OCBC VOYAGE offering rare opportunity to earn miles on education expenses

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From now till 28 February 2022, OCBC VOYAGE is offering 0.5 mpd on overseas education expenses- but it might not be worth it still.

Now here’s something you don’t see every day.

From now till 28 February 2022, OCBC VOYAGE cardholders can earn 0.5 mpd on overseas education fees. I shouldn’t have to remind you that education is one of the hardest things to earn rewards on, with only two card issuers (AMEX and Maybank) still offering miles for this category.

The catch? You’ll earn just 0.5 mpd, and pay a hefty 3.25% foreign currency transaction fee for the privilege. 

Earn 0.5 mpd on overseas education fees with OCBC VOYAGE

From 1 January to 28 February 2022, OCBC VOYAGE cardholders will earn 2.5 VOYAGE Miles for every S$5 spent on education fees. This is applicable to all versions of the OCBC VOYAGE Card. 

Eligible payments must:

  • Be in foreign currency
  • Be to merchants with MCC 8220: Colleges, Universities, Professional Schools and Junior Colleges
  • Not be instalment payment plans

There is no cap on the maximum number of miles you can earn. Keep in mind you won’t see them straight away; they’ll only be credited within 2 months after the end of the promotion period, i.e. by 30 April 2022. 

The T&Cs of this offer can be found here.

Is it worth it?

While I’m not one to pooh-pooh an opportunity to earn miles on education expenses, there are some serious shortcomings to note. 

First of all, there are several other MCCs that education expenses could possibly code under, in addition to MCC 8220:

  • 8211: Schools, Elementary and Secondary
  • 8241: Schools, Correspondence
  • 8244: Schools, Business and Secretarial
  • 8249: Schools, Trade and Vocational
  • 8299: Schools and Education Services Not Elsewhere classified

It’s probably safe if you’re paying university tuition fees, but if your child is attending an international K12 school, those expenses might not qualify for miles. I feel they should have given customers peace of mind by widening the list of eligible MCCs.

Second, the 0.5 mpd earn rate is only available on foreign currency education expenses, on which a 3.25% foreign currency transaction fee (FCY fee) will be applied. You’re basically paying 3.25% to earn 0.5 mpd, or a whopping 6.5 cents per mile!

If you’re willing to pay to earn miles on your overseas education expenses, you’d do better with one of the cards below.

CardEarn Rate
(FCY spend)
FCY FeeCPM
AMEX HighFlyer Card1.8 mpd2.95%1.64
Maybank Visa Infinite2.0 mpd3.25%1.63
Maybank Horizon2.0 mpd3.25%1.63
AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend 2.0 mpd*
2.95%1.48
AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card2.0 mpd*2.95%1.48
*Only in June and December; otherwise 1.1 mpd (AMEX KrisFlyer Credit Card) or 1.2 mpd (AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend)
A rebate on the FCY fee?
Another way of viewing this is that OCBC is offering a rebate on the FCY fee. If you value a mile at 1.8 cents each, then earning 0.5 mpd effectively reduces the fee from 3.25% to 2.35% (3.25-1.8*0.5)

There aren’t many great alternatives otherwise. 

Even if you were to top-up your GrabPay account with a UOB Absolute Cashback Card (1.7% cashback) and pay with your GrabPay Mastercard, you’ll still end up worse off because of the GrabPay Mastercard’s 2% FCY fee. However, if you top-up your GrabPay account with an AMEX HighFlyer Card (1.8 mpd) and pay with your GrabPay Mastercard, you could end up in front despite the 2% FCY fee (basically paying 1.11 cents per mile)

But the AMEX HighFlyer Card isn’t available to everyone, and since this whole thing is basically an exercise in damage limitation (in the sense that you’re trying to reduce the fees involved as much as possible), you might be best off using a multi-currency card like Amaze.

Amaze added education MCCs to its list of exclusion categories on 1 January 2022, which means you won’t earn 1% cashback anymore. However, you can still use it to avoid FCY fees, tapping into Instarem’s relatively competitive rates. 

Conclusion

OCBC VOYAGE cardholders can earn 0.5 mpd on overseas education expenses from now till 28 February 2022. However, the relatively meagre earn rate and 3.25% FCY fee mean it’s hard to come out ahead. 

If your primary concern is reducing expenses as much as possible, you’re still better off using a multi-currency card like Amaze or Revolut. 

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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PTS

for fcy i would still use the grabpay mastercard to topup to revolut and pay whatever the currency is with revolut. u get 1.5% (via the amex true cashback) and no fcy fees

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