If you’re in the miles and points game, it’s quite likely that you may have more than one credit card from a given bank.
For example, I may use the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa to earn 10X on payWave transactions, and the UOB Visa Signature to earn 10X on foreign currency spending. When the time comes to convert my UNI$ into miles, I only need to pay one conversion fee because UOB pools my credit card points. That’s to say, whatever points I earn go into a central pool, and points are taken from that pool.
Contrast this to Citibank, which does not pool credit card points. If I hold a Citi Prestige and a Citi Rewards Visa, my ThankYou points need to be redeemed separately, and I’ll pay as many conversion fees as I have cards.
Points pooling also matters when it comes to cancelling cards. Since Citibank points do not pool, I’ll need to cash out all my points on a given card before I cancel it, or otherwise forfeit them. Since UOB points pool, cancelling a given card has no impact on my total points balance, assuming it’s not my last points-earning card with the bank.
All things equal, it’s much better to earn points with a bank that pools. So which do, and which don’t?
Which banks pool points?
Here’s a high-level summary of which banks do and don’t pool points.
|Bank||Pools Credit Card Points?|
There is some nuance to this, so be sure to read the details below.
(1) American Express
Pooling is irrelevant for the KrisFlyer cobrand cards, because miles are automatically credited to the linked KrisFlyer account and you can’t concurrently hold more than one cobrand card anyway.
Points on the Membership Rewards-earning cards do pool, but it’s slightly complicated.
First of all, recall that AMEX Platinum Charge cardholders can convert Membership Rewards points to miles at a 400:250 ratio, compared to 450:250 for other AMEX cardholders.
If you hold an AMEX Platinum Charge and an AMEX Platinum Reserve card (remember, you don’t need to pay the annual fee on the Reserve), there are two possibilities.
(1) Some people will see their points pooled automatically on the back end, all convertible at the more advantageous 400:250 rate. If you’re in this situation, the drop down menu for “Your Points Account” will look like this.
(2) Some people will not see their points pooled on the back end. Instead, they’ll have one points account for their AMEX Platinum Charge, and another points account for their AMEX Platinum Reserve. If you’re in this situation, the drop down menu for “Your Points Account” will have a “Switch Account” button to toggle between points balances.
In this case, you can call up customer service to get your points manually combined and transferred at the preferable 400:250 rate. I don’t know why some people have separate accounts, and others have a single one, but either way you’ll get the 400:250 rate if you hold an AMEX Platinum Charge.
(2) Bank of China
Although Bank of China only has one miles card on offer, you may still end up paying multiple conversion fees.
That’s because from 15 March 2019, BOC capped the maximum number of points that can be converted in a single transaction at 10 blocks. This works out to 60,000 Asia Miles, or 100,000 KrisFlyer miles. This means that if you want to convert, say, 250,000 KrisFlyer miles, you’d pay $30 x 3 =$90 of conversion fees.
It’s a silly rule and very arbitrary, but it is what it is.
DBS is slightly confusing, because points are kept separate on the back end but pooled together at the point of redemption.
For example, note how the DBS Rewards portal shows that I have 4,971 DBS points on my card ending 4921, and 2,121 DBS points on my card ending 6440.
Although each card’s individual balance is less than 5,000, I’m still able to redeem a block of 5,000 DBS Points because the points are pooled together for redemption. The system will prompt me to select a credit card number to “deduct” the points from, but it doesn’t matter which card I pick.
When redeeming points, the DBS system will deduct those with the earliest expiry first– since DBS WWMC points expire after one year and DBS Altitude/Treasures AMEX/Insignia points never expire, the former will always be redeemed before the latter.
Although DBS will only charge you one fee per conversion, the fact that DBS keeps points separate on the back end means that cancelling a given card results in forfeiture of all points on that card. So cash them out before you cancel!
However, the OCBC VOYAGE earns a different points currency, VOYAGE Miles, which cannot be pooled with OCBC$. VOYAGE Miles work very differently from OCBC$ anyway, so it wouldn’t be logically possible to pool them.
Likewise, the Travel$ earned by the OCBC 90N do not pool with any other OCBC currencies.
Points pool across all UOB cards, with the exception of the KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card. This is a cobrand card, so miles earned are deposited directly into your KrisFlyer account (just watch out for the delayed crediting).
It’s very customer-unfriendly not to pool points, but my guess is that banks which don’t allow it aren’t doing so deliberately. More likely than not, it’s a hangover from an outdated IT system where points were kept in silos, which no one dares to touch.
Not pooling points is a black mark, but it’s not necessarily a dealbreaker. I’d argue that it’s still worth earning Citi points, for example, thanks to the sheer variety of transfer partners.
Similarly, it’d be silly to pass up on the X Card’s 100,000 miles sign up bonus (assuming you got it while you still could) just because it wouldn’t pool with your Rewards+ card (but why on earth would you hold one in the first place?)
If you’re planning to hold multiple cards, it’s important to know your points pooling policies. Bookmark this page for future reference!