortune Visa card.

If you do spend RM5K per month, I suggest you consider Alliance Platinum MasterCard and get maximum cash back of RM68.75 per month credited upfront (or maximum RM825/year about 1.375% based on RM5K/month) plus 60,000 rewards points that are evergreen (for overseas transactions Alliance  Bank Platinum credit card rewards you with 2 points for every Ringgit) and get free entrance to KLIA Plaza Premium Lounge.

Item (D) - Your Real Cash Earnings never expire

Of course it would never expire, it is your money and Hong Leong Bank happier if you don't withdraw your money from your Savings Account. 

Item (E) Higher credit limit - 5X monthly income.

Do you need a credit limit that is 5X your salary? If you earning only RM30K a year (income requirement to qualify for the HLB Fortune Visa credit card) and you do not charge your company expenses which are reimbursable, why in the hell you want a credit limit of RM12.5K for? Is HLB trying to entice you to spend more and hoping that you work for them by imposing interest on your outstanding balance? 

Item (F) Conditional Free-For-Life card membership

You need to spend RM8000 and get cash back RM80 to pay GST RM50! I tell you, HLB wasting their time and resources with their proprietary research. Consumers want free GST in addition to perpetual free annual fees! I am sure by now they would have realized that many of their customers have cancelled or wanting to cancel their credit cards since the imposition of the GST. I too wanted to cancel my Hong Leong Bank Platinum MasterCard but HLB offered me reward points to offset the GST so I agreed to keep the card but I don't use it. What they should do is like OCBC where the card holder needs to spend a certain amount to waive the GST. If a customer don't use a particular card and the issuer waive the GST, it is just incurring cost to the issuer.


The Hong Leong Bank Fortune Visa credit card do not appeal to those earning RM30K and above. It will attract those who spend minimum RM38K a year with credit cards to at least enjoy the annual bonus. If you are earning like RM40-RM50K pa, I doubt you will benefit much from the annual bonus because if you do then you'll be spending more than you can afford to or you charged all your company expenses to the card.

If you spend less then RM1K per month, this card is useless as you get nothing, zero, nil in return. Because of this condition itself, I would not even bother to consider this card.

The 1% cash back offered by the Fortune card is not attractive as there are cards offering up to 5%. To make the Hong Leong Bank Fortune Card more attractive than the HLB Essential Credit Card, HLB is offering annual bonus BUT you got to spend minimum RM38K with the Fortune credit card to earn this bonus AND unlike the HLB Essential credit card, there is a  monthly cash back capped at RM50/month for the Fortune card.

Comparison of Hong Leong Bank Fortune Visa versus OCBC Titanium MasterCard.

  • Hong Leong Bank Fortune spend RM38,000 (spread evenly monthly) you get cash back RM660 (incl annual bonus but not  deducting GST) vs. OCBC Titanium MasterCard RM12,000 (with 5% cash back) to get RM600 cash back.
  • Hong Leong Bank Fortune credit card no RM50 GST waiver feature vs OCBC Titanium MasterCard auto waiver feature if spend RM10,000.
  • Hong Leong Bank Fortune credit card need to spend RM8000 to get annual fee waived vs OCBC Titanium 12 swipes per year. 

Comparison of Hong Leong Bank Fortune Visa versus Maybankard 2 American Express card 

  • Hong Leong Bank Fortune spend RM38,000 you get cash back RM660 (incl annual bonus but not deducting for GST) vs. Maybankard 2 Amex  you only need to spend RM12,000 (on weekends with 5% cash back) to get equivalent returns of RM900 (RM600 cash back plus RM300 voucher).
  • Hong Leong Bank Fortune credit card no RM50 GST waiver feature vs Maybankard 2 Card RM50 GST for both Maybankard 2 American Express with Visa or MasterCard.
  • Hong Leong Bank Fortune credit card need to spend RM8000 to get annual fee waived vs Maybankard 2 Cards FREE FOR LIFE.

So who should get the HLB Fortune Visa credit card?
  • Those who don't have OCBC Titanium MasterCard and/or Maybankard 2 Cards.
  • Those who spend more than RM38K a year using credit cards . If you got the Maybankard 2 Amex and the merchant accept Amex, better you use the Maybankard 2 Amex credit card and get around  2.5% returns in terms of vouchers plus 5% cash rebate on weekends versus the HLB Fortune cash back credit card which will give you less in returns.
  • Those who spend minimum RM8K per year to get the annual fee waived and willing to pay GST.
  • Those who don't need free access to KLIA Plaza Premium Lounge with HLB Fortune Visa.
  • Those who loves to complicate their life with innovative products, hahaha  
Seriously, this Fortune Card is really really complicated and you never really know what is your returns until you take into consideration of the annual bonus. And with minimum spending of RM1000 to even earn a single sen of cash back, this must be the only credit card in Malaysia that don't reward you for using it (if you spent less than RM1K).

If you do spend more than RM38K (excluding petrol and groceries expenses) to qualify for annual bonus, then HLB Fortune Visa credit card may be good for you. But if you can spend RM38K a year, most probably the places you spent your money would also accept AMEX.

If you are currently not a Hong Leong Bank card holder, you do get extra benefits if you are the first 10,000 person to sign up for the Fortune card. Because I presently hold a HLB Platinum MasterCard, the early bird benefits are not applicable to me :(  Click here to read the Terms and Conditions for new Hong Leong Bank cardholders wanting the HLB Fortune Visa credit card. 

I am kind of disappointed that Hong Leong Bank wasted the opportunity to counter Maybankard 2 Cards by launching a product that may even reward the Fortune Cardholder less than their previous Hong Leong Bank Essential Credit Card!  I have been a Hong Leong Bank credit card holder since 1999 and very happy with their customer service  but for the past 2 years they have not been giving me a reason to use their card. There is just not many good promotions (that is guaranteed) with the Hong Leong Bank credit card.

The End. I hope the above information on Hong Leong Bank Fortune Visa Cash Back Credit Card has been useful to you. Thank you for reading.

Below is another Top Secret Message to HLB. Once again if you are not a banker, please do not read it. If you have accidentally wasted your time reading below message intended for HLB Top Exec eyes only, best that you erase what you read from your long term memory for your own good. And if HLB propriety research team comes across this message and uses it to present to HLB bosses, you are to quote your source (yours truly), haha

Below is my free advise to HLB (since they have been generous to me by giving me reward points to offset GST for 3 years and I like their service).

Go launch a new super innovative credit card to be named Three Dragons comprising of your AMEX, Visa and and MasterCard where you can highlight No.8 for your marketing purposes and never associate it with No.4 and the features of the card are as follows:

1. Free For Life - no conditions (a must).
2. GST waiver if spend RM8,888 or RM11,888. This will encourage your customers to use your card.  
3. Cash Back up to 8% - you can cap it at whatever amount you want. Just have the 8% not based on tiers but you can like offer 5% everyday for Petrol, Telco Bills and Groceries, except that on every 8th, 18th and 28th of the Month we get another 3% extra making it to 8%. And no such thing as depositing into savings account, we want our cash back immediately.
4. KLIA Plaza Premium Lounge - start of with one time 3 free annual passes. Reward your customers with passes when they spent a certain sum per annum - i.e. spend RM8,888 one free pass, spend RM18,888 get two free passes, spend RM28,888 get 3 passes, spend RM38,888 annually give him or her unlimited passes. Reward you customers for spending more!
5. Must have the word Platinum on the card, Malaysians kiasu lah, even if you offer a FREE FOR LIFE Gold credit card that offers 10% rebate, most people who not take a second look at it. Also with Platinum printed on the card, then only can enter Garden Premier toilets for free, hahahaha.
6. Free Travel, PA and MEDICAL Insurances when paying for air tickets with your card.
7. Get additional 1.8% discount on HLA insurance premiums ( I don't have any HLA policy but this will definitely increase your customer base where all HLA policy holders will rush to get this card).
8. Upon approval, reward customers RM88 (to be paid 3 months later) if they swipe  minimum 8 times a month for 3 months. Combination of No.8 and No.3 very good. This will encourage your customers to use your card and offset the first year GST. 
9. Last but not least, for existing customers, reward them with RM88 (to offset RM50 GST on existing card  and rewarding RM38) if their Fortune Card application is approved so that the customer don't go cancel his/her existing card and thus defeating  the purpose of wanting to increase customer base. 

If any other banks copy any of my above suggestions to HLB, you have to pay me royalties for my ideas! 

Update July 2012

Click here to read more about MACH by Hong Leong Bank Credit Card

Other Related Posts


  1. some important correction. fortune card cap rm50 cash back per month. Therefore, essential card is better, which came not limit.

    But I force to pay the GST as my cash back hit very high sometime.

  2. Simon, thank you very much for pointing out the maximum cash back is capped at RM50/month for the Fortune. I called HLB to check and was informed that in order to get the 1% cash back, one has to spend RM1K with the card!

    I got to go revise above post. This Fortune card really complicated and innovative. Thanks again.

  3. HLB need to re-launch this card with better & simple benefit like OCBC Titanium if not they will definitely get bad response from public because of these "innovative" cash rebate T&C. To sum up, this HLB "F" card is totally useless, rubbish!

  4. I just come across your post, I was wondering why do you compare/encourage people to use Maybankard 2 American Express card or OCBC Titanium MasterCard if the person can spend RM38,000 pa?

    You should compare with HLB Essential, RM38,000 pa of 1% cash back is equal to RM 3,800.00!!!

    Maybankard 2 American Express card still acceptable as you can earn 5x point (2.5%) but OCBC Titanium MasterCard for a person who can spend at least RM38,000 pa?? It is totally out of scope.

  5. Alvin, hahaha, your Maths is terrible, 1% of RM38,000 is RM380 lah.


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