The Bank of China launched the BOC Elite Miles Card in mid-2018 – and I must say, it’s pretty impressive. In fact, it may even be one of the best credit cards for miles now.
It offers a base earn rate of $1 = 1.5 miles (local spend) and $1 = 3 miles (overseas spend) – one of the highest out there.
The BOC Elite Miles Card sounds like a godsend for mile junkies, but is there a catch? Let’s take a closer look.
BOC Elite Miles Card terms and conditions
|BOC Elites Miles World Mastercard|
|Annual fee & waiver||$190 (waived for 1 year)|
|Supplementary annual fee||$95|
|Interest free period||23 days|
|Annual interest rate||28.88%|
|Late payment fee||$100|
|Minimum monthly repayment||3% or $50, whichever is higher|
|Foreign currency transaction fee||2%|
|Cash advance transaction fee||$20 or 6%, whichever is higher|
|Minimum income||S$30,000 (Singaporean), S$60,000 (Foreigners)|
|Wireless payment||MasterCard Paypass|
How the BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard works
Looks-wise, the BOC Elite Miles Card isn’t really the kind that you’d feel proud to whip out of your wallet, unless you like to feel like an emperor from a period drama who yells “jiao wo huang shang”.
But look beyond its rather dated design, and you’ll realise this is a solid miles card that may give the popular UOB PRVI Card a run for its money. (UOB, are you paying attention?)
There are no complicated promotional miles mechanics, just a straight-up two tier miles earning system. Take note of the exclusions, though.
|Type of spending||Miles earned||Notes|
|Local||$1 = 1.5 miles||Excludes government, remittance, utilities, TransitLink, EZLink & other prepaid accounts (GrabPay, Singtel Dash, YouTrip)|
|Overseas||$1 = 3 miles||Includes overseas transactions in SGD + online transactions with overseas payment gateway|
Compared to the other air miles cards in Singapore, BOC offers the highest base earn rates in town. Like most miles cards, the BOC Elite Miles Card has no minimum spend and no cap on how many miles you can earn.
Sure, but what’s the real catch here?
The devil is in the details (of Bank of China’s T&Cs, which were revamped in March 2019). Here are a few things you should know before signing up.
No promotions: The BOC Elite Miles Card suffers a lack of promotional miles for partner merchants like Agoda, which can let you earn as much as 10 miles per $1 with other miles cards. Also, it doesn’t reward you with a big bunch of bonus miles for spending a certain amount in the first few months.
Exclusions: When it first launched, the T&Cs were pretty bare of exclusions, which meant you could earn miles on all kinds of expenses. For example, it was one of the rare cards that let you earn miles for public transport, but BOC has since amended the terms to exclude TransitLink, EZ-Link and NETS FlashPay.
The latest notable exclusions now include all government payments, utility bills, remittance, charity donations, AXS/SAM payments, and “payment service providers” (including prepaid e-wallets like GrabPay).
Conversion limit: According to the latest T&Cs, you may only convert a maximum of 10 blocks of miles per transfer, with each block being 6,000 Asia Miles or 10,000 KrisFlyer Miles. So that’s 60,000 Asia Miles or 100,000 Krisflyer Miles at most per transfer.
Conversion fee: You have to pay a $30 transaction fee to convert your BOC points into Asia Miles or KrisFlyer Miles, which is higher than the usual $25 fee.
BOC points expiry: Possibly the biggest drawback of this card is that the BOC rewards points have a short lifespan of just one year. Points are accumulated on a yearly basis and expire on 30 June every year. (In your first year, you’ll be given an extension to the following June.)
In contrast, some cards’ points never expire, which is great for those who want to play the long game and slowly earn their way to business class flights.
Who should use BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard?
To play by BOC’s rules – namely, the short lifespan of your points – you will need to chalk up pretty high expenses within the year. So the BOC Elite Miles Card is the most suitable for those who have a few big ticket purchases lined up.
For example, if you’re a young couple who’s planning your wedding banquet and are in the midst of furnishing your new home, this card can probably help you earn a free honeymoon.
$55,000 (wedding banquet) + $5,000 (other miscellaneous wedding expenses) + $10,000 (new home expenses) will earn you 105,000 miles, which is almost enough to exchange 2 return tickets to Europe.
And that’s assuming you swipe everything locally. If you have your pre-wedding photoshoot or hen’s night overseas, even better.
Another group that’ll greatly benefit from this are frequent travellers. Your overseas spending will also let you earn miles in no time.
Alternatives to BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard
Although a new player, the BOC Elite Miles Card may potentially be the best miles credit card for a lot of people. Here are the closest competitors:
UOB PRVI Miles Card – Earn rate is $1 = 1.4 miles (local spend) and $1 = 2.4 miles (overseas spend), but there is a bonus category of flight and hotel bookings that’ll earn you 10 miles per dollar.
- Local Spend
- S$1 = 1.4 Miles
- Overseas Spend
- S$1 = 2.4 Miles
- Selected Online Hotel and Flight bookings
- S$1 = 6 Miles
Citi PremierMiles – Earn rate is lower at $1 = 1.2 miles (local spend) and $1 = 2 miles (overseas spend), but also has a bonus category for travel-related bookings (up to $1 = up to 10 miles).
- Local Spend
- S$1 = Up to 1.2 Miles
- All Foreign Currency Spend including Retail and Online
- S$1 = 2 Miles
- Selected Online Hotel Bookings
- S$1 = Up to 10 Miles
Apply and spend $200 to get: $300 Cash PayNow OR Apple Watch SE (worth $419).
Apply and spend $500 to get: $350 Cash PayNow OR Sony WH-1000XM4 (worth $499).
DBS Altitude Card – Has the same earn rate as Citi PremierMiles – $1 = 1.2 miles (local spend) and $1 = 2 miles (overseas spend) – but slightly better miles accrual for travel-related bookings. It’s $1 = 3 miles for flights and hotels, 6 miles for Expedia and 10 miles for Kaligo (capped at $5,000 per month).
- Local Spend
- S$1 = 1.2 Miles
- Overseas Spend
- S$1 = 2 Miles
- Staycation bookings
- S$1 = 10 Miles
In general, the BOC Elite Miles Card is superior to the above-mentioned cards, unless you’re playing the long game and are put off by the expiry of points.
Frequent travellers who often find themselves booking flights and hotels on Expedia and similar sites may benefit from the other cards’ bonus miles earnings, but seriously, how much can you spend on these sites?
Do you think the BOC Elite Miles World Mastercard is worth your time? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!