Credit Cards

How to track bonus points on specialized spending cards

Specialized spending cards can be a great way of accelerating your miles, but the points are a pain to track. Here's how to do it.
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If you thought that tracking credit card points on general spending cards was hard, just wait till you try it with specialized spending ones.

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While general spending cards award points immediately, most specialized spending cards split points into two batches.

  • Base points post alongside the transaction
  • Bonus points may be delayed till the month after, and are awarded as one lump sum.

This hardly facilitates tracking- in fact, it makes it an absolute nightmare.

Because of the vagaries inherent in MCCs, (will a hotel restaurant code as dining, or accommodation?) it’s important to track and ensure you’re getting the bonuses you’re entitled to. In fact, conscientious miles chasers devote significant amounts of time to monthly points reconciliation exercises.

In this post, we’ll look at how to track credit card points on specialized spending cards (we’ve looked at tracking points on general spending cards previously).

What are specialized spending cards?
“Specialized spending” refers to categories which earn bonus points. For example, the Citi Rewards Visa and Citi Rewards Mastercard earn 10X points (4 mpd) on all online transactions, the OCBC Titanium Rewards card earns 10X points on shopping, and the UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX earns 10X points on dining. These cards earn 1X (0.4 mpd) everywhere else. Banks track eligible spending through Merchant Category Codes, or MCCs.

“General spending”, then, simply refers to anything that’s not a “specialized spending” category. For more information, try browsing The Milelion’s Credit Card guide. 

Specialized spending cards

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Here’s how each specialized spending card rounds and awards points. I’m not 100% sure about the rows in yellow, so please reach out if your experience shows otherwise.

CardRemarksBonus Points 

UOB Preferred Platinum Visa
1X: Round down transaction to the nearest S$5, divide by 5, then multiply by 1.0
9X: Round down transaction to the nearest S$5, divide by 5, then multiply by 9.0
Instant

UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX
2X: Round down transaction to the nearest S$5, divide by 5, then multiply by 2.0
8X: Round down transaction to the nearest S$5, divide by 5, then multiply by 8.0
Instant

Citi Rewards Visa/ Citi Rewards Mastercard
1X: Round down transaction to nearest S$1, then multiply by 1.0
9X: Round down transaction to nearest S$1, then multiply by 9.0
Instant
Maybank World Mastercard1X: Round transaction to nearest S$1, then multiply by 1.0
9X: Round transaction to nearest S$1, then multiply by 9.0
Instant

DBS Woman’s World Card
Local
1X: Divide transaction by 5 and multiply by 1.0. Round down to nearest whole number
9X: Divide transaction by 5 and multiply by 9.0, round to 2 decimal places.
FCY
3X: Divide transaction by 5 and multiply by 1.0, round down to nearest whole number, divide transaction by 5 and multiply by 2.0, round down to nearest whole number, add both
7X: Divide transaction by 5 and multiply by 7.0, round to 2 decimal places
Combined
Add the bonus components for local and FCY and round down once more
Delayed: next calendar month
OCBC Titanium Rewards1X: Round down transaction to nearest S$1, then multiply transaction by 1.0
9X: Sum all eligible transactions (including cents), multiply transaction by 9.0, round down
Delayed: next calendar month
HSBC Revolution1X: Round transaction to nearest S$1, then multiply by 1.0
4X: Sum all eligible transactions (including cents) and multiply by 4.0. Round down to nearest whole number
Delayed: next calendar month

UOB Lady’s Card/Lady’s Solitaire
1X: Round down transaction to nearest S$5, divide by 5, then multiply by 1.0
9X: Sum all eligible transactions (including cents), round down transaction to nearest S$5, divide by 5, then multiply by 9.0
Delayed: next calendar month
Maybank Horizon Visa Signature1X: Round transaction to nearest S$1, then multiply by 1.0
4X/7X: Round all eligible transactions to nearest S$1, then multiply by 4.0 (air tickets, FCY) or 7.0 (dining, bus, train, petrol, taxi, Agoda)
Delayed: next calendar month

UOB Visa Signature
1X: Round down transaction to nearest S$5, divide by 5, then multiply by 1.0
9X: Sum all eligible transactions (including cents), round down transaction to nearest S$5, divide by 5, then multiply by 9.0
Delayed: next calendar month

A few points to note:

Instant vs delayed bonuses

The DBS Woman’s World Card is great for online spending, but the delayed posting of bonus points can be a headache

Although most specialized spending cards award base and bonus points separately, there are a few exceptions. The UOB Preferred Platinum Visa and Preferred Platinum AMEX (but strangely, not other UOB cards) award base and bonus points together when the transaction posts, as does the Citi Rewards Visa and Citi Rewards Mastercard.

Needless to say, this makes reconciliation much easier, especially with Citibank where transaction-level points are disclosed (well, sort of- they’re batched by day, but that’s still better than most other banks). Otherwise you’ll need to wait till the following month to confirm your bonus points were credited properly.

One quirk of delayed posting is that certain transactions may not earn base points, but can still earn bonus points. If you spent S$4 online with the DBS Woman’s World Card, for instance, you wouldn’t earn any base points (because 4/5*1 is rounded down to 0), but you would earn 7.2 bonus points (4/5*9, rounded to 2 d.p) that get added to your monthly bonus balance.

Round versus Round Down

I mentioned this in the article on general spending cards, but just to reiterate: it’s important to note whether your bank rounds or rounds down transaction and points amounts

  • Round means 3.6 becomes 4, 3.4 becomes 3 (.5 is always rounded up)
  • Round down means that both 3.6 and 3.4 become 3
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Obviously, the former is more generous than the latter.

Statement cycle vs calendar month

As if things weren’t complicated enough already, your points may not tally even if your formulas are correct because of the differences in statement cycle versus calendar month.

For example, the HSBC Revolution card awards 1X base points in the current statement cycle, but  the additional 4X bonus points will be credited by the last day of the following calendar month. Your statement cycle is unlikely to coincide exactly with the calendar month, which means you’ll need to carefully sort your transactions by date when calculating.

Excel Formulas

If you’re the sort who uses Excel to calculate your points, here’s formulas to plug and play. “X” refers to the eligible transaction amount, “Y” to the sum of all eligible transactions.

CardFormula for Points

UOB Preferred Platinum Visa
1X: ROUNDDOWN (X/5,0)*1
9X: ROUNDDOWN (X/5,0)*9

UOB Preferred Platinum AMEX
2X: ROUNDDOWN (X/5,0)*2
8X: ROUNDDOWN (X/5,0)*8

Citi Rewards Visa/Mastercard
1X: ROUNDDOWN(X,0)*1
9X: ROUNDDOWN(X,0)*9
Maybank World Mastercard1X: ROUND (X,0)*1
9X: ROUND (X,0)*9

DBS Woman’s World Card
Local
1X: ROUNDDOWN ((X/5)*1,0)
9X: ROUNDDOWN ((X/5)*9,2)
FCY
3X: ROUNDDOWN ((X/5)*1,0) + ROUNDDOWN ((X/5)*2,0)
7X: ROUNDDOWN ((X/5)*7,2)
Total Bonus (7X & 9X)
=ROUNDDOWN(7X + 9X)
OCBC Titanium Rewards1X: ROUNDDOWN(X,0)*1
9X: ROUNDDOWN(Y*9,0)
HSBC Revolution1X: ROUND(X,0)*1
4X: ROUNDDOWN(Y*4)

UOB Lady’s Card/Lady’s Solitaire
1X: ROUNDDOWN (X/5,0)*1
9X: ROUNDDOWN(Y/5,0)*9
Maybank Horizon Visa Signature1X: ROUNDDOWN (X*1,0)
7X: ROUNDDOWN (Y*7,0) [Replace 7 with 4 for 4X]

UOB Visa Signature
1X: ROUNDDOWN (X/5,0)*1
9X: ROUNDDOWN(Y/5,0)*9
Credit Card Calculator

As was the case with general spending cards, I’ve taken a stab at creating a credit card calculator for specialized spending cards, where you can plug in your spending amount and see how many bonus points you should get. It’s based on my own experience and community-contributed data points, so free to play around with it and update me if you see any errors in formulas. 

Conclusion

Is it worth tracking your credit card points? Definitely. 

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By monitoring their points, some people spotted their Deliveroo transactions did not earn 10X with the Citi Rewards card (this problem doesn’t affect everyone- most people get 10X on Deliveroo without any drama). They flagged it to Citi, and after an investigation, received their bonus points.

Is it worth tracking your credit card points at this level of detail? Well, only you can answer that.

Honestly speaking, I just eyeball my points balance each month. I’ve never actually created a spreadsheet to track them with the granularity that some do. For me, the main objective of checking your points is not to account for them to the last digit. Rather, it’s to help you:

  1. realise when you didn’t earn the bonus points you thought you would
  2. identify which transaction didn’t earn bonus points, and call up the CSO to investigate (if you have a case)

In other words, if I see a big discrepancy between what I have, and what I think I should have based on a ballpark calculation, it’s a sign that I should call up the bank and find out why transaction X didn’t qualify. Of course, it’d be much better if banks just got it right the first time, but unfortunately the onus is still on the customer to spot discrepancies. 

If all of the formulas and workings here have gone over your head, don’t fret. It is still possible to call up the bank and go through transaction by transaction to figure out which one didn’t earn a bonus (DBS used to send an itemized spreadsheet on request, but they don’t appear to do this any more). Fair warning: this will be a slow and arduous process, so make sure the effort is worth the payoff.

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[Credit for this article goes to Nan Shen, Jon, Lembu, and other members of The Milelion Community who contributed data points and helped check my working. Thanks guys!]


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michael
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michael

I only read 1/3 of the article and started going WOW, there are new insights for me, I certainly didn’t know about that particular quirk of the DBS WWMC card where base miles are not awarded but bonus miles still credit. Thanks Aaron!

Yiwei
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Yiwei

The same case happens for UOB Lady’s card, where a transaction less than $5 will not earn any base UNI$ but if summed with other eligible transactions, it could still earn the 9x bonus UNI$.

Thanks Milelion for the compilation!

bent
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bent

My experience with DBS WW is that that for the bonus 9x points, they sum up total transactions by posted date for the entire calendar month (e.g. 1 Jun – 30 Jun, then apply the rounding formula you mentioned above. So this helps reduce the ‘loss’ due to rounding for individual transactions. Kinda what you mentioned in your article, just that might be simpler if you simply total up that calendar’s months posted transcations isntead of performing the formula transaction by transaction.

Johan
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No BOC EM?

ireadthearticle
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ireadthearticle

seriously? go read the article on general spending cards. it’s literally mentioned in the first paragraph.

ERVTH
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ERVTH

No love for UOB KF?

Chuck
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Chuck

For DBS Altitude my understanding from recent conversations with CSO and backed by statement data, is that bonus points do NOT post immediately, but in the following months statement .

dexter
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dexter

i gotta agree on aaron’s conclusion. i made the mistake of not checking my purchase of alaska miles. it was not posted as flight spending on my altitude card. realised it too late. busted the deadline. could not get it reconciled. was offered $50 credit for my loss. such waste!

mrpotato
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mrpotato

The excel formula for Maybank World Mastercard is same as what I use and accurate so far.

For Maybank Horizon Visa Signature, I use the following: For 1x, =ROUND(X,0). For 7x, =ROUND(X,0)*7

Others are welcome to verify.

thegrimmerz
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thegrimmerz

Will one day milelion ever release a iOS/android app? That will be a great tool to record instantly, if possible add alert to inform the specify card had hit the earning cap. Lots of time, I exceeded the 1k spending earn rate for PPV.