Tag Archives: ocbc

The problem with Mothership’s OCBC sponsored post (updated)

(EDIT 3 May: OCBC has reached out to me and let me know that they’re updating their existing webpages to bring them in line with the new transparency campaign. In the screenshot below, you can see that the presence of the annual 120,000 OCBC$ cap has been added. I still think proper disclosure of sponsored posts is a big issue, however, but I acknowledge this has more to do with Mothership than OCBC)

Seasoned readers will know that I’ve always had a general discomfort about monetizing this website. The costs of operation are really minimal, I’m not relying on the site for income, and at the end of the day if I save one person from using cashback cards I’ll know I’ve done my job.

Besides, when you’re running a site which explicit purpose is to compare credit cards, highlight T&Cs that banks may not necessarily want you to be aware of and call out anyone (airlines, banks, OTAs, online dating platforms) for BS, it generally helps if you’re not relying on said entities for financial remuneration.

But at the same time I think it’s good to be open to areas where genuine collaboration can lead to real benefits for readers (eg promotional sign up codes, giveaways). So I’ve reached what I think is a partial resolution by opening up the Milelion to partnerships, but pledging whatever money is raised to our sponsored charity.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with this conundrum, and there is no right way of resolving this. But there is a wrong way, and that’s what Mothership has done with this poorly disclosed sponsored post for OCBC.

The Mothership Article

This post (dated 14 April) caught my eye, because whenever I’m researching a newly-launched credit card, I have to be hypervigilant to the T&C.  A small misreading of terms could turn a 10X earning opportunity into a 1X, or make what a decent-sounding sign up bonus into a meh one  (like I’ve called out UOB many times for). So I clicked on it and started reading.

Now, the best practice with any sponsored post is to disclose sponsorship upfront. This allows the reader to decide for themselves whether or not they want to continue reading. Indeed, you’ll see that that’s what I’ve done with the sponsored posts I’ve written so far.

What is not best practice is to have a post that only discloses sponsorship at the very end. When you’re already done reading it. Which is what Mothership has done here, at the bottom of the article.

Granted, Mothership is hardly the most egregious of offenders when it comes to disclosure. I’ve seen much worse. But if you’re writing a post that’s ostensibly about straightening up and flying right, does it really make sense to put a material disclosure like this all the way at the end?

I think what grinds me a bit more about this is that the general tone of the article is a very haha look at us poking fun at the banks haven’t we all been there guys haha you know what we’re talking about right until you get roughly 3/4 down and we have the “but seriously folks” moment-

That said, this new ad by OCBC promises to cut the BS out of their ads

I don’t know what Mothership’s disclosure policy is regarding sponsored posts, but I want to state for the record that placement of disclosure notices is just as important as presence. 

And that brings me to my second point.

OCBC’s commitment to transparency ad campaign

OCBC wants to take the BS out of advertising. To that end, they’ve launched a series of full page ads and media buys (you can see all the ads here) promoting their new transparency policy. And that’s great. I want transparency. You want transparency. The people shooting each other with waterguns at Songkran now want transparency (of another sort). But as they like to say in politics, the rhetoric needs to match the record. So what has OCBC’s record been like here?

Take the homepage for OCBC’s recently relaunched Titanium Rewards card, for example. I wrote a brief article when this card was rejigged because I think it’s a genuinely good opportunity to maximise 4mpd opportunities on your spending.

The problem is, this webpage leads with the 10X rewards on online and offline shopping. It gives examples of what categories of spending get you 10X

It talks about a few exclusive offers for cardholders (which, by the way, aren’t really exclusive in the sense that the one on the left is available to anyone with a Mastercard and the one on the right is open to World Mastercard holders)

At the bottom it lays out eligibility + fees & charges for the card in a relatively straightforward manner.

But nowhere on the page does it talk about the cap on 10X rewards earning. Which, to me, is a pretty crucial part of the picture.

To learn about that, you’d have to click on this single line link at the bottom of the page (I’ve added the box in red)

Which links you to a 2 page T&C document, where down in paragraph (d) you’ll find this

Reading this tells you that the maximum bonus OCBC$ you can earn each card anniversary year is 120,000, meaning that the maximum spending you can earn 4 mpd on is $12,000. Don’t you think that’s important enough to mention front and centre?

Now, let me emphasise- this isn’t a problem for me, because by this point in time I’ve had enough experience in the credit card game to be suspicious of any offer until I’ve gone through the T&C multiple times. I’ve accepted that as part and parcel of any deal.

But OCBC’s ad campaign isn’t targeted at people like me who have the time (no girlfriend) to read this sort of thing and don’t really care. It’s targeted at the 80% of people who hate reading fine print. And what they’re trying to do is hold themselves out as a company which is going to rise above this and deliver clear cut messages without hidden restrictions.

You could point out that other banks with 10X rewards cards (Citibank Rewards, UOB PPV etc) also have similar caps and disclose them in similar ways (i.e. hidden in the T&C ). And you’d be right. But if you want to position yourself as the bank who doesn’t do that kind of thing then, well, you can’t do that kind of thing.

I think OCBC’s ad agency has preempted such criticism by including the line “that we’ve also been guilty of in the past” as a sort of catch-all in case anyone goes digging trying to nitpick (no girlfriend). A sort of- yeah, we did that before, but y’know, that’s the old us.

And if that’s true, fair enough. I’m all for Damascene conversions. Let’s see what happens in OCBC’s advertising and card promotions in the months to come. But OCBC has generally had a difficult track record of communicating things clearly to customers (go look at the series of changes to the 360 account over the years and the confusion it always results in. Or this limited time CNY promotion offering 6mpd on the Titanium Rewards card that ended up being targeted, but the T&C didn’t say anything about that).

I still think UOB takes the cake for promotions that aren’t really promotions, but it’s clear that all the banks have a lot of work ahead of them if they want to be truly transparent.


(1) sponsored posts need proper disclosure
(2) glass houses in throw stones people shouldn’t

OCBC limited time 6mpd on Titanium Rewards Card for CNY (Edit: Targeted)

EDIT: This appears to be a targeted promotion

OCBC recently relaunched its Titanium Rewards card, which awards 10X points (4mpd) on online and offline spend on clothes, shoes, bags, department stores, electronics, personal care and baby/children’s wear.

Although OCBC lacks a good general spending card, it may still be worthwhile getting the Titanium Rewards card assuming you intend to spend a good deal of money on the aforementioned categories (and can’t get a HSBC Advance for your online spending). One big advantage the Titanium Rewards card has over similar positioned cards like the DBS Woman’s World Card is that DBS points expire after 1 year whereas OCBC$ are valid for 2 years.

For the CNY period, OCBC is running a 15X point promotion on the Titanium Rewards card. 

This earns you the equivalent of 6mpd on

  • MCC 5311: Department Stores
  • MCC 5611: Men’s and Boys’ Clothing and Accessories Stores
  • MCC 5621: Women’s Ready to Wear Stores
  • MCC 5631: Women’s Accessory and Speciality Stores
  • MCC 5641: Children’s and Infants’ Wear Stores
  • MCC 5651: Family Clothing Stores
  • MCC 5661: Shoe Stores
  • MCC 5691: Men’s and Women’s Clothing Stores
  • MCC 5045: Computers, Peripherals, and Software
  • MCC 5732: Electronics Stores
  • MCC 5699: Miscellaneous Apparel and Accessory Shops

The promotion is valid on spend from Jan 24 to Feb 15 2017. You can read the T&C here.  There is a cap on the bonus earned, however- you will earn the additional 5X up to 10,000 OCBC$, which means you max out this bonus with $2,000 of spending (spending from the $2,001 dollar onwards gets 10X points, or 4mpd, up to a maximum of $12,000 per cardmember year)

Remember that your mobile payments with Samsung Pay, Apple Pay and Android Pay qualify for the 15X (and 10X regularly) bonus with OCBC.

What credit cards should you use for Black Friday shopping?

Black Friday is here again as Americans try to  ease the pain of too much turkey and the vagaries of the electoral college system by spending their way into a debt-fueled oblivion!

I’m not going to list any great deals here because I’m sure you’re all more than capable of sniffing them out yourselves (plus there are tons of websites dedicated just to ferreting out the best of the best offers).

Instead, I’m going to do a refresher on what options you have when deciding which credit card to put your Black Friday shopping on.

can you believe there is no online resource image of the OCBC Titanium Rewards card that doesn’t have it angled funny like this? Come on guys.

The following cards all give a bonus (4 miles per $1 to be precise) on online spending.

You might want to have a look at this crowdsourced Google Docs form to see whether the specific merchant you have in mind qualifies as “online” (because, unbelievably, sometimes even merchants you swear must be online like Taobao don’t end up qualifying as online because they manually process transactions on their backend), but safe to say that your usual Amazon, Zalora etc e-commerce sites will be a sure bet for 10X.

HSBC Advance Card

Image result for hsbc advance

Ah, my one stop card for all things online. If you don’t mind going through the (15 minutes really) somewhat hasslesome process of getting a card, the HSBC Advance will be your best friend (until possibly the 31st of December this year when the 10X promotion is due to expire- it’s been renewed in the past so watch this space).

You’ll get 10X points (4 miles per $1) on all your online spending. No caps, no exceptions (well, except for EZ link top ups, but that’s not a typical Black Friday purchase).

For me personally my goal is to max out everything I can from the HSBC Advance until the end of the year, then re-evaluate my strategy based on what HSBC decides to do with the 10X program.

Citibank Rewards Card

Image result for citibank rewards

Assuming you haven’t already busted your $12,000 annual bonus limit (applied per card, mind you, so if you have both the Mastercard and the Visa version then your bonus is capped on $24,000 of spending) on bill payments, then this is another potential option for you.

Citibank was previously running a promotion that offered an amazing 8 miles per dollar with Amazon. At the time, I said that if you didn’t have any item in mind or simply wanted to hold out for Black Friday, you could buy a giftcard to front load your miles. Hope someone listened to that!

EDIT: I was just reminded that Citibank has extended the Amazon promotion till year end. 8 miles per $1 is hard to beat so if your Black Friday plans include Amazon then I can’t recommend any other card than this

Another great point about the Citibank Rewards card is that your points are valid for 5 years, so you can accumulate a good-sized haul before transferring.

OCBC Titanium Rewards

Image result for ocbc titanium rewards

OCBC recently relaunched their Titanium card as the Titanium Rewards card, offering 10X on online and offline shopping.

Unfortunately since this card is the newest of the lot we don’t have a lot of data points on how OCBC is interpreting the above categories

What we do know from the T&C is that you will earn 10X at the following merchants

  • MCC 5611: Men’s and Boys’ Clothing and Accessories Stores
  • MCC 5621: Women’s Ready to Wear Stores
  • MCC 5631: Women’s Accessory and Speciality Stores
  • MCC 5641: Children’s and Infants’ Wear Stores
  • MCC 5651: Family Clothing Stores
  • MCC 5661: Shoe Stores
  • MCC 5691: Men’s and Women’s Clothing Stores
  • MCC 5732: Electronics Stores
  • MCC 5699: Miscellaneous Apparel and Accessory Shops
  • MCC 5311: Department Stores

The maximum bonus points you can earn in a year is capped on $12,000 of spending (48,000 miles) and OCBC points are valid for 2 years.

DBS Woman’s World Card

Image result for dbs woman's world card
I find it funny that the default card image for the DBS Woman’s card has a man’s name on it

Despite its $2,000 monthly cap on 10X, the DBS Woman’s World Card is still a solid choice if you’re not intending to bust the bank on Black Friday.

DBS has an ongoing promotion for sign ups for the Woman’s Card where you can get $160 in cashback if you spend a minimum of $500 on the card within the first month from approval date. The $160 applies if you’re completely new to DBS cards. If you already own a DBS card you get $100. Still not a bad deal, I think, and no time to hit that $500 minimum spending like Black Friday.

What I dislike about the Woman’s World Card is that DBS Points are only valid for 1 year.

UOB Preferred Platinum Visa

Image result for uob preferred platinum visa

I’ve been historically cold towards the UOB PP Visa because it’s generally a lot stricter in its interpretation of what counts as online spending (at least, as compared to the DBS Woman’s World Card). But if you’re going down the usual e-commerce route of Amazon et al, I think it’s quite a safe call to use this card.

Now, the T&C of the UOB PP Visa say this-

The 10X UNI$ for online and Visa payWave transactions is capped at UNI$24,000 for both categories per calendar year. After which, 1X UNI$ will be awarded for every $5 spent.

I’ve read 2 interpretations of this- one school of thought says that the cap is really $13,300 because it is the 9X bonus points that are capped at 24,000 UNI$ a year. Others say that no, it’s similar to the Citibank Rewards card in that the cap on total points is 24,000 UNI$ meaning that you can spend a maximum of $12,000. Frankly. I don’t know what the right answer is, and I’ve never got close enough to the limit to find out.

UOB UNI$ are valid for 2 years.


The cards are ranked in no particular order of merit because the best card for you to use really depends on your current situation. If you’re already accumulating with DBS Altitude for your general spend you might gravitate towards the DBS Woman’s World Card. If you’re a UOB PRVI cardholder, you might go with the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa etc etc.

And finally- Black Friday.

Get it?