best ways to spend lifesg credits

Best Ways To Spend Your LifeSG Credits (Updated With Cash Option)

NS turns 55 in 2022 and they are giving out NS55 Recognition Packages to NSFs and NSmen that give us S$100 in LifeSG credits and 1 year of free SAFRA or HomeTeamNS membership. The credits are given to reward NS men for their contribution to the country. Of course, cash is best but credits are the next best thing. These LifeSG credits are like cash with some limitations. Here are some trivia about the credits and the best ways, in my opinion, to use these credits.

Sources Of LifeSG Credits

In total, there are four avenues where we can get LifeSG credits.

NS55 Recognition Package

As mentioned in the introduction, the NS55 Recognition Package is given in celebration of 55 years of National Service. There will also be other events like the NS55 Showcase and the NS55 Interactive Trail to celebrate the occasion. In addition to the credits given, we will also get 1-year free membership for SAFRA or HomeTeamNS.

LifeSG Credits Given: S$100 in LifeSG credits

NS Excellence Award

Every year, NSmen who perform well are given the NS Excellence Award. Here are the eligible groups that will receive this specific award.

Eligible Groups LifeSG Credits
National Day Award S$200
SAF NSmen of the Year Award S$200
Formation NSmen of the Year Award S$200
Top 10% of ICT and Training Courses S$200
Next 20% of ICT and Training Courses S$100

Most of us will never touch the first 3 awards. The last 2 awards are the ones that we should be looking at. If we are the top 30% performers during our reservice or training, we will be able to qualify for the NS Excellence Award.

LifeSG Credits Given: S$100 – S$200 in LifeSG credits

NS HOME Milestones Awards

This award is given to reward NSmen at various stages of their National Service. Under this award, there are 3 milestones.

1st Milestone Complete full-time NS
2nd Milestone 3 High Key ICTs or

5 years of ICTs of which 2 of them are High Key, whichever is earlier

3rd Milestone Complete reservice

10 years of ICT of which 7 of them are High Key

When we complete each of the milestones, we will be given rewards. If you are a commander, you will get S$500 more for each milestone.

1st Milestone
Commanders (3SG and above) S$3,500 into PSEA

S$2,000 into CPF MA

S$1,000 LifeSG Credits

Non-Commanders S$3,000 into PSEA

S$2,000 into CPF MA

S$1,000 LifeSG Credits

2nd Milestone
Commanders (3SG and above) S$3,500 into CPF OA

S$2,000 into CPF MA

S$500 LifeSG Credits

Non-Commanders S$3,000 into CPF OA

S$2,000 into CPF MA

S$500 LifeSG Credits

3rd Milestone
Commanders (3SG and above) S$3,500 into CPF OA

S$2,000 into CPF MA

S$500 LifeSG Credits

Non-Commanders S$3,000 into CPF OA

S$2,000 into CPF MA

S$500 LifeSG Credits

The LifeSG credits portion is a new implementation. Not all of us will qualify for all the milestones.

NSmen who meet their 2nd and 3rd milestones on/after 1 Apr 2022 will receive the additional $500 LifeSG credits. NSFs who enlist on or after 1 Nov 2019 will receive the additional $1,000 Life credits when they ORD.

LifeSG Credits Given: S$500 – S$1,000 in LifeSG credits for each milestone

Celebratory Gifts For NSmen

After NS milestones, we have life’s milestones. When NSmen reach certain milestones in their lives, we will also get S$100 of LifeSG credits at each personal milestone.

The three personal milestones are as follows

  • Marriage
  • Birth of newborn
  • Adoption

One must also fulfil the following criteria

  • Attend at least one NS activity in the last 3 financial years (April to March)
  • Not getting an ‘E’ grading for reservice in the last 3 financial years
  • Haven’t MR
  • Have not committed serious civil or military offences

LifeSG Credits Given: S$100 in LifeSG credits for each milestone

Where Can I Spend LifeSG Credits?

LifeSG credits have to be spent using the LifeSG app via the “Scan QR code to pay” function.

SGQR QR payment example

Source: MAS

The LifeSG credits can be spent at places that accept NETS QR or PayNow UEN QR. We will need to look out for the two corresponding logos on the SGQR payment sign (located at the cashier) as seen above. There is a merchant list provided here but it is not exhaustive. Most retailers that accept digital payments should be eligible.

There are some exceptions though. The general rule is that they don’t want us to convert the credits into cash. It was possible to convert them into cash indirectly (top-up Dash/SingLife then withdraw) when the credits were first implemented but it was “patched”. For more details, see here.

The credits have expiry dates so you should take note of them and finish using the LifeSG credits before they expire. If you have less than S$5 of LifeSG credits left and you have nowhere else to spend it, you will be able to transfer it to your NRIC-linked PayNow bank account.

Treat LifeSG Credits As Cash

The average human is irrational so we would spend the “free credits” on stuff outside our everyday purchase habits, on items we are usually reluctant (舍不得) to spend on. Examples include staycations, fine dining, consumer electronics and “atas” groceries.

Similar to other vouchers and credits, we should treat them as cash. We should not use our credits on discretionary spending just because we didn’t “earn” the credits via work. The credits are just a cash equivalent with some limitations on how we can use them.

A tip is to use the LifeSG credits on essential items and use cash on discretionary items. If you don’t want to spend on that item using cash, you shouldn’t spend it using credits or vouchers either because S$1 in cash has the same purchasing power as S$1 in credits.

Best Places To Spend Your LifeSG Credits

When the credits were first released, there was a loophole to allow users to convert the credits into cash but it has since been plugged.

Update on 7/7/2022: I confirmed that cash withdrawal is possible at Sheng Siong.

Although we can’t convert them into cash, we can use them as cash equivalents with limitations. Here are the places we can spend our LifeSG credits.

Cash Option (Tested on 7/7/2022)

sheng siong paynow withdrawal

Source: Sheng Siong

I am not sure how long this loophole will last but I did some testing and I managed to withdraw LifeSG Credits from the $TM machine at Sheng Siong.

sheng siong atm machines

Source: Sheng Siong

These machines are green in colour and can be found inside Sheng Siong outlets. They are used to recycle the notes collected by the outlets and to provide a service to customers.

We have to select the PayNow option, the quantum and then scan the QR code using the LifeSG app.

We can withdraw up to S$1,000 from the machine per transaction but we will need to pay S$0.20 per transaction. This means that we will not be able to clear out the entire LifeSG balance because of this S$0.20. The minimum denomination is S$10.

LifeSG Credits S$100
Processing Fee S$0.20
Withdrawal Amount S$90
Balance S$9.80

If you really need or want cash, this is the best option. If I did not need to do any testing, I would not choose this option because of the processing fee. I was planning to top up my mother’s CPF anyway and a direct top-up wouldn’t incur any fees.

For the balances leftover, you will need to spend them and I recommend the avenues below. If you have less than S$5 left, you will be able to transfer it to your NRIC-linked PayNow bank account.

Top-up CPF

cpf retirement savings

Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash 

We can top up our own CPF using the LifeSG credits. The earlier we top up our CPF, the longer the time it has the chance to grow exponentially. For every dollar we top up, it will increase by 28% for OA and 48% for SA, RA and MA every 10 years.

If our loved ones qualify for the Matched Retirement Savings Scheme, we will also be able to make use of this scheme to help them grow their CPF. For the 5 years starting from 2021, the government will match dollar for dollar when we top up our RA for those who are eligible for this scheme. You can check your eligibility here. This is essentially free money from the government. To put it crudely, these amounts might also be part of the bequest when our loved ones pass away. When we choose to top up our SA, RA or MA or our senior loved ones’ CPF, we will also be able to enjoy tax relief.

Pay Taxes

tax return typewriter

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash 

If we are gainfully employed, we can also make use of the LifeSG credits to pay our income taxes. We will also be able to pay for our property taxes if we own property.

According to IRAS, most of us pay our taxes using GIRO, in which we have the option of paying yearly or splitting our taxes into 12 monthly payments. I have checked with IRAS and paying a lumpsum using PayNow will not affect GIRO our payment plans.

Scenario 1

Tax Payable – S$1,000

LifeSG credits used – S$800

The balance of S$200 of tax payable will be deducted via GIRO.

Scenario 2

Tax Payable – S$1,000

Monthly Payments – S$83.33 x 12

LifeSG credits used – S$1,000

There won’t be any tax payable for the year. The GIRO plan will continue next year if there is any tax payable.

Scenario 3

Tax Payable – S$1,000

Monthly Payments – S$83.33 x 12

LifeSG credits used – S$800

The first 9.6 months of taxes are knocked off by the LifeSG credits. The last 4 payments will start on the 10th month (S$33.30, S$83.33, S$83.37).

If you do not use GIRO, the scenarios will still apply and any remainder will need to be paid via available payment modes.

Buy Groceries

grocery store

Photo by Franki Chamaki on Unsplash 

Buying groceries is a purchase that all families have to make. We will be able to use our LifeSG credits at various retail outlets, both online and offline. Examples would include

  • FairPrice
  • Giant
  • Sheng Siong
  • RedMart
  • Shopee Supermarket
  • Kim Mart

Remember not to spend on items that you will never even think of buying when using cash. Examples would include buying kettlebell chips when you don’t even normally buy Jack ‘n’ Jill chips in the first place or buying a piece of expensive steak when you usually only eat chicken, pork and fish at home.

I’m not saying it is not ok to indulge ourselves. Use cash instead of credits and vouchers on discretionary spending as we will feel more “pain” when spending cash, resulting in more prudent spending.

#SupportLocal Hawkers

Preparing our own food is the most economical choice. However, when we are lazy or have to eat out, hawker centres and coffee shops are our best choice. Many of our hawkers are now accepting digital payments, thanks to the Hawkers Go Digital initiative by SG Digital Office under IMDA. We will be able to directly support our hawkers by buying from them. By supporting our hawkers, we can help ensure our unique hawker culture never dies. If we don’t support them, we might not be able to enjoy our favourite chicken rice or bar chor mee in the future.

Make Donations

We can also make use of our LifeSG credits to make donations to our favourite charities. Before making a donation, if they are registered as a charity, we will be able to look at their numbers on the Charity Portal to make sure that their funds are used properly. If you are having difficulty looking for a charity to donate to, you can take a look at Giving.sg. It allows us to filter by the various causes and whether they are IPC registered. If they are IPC registered, we will be able to get a 250% tax relief on the donations made.

A tip I have is to go direct to the charity’s website to check if they have a direct donation link instead of going through Giving.sg. We can use Giving.sg and Google to search for the charity we want to support but if possible, we will donate directly instead of going through any third parties. Charities are charged a processing fee if the money flows through Giving.sg to pay for charges like bank fees and maintenance of the site.

TL, DR

Many of us will be receiving LifeSG credits soon. We can spend them at locations that accept NETS QR or PayNow UEN QR. Remember to spend the credits on essential items. For discretionary items, use cash instead to spend more prudently as we will more pain by spending cash as compared to credits.

Do share if you have any other good ways of spending the LifeSG credits.

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