Is UOB’s points rounding policy as bad as it seems?

UOB rounds all transactions down to the nearest S$5 when awarding points. But this policy doesn't affect all credit cards equally!

If you’re a UOB cardholder, you’re probably unhappily aware of UOB’s rounding policy, which can lead to lost points on every transaction.

That’s because UOB rounds transactions down to the nearest S$5 before awarding points. A S$9.99 transaction earns the same number of points as a S$5 transaction, and a S$4.99 transaction earns no points at all!

Does this mean you should simply avoid using UOB cards for any transaction that doesn’t end with a 0 or 5? Well, it’s slightly more complex than that. While UOB’s rounding policy is generally customer-unfriendly:

  • it affects the UOB PRVI Miles, UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card and UOB Preferred Platinum Visa more than the UOB Lady’s Card, UOB Lady’s Solitaire Card and UOB Visa Signature
  • the impact of rounding fades as the transaction size gets larger 

In this post, I’ll show you how the rounding policy can be terrible for general spending cards, yet relatively benign for (most) specialised spending cards.

General Spending Cards

Let’s first look at how UOB’s rounding policy can be extremely punitive with general spending cards. 

Suppose you hold a UOB PRVI Miles Card, which awards points as follows:

💳 UOB PRVI Miles
SpendRateCalculation
Local 3.5 UNI$ per S$5Round down transaction to nearest S$5, then divide by 5 and multiply by 3.5. Round down to the nearest whole number
FCY6 UNI$ per S$5Round down transaction to nearest S$5, then divide by 5 and multiply by 6. Round down to the nearest whole number

UOB advertises the earn rates as 1.4 mpd for local spend, and 2.4 mpd for FCY spend. 

But thanks to rounding, your effective earn rate can be quite far off. Consider the following transactions (all in SGD, for the ease of illustration):

💳 UOB PRVI Miles
Trxn.Local Spend (3.5X)Total Miles*
(mpd)
S$9.993.5 UNI$
(round to 3 UNI$)
6 miles
(0.6 mpd)
S$19.9910.5 UNI$
(round to 10 UNI$)
20 miles
(1 mpd)
S$23.5014 UNI$28 miles
(1.2 mpd)
S$218.90150.5 UNI$
(round to 150 UNI$)
300 miles
(1.4 mpd)
S$727.62507.5 UNI$
(round to 507 UNI$)
1,014 miles
(1.4 mpd)
*Note: 1 UNI$ = 2 miles

The first thing you should note is how UOB’s rounding can hit twice. For example, a S$9.99 transaction is first rounded down to S$5, which earns 3.5 UNI$. But since UOB doesn’t award partial UNI$, this is further rounded down to 3 UNI$, equivalent to 6 miles- an effective earn rate of just 0.6mpd!

The second thing to note is that the effect of rounding fades as the transaction gets larger. That makes intuitive sense, because the maximum you can lose on a single transaction with the UOB PRVI Miles Card is 8 miles (4.99*1.4 [lost due to trxn. rounding] +1 [lost due to UNI$ rounding]), a figure which becomes less and less significant with size. For example, someone charging a S$218.90 transaction would lose ~6.5 miles (3.90*1.4 [lost due to trxn. rounding] +1 [lost due to UNI$ rounding]), but the effective earn rate is still very close to 1.4 mpd.

Third, UOB’s rounding policy means that a card with a lower earn rate but more generous rounding policy (e.g. Citi PremierMiles) can outperform the UOB PRVI Miles on smaller transactions.

 UOB PRVI Miles
Earn rate: 1.4 mpd
citi premiermiles card reviewCiti PremierMiles
Earn rate: 1.2 mpd
S$56 miles6 miles
S$9.996 miles11 miles
S$1520 miles18 miles
S$19.9920 miles23 miles
S$2534 miles30 miles
S$29.9934 miles35 miles
S$3548 miles42 miles
S$39.9948 miles47 miles

tl;dr: if your transaction is ≥S$40, you generally don’t need to worry about rounding on your UOB PRVI Miles or UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card, insofar as it’ll still outperform any 1.2/1.3 mpd card with a more generous rounding policy. 

However, for smaller transactions that don’t end in a 0 or 5, you might be better off using a Citi PremierMiles or DBS Altitude Card instead.

❓ Doesn’t DBS award points in S$5 blocks too?

Yes, but their rounding policy is less punitive. When awarding points, DBS divides each transaction by 5 and multiplies by 3 (for DBS Altitude SGD transactions) or 5 (for DBS Altitude FCY transactions), before rounding down to the nearest whole number.

Therefore, the minimum SGD spend to earn points is $1.67, and the minimum FCY spend to earn points is S$1.

Specialised Spending Cards

For specialised spending cards, we need to draw a distinction between those which:

  • award base points together with bonus points
  • award base points separately from bonus points, as a consolidated lump sum

A summary of UOB’s specialised spending cards is provided below. 

CardBase Points (1X)Bonus Points (9X)
UOB Pref. Plat. VisaWhen trxn. postsWhen trxn. posts
UOB Lady’s CardWhen trxn. postsFollowing period
UOB Lady’s SolitaireWhen trxn. postsFollowing period
UOB Visa SignatureWhen trxn. postsFollowing period

This distinction is important because UOB cards which award bonus points as a consolidated lump sum are less affected by rounding than those which award bonus points along with base points. 

To illustrate, consider the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa, where base and bonus points are rounded and awarded on a per transaction basis. 

💳 UOB Pref. Plat. Visa
SpendRateCalculation
Base1 UNI$ per S$5Round down transaction to nearest S$5, then divide by 5 and multiply by 1. Round down to the nearest whole number
Bonus9 UNI$ per S$5Round down transaction to nearest S$5, then divide by 5 and multiply by 9. Round down to the nearest whole number

Then consider the same set of transactions:

💳 UOB Pref. Plat. Visa
Trxn.Base (1X)Bonus (9X)Total Miles*
(mpd)
S$9.991 UNI$9 UNI$20 miles
(2 mpd)
S$19.993 UNI$27 UNI$60 miles
(3 mpd)
S$23.504 UNI$36 UNI$80 miles
(3.4 mpd)
S$218.9043 UNI$387 UNI$860 miles
(3.9 mpd)
S$727.62145 UNI$1,305 UNI$2,900 miles
(4.0 mpd)
*Note: 1 UNI$= 2 miles

Notice how base and bonus points are equally hit by rounding; a S$9.99 transaction is rounded down to S$5 which yields 1 UNI$ (base) and 9 UNI$ (bonus) for a total of 10 UNI$ (20 miles), an effective earn rate of 2 mpd. 

Because of the higher earn rate for the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa, you’re losing as much as 20 miles on each transaction to rounding. 

It’s a much different story for the UOB Visa Signature and UOB Lady’s Card/Lady’s Solitaire Card. These award 1X base points when the transaction posts, and 9X bonus points the following period. 

💳 UOB Visa Signature/ Lady’s / Lady’s Solitaire
SpendRateCalculation
Base1 UNI$ per S$5Round down transaction to nearest S$5, then divide by 5 and multiply by 1. Round down to the nearest whole number
Bonus9 UNI$ per S$5Sum up all eligible transactions (including cents), round down transaction to nearest S$5, then divide by 5 and multiply by 9. Round down to the nearest whole number

Using the UOB Visa Signature as an example, here’s how the same set of transactions will be processed:

💳 UOB Visa Signature
Trxn.Base (1X)Bonus (9X)Total Miles*
(mpd)
S$9.991 UNI$1,800 UNI$
(awarded in the following period)
3,992
(4 mpd)
S$19.993 UNI$
S$23.504 UNI$
S$218.9043 UNI$
S$727.62145 UNI$
*Note: 1 UNI$= 2 miles

To be sure, the 1X base points still suffers from rounding. A S$9.99 transaction is rounded down to S$5 and awarded 1 UNI$; a S$23.50 transaction is rounded down to S$20 and awarded 4 UNI$.

But the 9X bonus points are relatively unaffected. At the end of the relevant period (either calendar month or statement month, depending on the card), all eligible transactions, including cents, will be summed up. The consolidated figure is then rounded down once to the nearest S$5 before the 9X points are calculated.

To put it another way, with the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa, I’m losing a maximum of 20 miles per transaction. With the UOB Visa Signature/Lady’s/ Lady’s Solitaire, I’m losing a maximum of 20 miles per bonus period. No one likes losing miles, but I’d much rather take the latter over the former.

So the advantage of the UOB Preferred Platinum Visa is that you get your bonus points faster, while the advantage of the UOB Visa Signature/Lady’s/ Lady’s Solitaire is that you get more bonus points (for the same amount of spending). 

Conclusion

While UOB’s rounding policy can be very damaging to smaller transactions on general spending cards, its impact is relatively less severe on larger transactions, or transactions with specialised spending cards (UOB Preferred Platinum Visa aside). 

All this wouldn’t be an issue if they simply awarded points per S$1 (OCBC is equally guilty of this too, I should add), but hey, it wouldn’t be UOB if it were straightforward. 

At least UOB allows you to get a detailed breakdown of points on a transaction level via the UOB TMRW app (remember: you won’t get bonus breakdowns for the UOB Visa Signature/Lady’s/Lady’s Solitaire card because points are awarded as a lump sum). For more details on how to do this, refer to the article below.

UOB TMRW: Get transaction-level credit card rewards points breakdowns

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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Mac

What about the UOB Krisflyer Credit Card? =/

Adam

The bonus 1.8 mpd is only posted at the end of the membership year, good luck trying to track that lol. But if the logic holds, the rounding will only be applied on the sum of all transactions.

Cee

I’m curious as to what led to such “punitive” policies. Doesn’t simplicity and transparency benefit all parties (UOB and credit card holders)? Really interested in the thought-processes and/or company culture that led to this.

Masked rider

They want to make you spend more to get to the nearest 5 dollar block. Lord knows how many times I’ve donated to Ronald McDonald’s chewren charity cos my meal wasn’t 10 bucks.

Cee

oh yeah, i’ve done that a few times!

JT Lim

you said it right! Company culture- A culture of pulling wool over your eyes and catching you when you are unaware all the while advertising the UP TO rewards in your face. Basically a very transaction culture that oversells and under delivers. Onus is on you to spot the potholes. Just walk into a branch and experience it yourself. haha

Cee

well said

CaptainO

What a mess. Just do yourself a favor and forget UOB.

Martin

Ditto. I’ve never seen a more disingenuous bank.

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