It’s alive: BOC Elite Miles Card offering 20,000 miles sign-up bonus

BOC Elite Miles is back from the dead with a 20,000 miles sign-up bonus...and of course, the T&Cs are to die for.

Do not adjust your screens.

For the longest time, it seemed that Bank of China had all but forgotten about its BOC Elite Miles Card (after nerfing it into oblivion in June 2020), the card which started so well and then…kind of got drunk. 

I had fully expected them to quietly take the BOC Elite Miles behind the shed and put it out of its misery, but now comes an unexpected 20,000 miles sign-up bonus, capped at the first 230 applicants (yes, BOC’s been taking lessons from UOB).

I seldom cover “first X” style sign-up bonuses, but I feel the need to highlight this one because it sums up everything I miss so fondly about dealing with BOC…

BOC Elite Miles 20,000 miles sign-up bonus

Apply Here

From 23 December 2022 to 23 April 2023, applicants for the BOC Elite Miles Card will receive:

  • 67,500 BOC points (15,000 KrisFlyer miles) for paying the first-year annual fee of S$205.20
  • 22,500 BOC points (5,000 KrisFlyer miles) for spending S$2,000 in the first two months

Cardmembers must apply with the promo code BOCMILES, and be among the first 230 applicants to do so (this campaign lasts for four months, yet has a cap of just 230 applicants- you can’t say BOC is overambitious)

They also need to be new-to-bank, and here’s where BOC is not only learning from UOB, they seem determined to outdo them. A new-to-bank customer is defined as an applicant who:

  • is not an existing Principal and/or Supplementary Cardmember of the BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard; and
  • who has not terminated any Principal and/or Supplementary BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard within the last six (6) months.

Notice how current and recent supplementary cardholders are excluded from “new-to-bank”, which would be the first time a bank has defined it this way. It strikes me as a silly distinction, since supplementary cardholders don’t really have a relationship with the bank; if the supplementary cardholder’s bill’s overdue, the bank goes after the principal cardholder.

Is it worth it?

Paying S$205.20 for 15,000 KrisFlyer miles, in and of itself, isn’t terrible. That works out to 1.37 cents per mile, one of the lowest rates you’ll find for buying miles via annual fees (you can, of course, buy miles for 1.1 cents apiece via Citi PayAll until 31 January 2023).

Spending S$2,000 for 5,000 KrisFlyer miles, together with the base earn rate of 1 mpd, would work out to 3.5 mpd ([5,000+2,000*1]/2,000). That’s an OK return as well, although obviously if you could have put that on 4 mpd cards then there’s some opportunity cost involved.

Based on my reading of the T&Cs, you need to fulfil both criteria to enjoy the bonus, i.e. you can’t just pay the S$205.20 annual fee for 15,000 KrisFlyer miles and then ignore the S$2,000 minimum spend.

Also, any BOC Points received through this sign-up bonus must be converted into KrisFlyer miles, notwithstanding the fact that BOC also partners with Asia Miles.

Frequent Flyer ProgrammeConversion Ratio
(BOC Points: Miles)
45,000: 10,000
27,000: 6,000

Points conversions cost S$30, but you can only transfer a maximum of 10 blocks at one go, either:

  • 100,000 KrisFlyer miles (450,000 BOC points), or
  • 60,000 Asia Miles (270,000 BOC points) 

Why? Because they said so. There’s absolutely no technical reason for this; it’s a pure money-grab on their part. 

What counts as qualifying spend?

A minimum of S$2,000 must be spent in the qualifying period, which begins from the date of approval to the end of two months after the month of approval. 

For example, if you’re approved on 15 January 2023, you have until 31 March 2023 to meet the qualifying spend. 

Card ApprovalQualifying Spend Deadline
23-31 Dec 202228 Feb 2023
1-31 Jan 202331 Mar 2023
1-28 Feb 202330 Apr 2023
1-31 Mar 202331 May 2023
1-23 Apr 202330 Jun 2023

Qualifying spend only includes transactions charged to the principal card. Remember the hubbub when UOB tried to exclude supplementary cardholder spending from sign-up bonus spend? BOC’s basically saying “hold my beer”. 

A full list of excluded transactions can be found in the T&Cs, but the key ones to note are:

  • Donations
  • Education
  • Government-related transactions
  • Hospitals
  • Insurance premiums
  • Prepaid account top-ups like GrabPay and YouTrip
  • Utilities bills

When will bonus miles be credited?

Most banks automatically credit the bonus miles (in the form of points) to your card account within a certain period of meeting the qualifying criteria.

BOC is not most banks.

Cardholders will receive a physical redemption letter (yes, a physical redemption letter), mailed within three calendar months from the end of the qualifying period (i.e. by 30 June 2023). 

They must return the completed redemption letter to BOC within one month of the redemption letter’s issuance in order to receive their bonus points.

Terms & Conditions

I absolutely insist you peruse this finely-worded set of T&Cs, available here. 

Conclusion

So, to recap the terms of this BOC Elite Miles 20,000 miles sign-up offer:

  • Available to first 230 applicants only
  • New-to-bank definition excludes current and existing supplementary cardholders
  • Supplementary cardholder spend excluded from qualifying spend
  • Bonus points awarded via physical redemption letter, which needs to be completed and returned for crediting

This is just vintage BOC right here, from the gotchas in the T&Cs right down to the physical redemption letter. 

Should you throw you hat in the ring? Sure, if you don’t mind dealing with mysterious interest charges, annual fee waivers that end up costing you even more, devaluations of your existing points balances, mileage redemptions that involve sending in a physical form, and when it’s all said and done, some of the lowest earn rates of any card in Singapore (1 mpd local, 2 mpd FCY). 

Spank me harder, daddy. 

(HT: Eluria)

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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Terence

Article was hilarious. Thanks! And Merry Christmas

Terence

Oh wow another MileLion reader with my exact name spelling

Oysterbay

Hi, will excluded payment categories if charged under Cardup be considered as the minimum spending? Can’t find any mention in the TnC.

Thanks

John

No thanks, last time i remember get letter of application rejection but inside have the credit card. Weird

chk

Haha haha. Really rubbish this BOC.

Merry Christmas fellow Milelion readers

Timbo

It’s a bit early for Aprils fool jokes?
Great article Aaron, love the humour

QFFlyer

Excellent 😂; terrible product, but excellent article. Merry Xmas!

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