Credit Cards KrisFlyer

OCBC 90°N Card Review (2020)

This is our review of the OCBC 90°N card issued in Singapore. It forms part of our series of credit card reviews, which are all summarised on our dedicated Credit Cards page.

Dollar amounts refer to SGD, and ‘miles’ refer to KrisFlyer miles, except where stated. This review was updated on 25th August 2020.

OCBC 90°N Card

1.2 mpd
local

2.1 mpd
FCY

1,000-mile
transfer blocks
APPLY HERE
OCBC 90°N Card

1.2 mpd
local

2.1 mpd
FCY

1k miles
transfers
APPLY HERE

  Mainly Miles Says


After much promise when first launched, OCBC hasn’t even tried to keep up with the competition with its 90°N card, maintaining only one frequent flyer transfer partner, no airport lounge access and imposing a new annoying UOB-esque $5 rounding policy for miles earning.

On the plus side it does offer unlimited fee-free transfers to KrisFlyer and benefits from 1,000-mile transfer blocks into the programme. Overall though, this one falls short of other cards in the same category.

  Pros   Cons
  • First year fee waiver
  • Travel$ never expire
  • Unlimited fee-free transfers to KrisFlyer
  • 1,000-mile transfer blocks
  • 10,000 miles on annual renewal
  • Only one miles transfer partner
  • No sign-up bonus
  • No lounge access
  • Min. $5 spend to earn miles
  • $5 earning blocks adversely affect ‘real’ earn rate
  • Points don’t pool with other OCBC cards

  Eligibility


  • Minimum Age: 21
  • Minimum Income (Singaporean / PR): $30,000/yr
  • Minimum Income (Non-Singaporean): $45,000/yr

The OCBC 90°N card comes in at the entry-level $30,000 per year income requirement for Singapore citizens and permanent residents, making it widely accessible.

  Annual Fees & Interest Rates


  • Annual Fee (principal): $192.60 (first year free)
  • Annual Fee (supplementary): $96.30 (first year free)
  • Fee waiver: On request

The annual fee for the OCBC 90°N card is $192.60, though it is waived for the first year. Fee waiver at annual renewal is on request.

If you do have to pay the annual fee on renewal however, you’ll also receive a 10,000 miles bonus on (i.e. paying 1.93 cents per mile).

Supplementary cards are available at an additional annual fee of $96.30, though again this is waived in year one.

We value KrisFlyer miles at 1.9 cents each (our upper limit to buy), so we would try to avoid paying the annual fee where possible, even with 10,000 miles thrown in.

Other fees and interest rates for the OCBC 90°N card include:

  • EIR: 26.9%
  • Interest-free period: 23 days
  • Minimum payment: 3% (or $50, whichever greater)
  • Late payment fee: $100
  • Cash advance fee: 8% (min. $15)

  Sign-up bonus


There is no current sign-up bonus for the OCBC 90°N card. At launch OCBC offered a fairly lacklustre 7,000 miles bonus with a spend of $5,000 in the first three months, however this is no longer offered.

  Renewal bonus


As mentioned above, there’s a renewal bonus of 10,000 miles for payment of the $192.60 annual fee, which would commence at the start of the second card membership year. Since the fee is waived for the first year, these miles are not awarded in year 1.

That’s the equivalent of ‘buying’ the miles for 1.93 cents each at annual renewal, slightly above our upper limit to buy of 1.9 cents per mile, so you may prefer to try and have the fee waived and forgo these additional miles, assuming you are keeping the card in year 2.

Pro Tip: Fee waiver seems to be widely available, provided you spent more than $10,000 in your first membership year.

  Regular earn rates


This card earns miles at the following rates:

  • 1.2 miles per $1 spent locally (i.e. transacted in SGD), and
  • 2.1 miles per $1 spent overseas (i.e. transacted in foreign currency)

These effectively match the Citi PremierMiles and DBS Altitude rates, both of which bear some similarity to this card, with the exception of the overseas earn rate which comes in 5% better at 2.1 miles per $1 compared with 2 miles per $1.

While that’s a nice edge over those cards, you’ll achieve higher earn rates with some others like the UOB PRVI Miles (1.4 mpd locally, 2.4 mpd overseas).

Pro Tip: OCBC offers its higher 2.1 mpd earn rate for any transaction in foreign currency, even where the payment gateway is in Singapore. Some cards class these as local payments, so if you’re unsure (e.g. online purchase) then this is a good card to use for FCY transactions.

Additionally, you’ll get 1 mile per $1 spent on AXS Pay+Earn transactions using this card, however with a 2.5% admin fee charged this is equivalent to ‘buying’ miles at 2.5 cents each, not a good proposition at all.

  Bonus earn rates


You may recall the heady days of 4 miles per dollar on unlimited overseas spend, selected flight, hotel and entertainment bookings, plus up to 8 miles per dollar on some hotel sites like Expedia, when this card was first launched in August 2019.

Alas those days are long gone, with little such generosity extended beyond the promotion end date of 29th February 2020.

Recently however OCBC has launched an offer with Agoda for up to 7 miles per dollar for hotel bookings in foreign currency and 6 miles per dollar for SGD bookings.

This is valid for bookings made before 31st July 2021, for stays through to 31st December 2021, via the following dedicated link:

  www.agoda.com/90N

Note that this promo is for prepaid bookings through Agoda, so be careful to shop around for the best price first. Initially you’ll earn at the regular 1.2 mpd (SGD) / 2.1 mpd (FCY) rates, with the bonus element awarded within two calendar months of your completed stay.

Full terms and conditions are available here.

  Eligible transactions


OCBC awards miles (or Travel$ as it calls them with this card) on all retail transactions, with the exception of the following:

  • All card fees and charges, card annual fees, membership fees, renewal fees, balance transfer and charges incurred for any balance transfer facility, cash-on-instalment facility and charges incurred for any cash-on-instalment facility.
  • Instalment payment plan, extended payment plan, income tax payment, interest, late payment charges, GST, cash advances, bill payments made via internet banking, and other fees and charges.
  • Payment of funds to prepaid accounts and merchants who are categorised as “payment service providers”, which include (without limitation) EZ-Link, NETS FlashPay, eNETS, SAM, Transit Link and AXS.

There are also some merchant-specific excluded MCC codes, including payments to charitable organisations and for utilities, insurance and education, plus payments to Singapore public hospitals. Grab top-ups are also excluded.

For a full up to date list of exclusions, see the card terms and conditions.

What about CardUp and ipaymy?


At the time of writing the OCBC 90°N card accrues miles normally at the local earn rate for both CardUp and ipaymy transactions, allowing you to accumulate miles on bill payments, monthly rental and income tax, among other invoices.

Remember to check the cost per mile based on the prevailing fee for your transaction type to make sure you’re ‘buying’ miles at a sensible rate when using card payment providers.

 Are KrisFlyer miles credited directly?


No, in fact rather than being credited miles directly you’ll accrue ‘Travel$’ for your regular spending on this card. These transfer to KrisFlyer miles at a 1:1 ratio, so for $10,000 of local spending, you’ll net 12,000 Travel$, which can be converted to 12,000 KrisFlyer miles.

  Which loyalty schemes can I transfer into?


Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer is the sole frequent flyer program for OCBC redemptions. With the obvious exception of the KrisFlyer co-brand credit cards, that makes OCBC the only bank in Singapore not offering an alternative miles transfer partner, such as Asia Miles or Emirates Skywards (even UOB supports Asia Miles transfers!).

That’s a big drawback of the OCBC cards in our opinion, as we often top up our balances in these other programmes to give us oneworld and other partner redemption opportunities.

Be sure to bookmark our continually updated list of which banks transfer where for the latest range of options.

For the best range of transfer partners, look towards Citi, American Express or Standard Chartered cards.

Transfers into KrisFlyer miles are the most popular among our readers, also unlocking Star Alliance redemptions, however it’s much better to have some alternatives too. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

↥  Is there a minimum transfer amount?


The minimum volume of miles you can transfer into KrisFlyer is 1,000, with 1,000-mile blocks thereafter.

Many cards, including some other OCBC products, restrict you to a 10,000-mile minimum transfer level and 10,000-mile blocks after that, meaning it’s often better to wait until the next ‘block’ is reached before transferring.

No big issues with that here – you can round off to the nearest 1,000 which is a very nice perk.

  When do Travel$ credit?


OCBC Travel$ should reflect in your account once the transaction posts, which takes anywhere between one and three days.

You won’t have to wait until your monthly statement for the points to be added, so if you’re making a purchase to achieve a short-term top-up they should be available to you within a few days.

For example, a $1,000 local purchase on a Monday should see 1,200 Travel$ added to your rewards account by Thursday the same week, which you can then transfer to KrisFlyer subject to the transfer blocks outlined above.

  Do Travel$ expire?


No, and that’s great because as you will probably know once transferred into KrisFlyer your miles will then only last for three years. That means no need to keep an eye on the expiration date at the OCBC side, just transfer to KrisFlyer when you need to.

Note: Don’t get Travel$ mixed up with OCBC$ awarded by some other products like the Titanium Rewards cards. Those do expire after two years.

Non expiry of Travel$ is also an added benefit of the 1,000 mile redemption blocks. When you just fall short of a redemption (e.g. 91,200 miles but you need 92,000 to redeem) you don’t need to waste a whole 10,000 miles transfer block like with other cards.

Just transfer 1,000 miles in this example. That way you can keep more miles at the OCBC side, where they are immune from expiry.

  Travel$ don’t pool


Unfortunately the Travel$ currency is unique to the OCBC 90°N card, so you can’t pool them with OCBC$ or Voyage Miles accrued on the Titanium Rewards or Voyage cards.

As OCBC state in their terms and conditions “The Travel$ cannot be transferred, assigned or carried over to any other card issued by OCBC Bank”.

  Three OCBC rewards ‘currencies’


It’s probably a good time to mention that OCBC has three rewards ‘currencies’ across its miles earning credit cards, none of which combine with one another and all of which work slightly differently.

With this card you’ll earn Travel$, which benefit from 1:1 transfers into KrisFlyer in 1,000-mile denominations, with no transfer cost. They also never expire.

  OCBC$ Travel$ Voyage
Miles
Card(s) BluePink Card-2-small-1 Card 2020 v2 Small
Transfer Ratio 2.5:1 1:1 1:1
Min. Transfer 25,000 1,000 1
Transfer Cost $25 Free Free
Expiry 2 years Never Never

Unfortunately as mentioned above if you hold other OCBC credit cards, you’ll have separate pools of non-combinable points.

  What is the transfer cost to KrisFlyer miles?


Here’s another great benefit of the OCBC 90°N card, like the bank’s Voyage card transfer to KrisFlyer miles are free. That’s quite unlike many other cards in Singapore, which typically charge around $25-30 each time you transfer your points to KrisFlyer miles.

It means there’s no need to wait around to accumulate a decent level of Travel$ before transferring to KrisFlyer to ‘dilute’ the fee to a reasonable level per mile, you can do so as soon as you’ve reached one of the transfer thresholds if you wish.

Just bear in mind as we stated above, once the miles are transferred into KrisFlyer you’ve got three years to use them, so unless you have an urgent need then it’s probably better to keep them as Travel$ for as long as possible.

  How long do miles take to credit to KrisFlyer?


The official line is “approximately 21 working days”. That’s probably the worst transfer time between credit card reward points and KrisFlyer miles in the whole of Singapore.

The good news is – it doesn’t actually take that long at all. A few data points show that transfers from Travel$ (or OCBC$ if you hold the Titanium Rewards card / Voyage Miles if you hold the Voyage card), take just 24 hours.

Our most recent transfer from OCBC$ to KrisFlyer met the 24-hour turnaround (transfer requested 12.30pm on a Wednesday, credited to KrisFlyer by 11.30am on the Thursday).

That’s actually one of the faster points to miles transfer times in Singapore.

That means OCBC conversions even make it into our Instant and quick ways to transfer miles to KrisFlyer rundown (also featuring Amex and Citi, for the sake of completeness).

  Points rounding


Since June 2020 a big drawback of OCBC credit cards is that reward points are awarded for every $5 block of spending charged to your card. Any amount charged is rounded down to the next $5 denomination.

That means unless your spend hits a $5 denomination exactly – the bank always wins.

“As an illustration, a customer who spends an amount between S$10 and S$14.99 in a single transaction can earn 12 Travel$. However, a customer who spends S$4.90 in a single transaction, or who spends S$2.50 in one transaction and S$2.50 in another transaction, will not be awarded any Travel$.”

OCBC

When you are charging smaller amounts, it begins to have a big impact on the effective miles per dollar rate you are actually earning for the transaction.

Travel$ awarded
Card-2-small-1
Charge
(SGD)
Local Spend FCY Spend
$4.99 0
(0 mpd)
0
(0 mpd)
$5.00 6
(1.2 mpd)
10.5
(2.1 mpd)
$9.99 6
(0.6 mpd)
10.5
(1.1 mpd)
$10.00 12
(1.2 mpd)
21
(2.1 mpd)

One cent can make all the difference here, and to truly optimise the maximum number of Travel$ earned, you should plan your spending in $5 blocks especially at the lower transaction levels (e.g. $5 / $10 / $15).

Try to avoid falling just below a $5 block if possible, or only exceed a $5 block by a small amount.

The impact becomes less important with higher amounts, for example let’s say you make a local transaction with your OCBC 90°N card as follows:

  • $249.99 – 294 Travel$ awarded (294 miles / 1.18 mpd)
  • $250.00 – 300 Travel$ awarded (300 miles / 1.2 mpd)

As you can see falling 1 cent short of a $5 block size in this case isn’t significantly affecting your miles per dollar rate in the same way that a $9.99 vs. $10.00 spend is.

Minimum spend to earn points


Since any amount in Singapore dollars is first rounded down to the next $5 denomination, $5.00 is the minimum transaction amount to earn any reward points using the OCBC 90°N card.

Smaller transactions, including those converted from foreign currency into SGD which are subsequently charged to your card account at less than $5, will not earn any points.

For sub-$5 transactions, consider the DBS Altitude card (see our review) with a $1.67 minimum spend to earn miles, or the Citi PremierMiles card (see our review) with a $1 minimum spend.

  FCY fee / cpm overseas


OCBC used to charge a 3% fee for credit card transactions in foreign currency, however this was increased to 3.25% in December 2019.

That makes it a fairly uncompetitive card to use for overseas purchases, with a cost per mile of 1.63 cents. There are several better cards to focus your FCY spending on, including the UOB PRVI Miles, HSBC Visa Infinite and DBS Altitude Amex options.

Cost per mile on overseas credit card transactions by card
(Best to worst, August 2020)

Card Fee Miles per $ Cost per mile
image_standard-chartered-visa-infinite@2x02.pngSCVI 3.5% 3.0* 1.22¢*
HSBCviNEW2HSBC VI
(Step up rate)
2.8% 2.25** 1.33¢**
AscendCC.pngKF Ascend
(Jul & Dec)
2.5% 2.0 1.36¢
Card Trans.pngUOB PRVI Miles 3.25% 2.4 1.43¢
Card.pngMaybank Horizon Visa 2.75% 2.0 1.48¢
HSBCviNEW2HSBC VI
(Regular rate)
2.8% 2.0 1.50¢
Card.jpgOCBC Voyage 3.25% 2.2 1.56¢
Altitude Card Amex SmallDBS Altitude Amex 3% 2.0 1.60¢
Card.pngBOC EM 3% 2.0 1.60¢
CardOCBC 90°N
3.25% 2.1 1.63¢
Card2019.pngCiti PM 3.25% 2.0 1.71¢
Altitude Card Visa SmallDBS Altitude Visa 3.25% 2.0 1.71¢
CardX Card 3.5% 2.0 1.83¢
Card 2KrisFlyer UOB 3.25% 1.2 2.86¢

* 3 mpd earn rate for the SCVI card is subject to a minimum spend of $2,000 (any currency) in the same statement cycle.
** Step up earn rate for HSBC VI is only applicable from year 2 of card membership onwards, provided you spent at least $50,000 in the previous year.

Cost per mile also accounts for an additional 0.3% ‘spread’ over money changer currency rates, though this doesn’t apply to all banks and all foreign currencies, so is a worst-case scenario.

However as you can see the OCBC 90°N card does come in slightly cheaper on a cost per mile basis than the Citi PremierMiles card and the DBS Altitude Visa.

  What else can Travel$ be used for?


The OCBC 90°N Mastercard also offers a cashback alternative, allowing you to redeem Travel$ for 1.2% cashback. That’s equivalent to 1.44% (1.2 x 1.2) cashback on local spend and 2.52% (2.1 x 1.2) cashback on overseas spend at the standard earn rates.

These are poor rates relative to the value of KrisFlyer miles earned, and unlikely to be of much interest to our readers (unless you value KrisFlyer miles at less than 1.2 cents each, in which case there are better cashback cards on the market anyway).

It’s also possible to trade your Travel$ through OCBC’s STACK programme into other ‘currencies’, however the conversion ratios are terrible and with 1,000-mile transfer blocks into KrisFlyer there should be no need even to spend your orphan points this way. In that case, just top-up to the next 1,000 Travel$ block.

  Lounge access


One disappointing aspect of the OCBC 90°N card is the lack of complimentary airport lounge access, with competitors like the DBS Altitude and Citi PremierMiles cards both offering Priority Pass membership including 2 free visits per year.

The card does entitle you however to a LoungeKey by Mastercard membership allowing access to over 800 worldwide airport lounges for US$27 per visit (note – no free visit allowance, this is the basic membership).

  Other benefits


OCBC 90°N cardholders can take advantage of some 1-for-1 dining offers and typically 20% discounts with selected retailers.

These offers tend to rotate every few months but it’s worth checking the latest list on the product landing page in case there are any of use to you.

  Terms and conditions


Here are links to the full terms and conditions applicable to the OCBC 90°N card and the OCBC Rewards programme.

 OCBC 90°N Card T&C
 OCBC Rewards Programme T&C
 OCBC Credit Card Fees & Charges

Our summary


When this card was first launched it featured an unbeatable 4 miles per dollar for overseas spend, plus up to 8 miles per dollar on a range of travel and hotel transactions.

That was never going to last of course, however to entice people to keep the card into year two OCBC probably had to do a bit more than throw in an Agoda offer.

Unfortunately this card now sits alongside competitors like the Citi PremierMiles and DBS Altitude products with more negatives than positives in our opinion, not least since $5 miles earning blocks were introduced in June 2020.

(Image: OCBC)

With no complimentary lounge access, only one frequent flyer transfer partner and the recent miles rounding issue to contend with for smaller transactions, we would simply favour other cards in this category.

A 5% ‘bonus’ on the FCY earn rate is not enough to swing it, especially when you could consider the UOB PRVI Miles cards as an alternative, earning 2.4 mpd for such transactions.

On the plus side if you do take the plunge with this card, unlimited fee-free transfers to KrisFlyer in 1,000-mile blocks is the big selling point for flexibility.

Our Rating
2.5 / 5
among general spend cards

OCBC 90°N Card
Card-2-small-1

APPLY HERE

Best in class: A must-have for the miles earner in Singapore
Excellent: A leader in its category with few if any downsides
Very good: Drawbacks largely outweighed by the positive aspects
Good: Useful benefits despite some poor features vs. other cards
Average: Worth considering but not an essential addition to your wallet
Conflicted: Some benefits but much better cards exist in the same category
Poor: Few benefits worth having
Very poor: Almost no benefits, not recommended
Awful: Not worth considering

Links on Mainly Miles may pay us an affiliate commission.

(Cover Photo: Angela Compagnone)

3 comments

  1. I think there is another plus point is that as long is FCY spend it will be award as 2.1 miles even the payment gateway is in Singapore. So is a card that i have in doubts about the payment gateway i will use this card for the purchase.

  2. Travel$ aren’t earned for many short term overseas holiday rentals. The MCC is excluded. I used this card for several rentals and got 0 travel$ but large FCY fees. Never again – now I only use my OCBC cards for very specific 4mpd purchases that they can’t exclude.

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