Credit Cards News

BOC Elite Miles slashing KrisFlyer earn rate to 1 mpd locally and 2 mpd overseas

Shift your BOC Points to KrisFlyer or Asia Miles as soon as possible - from next month transfer rates are being slashed

Cover 2

It’s very bad news if you hold the Bank of China Elite Miles Mastercard in Singapore, with the bank revealing that it is slashing the earn rate on this card from 1.5 mpd for local spend down to just 1 mpd and the overseas earn rate from 3 mpd to 2 mpd, in the form of a revised miles conversion rate to both the KrisFlyer and Asia Miles programmes.

What’s changing?

In a new set of Terms and Conditions for the card, the following earn rates and new transfer rates will apply to both KrisFlyer and Asia Miles from 15th June 2020:

BOCtrans2

Now From 15th June 2020
Local Earn Rate 1.5 mpd 1 mpd
Overseas Earn Rate 3 mpd 2 mpd
KF Logo transConversion Ratio 30,000 points
→ 10,000 miles
45,000 points
→ 10,000 miles
AM Logo transConversion Ratio 18,000 points
→ 6,000 miles
27,000 points
→ 6,000 miles

This effectively kills the miles earn rates on this card by 33%, and for local spend at least shifts it from being one of the best (in fact the best S$30k income card on the market) to one of the worst.

Important: Don’t be confused – BOC is still awarding the same number of BOC Points per dollar spent on this card in either local or foreign currency. It’s the transfer ratio to frequent flyer miles which is effectively devaluing the earn rates.

That really takes away this card’s only major perk – competitive miles earning rates. There’s really nothing else going for it (and a lot of customer service hassle as you’ll probably know if you have one), as you can see from our full review.

It’s a little sneaky

Those who don’t know about this (hopefully all our readers now do) will be in for a big surprise when then next come to transfer their BOC Points into airline miles and find they get 33% fewer miles than they used to.

What BOC should have done is changed the number BOC Points earned from 15th June 2020, while keeping the transfer ratios to frequent flyer miles the same.

The method they have chosen will significantly decrease the bank’s liability from accrued points overnight once the new transfer rates kick in, and loyal customers won’t be able to do anything about it.

What’s the minimum transfer amount?

This will now be an issue for some readers. The minimum volume of BOC points you can transfer into KrisFlyer is 30,000 (currently giving you 10,000 miles), with incremental blocks of 30,000 (10,000 miles) for larger transfers.

For Asia Miles the 3:1 ratio is the same as we know, but transfer blocks are smaller for whatever reason. Here the minimum is 18,000 BOC points (currently 6,000 Asia Miles), with incremental blocks of 18,000 (6,000 Asia Miles) for larger transfers.

Each transfer costs S$30 including GST, subject to a maximum transfer quantity of:

  • 300,000 BOC Points to KrisFlyer – currently giving you 100,000 miles
  • 180,000 BOC Points to Asia Miles – currently giving you 60,000 miles

If you have a higher quantity of BOC Points in your account, you’ll have to make more than one transfer.

Air Miles Transfer ‘Blocks’
BOCicon
BOC Points
AM Logo trans
Asia Miles
KF Logo trans
KrisFlyer
18,000 6,000
30,000 10,000
36,000 12,000
54,000 18,000
60,000 20,000
72,000 24,000
90,000 30,000 30,000
108,000 36,000
120,000 40,000
126,000 42,000
144,000 48,000
150,000 50,000
162,000 54,000
180,000 60,000 60,000
210,000 70,000
240,000 80,000
270,000 90,000
300,000 100,000

If you fall below one of the transfer thresholds (i.e. a multiple of 30,000 Points or 18,000 Points), you’ll probably now have to either forgo some miles or work on spending what you need to very soon to get your Points balance ‘over the line’.

Example

Let’s say you have a balance of 73,000 BOC Points in your account. You can immediately transfer:

  • 60,000 Points to KrisFlyer (20,000 miles, 13,000 BOC Points left over)
  • 72,000 Points to Asia Miles (24,000 miles, 1,000 BOC Points left over)

If you’re confident you can spend enough on the card between now and 15th June 2020 and complete the transfer process with no arguments over which conversion ratio applies, you could increase your BOC Points balance to 90,000 then exchange for 30,000 KrisFlyer Miles.

Our advice in this example would be to cut your losses (1,000 BOC Points) and transfer to Asia Miles instead. That way you can start the process now, not need to spend any more on the card, and hopefully avoid any arguments over which transfer rate applies when you come to do so.

Note: BOC has now clarified that any transfer request forms submitted by 14th June 2020 will still get the current transfer rate, so you do in fact have some time to make additional spend if necessary. See our article here for full details.

Of course you would have to be comfortable holding Asia Miles (ideally you’d already have some), but broadly they are equivalent in value to KrisFlyer miles and only two other banks in Singapore don’t support Asia Miles transfers, so they are relatively easy to top up from alternative sources.

Other changes

It’s highly unlikely you’ll be keeping this card after 15th June, so the other Terms and Conditions changes aren’t really too relevant, however it will soon be possible to pay your annual fee using BOC Points.

Instead of S$190 you can opt to spend 30,000 BOC Points (previously 10,000 KrisFlyer miles but soon equivalent to 6,666 KrisFlyer miles).

Any supplementary card can have its S$95 fee instead replaced with 15,000 BOC Points (soon equivalent to 3,333 KrisFlyer miles).

Some rewards exclusion categories have also been added, including for insurance payments. Again these kick in from 15th June 2020, so don’t worry if you’re trying to up your balance to the next transfer threshold now. After that, the exclusions should be a moot point – you should not be keeping this card.

Bad timing

Another negative here is the timing. With the COVID-19 situation, keeping your miles at the credit card side for as long as possible is the safest idea, in case of devaluations or (in the worst case) your airline of choice collapsing.

This change will force most of our readers to cash out their BOC Points now, and for KrisFlyer at least that means the 3-year validity clock will also start ticking straight away.

What else was good about the BOC card?

It was all about the BOC Points really…

  • At the end of the statement cycle, all your eligible transactions were totalled, right down to the cent, and multiplied by the relevant rate. That meant earning miles right down to the cent (with some cards you’ll earn nothing on any number of S$4.99 purchases!).
  • Cost per mile for foreign currency transactions was the best on the market – at 1.07 cents. With a 3% FCY fee (unchanged), that shifts to a far less attractive 1.6 cents per mile after this devaluation in the earn rate.

Our thoughts

We’ve personally be using the BOC Elite Miles for the vast bulk of our general local (non 4 mpd) spending and a lot of overseas spend too, since the card was launched in mid-2018.

This is therefore a slightly bitter and somewhat sudden end to a card we’ve earned many tens of thousands of miles with over the last two years.

Ultimately this is a terrible devaluation and you’ll almost certainly want to be getting as many points as possible out of your BOC card and into either KrisFlyer or Asia Miles in the coming weeks.

After that it’s “bye bye BOC” – there’s really no reason to hold on to this card with a range of better options for both local and overseas spend.

Even the baseline SIA Amex KrisFlyer Blue card earns 1.1 mpd locally, and it’s relatively easy to pick up cards like the Citi PremierMiles (1.2 mpd) and UOB PRVI Miles (1.4 mpd) as alternatives.

With the Standard Chartered Visa Infinite card now closed for new applications, will a 3 mpd general spend card for overseas transactions soon be a thing of the past?

Summary

Simple enough – get ready to move your miles from BOC soon. The transfer process is convoluted, manual and takes up the three weeks. We can only hope the current transfer ratios will be respected based on the date BOC first processes your request form, but our advice is to play it safe and transfer out as soon as possible.

Note: BOC has now clarified that any transfer request forms submitted by 14th June 2020 will still get the current transfer rate, so you do in fact have some time to make additional spend if necessary. See our article here for full details.

(Hat-tip to CK for the heads-up)

(Cover Photo: Nils Nedel)

8 comments

  1. Hi Andrew,

    Do you know if rental payment to landlord scheduled via cardup/ipaymy will continue to earn miles? Thank you.

      1. 1 month is ok provided they let us all transfer points at the current rates for 1 month.

        They are about to be inundated (we just sent 3 requests through this evening between 2 of us) and they are known to be painfully slow at the best of times (3-4 weeks transfer time).

        Sadly I don’t trust BOC not to dither when transfer forms start arriving in June then tell people “sorry the rate changed by the time we got round to your request”.

  2. Does BOC credit the points as soon as a transaction hits the statement, or only in bulk when the statement is generated?

    They should be asked to honour the redemption form at their old rate based on the date that the redemption form is sent, not when they get around to processing (knowing how slow their processing time is even in the best of times).

    1. Finally got through to BOC after numerous tries. Their previous taking down my details on the day this massive devaluation was announced, and their promise to call back after 3 days – of course didn’t materialize.

      Points are credited as soon as your transaction hits the card, not in batch at statement generation – so no need to wait until your coming monthly statement date to redeem.

      Was told as long as you send in the redemption form before 15 June, miles conversion will be at the old rate even if they get around to processing it after 15 June.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: