Which banks pool credit card points?

If you use more than one card from a given bank, credit card points pooling makes life so much easier. Which banks offer it, and which don't?

If you’re playing the miles and points game, chances are you’ll have more than one credit card from a given bank. In that case, points pooling is a highly desirable feature, since it minimises conversion fees and orphan miles, and makes card cancellations more straightforward. 

In this post we’ll take a closer look at which banks pool credit card points, and some of the finer details you should be aware of. 

💳 Credit Card FAQs
This article forms part of a series on Credit Card FAQs. Refer to the articles below for answers to other common questions.

What is points pooling, and why does it matter?

Points pooling simply means that points earned on different cards are combined into one central account, instead of being held in individual silos. 

Consider the following example:

CardPointsTotal
With Pooling
UOB Lady’s Card4,500 UNI$13,500 UNI$
UOB Pref. Plat. Visa4,500 UNI$
UOB Visa Signature4,500 UNI$
Without Pooling
Citi Prestige22,500 TY points22,500 TY points
Citi Rewards Mastercard22,500 TY points22,500 TY points
Citi Rewards Visa22,500 TY points22,500 TY points

UOB cards pool points, so if I have three cards with 4,500 UNI$ each, I redeem my points from one central pool of 13,500 UNI$. 

Citi cards do not pool points, so if I have three cards with 22,500 ThankYou points, I redeem my cards from three separate pools of 22,500 ThankYou points.

Points pooling offers three big advantages. 

(1) Save on conversion fees

Points pooling allows cardholders to save on conversion fees when transferring credit card points to airline miles.

For example, with UOB cards there’s only one central pool to draw from. No matter how many UOB cards I have, I will only pay a single conversion fee when transferring UNI$ to airline miles. 

But with Citi cards, each card has its own “points silo” that doesn’t comingle with the rest. I will have to pay one conversion fee for each card I have.

(2) Avoid orphan miles

While pooling does not eliminate orphan miles altogether, spending with credit cards that pool points can help reduce the frequency and quantum of the problem.

Going back to our previous example:

CardPoints Conversion Blocks
UOB Lady’s Card4,500 UNI$5,000 UNI$
UOB Pref. Plat. Visa4,500 UNI$
UOB Visa Signature4,500 UNI$
Orphan Miles3,500 UNI$ 

Since UOB pools points, I only need to deal with the orphan miles issue once, and in this case I have 3,500 orphan UNI$.

Then consider Citi:

CardPointsConversion Blocks
Citi Prestige22,500 TY points25,000 TY points
Citi Rewards Mastercard22,500 TY points25,000 TY points
Citi Rewards Visa22,500 TY points25,000 TY points
Orphan Miles67,500 TY points 

Since Citi does not pool points, and the minimum conversion amount is 25,000 ThankYou points, it doesn’t matter that I collectively have 67,500 ThankYou points- all my points are orphaned!

To learn more about avoiding orphan miles, refer to the post below.

What are orphan miles, and how do you avoid them?

(3) Simpler cancellations

Points pooling reduces the hassle when it comes to cancelling cards. 

CardTotal
With Pooling
UOB Lady’s Card13,500 UNI$
UOB Pref. Plat. Visa
UOB Visa Signature
Without Pooling
Citi Prestige22,500 TY points
Citi Rewards Mastercard22,500 TY points
Citi Rewards Visa22,500 TY points

If I were to cancel my UOB Visa Signature, I don’t lose the 4,500 UNI$ associated with the card. That’s already in the central pool, and is unaffected.

On the other hand, if I were to cancel my Citi Rewards Visa, I would lose the 22,500 ThankYou points associated with the card. Therefore I’ll need to cash them out before cancelling the card.

Which banks pool points?

Here’s a summary of which banks do and don’t pool points.

BankPools Points?
✓ Yes
No
No
✓ Yes
No
✓ Yes
✓ Yes
(provided same currency)*
✓ Yes
(provided same currency)^
✓ Yes
*OCBC$, Travel$ and VOYAGE Miles pool within each other, but not among each other
^Visa Infinite and non-Visa Infinite points pool within each other, but not among each other, where KrisFlyer transfers are concerned

There is some nuance to this, so be sure to read the details below.

American Express

Membership Rewards points earned on the Platinum cards are pooled, but it’s slightly complicated.

First of all, recall that AMEX Platinum Charge cardholders can convert Membership Rewards points to miles at a 400:250 ratio, versus 450:250 for other AMEX cardholders.

If you hold an AMEX Platinum Charge and an AMEX Platinum Reserve/AMEX Platinum Credit Card, there are two possibilities.

(1) Some people will see their points pooled automatically on the back end, all convertible at the more advantageous 400:250 rate. If you’re in this situation, the drop down menu for “Your Points Account” will look like this.

(2) Some people will not see their points pooled on the back end. Instead, they’ll have one points account for their AMEX Platinum Charge, and another points account for their AMEX Platinum Reserve/Platinum Credit Card. If you’re in this situation, the drop down menu for “Your Points Account” will have a “Switch Account” button to toggle between points balances.

In this case, you can call up customer service to get your points manually combined and transferred at the more advantageous 400:250 rate.

The points pooling concept is irrelevant for the American Express KrisFlyer cobrand cards, because miles are automatically credited to the linked KrisFlyer account with no transfer fees (plus, you can’t own more than one KrisFlyer cobrand card anyway). 

Bank of China

Here’s the hilarious thing about Bank of China. Even though they only have one miles card to speak of, you may still end up paying multiple conversion fees.

That’s because back in March 2019, BOC capped the maximum number of points that can be converted in a single transaction at 10 blocks. This works out to 60,000 Asia Miles, or 100,000 KrisFlyer miles, and means that if you want to convert, say, 250,000 KrisFlyer miles, you’d pay $30 x 3 =$90 of conversion fees.

It’s a very silly and arbitrary rule, but it wouldn’t be BOC if it wasn’t. 

Citibank

Citi has two different points currencies:

  • Citi Miles (Citi PremierMiles)
  • ThankYou points (Citi Lazada, Citi Prestige, Citi Rewards, Citi ULTIMA)

Sadly, none of these pool, so you’ll pay as many conversion fees as you have cards. 

DBS Bank

DBS Bank is a unique case: DBS Points are kept separate on the back end, but pooled together at the point of redemption.

For example, note how the DBS Rewards portal shows that I have 4,971 DBS Points on my card ending 4921, and 2,121 DBS points on my card ending 6440.

Although each card’s individual balance is less than 5,000, I’m still able to redeem a block of 5,000 DBS Points because the points are pooled together for redemption. The system will prompt me to select a credit card number to “deduct” the points from, but it doesn’t matter which card I pick.

When redeeming DBS Points, the DBS system will deduct those with the earliest expiry first- since DBS Woman’s World Card points expire after one year and DBS Altitude/Treasures AMEX/Insignia points never expire, the former will always be redeemed before the latter.

However, outside of redemptions, DBS Points are kept separate. This means that if you cancel a given DBS card, you’ll forfeit all points earned on that card. Cash them out before cancelling!

HSBC

HSBC does not pool points, which means that you won’t be able to convert HSBC points earned on the Revolution or Visa Infinite for the TravelOne’s new transfer partners. 

However, HSBC has informed me they’re working on adding pooling to their system. The timeline is uncertain, but it’s good to know this will change at some point!

Maybank

Maybank cards pool points, which creates an interesting opportunity. 

Maybank Visa Infinite and Maybank World Mastercard cardholders enjoy complimentary conversions, so if you have one of these cards, you could use it as a conduit to convert points earned on other Maybank cards for free!

OCBC Bank

While OCBC pools points, it has three different points currencies which complicate the matter:

  • 90°N Miles (OCBC 90°N Mastercard, OCBC 90°N Visa)
  • OCBC$ (OCBC Titanium Rewards, OCBC Premier Visa Infinite)
  • VOYAGE Miles (OCBC VOYAGE)

Similar points currencies will be pooled, but different points currencies will not.

For example, any OCBC$ I earn on the OCBC Titanium Rewards Card can be pooled with OCBC$ earned on the OCBC Premier Visa Infinite.

However, OCBC$ I earn on the OCBC Titanium Rewards Card cannot be pooled with 90°N Miles earned on the OCBC 90°N Mastercard.

Standard Chartered Bank

Standard Chartered’s rewards system is a hot, steaming mess that requires a whole article just to explain.

Standard Chartered’s 360° Rewards & EasyRewards: A hot steaming mess

If you want the tl;dr version, it’s best to think of Standard Chartered as having two different “flavours” of 360° Points: those earned on the Visa Infinite and Journey, and those earned on all other cards. These follow different rules for pooling and expiry:

 360° Points
(SC Visa Infinite & Journey)
360° Points
(All other SC cards)
Conversion FeeS$27 per conversion
Expiry?No expiryUp to 3 years
✈️ For KrisFlyer Conversions
Conversion Rate
25,000 pts = 10,000 miles 34,500 pts. = 10,000 miles
Points Pool?
Yes, but not with all other SC cardsYes, but not with SC Visa Infinite & Journey
✈️🏨 For All Other Partners
Conversion Rate
2,500 -5,000 pts. = 1,000 miles/points
Points Pool?
Yes

Yes, it’s needlessly complicated. 

UOB

UOB pools points, which like Maybank creates an interesting opportunity.

UOB Privilege Banking Visa Infinite, UOB Reserve, UOB Visa Infinite Metal Card cardholders enjoy complimentary conversions, so if you have one of these cards, you could use it as a conduit to convert points earned on other UOB cards for free!

Do note that the KrisFlyer UOB Credit Card is a cobrand card that does not earn UNI$; instead, KrisFlyer miles earned are deposited directly into your KrisFlyer account once a month.

Conclusion

Not pooling points is a very customer-unfriendly decision, but my guess is that banks which don’t allow it aren’t doing so deliberately. More likely than not, it’s a hangover from an outdated IT system where points were kept in silos, which no one dares to touch.

That said, the lack of points pooling may not necessarily be a deal-breaker. I’d argue that it’s still worth using Citi cards, for example, thanks to the sheer variety of transfer partners and the opportunity to earn 4 mpd on online transactions with the Citi Rewards Card.

How important is points pooling to you?

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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new to miles

do points earned from supplementary cards of these banks count and pool to the main card?

No miles for me

“SC x-card – if you got the 100,000 miles bonus from $6,000 of local spending”

It’s any spending isn’t it? Not just local spending.

DR

You describe the nuances of these banks and their respective cards well. Thank you!

DK

Just a minor point, I don’t think you will lose all the uni$ with uob even after you cancel your last mile earning card. The balance will still be the same after you next reapply another uob miles earning card. I had an experience where I had a negative balance (long story) and it was there even after I cancelled all my cards.

DR

How did you manage to get negative points? Is it a corner case or something people can easily fall into?

DK

yup, i charged hospitalisation bill and got uni$ and then redeemed it. then the insurance refunded the money and they had to deduct the points. i then cancelled all my cards in boycott but when i reapplied in future, the “debt” is still there. apparently the memory is for life.

Mileshedgehog

But don’t UNI$s have an expiry? Surely they won’t show up if they have expired. Maybe this only applies to negative balances. A rather confusing issue, if UOB deducts my UNI$s for annual “fee”, and wouldn’t waive it, and I cancel my card, but my UNI$s were to expire in March 2020, would they refund the UNI$s – and with what expiry date? (Assuming I have another card)

No miles for me

https://pib.uob.com.sg/assets/images/web/rewards/rewardsplus_tnc.pdf 1.5 If the Principal Cardmember’s Credit Card account is terminated at any time for any reason, whether by the Principal Cardmember or UOB, the Principal Cardmember and the Supplementary Cardmember shall be disqualified from participating in the Programme and ***> all unused UNI$ then accrued shall automatically be cancelled and no longer be available for use <*** by the Cardmember. Such UNI$ shall not be transferable to any other Account of the Cardmember. There are plenty of other T&Cs which give UOB the right to cancel, claw back, exclude and deduct uni$ without any recourse by the customer. I… Read more »

Mileshedgehog

It seems then it’s not possible to transfer UNI$ from a cancelled account to an active one. But the article above says “Since UOB points pool, cancelling a given card has no impact on my total points balance, assuming it’s not my last points-earning card with the bank.”? So who’s correct 😱

Just wondering

The insurance refunded back to your card?
Or rather insurance paid hospital and hospital refunded back to your card?
Otherwise how will UOB know?

But wouldn’t u then have a credit balance on your card and subsequently when u spend using that u would have earned back the equivalent uni$ back and bring things back to status quo?
Or (gasp!) did u forfeit the credit when u cancelled the cards?

Andy Lau (SG not HK)

Hi Aaron!

Does it mean that if I have both the pink and blue titanium cards and I cancel one, the points of the cancelled one will not be forfeited?

What about for scb vi and x vi?
You wrote the points from these 2 cards are pooled for redemption but technically they are still kept in separate pools and cancelling one will mean a forfeiture of the points?

Andy Lau (SG not HK)

Thanks for the reply Aaron!
Especially on a topic u wrote a year ago

It’s only confusing because each bank has its own system, I actually find the dbs/scb more logical though uob/ocbc is certainly more friendly

Bruno

Annoying thing with the way DBS does it is that you’d have to redeem all points to cancel an Altitude card without losing the miles collected on it.

Redemptions would otherwise be first deducted from the WWMC balance as these expire earlier.

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