[Merchantrade Card]: 2 Benefits if You Don’t Travel at All

I’ve covered how you can use the Merchantrade card for oversea spending.

But what if you don’t travel overseas much or at all? Is the Merchantrade card still useful if used just within Malaysia? I’d say yes, it’s perfect for your online shopping & subscriptions in foreign currencies.

Let’s see what I’m on about:

Not All Malaysians Travel Abroad

Every review of the Merchantrade card is talking about how you can save money when you use it to spend abroad.

The last time I went to Phuket, I was able to shop like a local and save on international banking fees.

But according to some forum discussions, not everyone travels abroad, and some who applied for the card end up canceling it after a few months:

I used to travel a lot when I had a stable job. But now that I run my own business, I don’t have the time, money, nor peace of mind to leave my business to travel overseas.

I too was just about to cancel my Merchantrade Card if I don’t travel much and it does have an annual RM8 fee:

Recently, I buy a lot of stuff online from the US, and most of the time, it’s charged in USD.

But what’s the big deal you might ask? I can just use my credit card. It’s easier.

Well, that’s true. But you’ll pay more in foreign exchange rates from your bank.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who buys stuff online from abroad in a foreign currency, so here’s how you can save money from your online purchases:

Merchantrade Card for Online Purchases

From time to time, you’ll want to invest in yourself with online courses.

It could be an online Copywriting course from your favorite writer,

Or a Guitar lessons from your favorite YouTuber, or being the first one to get your hands on a book from your favorite Digital Marketer.

I’ll give you an example. Last June of 2019, I purchased an online Digital Marketing course at USD 449 from some guy in the US.

A quick Google exchange rate: 1 USD to MYR 4.14 shows that it should cost me the equivalent of around MYR 1,858 at the time:

Unfortunately, the guy selling the course only accepts PayPal. I linked my Credit Card with PayPal and made the purchase anyways:

I know that my PayPal’s exchange rate is horrible, but I wasn’t expecting it to be too far off from MYR 1,858.

I know the drill, PayPal takes a cut, and on top of that, my bank takes a cut too.

At the end of the month, here’s my credit card statement:

So I can estimate that my total charges for purchasing a USD product with PayPal and my Credit Card to be:

MYR 1,910 – MYR 1,858 = MYR 52.

Or roughly a 2.8% fee.

Now this might not seem like much, but to me, RM52 is equivalent to:

  • My monthly Netflix subscription
  • Or my monthly unlimited ebook Scribd.com subscription
  • Or a lovely brunch date for two during the weekends

Also, I don’t like the fact that banks are not transparent. I didn’t know how much I am paying in MYR before I made the purchase.

If I were to charge this purchase on my Merchantrade Card, I would’ve known exactly at that point of time how much in MYR is my purchase:

Bam! Right there

Note that the screenshot above was in 2020. The exchange rate when I paid for the course was lower.

Theoretically, I would’ve paid even less than what you see in the screenshot above.

Pretty great, right? Much better rates than what you would’ve gotten from your traditional credit card.

It might not sound like much, but considering I buy a lot of stuff online, the savings add up over time.

Here are some other examples of online USD purchases that I made and think some Malaysian Millenials do too:

Website WordPress Themes

Let’s say you have a blog or website and in the market to buy a premium WordPress theme. Chances are, you’ll look for a WordPress theme upgrade on Themeforest.

I am helping a friend out who has a car rental business to build him a professional-looking website, and I am charged in USD.

How much should I charge my friend? Do I need to wait for my Credit Card Statement? Of course, not, that’s why the Merchantrade card is awesome for Freelancers servicing to immediately know how much to charge their clients:

US-Based Web Hosting

Let’s say you are planning to build a Drop Shipping website and target American consumers. So you want to get a US-based web hosting like Blue Host. They also charge you in USD:

How much am I being charged for USD 5.45? Pay with your Merchantrade Card to know instantly:

Merchantrade Card for Online US Subscriptions

We all have online subscriptions: Netflix, Spotify, WordPress hosting, software, ebook, and magazines, to name a few.

Some of the big companies like Spotify and Netflix have grown such presence that they accept local payments. For example, Netflix and Spotify are charging a flat MYR rate each month:

Same thing with Spotify, they’re charging you a flat MYR fee each month:

If a subscription is charging you in MYR, then you can use whatever Malaysian card you have as it’s already in the same currency.

But I have several subscriptions that are charged in USD. So every month, my bank will charge and markup whatever the exchange rate for that day is.

Now let’s take a look at how I saved money on my online subscriptions with the Merchantrade Card:

LinkedIn Premium Membership

LinkedIn is growing in popularity to network on a professional level. Some people might find it worthwhile to pay for the premium membership:

  • If you’re a job seeker and want analytical insights to see how you stack up compared to other applicants.
  • If you’re a business owner and need to contact people who are not in your immediate network.
  • Or if you are recruiting and need to reach out to the right candidates.

If you think you can benefit from becoming a LinkedIn premium member, you’ll be charged in USD:

Gotta pay to play, check out how much you’re being charged:

Medium.com Subscription

I love reading well-written blogs. They offer a more personal and entertaining point of view than traditional articles, magazines, or news. 

If you think about it, it’s tough to come across a blog that is well written and engaging. But once you do stumble across one, oh boy, you’re a fan for life.

But where do you find these well-written blogs?

Medium.com is one of those places. Here, writers and bloggers submit their work. The algorithm will sort out blogs by topics and popularity and promotes good content to you.

Great! I get the best blog content out there served straight on my dashboard. But of course, this costs USD 5 a month for unlimited reading.

I really wanted to save money and paid for the yearly subscription of USD 50 a year (USD 4.2 a month equivalent).

I used my Merchantrade Card to pay the USD 50, knowing exactly how much it’s going to cost me upfront:

Amazon Prime

An alternative to Netflix. Because lately, I find the selection boring. At USD 5.99 a month, it’s cheaper than Netflix. Here’s how much it’ll cost you:

Wrapping Things Up

I’ve given so many examples and shopping ideas. I hope this has been useful to show that the Merchantrade Card is not just for people traveling overseas.

Let me know in the comments if you know any other shopping hacks with the Merchantrade card to save money.

Helmi Hasan

Hi, I'm Helmi Hasan, the founder, and writer for the personal finance blog, Balkoni Hijau. Read more in the 'About Me' page or follow me on Twitter.

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