OCBC Spend & Buy Miles: Buy up to 350,000 miles from 1.4 cents each

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OCBC's Spend & Buy Miles promotion offers cardholders additional KrisFlyer miles, but the high opportunity cost offsets any real benefits.

OCBC has launched an interesting new promotion that allows cardholders to purchase up to 350,000 KrisFlyer miles upon meeting a certain minimum spend.

This is a targeted offer for OCBC 90°N, Premier Visa Infinite, Titanium Rewards, and VOYAGE Cardholders. Minimum spends range from S$15,000 to S$100,000, and the cost per mile from 1.4 to 1.67 cents apiece (if this mechanism sounds familiar to you, it’s because Citibank did something similar back in 2020).

While the price per mile isn’t terrible per se, it becomes much higher once you factor in the opportunity cost. As such, I’d say this promotion is best suited for, shall we say, less industrious miles collectors.

OCBC Spend and Buy Miles campaign

From 1 May to 30 June 2023, OCBC cardholders who meet a certain minimum spend can opt to pay an admin fee to purchase additional KrisFlyer miles.

Targeted customers will receive an invitation to participate via eDM, SMS or push notification. If interested, they must register by sending the following SMS to 72377:

📱 SMS to 72377
MILES<space>Date of Birth in DDMMYY<space>KrisFlyer membership no.
e.g. MILES 090865 0123456789

Registration must be done by 31 May 2023. All your pre-registration spending will count towards the minimum spend requirement, provided it falls within the promotion period of 1 May to 30 June 2023.

Cardholders may be targeted for any of the offers listed below:

CardMin. SpendBonus Miles
(Admin Fee)
CPM
OCBC 90°N CardS$15K25K
(S$418)
1.67
OCBC 90°N CardS$20K48K
(S$788)
1.64
OCBC Premier VIS$15K25K
(S$418)
1.67
OCBC Premier VIS$20K48K
(S$788)
1.64
OCBC Titanium RewardsS$15K25K
(S$418)
1.67
OCBC Titanium RewardsS$20K48K
(S$788)
1.64
OCBC VOYAGES$20K48K
(S$788)
1.64
OCBC VOYAGES$50K80K
(S$1,288)
1.61
OCBC VOYAGES$100K350K
(S$4,888)
1.40

To illustrate, an OCBC 90°N Cardholder who spends $15,000 in local currency will earn 19,500 base miles (based on a 1.3 mpd earn rate). He/she can then pay a further S$418 to buy 25,000 bonus miles, an equivalent rate of 1.67 cents per mile (S$418/25,000 miles). 

For avoidance of doubt, spending cannot be combined across different cards. For example, if you have both the OCBC Titanium Rewards Blue and OCBC Titanium Rewards Pink Card, you can’t spend S$7,500 on each to qualify for the S$15,000 tier. 

If you are targeted for multiple offers, your spending will automatically determine which offer is activated. For example:

  • an OCBC 90°N Cardholder who registers and spends at least S$15,000 but less than S$20,000 will be charged a S$418 admin fee for 25,000 bonus miles
  • an OCBC 90°N Cardholder who registers and spends at least S$20,000 will be charged a S$788 admin fee for 48,000 bonus miles

The cardholder in the second example cannot opt for the S$418 fee & 25,000 miles offer. 

What counts as eligible spend?

The minimum spend can be met by any retail transaction (including face-to-face or online purchases) made in Singapore dollars or foreign currency.

It excludes transactions on OCBC’s standard exclusions list, such as:

  • Charitable donations
  • Government services
  • Education
  • Hospitals
  • Insurance premiums
  • GrabPay, YouTrip or other prepaid account top-ups
  • Utilities

For the full exclusions list, refer to the individual card’s T&Cs. 

Supplementary cardholder spending will be aggregated with principal cardholder spending when determining if the minimum spend has been met. 

When will bonus miles be credited?

If you’ve registered for this promotion, the admin fee will be charged to your card account and KrisFlyer miles deposited directly to your KrisFlyer account by 31 August 2023.

You will not have the option to keep these points in your account, nor transfer them to any other programme- not that OCBC has them at the moment!

Terms and Conditions

The full terms and conditions for this promotion can be found below:

Is it worth it?

On the surface, paying 1.4-1.67 cents per mile is not great, not terrible. You could certainly find lower prices through Citi PayAll and CardUp, through it’s cheaper than buying miles through your annual fees.

But is 1.4-1.67 cents the real price? Not when you factor in opportunity cost. You need to spend a hefty amount just to qualify, then pay a further admin fee to purchase more miles. And if you could have earned more miles by spending on a different card, you’re basically paying for nothing.

Here’s a simple example. Suppose I’m an OCBC 90°N Cardholder who meets the S$15,000 minimum spend. Assuming all that spend could have been put on 4 mpd cards — and since you have about two months to spend, you could theoretically do it without busting any caps (UOB Visa Signature (S$2K), DBS Woman’s World Card (S$2K), UOB Preferred Platinum Visa (S$1.1K), HSBC Revolution (S$1K) Citi Rewards Visa/MC (S$1K each)) — that’s a huge opportunity cost.

 Spend with 90°NSpend with 4 mpd cards*
SpendS$15,000S$15,000
Earn Rate1.3 mpd4 mpd
“Free” Miles19,50060,000
Admin FeeS$418
Paid Miles25,000
Total Miles44,50060,000
*You could earn 6 mpd with the UOB Lady’s Cards, but since those are gender-specific we won’t use them in this illustration. If anything, that just makes the OCBC deal even worse

The table above should illustrate it better. With the OCBC 90°N Card, you earn 19,500 base miles from S$15,000 spend, then pay S$418 to add 25,000 bonus miles for a total of 44,500 miles. But had you just used various 4 mpd cards for the S$15,000 spend, you’d have 60,000 miles in total, with no fees required. You’re actually paying S$418 to earn 15,500 fewer miles!

I’ll be the first to admit it’s much easier using just one card instead of having to split your spending across several and keep an eye on the caps, but if you’re willing to do that (and honestly, it’s not that hard), then you’ll be rewarded handsomely. 

In a way, this is a great example of what we mean when we say “don’t leave miles on the table”. By diverting so much spend to a general spending card like the OCBC 90°N, you’re earning a sub-optimal rebate because the specialised spending cards would have rewarded you much more.

But what if you used the OCBC Titanium Rewards instead? Will the picture get better since you can earn 4 mpd on up to S$13,335 of spend per membership year?

Yes, but not by much. Assuming you haven’t touched any of that 4 mpd cap yet, then the situation would look something like this:

 Spend with Titanium RewardsSpend with 4 mpd cards*
SpendS$15,000S$15,000
Earn Rate4 mpd on first S$13,335
0.4 mpd after
4 mpd
“Free” Miles54,00660,000
Admin FeeS$418
Paid Miles25,000
Total Miles79,00660,000
*You could earn 6 mpd with the UOB Lady’s Cards, but since those are gender-specific we won’t use them in this illustration. If anything, that just makes the OCBC deal even worse

In this scenario, you’re paying S$418 to earn 19,006 extra miles (compared to the 4 mpd route). That increases the “real” cost per mile from 1.67 cents to a much less attractive 2.2 cents.

Come to think of it, even if you went big and spent S$100,000 on the OCBC VOYAGE for the highest tier of 350,000 bonus miles (where the 4 mpd cards would be less relevant because all their caps would be busted), you’re still paying 1.4 cents per mile. A much cheaper route would be to leverage the current Citi PayAll offer, which lets you buy up to 264,000 miles at 1 cent each. 

The way I see it, this offer is best summarised as such: if you’re the lazy sort who can’t be bothered to optimise your miles collecting, then this lets you purchase additional miles at a cheaper price than, say, paying annual fees.

But if you’re willing to put in the legwork, you’ll be able to get more miles at lower cost!

Conclusion

OCBC’s new Spend and Buy Miles campaign offers cardholders the opportunity to purchase up to 350,000 bonus KrisFlyer miles upon meeting a certain minimum spend. While the cost per mile sounds fairly attractive at 1.4-1.67 cents each, it becomes much higher once opportunity cost is factored in.

As such, this won’t be a good option unless you’re part of the “one-card brigade”.

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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Anon

Or just spend 5k dining on 12miles/dollar using Kris+

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