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OCBC Titanium Rewards to award OCBC$ in blocks of S$5 spend

OCBC going down the UOB way.

Right after OCBC made changes to the 90°N card, the bank also revised the OCBC Titanium Rewards card to give out points in blocks of S$5 spend from 1 Jun 2020.

On top of the earning change, OCBC will also be add more exclusion categories to what will earn you bonus points with the Titanium Rewards card.

Earning OCBC$ based on $5 blocks of spending

Currently, cardmembers earn a flat 10 OCBC$, or 4 miles, per dollar spent on the Titanium Rewards card when spending on eligible categories (i.e. sclothes, accessories, shoes, bags, electronics and gadgets and babies’ and children’s wear).

From 1 Jun, this will have a technical change: OCBC will award 50 OCBC$, or 20 miles, per S$5 spent, rounded down to the nearest S$5.

Why this makes a difference

Why this change is material to the Titanium Rewards card is because unlike the 90°N card, this card is a specialised spending card (i.e. the bonus applies for spending in specific categories). The difference lies in the way OCBC$ is awarded previously and from 1 Jun.

At present, 1 OCBC$ (or 0.4 mile) is awarded when the transaction is posted, while the remaining 9 OCBC$ (or 3.6 miles) will be awarded a month later. From experience, the bonus 9 OCBC$ is calculated based on an aggregate spend from the preceeding month, and awarded based on the total spend.

From 1 Jun 2020, OCBC will award the OCBC$ in two parts too: the first 5 OCBC$ will be given per S$5 spent when the transaction is posted, and the remaining 45 OCBC$ for the same transaction will be awarded a month later.

As an example, in a given month, you make the following spend:

  • Shopee: $124.30
  • Ikea: $264.90
  • Challenger: $47.20
  • Qoo10: $2.60

This is how your OCBC$ earnings will look like, before and after 1 Jun:

Before 1 JunAfter 1 Jun
Spending1X9X1X9X
Shopee – $124.30124Based on
total spend
of S$439:
3951
1201080
Ikea – $264.902642602340
Challenger – $47.204745405
Qoo10 – $2.60200
Total OCBC$4388 (1755 miles)4250 (1700 miles)

For a total spend of S$439, you may argue that 55 miles is not a big sum (~3%), but when you scale it up to a S$20,000 annual spending, this grows to about 2,400 miles difference per year.

Slightly higher spending cap per year

With the tweak in the terms and conditions, it turns out that there’s slightly higher cap in the annual limit of bonus OCBC$ that can be earned.

Previously, Titanium Rewards card had an annual cap of 120,000 OCBC$ (or 48,000 miles) for eligible spending, which include both the 1X and the 9X components. This annual cap is calculated based on your card anniversary (e.g. if you got your card in January, your card annual period is from Jan to Dec). To earn the max of 120,000 OCBC$, you will need to spend at least S$12,000 in the year.

From 1 Jun, only the 9X bonus OCBC$ will count towards this annual cap of 120,000 OCBC$, so that lifts your annual spending to S$13,335. The base OCBC$ (or the 1X) is counted as a base rate, so will not go into this cap.

This cap is on a per account basis, and one person can hold both the pink and blue versions of the card, effectively doubling the cap. Note that any supplementary cards will count towards the main cardholder’s limit.

New exclusion categories

Similar to the 90°N card, OCBC has added new exclusion categories for the earning of OCBC$. Note that transactions under these categories will not even earn you the base rate of 1 OCBC$.

  • Cleaning, Maintenance and Janitorial Services (MCC: 7349)
  • Tolls and Bridge Fees (MCC: 4784)
  • Cigars Stores and Stands (MCC: 5993)
  • Automobile Associations (MCC: 8675)
  • Labor Union (MCC: 8699)
  • Transactions to Singapore Government Public Hospitals including Non-Profit Hospitals, Community Hospitals and Polyclinics under the MCC 8062

Note that transactions under transportation categories are missing from this list (unlike the 90°N card), but this doesn’t mean you should use the card for transportation or Grab top-ups.

Final thoughts

It seems like OCBC has followed the lead of UOB in implementing S$5 earning blocks. While at first glance this means a little bit of cost savings (read: give out less miles) for OCBC, I’m personally not sure if the trade-off is worth it.

Having said that, there is a silver lining: you have a slightly higher cap, or about 10% headroom on top of the usual $12,000 annual spend limit. The OCBC Titanium Rewards is an extremely useful card to hold for online spending on frivolous shopping (not sure about you but I’ve spent about S$1,000 during this Circuit Breaker).

Unlike some other cards such as the UOB Platinum Preferred Visa, the OCBC Titanium Rewards card’s 10X cap is based on membership year, making it very useful for large ticket items such as electronics.

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