Bank of China has launched its first air miles credit card – the Elite Miles World Mastercard – earlier this year. The card was unveiled back in July with a promotional period lasting until the end of the year. Read on if you’d like to know what the Elite Miles card offers and whether it is the best air miles credit card in Singapore.
The BOC Elite Miles is an entry-level credit card. To qualify, the minimum annual income is set at $30,000 for Singaporean citizens and permanent residents, which is pretty much the minimum income required for any credit card.
The annual fee for BOC Elite Miles card is $190 (waived for the first year), which is roughly what you’d expect for entry-level air miles cards. DBS Altitude and Citi PremierMiles’ annual fee is at S$192 .60. If you decide to take out supplementary cards, each will cost you an additional $95 per year.
When it comes to air miles cards, the earn rate (the miles you earn for each dollar spent) is probably the most important aspect to consider. After all, that’s what they are designed for, to earn miles for their owners.
The BOC Elite Miles Card will earn its owners 2 miles for every dollar spent in Singapore and a whopping 5 miles for every dollar spent overseas (it should be noted that Bank of China considers transactions in foreign currencies as overseas spend). However, these rates apply only during the promotional period which lasts until 31 December 2018.
After the promotional period, starting from 1 January 2019, the earn rates will look like this: 3 miles per dollar spent overseas and 1.5 miles per dollar spent locally. BOC does not impose monthly or annual caps regarding the number of miles that you can earn. This also applies to the promotional period.
Even after the promotional period, the BOC Elite Miles earn rates are still more than competitive. For example, the DBS Altitude card earns 1.2 miles for every Singapore dollar spent and 2 miles for every dollar spent in foreign currencies. The UOB PRVI Miles Card will get you 1.4 miles per dollar spent domestically and 2.4 miles per dollar spent overseas.
Do the Miles Expire?
Unfortunately, the miles earned with the BOC Elite Miles card do expire. Depending on when you earn them, they can last from 12 to 24 months. Miles earned during the promotional period don’t have a special status.
All miles earned between 1 July 2018 and 30 June 2019 will expire on 30 June 2020. Miles earned between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020 will expire on 30 June 2021. But once you’ve transferred the miles to the preferred airline, the miles expiry would reset again based on the airline’s terms and conditions
Miles earned on Citi PremierMiles and DBS Altitude cards do not expire.
How Are Miles Earned?
Like most banks, BOC Elite Miles card, doesn’t let you earn the miles directly. Instead, you will earn BOC points. Here’s how it works.
BOC awards only whole points. The remaining fractions of points are rounded down instead of up (for example, 51.97 points will be rounded down to 51). The points are transferred to miles at the rate of 3 points to 1 mile.
If you spend $10,000 locally after 1 January 2019, you will get 45,000 BOC points. These points can then be converted to 15,000 miles, effectively earning you 1.5 miles per dollar spent.
The same amount spent overseas after 1 January 2019 will get you 90,000 BOC points. These are then converted to 30,000 miles, giving you the 3 miles per dollar earn rate.
If you spend $10,000 domestically by 31 December 2018, you will also get 90,000 BOC points (30,000 miles). Whereas, if you spend that amount overseas, you will get 150,000 points (50,000 miles).
Available Loyalty Schemes
The points accumulated with the BOC Elite Miles card can only be transferred to two loyalty schemes – Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific) and KrisFlyer (Singapore Airlines). The conversion rate for both schemes is 3 points to 1 mile. This is a standard setup, as air miles cards are only tied to select airlines. The Citi PremierMiles with the ability to transfer to over 10 loyalty schemes is the exception.
How are the Miles Transferred?
BOC has different point limits for Asia Miles and KrisFlyer programs.
If you intend to transfer your points to Asia Miles, 18,000 is the minimum amount. All bigger transfers must be made in blocks of 18,000 points.
If you, however, wish to side with the KrisFlyer program, you will have to transfer your points in chunks of 30,000.
The conversion process for either program can take anywhere between 14 and 21 working days.
Each conversion, whether you choose Asia Miles or KrisFlyer, will cost you $30 + GST. This is somewhat more expensive than the standard $25 charged by most other banks. The American Express co-branded SIA KrisFlyer card miles are automatically transferred to your KrisFlyer account at the end of each month free of charge, but you can’t use the miles with any other airline.
Like many other air miles cards, the BOC Elite Miles card comes with lounge access. You can access two lounge programs – Plaza Premium Lounge and Mastercard Airport Experiences. Here’s a quick overview of each of them.
With the first program (Plaza Premium Lounge), you will get four visits a year. There is no guest allowance. You will be able to choose between 80 airport lounges around the world (4 of them are in Singapore).
The second program, Mastercard Airport Experiences, grants access to around 1,000 lounges around the globe via LoungeKey. Each visit will cost you $27.
The BOC Elite Miles card perhaps offers the most attractive earn rates among entry-level air miles cards, especially during the promotional period. It is a great solution for frequent fliers, as the miles can stack up pretty quickly. The fact that it doesn’t have a cap on earned miles makes it great for big spenders as well.
The only major shortcoming of this card is that the miles expire rather quickly with the bank, only 12 to 24 months. So you’ll always need to remember to transfer it out. Also, people who rarely fly might find it hard to reach the necessary transfer block.
In terms of earn rate, we think the Bank Of China Elite Miles is possibly the best air miles credit card in Singapore at the moment. What do you think?