Major changes coming to OCBC VOYAGE: Revised earn rates, limo devaluation

From June 1, OCBC VOYAGE cardholders can expect revised earn rates, S$5 blocks, new exclusions and more spending for free limo rides.

OCBC has announced some major changes to the VOYAGE card, which take effect from 1 June 2020.

All in all, cardholders will see (mostly) lower earn rates, a new “S$5 block” policy for awarding points, new exclusion categories, and an increase in the limo spending requirement.

tl;dr
VOYAGE cardholders will earn more miles on local spending, but lose out on overseas, dining and small transactions.  They’ll also need to spend 67% more for a limo ride. It’s tough to swallow. 
The goodThe bad
  • Local earn rate increased from 1.2 to 1.3 mpd
  • No changes to earn rates on Premier, Premier Private Client or Bank of Singapore cards
  • Overseas earn rate cut from 2.3 to 2.2 mpd
  • Earn rates now in blocks of S$5
  • No more dining bonus
  • New exclusion categories
  • Limo spending increased from S$3K to S$5K

The old T&Cs can be found here, while the new T&Cs can be found here. For ease of reference, I’ve created a comparison which you can view here.

There’s a lot to break down, so let’s dive in.

OCBC is tweaking the earn rates and removing the dining bonus

From 1 June 2020, OCBC VOYAGE cardholders will earn miles at the following rates:

Before 1 June 2020From 1 June 2020
Local Spending1.2 miles/ S$16.5 miles/ S$5
 (+8%)
Overseas Spending2.3 miles/S$111 miles/ S$5
(-4%)
Dining1.6 miles/S$16.5 miles/ S$5
(-19%)

The earn rate on local spending will increase from 1.2 to 1.3 mpd, while the overseas earn rate will decrease from 2.3 to 2.2 mpd.

There will no longer be any bonus on dining; which means the earn rate on dining will decrease from 1.6 to 1.3 mpd. 

On the surface, there’s no change for holders of the OCBC Premier, OCBC Premier Private Client, or Bank of Singapore VOYAGE cards. They will continue to earn 1.6 mpd on all local spend, and 2.3 mpd on overseas spend.

Before 1 June 2020From 1 June 2020
Local Spending1.6 miles/ S$1
8 miles/ S$5
Overseas Spending2.3 miles/S$1
11.5 miles/ S$5
Dining1.6 miles/S$1
8 miles/ S$5
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However, there’s an important difference which arises from the change in earning blocks…

Points are now earned in blocks of S$5

Currently, OCBC calculates the miles per transaction on the VOYAGE card as follows:

  • Round transaction down to the nearest S$1
  • Multiply by 1.2 (local) or 2.3 (FCY)
  • Round figure to nearest whole number

From 1 June 2020, OCBC joins UOB in adopting a decidedly customer-unfriendly “S$5 block” policy. Here’s how points will now be calculated:

  • Round transaction down to nearest S$5
  • Divide transaction by 5
  • Multiply by 6.5 (local) or 11 (FCY)
  • Round figure to nearest whole number
DBS has S$5 blocks too, but because of how they calculate points, the minimum spend to earn miles is S$1.67. Find out how other banks calculate credit card points in our comprehensive guide

The S$5 block policy means that although the OCBC VOYAGE’s local spending rate has increased on paper, in practice you’ll be worse off in some situations. Consider the following scenarios:

Amount
(local spending)
Before 1 June 2020From 1 June 2020
S$4.995 miles
(1 mpd)
0 miles
(0 mpd)
S$56 miles
(1.2 mpd)
7 miles
(1.4 mpd)
S$9.9911 miles
(1.1 mpd)
7 miles
(0.7 mpd)
S$1012 miles
(1.2 mpd)
13 miles
(1.3 mpd)
S$14.9917 miles
(1.1 mpd)
13 miles
(0.87 mpd)
S$1518 miles
(1.2 mpd)
20 miles
(1.33 mpd)
S$19.9923 miles
(1.15 mpd)
20 miles
(1 mpd)
S$2024 miles
(1.2 mpd)
26 miles
(1.3 mpd)
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Needless to say, I’m not a fan of S$5 blocks, because it seems counter-intuitive that a customer who spends S$14.99 should be rewarded the same as one who spends S$10. I get that the effect is smaller as your transaction size increases, but it still skews things unfairly in favor of the bank.

New rewards exclusion categories

Transactions at government-subsidized hospitals like SGH will no longer earn rewards points

OCBC has added four new MCC exclusions:

  • MCC 4784: Tolls and Bridge Fees
  • MCC 5993: Cigars, Stores and Stands
  • Transactions to Singapore Government Public Hospitals including Non-Profit Hospitals, Community Hospitals and Polyclinics under the MCC 8062
  • Transactions under Transportation and Tolls MCC 4111/4121/4131 except for Grab Transport, Gojek and Comfort/Citycab transactions

I couldn’t care less about tolls or cigars, but the last two are worth discussing.

OCBC tells me that you will continue to earn points at private hospitals under MCC 8062, such as Gleneagles, Mount Alvernia, Farrer Park Hospital etc. I’ve requested for the full list of private hospitals where points will still be earned, and will update this article when I receive it.

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⚠️ Update: OCBC has provided me with the following list of public hospitals and facilities where points will not be earned.
Alexandra Hospital
Changi General Hospital
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital
KK Womens’ and Children’s Hospital
National Cancer Centre
National Heart Centre Singapore
National Neuroscience Institute
National Skin Centre
National University Hospital
Ng Teng Fong General Hospital
Sengkang General Hospital
Singapore General Hospital
Singapore National Eye Centre
Tan Tock Seng Hospital
Institute of Mental Health
Bright Vision Hospital
Jurong Community Hospital
Outram Community Hospital
Sengkang Community Hospital
Yishun Community Hospital
Mount Alvernia Hospital
Ang Mo Kio – Thye Hua Kwan Hospital
Ren Ci Community Hospital
St. Andrew’s Community Hospital
St Luke’s Hospital
ANG MO KIO POLYCLINIC
BEDOK POLYCLINIC
BUKIT BATOK POLYCLINIC
BUKIT MERAH POLYCLINIC
CHOA CHU KANG POLYCLINIC
CLEMENTI POLYCLINIC
GEYLANG POLYCLINIC
JURONG POLYCLINIC
MARINE PARADE POLYCLINIC
OUTRAM POLYCLINIC
PASIR RIS POLYCLINIC
PIONEER POLYCLINIC
PUNGGOL POLYCLINIC
SENGKANG POLYCLINIC
TAMPINES POLYCLINIC
YISHUN POLYCLINIC
COMMUNITY EYE CLINIC
COMMUNITY HEARING CLINIC
HEART CENTRE SINGAPORE

Regarding MCC 4111/4121/4131, a strict reading of this means that other ridesharing services (like Ryde, TADA) or taxi companies (Prime, SMRT) would be excluded. I’m also seeking further clarification, because it seems a bit arbitrary to only include one particular taxi company to the exclusion of all others.

The exclusion of 4111 would also preclude SimplyGo transactions from earning points.

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For what it’s worth, GrabPay top-ups process under MCC 7399 for Visa cards, and will continue to earn points.

Increase in limo spending requirement

Before 1 June 2020From 1 June 2020
Min. spending per limo ride
(per month)
S$3,000S$5,000 (+67%)

Currently, VOYAGE cardholders need to spend S$3,000 per month in local or foreign currency (or some combination of the two) to earn a free limo ride.

From 1 June 2020, this will be increased to S$5,000 per month. The cap remains the same, at two transfers per month. For what it’s worth, OCBC is currently allowing VOYAGE cardholders to accumulate limo rides throughout 2020. Any rides earned in 2020 expire on 31 December 2020 or at the end of three months after they’re earned, whichever is later.

Here’s how OCBC’s revised limo spending requirement will compare to other credit cards in Singapore:

CardQualifying Spend (QS)Rides per QSMax Uses
UOB PRVI Miles AMEXS$1K FCY spend per quarter (excludes online)22 per quarter, 8 per year
Citi PrestigeS$12K spend per quarter22 per quarter, 8 per year
HSBC Visa InfiniteS$2K spend per month1 (2 free per year, 4 free for HSBC Premier customers)24 per year (includes free trips)
Maybank Visa InfiniteS$3K spend per month28 per year
OCBC VOYAGES$3K spend per month (S$5K from 1 Jun 20)12 per month

As you can see,  the change makes the VOYAGE’s limo benefit significantly less competitive than other cards in the market.

Conclusion

Although OCBC VOYAGE cardholders will soon earn more miles on local spending, the overall impact of these changes are bad, no two ways about it. The reduction in overseas earn rates, the loss of the dining bonus category, and the adoption of a S$5 earning block are all pain points, not to mention the 67% increase in the limo spending requirement.

Of course, there are better cards to use for dining and overseas spending anyway, but still…

Looks like an updated edition of the S$120K card showdown is brewing.

Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion with the intention of helping people travel better for less and impressing chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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Jake Woo

This really sucks. Banks should note customers look at the full suite of point-earning rates and benefits when deciding to retain a premium card like Voyage. Make the smallest negative tweaks and even loyal customers will start adjusting their spending patterns on the card, making it worse for the card’s long run viability. Even the most loyal of customers will have to take a hard look when the above changes are implemented. Looks like its goodbye for me. This does suck since this was the first mass affluent card for me, and the metal card does make a nice clink… Read more »

Blacktalon

I totally agree. It will likely be good bye for me too. What’s an alternative card within the same category?

Mayank from the dormitory

Has anyone ever had the annual fee waived on this card without putting 200,000 at ocbc?

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