How to calculate credit card points: General spending cards

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How do banks calculate points, and how does rounding affect you? Here's all you need to know for general spending cards.

What’s harder than splitting the atom? Reconciling credit card points.

Those of you who obsessively track your points will know what I’m talking about. It’s rarely the case that transaction amount * mpd rate= total miles, because of how banks calculate and round points. In fact, rounding policies may mean you don’t always get the headline rates that banks advertise.

For example, if you spend S$19.99 in Singapore on your UOB PRVI Miles card, you may think you’ll earn S$19.99*1.4=27.99 miles.

UOB PRVI Miles earn rates

Not quite. UOB’s calculation process involves the following:

  • S$19.99 transaction is rounded down to the nearest S$5, i.e. S$15
  • 3.5 UNI$ are awarded for each block of S$5, i.e. 10.5 UNI$
  • UNI$ are rounded down to the nearest whole number, so the 10.5 UNI$ is further rounded down to 10 UNI$, which is equal to 20 miles

Therefore, your earn rate isn’t 1.4 mpd, it’s actually 1 mpd (and yes, this means that if you spend S$4.99, you earn zero miles)!

❓ How do I check credit card points breakdowns?
Depending on which card you use, you may be able to get a breakdown of the points per transaction. Refer to this guide for more details.

It’s an extreme case of course, and the effect gets smaller as your transaction gets bigger, but it does show how rounding can mess up what should otherwise be a simple calculation.

In this post, we’ll look at the rounding policies of different general spending cards on the market.

💳 Calculating Credit Card Points
❓ General vs Specialised Spending Cards

Specialised spending cards are those which earn bonus points (typically 4 mpd) on certain categories/types of transactions. For example, the Citi Rewards Card earns 4 mpd on all online transactions (except travel), and the OCBC Titanium Rewards card earns 4 mpd on shopping. 

General spending cards earn a flat 1-1.6 mpd on all transactions regardless of category/type.

Calculations: General Spending Cards

Here’s how each general spending card rounds and awards points, sorted by the minimum spend required to earn points.

CardRemarksMin. Spend to Earn Points
KrisFlyer UOB Credit CardRound down trxn. to nearest S$5, divide by 5, then multiply by 6 (local or FCY)S$5
OCBC Premier VIRound down trxn. to nearest S$5, divide by 5, multiply by 16 (local) or 28 (FCY)S$5
OCBC VOYAGE
(Normal)
Round down trxn. to nearest S$5, divide by 5, multiply by 6.5 (local) or 11 (FCY). Round to the nearest whole numberS$5
OCBC VOYAGE
(Premier, PPC, BOS)
Round down trxn. to nearest S$5, divide by 5, multiply by 8 (local) or 11.5 (FCY). Round to the nearest whole numberS$5
OCBC 90°N MastercardRound down trxn. to nearest S$5, divide by 5, multiply by 6 (local) or 10.5 (FCY). Round to the nearest whole numberS$5
OCBC 90°N VisaRound down trxn. to nearest S$5, divide by 5, multiply by 5 (local) or 10 (FCY). Round to the nearest whole numberS$5
UOB PRVI MilesRound down trxn. to nearest S$5, divide by 5, then multiply by 3.5 (local) or 6 (FCY). Round down to the nearest whole numberS$5
UOB Visa Infinite MetalRound down trxn. to nearest S$5, divide by 5, then multiply by 3.5 (local) or 5 (FCY). Round down to the nearest whole numberS$5
DBS Altitude AMEX/VisaDivide trxn. by 5 and multiply by 3 (local) or 5 (FCY). Round down to the nearest whole numberS$1.67 (SGD)
S$1 (FCY)
DBS VantageDivide trxn. by 5 and multiply by 3.75 (local) or 5.5 (FCY). Round down to the nearest whole numberS$1.34 (SGD)
S$0.91 (FCY)
Citi PremierMiles Round down trxn. to nearest S$1, then multiply by 1.2 (local) or 2 (FCY). Round to the nearest whole numberS$1
Citi PrestigeRound down trxn. to nearest S$1, then multiply by 3.25 (local) or 5 (FCY). Round to the nearest whole numberS$1
HSBC Visa InfiniteRound trxn. to nearest S$1, then multiply by 2.5 (local) or 5 (FCY). Round down to nearest whole number^S$0.50
Maybank Visa InfiniteRound trxn. to the nearest S$1, then multiply by 3 (local) or 5 (FCY)S$0.50
AMEX KrisFlyer Credit CardMultiply trxn. by 1.1 (local) or 2 (FCY in Jun/Dec), then round to the nearest whole numberS$0.46 (SGD)
S$0.25 (FCY in Jun/Dec)
AMEX KrisFlyer AscendMultiply trxn. by 1.2 (local) or 2 (FCY in Jun/Dec), then round to the nearest whole numberS$0.42 (SGD)
S$0.25 (FCY in Jun/Dec)
SCB Visa InfiniteMultiply trxn. by 2.5 (local and FCY), then round to the nearest whole number*
S$0.20
SCB X CardFor local, multiply trxn. by 3, then round to nearest whole number. For FCY, multiply trxn. by 3, round to nearest whole number, then multiply trxn. by 2, round to nearest whole number, then add the two figuresS$0.17
BOC Elite Miles World MastercardMultiply trxn. by 4.5 (local) or 9.0 (FCY), no rounding
S$0.01
^ If cardholder has “Step Up Earn Rate” (Spent >S$50K in previous year), multiply by 3.125 (local) or 5.625 (FCY)
*Bonus 1 (local) and 5 (FCY) points is contingent on hitting S$2K in a statement cycle and is awarded within five days after the end of the statement month

A few things to point out.

Round versus round down

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

Obviously, the former is more generous than the latter.

For example, the AMEX KrisFlyer Ascend does not round transactions; it rounds the KrisFlyer miles awarded to the nearest whole number. Therefore, a S$36.35 transaction would earn 43.62 miles (36.35*1.2), rounded up to 44 miles.

In contrast, the UOB PRVI Miles rounds down your transaction to the nearest S$5, then rounds down the awarded UNI$ again. So this same S$36.35 transaction would first be rounded down to S$35, then the resulting 24.5 UNI$ (35/5*3.5) would be rounded down to 24 UNI$.

Fractional points

Of all the banks here, BOC is the only one I’m aware of which awards fractional points. If I spend S$10.80 and S$6.85, for example, I’ll get 48.6 points and 30.825 points respectively, or 79.425 points in total. Most other banks would have rounded those figures down to 48 and 30, for a total of 78.

It’s a small difference to be sure, but it really means every cent counts.

Best cards to use for small amounts

The effect of rounding is most noticeable on small transactions. You definitely don’t want to be using OCBC or UOB cards for this, given their S$5 earning blocks!

It’s better to stick with American Express, HSBC, Citibank or Standard Chartered cards, because their rounding policies are less punitive for small amounts. In an extreme case, the BOC Elite Miles card literally earns points on every cent, but following its 2020 nerf is not really worth considering.

 Credit Card Points Calculator

I’ve taken a stab at creating a credit card calculator for general spending cards, where you can plug in your spending amount and see how each card performs.

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.

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 transaction amount.

CardFormula for Points
KrisFlyer UOB Credit CardLocal & FCY: ROUNDDOWN(X/5,0)*6
OCBC Premier VILocal: ROUND (ROUNDDOWN(X/5,0)*16,0)
FCY: ROUND (ROUNDDOWN(X/5,0)*28,0)
OCBC VOYAGE
(Normal)
Local: ROUND (ROUNDDOWN(X/5,0)*6.5,0)
FCY: ROUND (ROUNDDOWN(X/5,0)*11,0)
OCBC VOYAGE
(Premier, PPC, BOS)
Local: ROUND (ROUNDDOWN(X/5,0)*8,0)
FCY: ROUND (ROUNDDOWN(X/5,0)*11.5,0)
OCBC 90°N MastercardLocal: ROUND (ROUNDDOWN(X/5,0)*6,0)
FCY: ROUND (ROUNDDOWN(X/5,0)*10.5,0)
OCBC 90°N VisaLocal: ROUND (ROUNDDOWN(X/5,0)*5,0)
FCY: ROUND (ROUNDDOWN(X/5,0)*10,0)
UOB PRVI MilesLocal: ROUNDDOWN (ROUNDDOWN(X/5,0)*3.5,0)
FCY: ROUNDDOWN (ROUNDDOWN(X/5,0)*6,0)
UOB Visa Infinite MetalLocal: ROUNDDOWN (ROUNDDOWN(X/5,0)*3.5,0)
FCY: ROUNDDOWN (ROUNDDOWN(X/5,0)*5,0)
DBS Altitude AMEX/VisaLocal: ROUNDDOWN ((X/5)*3,0)
FCY: ROUNDDOWN ((X/5)*5,0)
DBS VantageLocal: ROUNDDOWN ((X/5)*3.75,0)
FCY: ROUNDDOWN ((X/5)*5.5,0)
Citi PremierMiles Local: ROUND (ROUNDDOWN(X,0)*1.2,0)
FCY: ROUND (ROUNDDOWN(X,0)*2,0)
Citi PrestigeLocal: ROUND (ROUNDDOWN(X,0)*3.25,0)
FCY: ROUND (ROUNDDOWN(X,0)*5,0)
HSBC Visa InfiniteLocal (Regular): ROUNDDOWN (ROUND(X,0)*2.5)
FCY (Regular): ROUNDDOWN (ROUND(X,0)*5)
Local (Step Up): ROUNDDOWN (ROUND(X,0)*3.125)
FCY (Step Up): ROUNDDOWN (ROUND(X,0)*5.625)
Maybank Visa InfiniteLocal: ROUND(X,0)*3
FCY: ROUND(X,0)*5
AMEX KrisFlyer Credit CardLocal: ROUND(X*1.1,0)
FCY: ROUND(X*2,0)
AMEX KrisFlyer AscendLocal: ROUND(X*1.2,0)
FCY: ROUND(X*2,0)
SCB Visa InfiniteLocal & FCY: ROUND(X*2.5,0)
SCB X CardLocal: ROUND(X*3,0)
FCY: ROUND(X*3,0)+ ROUND(X*2,0)
BOC Elite Miles World MastercardLocal: X * 4.5
FCY: X * 9

Remember that the formulas above give you the number of points you can expect to receive (e.g. UNI$, DBS Points, VOYAGE Miles, OCBC$), not miles. A further calculation is necessary to convert points to miles.

Bank pointsKrisFlyer miles
1 DBS Point2 miles
1 UNI$2 miles
1 Citi Mile1 mile
1 Travel$1 mile
1 VOYAGE Mile1 mile
1 Citi ThankYou Point0.4 miles
1 HSBC Point0.4 miles
1 TREATS Point0.4 miles
1 SCB Point0.4 miles (for X Card, Visa Infinite)
0.29 miles (all others)
1 OCBC$0.4 miles
1 BOC Point0.22 miles

Conclusion

If your mind has turned to mush by now, I don’t blame you. That’s a lot of math to take in, so head on over to the Credit Card Calculator if you want a quick answer.

I’ve also updated the post on calculations for Specialised Spending Cards too- be sure to check it out!

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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Bent

U left out the widely used DBS Woman’s world card?

No miles for me

I’ve been trying to track pooled UOB uni$ and it is real difficult. The weirdest discrepancy is with UOB VS and the bonus 4mpd for foreign spend over $1000. The additional 9 uni$ is credited at the end of the statement cycle. It seems that the final two digits from what I calculate and what UOB credits are transposed. For example I calculate 3456 and the statement shows I am credited 3465. If I calculate 3190 I am credited 3109. This happens every month and is so odd.

Raeza

You should consider making an app where users can (1) set what cards they have, (2) key in amount/currency and (3) immediately get the recommended card to win at life.

freedom

An excel does the same job. An app is overkill

Keenan Lew

arrh yes.. but an app makes you a startup while an exce makes you an……. analyst.

lol

Would be a cool product but with the glorious pool of 3000 users in Singapore, he’ll break even on producing and maintaining the app in 80 years.

myfatfire

Aaron – you are doing gods work!!

Cheryl

Please cover UOB preferred platinum card too. Thanks 🙂

Larry

I believe he posted a link to specialised spending cards above, too.

alian

Argggggh …. I’m going back to cash. Life is so damn complicated. Here

Good article – thanks Aaron

Tom

Thanks so much for this – I was literally going to message you the other day to request an article like this! Very relevant since I’ve started doing a lot of transactions that are either 0.83 or 1.66 depending on whether I get the MRT one way or both ways to work each day!

Yiwei

Is there an error with the DBS Altitude card FCY excel formula?
Should *7.5 instead?

Yiwei

ah, that’s right. /5*7.5 is for Hotels and Flights

LionDen

Just sharing my recent experience. I recently rang up DBS to check my points for the Altitude Visa card. I was told and assured by the CSO that even a $1 spend locally can earn points (0.6 points) and DBS will total all the points earned from each transaction before they round down the final figure. CSO mentioned that for those transactions which result in <1 point shows up as 0 in the DBS digibot because the digibot system truncate the decimal. Over at the CSO end he could see my points at transactional level – 0.6. With this it… Read more »

LYY

My DBS total points as stated in LifeStyle app: 586
Me manually summing the points I got from individual transactions: 586
Me summing my total expenditure in a statement, then apply x1.2miles/2miles to get whole DBS points: 605
This seems to suggest that they round to whole DBS points for each transaction before summing.
Unless the total DBS points they’re showing me is erroneous.

John

Thank You Aaron for taking time to prepare such a tool. This excel really helps.

Low

Hi
What’s the. Best card to use for beauty salon treatments? Tks

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