The BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard is shaking up the miles game in Singapore, and in a good way.
The card was announced barely a week ago, but given its outstanding earning rates (2/5 mpd on local/overseas spending until the end of the year, 1.5/3 mpd after, no minimum spend or cap), the impending end of the Citibank-Apple Pay 20X promotion and OCBC’s early termination of its 10X Titanium Rewards mobile payments promotion, the BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard is poised to become the new must-have card for miles chasers in Singapore.
Milelion readers had some questions about specific features of the card that weren’t made clear in the launch materials. Today I had a lunch meeting with the team responsible for the BOC Elite Miles card, and I’m pleased to tell you that most of the potential concerns are unfounded.
Here’s what I managed to confirm:
30,000 BOC points convert to 10,000 KrisFlyer miles
One point of confusion is that the publicity materials for the BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard state that it takes 30,000 BOC points to redeem 10,000 KrisFlyer miles…
…but the BOC webpage gives a ratio of 60,000 BOC points to 10,000 miles.
The reason for the discrepancy is that BOC has another points earning card: the Zaobao credit card. In addition to cashback, the Zaobao card earns 2X BOC rewards points for every S$1 spent overseas and 1X BOC rewards point for every S$1 spent locally. These points are converted to KrisFlyer miles at a 60,000:10,000 ratio.
The points from the BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard will convert at a 30,000:10,000 ratio. The Singapore team is working with the webmasters to get the page updated and add this clarification.
BOC Points do not pool across cards
I really don’t see this as an issue, given that the only other BOC card that earns points is the Zaobao card. But in any case, a natural consequence of the preferential conversion rate extended to the BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard (see above) is that you can’t combine points earned on this card with those from the Zaobao card.
Every cent earns you points
I thought the T&Cs already made this abundantly clear, but perhaps UOB’s rounding habits are putting paranoia into everyone. BOC does not round down transactions to the nearest $5 when awarding points.
Technically speaking, even cents count towards points accrual- for example, if you spend $10.53 on local spending, you earn 10.53*6=63.18 BOC points, or 21 miles. Your statement will show a rounded down figure of 63 BOC points, but the 0.18 additional is still captured on the BOC side. That’s pretty impressive.
Overseas spending is defined as any spending in FCY
There were some concerns about how BOC would define overseas spending- would it be as straightforward as any foreign currency denominated transaction, or would it require the transaction to be physically outside of Singapore? Would they bring in UOB-style payment processor location requirements?
The good news is they’re keeping it simple. So long as your spending is not in SGD, it counts as overseas and earns 5.0 mpd until 31 December 2018.
Spending on the BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard will count towards SmartSaver bonus interest
The BOC SmartSaver account allows you to earn up to 3.55% p.a interest when you credit your salary, make 3 bill payments and spend on BOC credit cards.
|Amount of Salary||Bonus Interest Rate (p.a.)|
|S$6,000 and above||1.20%|
|S$2,000 – < S$6,000||0.80%|
|Monthly CC Spend||Bonus Interest Rate (p.a.)|
|S$1,500 and above||1.60%|
|S$500 – < S$1,500||0.80%|
Spending on the BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard will count towards the monthly spending requirement for earning 0.8/1.6% bonus interest. This, intriguingly, would make the BOC SmartSaver the new best savings account for miles chasers.
Yes, you do earn 2.0 mpd on insurance payments and public transport (ABT)
There are some exclusion categories listed under the Elite Miles World Mastercard’s T&Cs which do not earn points.
Interest, annual fee, cash advance, fund transfer, balance transfer, finance charge, late charge, any purchase made through an Instalment Payment Plan or Purchase Instalment Plan, a Tax Payment Facility, IRAS processing fee, goods and services tax, loading of a prepaid account, card or merchant (including EZ-Link and TransitLink), an AXS payment, a bill payment via internet banking or any fee charged by the Bank or any other third party (if any) and such other transaction as may be determined by the Bank from time to time at its sole and absolute discretion.
You’ll note that insurance isn’t listed as an exclusion category, and that’s no accident. The BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard will earn points for insurance payments, wherever credit cards are accepted. In fact, the BOC team happily volunteered this information- they know that most banks exclude insurance from earning points, and they see that a a way of differentiating themselves.
What’s also cool is that you will earn points on public transportation rides paid through Paypass and ABT. Remember: this is different from loading your EZ-Link card with your credit card (which won’t earn any points with the BOC Elite Miles card). ABT means registering your Paypass-enabled Mastercard and using it to tap in and out of gantries.
The best card for this currently is the UOB PRVI Miles at 1.4 mpd (you could link your EZ-Reload account to your HSBC Revolution for 2 mpd but this is capped at $200 per month), so it’s good to have a better option available.
BOC has no plans to get on board with Apple, Samsung or Google Pay
BOC does not intend to get its cards on board with any of the big 3 mobile wallets, so if you’re hoping for the convenience of adding your BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard to your mobile phone, you’re going to be disappointed. China has always taken its own approach towards mobile payments anyway, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see BOC doing something similar .
You can view your points online, but you can’t redeem them online (yet)
It’s no secret that BOC’s IT setup in Singapore lags behind that of other major banks, and it follows that you can’t expect the same level of sophistication you’re used to elsewhere.
You’ll be able to see the total points earned on your BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard online. It’s on BOC’s IT roadmap to eventually add online points redemption, but until that happens (don’t expect it before the end of year), you’re going to have to call up customer service or fill out a form to get your points transferred to your frequent flyer account.
No transaction-level points breakdowns available online
As a follow on from the previous point, the relative simplicity of BOC’s internet banking interface means that Citibank style transaction-by-transaction level points breakdowns won’t be available.
In a sense, this isn’t so much an issue with the BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard because of its positioning as a general spending card- so long as it’s a qualifying transaction, you’ll earn the points. Contrast this with a category spending card, where the eternal question of “is the MCC what I think it is?” won’t get answered until the time the points are credited.
If you really want to, you can get a points level breakdown by calling up customer service.
BOC is looking for ways to reduce application processing time
Those of you who went down to the BOC roadshows will have been told by the card promoters to expect processing times of up to 1 month. In a market where banks boast about same day card delivery, 1 month seems like an eternity. The team is aware of this and is hoping to scale up their ability to deliver more cards, faster, but for now they’re erring on the “under promise and over deliver” side.
We should expect to see processing times come down over the next few months.
I applied for the card on the day it launched and am eagerly waiting for it to arrive. My plan is to put it into service after 4 August, and use the card liberally on my trips overseas (a 2.5% fee for 5 mpd is a no brainer in my book).
If you have other points you’d like clarified with the team, do leave a comment here and I’ll see what I can do.
And yes, I’ve already made our feelings on the free luggage clear.