Today, almost every store and service is providing some sort of loyalty programme or reward card – from Watsons to H&M to Singapore Airlines and even your local bubble tea shop (get 10 “chops” to exchange for 1 free drink type of rewards).  There have been several occasions when I was doing spring cleaning of my drawer and only to discover that I had forgotten about 2-3 reward cards and their points/rewards had all expired.

The only way to remember about all these reward points is to carry their cards in my wallet – it is already a huge challenge fitting just my ez-Link card, namecards, credit cards and cash in my wallet and to try to squeeze in my various reward cards just does not make sense.

This is where I thought the concept of Giift.com makes sense – a digital wallet to manage all my loyalty programmes and gift cards.  Signing up for Giift.com services is simple – just sign up with your facebook or google+ account and you are in – no long and annoying forms to fill.

giift-voucher-management

Setting up your portfolio of gift cards and loyalty programmes is also easy – for example, setting up my Singapore Airline Krisflyer miles programme is just 2 steps:

-          Select your mileage programme from the basket of loyalty programmes (just search the name “Krisflyer”) and add it to your portfolio

-          In your portfolio, enter your Krisflyer ID and password and it pulls the data from Singapore Airlines automatically e.g. number of Krisflyer points and your current status (e.g. Elite Gold) and when the status will expire

The loyalty programmes and reward cards you can choose from in the Giift.com list is quite extensive – covering the most popular loyalty programmes e.g. Watsons, Krisflyer, Popular, Passion Card.  Giift.com currently tracks more than 500 programs and cards worldwide, so it should encompass many if not most of those we regularly use.

voucher-singapore-giift-gift-card

Just to manage expectations – the automatic tracking of points works only for some programmes.  As there are so many different loyalty programmes and different companies use different systems to manage their own programmes, Giift.com can only do automatic tracking of points for a handful of companies.  For example, your Watsons Card membership cannot be tracked automatically – you are given the option to input your points manually.

Besides being a digital wallet for your loyalty programmes. Giift.com is also a social platform where you can connect with friends and exchange unused loyalty or reward points with them. You can even get paid simply by recruiting your friends to register.

You can also find the best deals in town with Giift.com – for example, when I inputted my Krisflyer membership, the sidebar shows me the destination I can fly to for 12,000 Krisflyer miles.  Similarly for IKEA points and other loyalty programmes available in Giift.com.

There are also options for you to convert points from one loyalty programmes into another loyalty programmes e.g. you can do so with Hilton points.  Do note that not all loyalty programmes allow for exchanging of points for cash or one company’s points for another company’s points.

Furthermore, a lot of Singaporean retailers use Giift.com to create their own eGift Cards and Loyalty Programs e.g. Lawry’s Steak House does that.  That means ease of tracking of such restaurants and services’ loyalty points via Giift.com too.

The concept of Giift.com is a good idea – tracking all my rewards online in a one-stop portal sure saves me the heartbreak of rummaging through my drawers only to find an expired gift card.

Check out Giift.com’s video which will give you a good idea of what they offer:

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Seoul is a shopping paradise for all kinds of things e.g. skincare products, cosmetics, fashionable clothes, shoes – yup all the things you see the actresses and actors wear and carry in those Korean drama – Seoul is the place to get them all.  So many things to buy and so many places to see in Seoul but where exactly to find them all – I will share with you top 4 shopping areas in Seoul in this blog post.  If you need help planning your Seoul itinerary, you can download our Seoul 5D4N itinerary and 4D3N Jeju self-drive itinerary for reference. :-)

Let’s start with Myeongdong…

The “Orchard Road” of Seoul – Myeongdong: Buy Your Skincare/Cosmetics Product Only At Myeongdong

The number one thing that my friends ask me to buy when I told them I am going to Seoul for holiday is Skinfood, Missha, Nature Republic etc. – all the skincare products that they are using.  You can buy these skincare products in Seoul for 30% to 50% of what you are paying in Singapore and there are also some products that you can only find in Seoul – the secret to why those Korean actresses/models look so beautiful (besides the use of plastic surgery of course :-))

myeongdong-shopping-cosmetics-skincare

It is impossible to miss out any of these skincare product shops in Myeongdong because there are just so many of them – not just in terms of variety (some of them sound very similar e.g. Skinfood, It’s Skin) but there are so much duplication of shops of the same brand within Myeongdong – you can walk a few steps and you will reach another branch of Etude House just a few metres away from another branch.

A quick look at the Myeongdong map below will reveal that there are many many branches of Skinfood, It’s Skin, Etude House, Nature Republic, Tony Moly.  We stayed at J Hill hotel (marked by “H” along the MyeongDong Ro. (St.) around where Myeongdong Gyoza (marked by 16) is located.  If you are catching a Cookin’ NANTA performance in Myeongdong Seoul, the NANTA Theatre is marked by 12.

myeongdong-shopping-map

Do not buy your skincare products anywhere else in Seoul or in fact Korea – if you have to buy cosmetic/skincare products, buy them all here in Myeongdong.  Because you get free samples when you buy at any of the Tony Moly, Missha, The Face Shop here in Myeongdong and they are very generous with them – in fact for some shops, you get a free facial mask from the point you enter the door!  You won’t be alone in your quest to gather up all your facial masks, powder and everything that you need to make yourself beautiful – the shops are usually very crowded and expect long queues to buy your cosmetic products especially over weekends during late afternoons/early evenings.

Just another map to illustrate how many skincare/cosmetic product shops are there in Myeongdong – just look at the right sidebar.

myeongdong-seoul-shopping-map-skincare

Besides buy 50 facial masks get 50 free facial masks deal and the tonnes of free samples they stuff into your shopping bag upon purchase, you can enjoy more savings while shopping in Myeongdong by printing out the Visit Korea Committee vouchers which gives you discounts off purchases above a certain amount.

myeongdong-facial-products-shopping

Ok – I believe you got my point to buy skincare products in Myeongdong but interestingly, Myeongdong is not just about skincare products – there are many other shops selling fashionable clothes, belts, watches, ties, T-shirts and shoes at the makeshift street stalls as well as in shopping malls in the area.

Here at Myeongdong you will also find big-name stores like Spanish fashion chain, ZARA and Forever 21.  Migliore, easily accessible via Exit 4, Myeong-dong Subway Station, is a starting point to shop for many tourists coming out of the subway station.

If you are buying things that cost more than 30,000 won at a shop where you are eligible for tax refund, request for a tax rebate form – you will typically be given a blue or orange colour form.  Fill it up and submit for tax refund in cash at one of the tax refund outlets here in Myeongdong or at the Incheon airport if you depart back to Singapore.  All skincare/cosmetic/beauty products outlet are eligible for tax refund and it is quite easy to chalk up more than 30,000 won (about 30 USD) with your purchases!

There are also many street food stalls serving traditional Korea delicacies such as fish cakes, tteokbokki (a stir-fried dish made of rice cakes with vegetables in hot sauce) as well as new food inventions like the potato tornado!  So if you don’t have time for a proper sit-down dinner/lunch, just grab some food on the go, shop through a few shops/street stalls and then grab something else from the next food stall and continue on!

myeongdong-night-shopping-seoul-food

We bought a lot with just about a day of shopping in Myeongdong – this picture below shows the free samples we received (excluding our purchased items)!  So don’t forget – print out your VKC discount coupons (read more abt it in our pre-trip prep post) and claim your tax refunds for all these purchases – that way, you get even more money to shop for other stuff in Seoul especially when you have 3 more awesome shopping places to check out – see below for more info!

free-samples-myeongdong-shopping-skincare

Non-Stop Shopping at Dongdaemun – Opening Hours: 10am to 5am!! This is not a typo – most Dongdaemun shops close at 5am.

Shopping is taken to the extremes here in Seoul – from the thousands of beauty product shops in Myeongdong to the wee hour shopping here at Dongdaemun!  Dongdaemun is Korea’s largest wholesale and retail shopping district featuring 26 shopping malls, 30,000 specialty shops, and 50,000 manufacturers. If you look hard enough (and understand a fair bit of Korean), you can find almost anything here from silks and fabric, clothes, shoes and accessories, electronics, leather goods, sporting goods, office supplies, pet products and toys.

dongdaemun-shopping-hours-midnight

Dongdaemun shopping district is made up of 2 main sections – the retail shopping and the wholesale shopping areas.  The best time to visit Dongdaemun is after 10pm when the night markets around Dongdaemun is set-up and you get complementary street food stalls to replenish your energy while you shop.

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cruise

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F1 Grand Prix Singapore Night Race

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Global Blue Tax Refund South Korea

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