Credit Cards Mobile Payments

OCBC calls time early on the Titanium Reward’s 10X mobile payments promotion

4 August is the last day to earn 10X on mobile payments (and personal care).

OCBC announced this morning that it’s pulling the plug early on its 10X (4 mpd) promotion on mobile payments made with the Titanium Rewards card. The promotion was supposed to last until 31 December 2018, but the website was quietly updated late last night to bring forward the last day to 4 August 2018.

Needless to say there’s plenty of sackcloth and ashes in the points chaser community today, because that the Titanium Rewards card was the best way of earning 4 mpd everywhere (especially if you didn’t have Apple Pay).

Given the ubiquity of contactless terminals, the Titanium Rewards card was essentially your gateway to earning 10X at places which would never normally earn bonus points, like supermarkets, car repairs, hospital bills, wedding banquets, haircare packages for the follically challenged… you name it.

See one of these? 10X awaits

First of all, let’s give credit where it’s due. When OCBC first launched the 10X mobile payments promotion in October 2016, the intended end date was 31 December 2016. That later got extended to 31 December 2017, and then 31 December 2018. So in a way, OCBC has already extended this promotion way beyond what we initially hoped for.

On the other hand, no one takes kindly to the unilateral modification of T&Cs after the fact, and in that sense you could argue that OCBC had already made a promise to see this promotion through to 31 December 2018 when it decided in late 2017 to extend it.  There are plenty of cheesed-off people in the Telegram Group this morning, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little bit miffed about the whole situation.

It doesn’t help that OCBC has attempted to take the moral high ground on marketing with its Stay True campaign, which among other things pledges not to engage in misleading advertising. Now to the extent that someone took up the Titanium Rewards card with the understanding that the mobile payments promotion would last till the end of December, I could see how they might feel misled.

Why has OCBC pulled the promotion early?

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The easy answer is to cite economics: the promotion was simply costing OCBC more than expected.  I’m certain that cost was a factor, but I’m not convinced that’s the whole story. After all, OCBC hedged themselves in this promotion by putting a $12,000 yearly cap on the 10X points, which limits the total damage they incur.

So either (A) OCBC was counting on most people not hitting the 10X cap but the sheer growth of merchants accepting mobile payments meant the costs ballooned faster than anticipated, (B) OCBC didn’t anticipate that so many people would sign up for the card or (C) too many people were hitting the $12,000 cap in one large transaction (easy to do if you have Samsung Pay and MST) and then putting the card in the proverbial sock drawer.

Other people may point to the 10X promotions that Citibank Rewards and UOB Preferred Platinum Visa are running- if those banks can make a $12,000 annual cap on 10X work, why can’t OCBC? I don’t find that a particularly persuasive argument, because it overlooks the very basic fact that each bank has a different cost structure, and also says nothing about sign ups or user behavior.

Moreover, the key difference between those promotions and the OCBC one is that the mobile payments promotion rewards a medium of spend (Apple/Google/Samsung Pay), while other 10X campaigns reward a category (online shopping/department stores/bags/shoes/clothes).

Think about it: with the UOB PPV and Citibank Rewards, you’d have people using the card as a one-size-fits-all solution, which brought down the weighted average cost of points for the bank (I can’t tell you how many people I’ve seen paying for lunch, lunch, with a Citibank Rewards card). But the Titanium Rewards, once added it to your mobile wallet, was meant to be a one-size-fits-all solution. That means each and every transaction where you tapped your phone was incurring 10X costs for OCBC (don’t ask me how Citibank is affording the Apple Pay 20X promotion, even industry insiders are at a loss about this). Of course this doesn’t legislate for brain trusts who ended up physically carrying around the Titanium Rewards card and using it for regular swipe transactions (I’m sure there must be some), but you can see how a promotion that rewards a medium of payment is going to run up higher costs than one that just rewards categories. 

The above is just my uneducated guess, and only OCBC knows the reason why they decided to pull it early. Strategic priorities change, KPIs get realigned, who knows. None of this, by the way, is meant to excuse the decision made.  It’s just my attempt to understand it.

What does this mean for you?

Image result for titanium rewards ocbc

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We have about one month between now and August 4. Assuming you’re not already earning 8 mpd with Citibank and Apple Pay, and/or you have a big ticket transaction coming up, I believe it still makes sense to apply for a Titanium Rewards card and try to sneak in that transaction before the deadline.

For example, I still have a wedding banquet deposit to pay off where the hotel (Hyatt) doesn’t take Apple Pay. You can bet that I’m heading down first thing Monday with a Samsung Pay MST-enabled phone (thanks Jon!) to max out the remaining 10X balance on both my and my fiancee’s Titanium Rewards cards, because I’m not about to pass up easy miles.

Those of you with similar big ticket spending coming up should see if there’s any way to bring forward your payment before the 4 August deadline. Obviously if the place accepts Apple Pay you should be looking to use a Citibank Rewards/Citibank Prestige card to earn 8 mpd, but if you don’t have an iPhone or the place doesn’t take contactless payments (use MST) then the OCBC Titanium Rewards still remains your best shot.

I think it’s more pertinent than ever to reiterate the disclosure that I do earn a referral commission for OCBC Titanium Rewards cards applied for through this site. However, now that time is of the essence I’d encourage you to do what you need to get your card approved asap, even if it means bypassing this site and going down to a branch directly to get everything done.

In light of what’s happened some people will object to applying for the card on general principle, and I totally get that. But I can’t think of any other way to earn 4 mpd at so many merchants, especially when you take into account the possibility of MST. I guess my approach to this is to make hay while the sun shines.

Conclusion

I’d have been much less surprised if, say, Citibank decided to call time early on its 8 mpd Apple Pay promotion, because (1) it’s much bigger a promo and (2) it’s uncapped. But I didn’t see this coming at all.

It’s not cool that OCBC pulled the promo early. Although the T&Cs give the bank the right to modify or end promotions early, the fact is that people plan their spending on the assumption that what has been said will be honored. It’s unfortunate that the early termination of this promotion is going to leave a sour taste in the mouth of some consumers, because for a very long time, the Titanium Rewards was my absolute favourite card in Singapore.

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It wasn’t just because of the mobile payments promotion- this card also earned 10X on department stores, shopping and personal care. It had that crazy 12 mpd promotion with IKEA. It got 8 mpd with Emirates. It got 6 mpd on Mileslife.  People reported getting targeted with promotions for 4 mpd on dining, or overseas spending, or bonus OCBC$ just for making a few transactions. This card was an absolute miles minting machine, and it’ll be sad if this is the last memory people have of it.

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Vk
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Vk

Gonna cancel the card after 4th Aug ;(

K
Guest
K

With this “enhancement”, it essentially becomes a clone of the Citi Rewards card?

BN
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BN

Sad Thursday news. Intended to use for overseas trip via MST in Oct. Now with CITI AP and OCBC TR ending around the same date, it’s a painful loss.

ksp210
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ksp210

So do mobile transactions made on 4 August get 10x points? On the website it says 10x till 4 August and 1x from 4 August (rather than “after”).

Sounds like a rushed job! Lol.

Ken
Guest
Ken

If “From 4 Aug…”, would mean last day be 23:59 on 3 Aug, no..?

freedom
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freedom

Changed to “from Aug 5, …..” Someone read comments here?

Ken
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Ken

Just looked at OCBC.com and it’s “.. til 4 Aug.. and from 5 Aug..”

CC
Guest
CC

Will remove the pretty pink card from my phone. RIP.

L
Guest
L

So disappointed with the cancellation of 10X mobile payment promo! I got this card recently and only used it for about 1 month. :((( Never thought that OCBC will abruptly bring forward the termination of the 10X promos like this since their website previously stated, very clearly, that the 10X promos for mobile payments and personal care spend will be until 31 Dec 2018. False marketing again argh. My impression of OCBC just goes from bad to worse with every change to their consumer banking products in recent years.

Ben
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Ben

False marketing? Or just another case of another consumer crying murder because you didn’t read the terms? “We may vary, add, delete, amend or modify any one or more provisions in these Terms and Conditions at any time and from time to time without notice. You are deemed to accept and are bound by such variations, additions, deletions, amendments and/or modifications if you do not terminate the use of the Card.” Read the terms. Take up a promo with full knowledge that the bank can unilaterally end it early, or keep extending it as was the case for almost two… Read more »

Ken
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Ken

Aaron, why can’t the UOB PPV be a one size fits all solution? Besides the smart dollar merchants, all contact less and mobile payments gives you 4 miles a dollar right?

L
Guest
L

It doesn’t give 4mpd for MST on Samsung pay. Significant drawback.

Zack
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Zack

PPV actually spend and earn bonus every $5, if you spend $4.90 and below, then you will earn nothing.

GoldRush
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GoldRush

“You can bet that I’m heading down first thing Monday with a Samsung Pay MST-enabled phone (thanks Jon!) to max out the remaining 10X balance on both my and my fiancee’s Titanium Rewards cards” @Aaron (or anyone else), any chance you could describe in detail how you go about paying with Samsung Pay through MST? Specifically, I mean how do you explain to the cashier what you want/need them to do? I have yet to be able to articulate to a cashier that I want to pay via MST using my phone in a way that they understand or accept.… Read more »

yarmun
Guest
yarmun

I give up explaining, I just tell them, “do your usual credit card steps”.

FYI SP Services is good, I guess enough Milelion members goes there to pay with MST, they know exactly what to expect when I said Samsung Pay.

Vk
Guest
Vk

If you have never managed to MST before, you won’t be confident to ask them to try.

Toby
Guest
Toby

I feel cheated, received the card 2 weeks ago, was planning to use Citi Premiermiles until 31 Jul and then switch over to OCBC for the remainder of the year… it could have been worse (e.g. making a few purchases and having just the amount of points that is not worth the use 25 bucks to transfer over)… but still, ain’t good. Will call them in a month or two to cancel. so disappointed.

Ben
Guest
Ben

I wonder if any of those card members who signed up in 2016 and saw the terms amended to push back the expiry date of the promo felt cheated.

Jason
Guest
Jason

4 Aug is transaction date or posting date?

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