Delayed again: OCBC’s 8 new airline and hotel transfer partners

OCBC's new airline and hotel transfer partners, originally set to launch at the end of 2022, will now see a Q2 2023 launch at the earliest.

In September 2022, OCBC announced that it was going to add new airline and hotel partners to its rewards ecosystem, giving cardholders choices beyond just KrisFlyer. 

These partners were supposed to come online by the end of 2022, but the deadline slipped to January, February and then March 2023. Unfortunately, I’ve now learned that there’s been yet another delay, and the earliest we can expect to see these new partners will be April 2023.

OCBC’s new transfer partners delayed again

Etihad Guest is one of OCBC’s new transfer partners

90°N Miles (formerly known as Travel$), OCBC$, and VOYAGE Miles can currently only be transferred to Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.

However, OCBC plans to introduce eight new airline and hotel loyalty programmes:

✈️ Airlines🏨 Hotels
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Cathay Pacific 
  • Etihad Guest
  • United MileagePlus
  • Accor Live Limitless
  • IHG One Rewards
  • Marriott Bonvoy

There will be a flat fee of S$25 per conversion, regardless of the number of points transferred. Unfortunately, OCBC did away with free conversions on the OCBC 90°N, OCBC Premier Visa Infinite and OCBC VOYAGE in February 2023. 

I’ve also learned that there will be two rewards portals:

This is similar to the setup that Standard Chartered has- probably unsurprising since both OCBC and Standard Chartered use Ascenda Loyalty’s API to offer their new partners.

That said, with two different rewards portals, I wonder how long it’ll be before I start getting panicky emails saying “OMG OCBC REMOVED KRISFLYER MILES!!!” Hey, it’s happened before…

What transfer ratios can we expect?

While we don’t know the all-important transfer ratios yet, here’s my speculative ratios, based on what we’ve seen with Standard Chartered.

💭 Speculative Transfer Ratios
(OCBC: partner)
 OCBC$90°N/VOYAGE Miles
flyingblue logo2.5:11:1
british airways logo2.5:11:1
asia miles logo2.5:11:1
etihad guest logo3:11.2:1
3.5:11.4:1
5:12:1
ihg logo2.5:11:1
2.5:11:1

Of course, Standard Chartered and OCBC may have very different internal rewards economics, so we’ll only know for sure in April when the partners go live (we hope!).

Accor Live Limitless points have a fixed value of €0.02, which means you could potentially cash out 90°N and VOYAGE Miles at S$0.0143 each, assuming my speculative ratios are correct. That could get even better whenever Accor offers one of its transfer bonuses. 

British Airways is well-known for their short-haul award sweet spots, and also happens to be one of the best ways of visiting the excellent Qatar Premium Lounge at Changi for cheap (just redeem a one-way MH Business Class ticket to KUL for 12,500 Avios). 

Don’t forget that you can also transfer Avios from British Airways to Qatar Airways at a 1:1 ratio, and Qatar Airways does not impose fuel surcharges for redemptions on its own metal. 

United MileagePlus is a relative unknown for most miles chasers here, and despite their shift to dynamic pricing, you can still find good value awards if you know where to look. They also have nifty tricks like the Excursionist Perk, and domestic flights within the US start from just 5,000 miles each way. 

More crucially, United MileagePlus does not impose fuel surcharges on redemptions. This makes them the ideal programme to redeem Lufthansa First Class, or any other carrier that slaps on these junk fees. 

The US bloggers will have this covered better, so refer to the links below for some sweet spot ideas:

Conclusion

OCBC cardholders looking forward to additional transfer partners will have to sit tight, as the deadline for implementation slips once again. We’re now looking at an April 2023 launch date, and one really hopes this gets sorted out in time for June holiday planning. 

I’ll be providing an update on the transfer ratios as soon as I know more.

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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