Singapore: OCBC Launches Competitive 90°N Mastercard
Singapore’s OCBC hasn’t exactly been the first go-to bank when it came to their travel-oriented credit card programs. That’s set to change with the unveiling of their recent newest product dubbed the OCBC 90°N Mastercard (read as “90 degrees North”).
Indeed this is not the first OCBC credit card with rewards points that convert to airline miles, as they’ve had the VOYAGE Visa and Titanium Rewards Mastercard. But those cards either are specialized for boosted earnings on select retail categories or have prohibitively high eligibility requirements.
So what’s different this time?
OCBC’s 90°N Mastercard
The OCBC 90°N, which is a World Mastercard, is positioned as more of a general spending card. This is the bank’s answer to competitors and their ilk such as the DBS Altitude, Citi PremierMiles Visa, UOB PRVI Miles or BOC Elite Miles cards.
Spending with the 90°N Mastercard grants Travel$ on an earning rate of 1.2 miles per Singapore dollar (or mpd), where 1 Travel$ = 1 mile. The card, however, has a slightly better earning rate of 2.1 mpd for transactions in foreign currencies, with no other conditions.
What’s better, however, is that OCBC is promoting a special earning rate of 4 mpd for foreign currency transactions from now until February 29, 2020, without any caps! Whether you paid for something online in USD or at a retail store abroad on vacation, both will get the boosted rate.
It’s worth noting that OCBC’s current Travel$ transfer partner is just Singapore KrisFlyer at the moment. However, those Travel$ don’t expire, and you can transfer in blocks of as little as 1000 points. And while you technically can convert those Travel$ into 1.2% cashback, we strongly advise against it due to poor value.
Additionally, this card does not come with any complimentary airport lounge access. Through Mastercard Airport Experiences, though, you can, for a fee, enter any of the some 1000-strong lounges using this World Mastercard. If pre-departure lounge access is a must for you, however, there’s always Priority Pass.
The 90°N Mastercard also has some special earning rates for specific categories and merchants. Until February 29, 2020, using the card to spend on these merchants grants more miles:
- Accommodations: 8 mpd
- Airlines: 4 mpd
- Singapore Airlines
- Duty Free, Entertainment: 4 mpd
- DFS, The Shilla @ Singapore Airport
OCBC is also running a welcome promotion for the 90°N Mastercard. For people who are new to OCBC credit cards whose applications that are approved by October 31st, 2019, there will be an immediate $50 cash rebate. And if you spend S$5000 within the first three months you’ll also be rewarded with 7000 Travel$. The “three months”, though, is defined in the promo terms as the calendar months following the month of your application’s approval date. This gives you flexibility in how long your potential qualifying period could be.
On the other hand, those who already have an OCBC credit card and apply for the 90°N Mastercard may not be able to get the rebate, but can still get 3000 Travel$ by achieving the same spending condition.
Requirements, Fees and Transfers
Here are some other important details about the 90°N Mastercard:
- Annual fee is $192.60 (includes tax), but it is waived for the first year. Pay the annual fee from the second year to get 10,000 miles.
- Locals and permanent residents with annual income of S$30,000 are eligible to apply. Expatriates, meanwhile, need an income of at least S$45,000 to apply.
- Foreign currency transactions incur a 3.0% fee.
- Miles are awarded in Travel$. 1 Travel$ = 1 mile.
- Miles can be transferred in blocks of 1000 Travel$ to Singapore Krisflyer only as of the time of writing. There are no associated conversion fees.
OCBC has finally become serious in capturing the travel rewards market by introducing its 90°N Mastercard. While it had rewards credit card offers in the past, none had been as less intimidating and as easy as this latest product.
While it may not wow with earning rates for spending in the long run, the amazing bonuses in the short term are very appealing. And even if you have alternative general spending cards, its small transfer blocks, no conversion fees and annual fee miles bonus are most welcome even after the hype dies down.